by Emmanuel Joseph
Last month, the August 3 to be exact, marked the 17th anniversary of the death of one of Barbados’ most loved entertainers — The Great Carew.
Real name, Neville Denis Blackman, he died on Thursday, August 3, 1995, when his beachside wooden house was washed out to sea by “unusual” flooding, just off the coast of Weston, St. James home, in circumstances which residents still feel could have been avoided.
Known for his inimitable and often times comical style of performing his Gabby-composed calypsoes, such as Bow Wow Wow, Snakes In The Grass and Madman Jammin, Carew’s body was found two days after he was last seen on the roof of the sinking structure at sea. It was also a similar number of days before Grand Kadooment.
The only reminder of his passing and outstanding contribution to this island’s cultural landscape, is an “insignificantly” placed plaque almost hidden away at the back of the Weston Resource Centre on one of the massive boulders, which was washed down, under questionable circumstances, from a private property in nearby hills.
Westoners have always insisted that their community had never flooded in such a manner before or since that fateful day.
Today, a team from Barbados TODAY visited the district to find out how folks had been living with the memories of that tragedy and what, if anything significant had been done to remember Carew.
“I believe they should put a monument,” insisted the proprietor of John Moore’s Bar, Lamonte Addison.
The 70-year-old Addison, who had been operating that cultural landmark shop for the past 30 years, told this newspaper, he could have saved Carew if he knew he could not swim.
“I know Carew for all these years on the beach playing cricket and with children and didn’t know he couldn’t swim. When I saw him that day on top of his house which was floating in the sea, I did not pay him any mind, because I figured he could swim. Two fishermen out at sea pulled up their anchor and went towards him, and he suddenly disappeared,” recalled the well known shopkeeper.
He remembered that Carew did not even call for help when he saw him on the roof of his house, which he thought at first was a boat.
Addison, who took over the business from its original owner — John D Ifill, better known as John Moore — reflected that the sea was not only “smooth” on the day of the flooding, but there was no heavy rainfall either.
“I heard the water gushing down from up there (the hills above Weston) and brought fridges through my shop door,” he related.
Another resident, known only as Patsy, who moved to Weston the same year as the tragedy, said she knew Carew as a girl going to school in the area.
“For a man like Carew who did so much, something should be done for him in the same way they did something for those six girls who died in the store in Tudor Street,” suggested Patsy.
She, too, said, she did not know Carew could not swim.
“Weston was never a flood area. There wasn’t even nuh lot of rain that day,” pointed out the fish vendor.
Orlando Boyce, a fisherman who had been living all his 40 years in the community, also believed a more meaningful and lasting contribution ought to be made towards Carew’s memory.
Residents also complained that thick bush and trees had blocked a water way in Douglin Road, Weston, causing some flooding in the area when it rained heavily. They want the Government authorities to clean it up urgently, in the interest of their health and safety.