If the water from a river is flooding a town, who steps up to save the city?
George Santayana, the American philosopher, reportedly said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
However, it is a view that some challenge whenever older folk retell attitudes, behaviours, and standards which were responsible for their success in life and expressed in this way: ‘that was then, this is now.’
Still, in today’s world, crises are increasing at a phenomenal rate. So does the view that if one does not re-evaluate history, one is more than likely to repeat mistakes, have some merit? Maybe, but it will depend on who you ask.
Clarence Galloway — the son of Philip Galloway, a shopkeeper – grew up in Howells Cross Road, St Michael and later came to the United States. In retrospect, he confesses that there are two things that he now has no regrets doing when he was growing up.
One was working in his father’s shop which gave him responsibility; taught him how to organize things and to relate to people. The other was participating in the activities of the ‘Y’ — the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) on Pinfold Street.
Galloway, who was one of the first persons to start a Barbadian ballroom dance club in Brooklyn, went further: “Recently, after a long discussion with a friend, we agreed that organizations like the YMCA would help build Barbados.”
Galloway, who worked at SP Musson, recalled that the ‘Y’ was many things including a guest or boarding house. “Our shipping agents stayed at the YMCA, so I went there routinely. As you know, I love to dance and I joined the square dancing class,” he said.
“Later, I switched to the ballroom class taught by Mr Allan Talma and Mr Clarke. Talma was very good, but later it was the classes by Albert Tudor who had studied ballroom dancing in England that helped me to better understand it. Tudor taught theory and practical.
“He gave us written sheets with arrangements, flow and movement. We read steps and patterns. He designed a dance as a movement across the whole room. It was not free style, so you had to respect your partner. Also, there were dress codes for the men and the women.”
After moving to the USA, Galloway first joined the cultural group URBONY. “Every day, I thank the late Grace Harewood who ran Forte Green Senior Citizens Centre for allowing the Modern Barbados Ballroom Dance Club to meet at the centre and also hold shows,” he said.
Looking back, Galloway now sees the centre as a YMCA for seniors but on a smaller scale. In an interview, he kept talking about the foundation the YMCA gave him. “As you can see, part of who I am was shaped by the YMCA.”
He went on: “Besides dancing, I loved to hang out at the YMCA because there were 30 different activities to choose from. Activities like basketball, billiards, boxing, cake icing classes, cricket, darts, field hockey, football, martial arts, snooker, square dancing, youth programmes and summer camps, to name a few.
Galloway did not include bridge or call names, but many doctors, famous cricketers, civil servants and teachers played bridge, snooker and billiards at the Barbados branch of the YMCA, a worldwide organization based in Geneva, Switzerland.
The ‘Y’ has more than two billion beneficiaries from 125 national associations worldwide. It puts Christian principles into practice by developing a healthy “body, mind, and spirit.”
When Galloway was growing up, the ‘Y’ was a safe haven and life line for a wide cross-section of Barbadians. Is he right? Aren’t organizations like the ‘Y’ organs and centres of influence in every society?