Johnny New-come was not a real person. Johnny New-come was in fact the general name given to young Englishmen, many of whom were military officers, on their initial arrival in the British West Indies. For many of the Johnny New-comes who came to Jamaica during its thriving period as a sugar colony during the 18th century, their main objective was to seek their fortunes from the sugar industry. Unfortunately, their lives in the colonies were cut short by the deadly diseases spread by a particularly small, pesky and annoying insect: the mosquito.
On Sunday, September 1, 1957, at around 11: 30 p.m., “a train consisting of two diesel engines ahead of twelve wooden coaches crowded with passengers – reportedly about 1,600 the majority members of a day excursion organised by St. Anne’s Catholic Church, Kingston, …, was approaching Kendal, a small station prior to Williamsfield, on its way back to Kingston from Montego Bay” (Daily Gleaner, Tuesday, September 3, 1957, pg. 1).
The day was Wednesday, January 13, 1993. I had just turned 14 years old on that memorable day and, being very proud in achieving this milestone in my budding teen years, I strutted through the day at school on the proverbial cloud nine.
To round off this Gilbert remembrance week we revisit Titus, Sleepy and Myrtle in their episode of Titus in Town called “Kilbert” for this edition of Jamaican Echoes’ Blast from the Past post.
When it seemed as if Jamaicans would be eating bully beef for the rest of 1988 and forever sweeping out water from their homes after hurricane Gilbert’s passage, Lloyd Lovindeer reminded us of the perfect remedy for such miserable situations: “Tek bad tings mek joke!”
Today marks the 22nd anniversary of one of the worst hurricane disasters in Jamaica’s history: Hurricane Gilbert. Gilbert made landfall on the east coast of Jamaica at 10.00 a.m. on Monday, September 12. As it began its passage over the island the eye measured about 15 miles across (colossal!), while wind speeds, recorded in the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA), averaged 75 mph, gusting to nearly 150 mph and producing a 9-foot storm surge along Jamaica’s northeast coast. This made Gilbert a dangerous category 4 hurricane on the Saffir Simpson scale.
The annual six-month long Atlantic hurricane season begins today, Tuesday, June 1, 2010. The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Centre predicts an “active to extremely active” hurricane season. What does this mean for Jamaica and the Caribbean on a whole: PREPARE!!!
The newspapers operating in Kingston at this time that got back into operation soon after the disaster were the Jamaica Gleaner and the Daily Telegraph. Of the two the Jamaica Gleaner was the first to resume operations with a shortened version of their usual paper on Saturday, January 19, 1907.
On Monday, January 14, 1907, at exactly 3:30 p.m., the business and residential districts of Kingston, Jamaica, tumbled down after the first major shock of an earthquake, estimated to have lasted upwards of 35 seconds. But the earthquake was only the beginning. Major fires broke out immediately throughout the city, bringing further death and destruction wherever the hungry flames fanned their orange tongues.