It was in Williamsville, along the Guaracara Tabaquite Road

This photo taken on Feb 23 2013 at the Asa Wright Nature Centre, a converted cocoa plantation, is just a reminder of what it felt like to visit my grandparents home as a child in the Tabaquite hills.

In the 1930's, Evelyn lived with her parents and fours brothers in Tabaquite near Williamsville, a village along the Guaracara Tabaquite Road in the central hills on the island of Trinidad.

At the turn of the century, Tabaquite transitioned from sleepy cocoa village after the discovery of extensive oil deposits in the area.

During the early days, there was no pipeline system at the Tabaquite operations so the crude oil and natural gas was directed from the wells through earthen drains into a large pit or sump.
Pitch-oil, also known as Kerosene is a derivative of petroleum and this was an important product since, at the time, there was no electric power in the island outside of Port-of-Spain.

Evelyn was the only girl in her family and at nine years old she was already her Mom's right-hand with housekeeping, laundry  and especially in the kitchen.
One of her jobs after school was to collect the Pitch-Oil from one such abandoned Pitch-Oil sumps which drained at the back of the family home, a long way down the hill, pass the kitchen garden and the Out-house.

Evelyn would use this fuel to start a fire under the coal-pot for cooking dinner.
The boys also had chores after school - Bal, the eldest, then Morris, Herman, Raymond and Frank.
There were chickens and goats to tend to. The garden needed watering.

The family also owned some quarry land across the main road and as the boys grew older and stronger, they worked wheelbarrowing gravel into trucks to be sold for essential roadway construction.

Sweet Spot

Everyday after school there was a sweet spot between Schools out and when Pa appeared on his horse.
The children had a little time to themselves for play.

All the siblings were outside playing after school in the yard - pitching marbles, running after the cat, enjoying some fun before getting to work.

The family at Piarco airport when brother Morris leaves with his young family for Venezuela around 1955.

Mama was in the kitchen as she usually was after school.
Pa, the head of the household, John Seucharan was the local headmaster and usually home by 5.

The afternoon breeze was cool and everyone was in a playful mood.
Frank was up in the mango tree.
His job today was Look Out so when Pa appeared on his horse in the distance down the hill, he would give the signal,
"Pa coming!"
All man would scatter and get busy with their daily activities.

But today would be different.

When Evelyn struck a match to start the fire, she had not realized that the Pitch-Oil tin had been leaking and immediately exploded.
Pa was coming up the hill, It happened so fast. By the time, they got Evelyn into the buggy to the hospital, she was gone  "quiet and peaceful".

Raymond was five or six years old. This story is what he recalls.

Evelyn again

John and his partner would go on to have four more children - Malcolm and three daughters; Elizabeth (Elsie), Victoria (Dulcie), Wilma.

It was important to John that his children attend college.
Jobs were readily available for his sons in the oil and gas industry. Elizabeth and Victoria attending college.

By 1955, Victoria was a teacher and Elizabeth had landed the job of executive assistant to the General Manager at Texaco Oil company.
In the Geological Drafting Department, Elizabeth met the only other woman working there at that time.

Her name was Evelyn and they became fast best friends, both lovers of fashion, femininity and enjoying their new-found personal freedom.

Evelyn was an only child who grew up in the city and was excited to be invited for a weekend at the country home of her friend,  Elizabeth.
When Evelyn arrived, Elizabeth's mother broke down.
She hugged her and quietly wept the words in Spanish, which was her native Venezuelan tongue,

"My Evelyn has returned".

Photo note:
In the mid 1950's, the entire family travelled to the airport at Piarco to bid farewell to Morris, dressed in a suit, leaving for Puerta La Cruz, Venezuela with his wife and three young children, pictured here, top row.
Top row from left: Victoria, Elizabeth, Morris, Baby Ian with Mom, Evelyn, Mama, baby Steve with Mom, young Louisa and Wilma.
Bottom row from left: Malcolm, young Tenny, Raymond, Herman, Frank.

History of the Area

Find out more about how Tabaquite went from a sleepy cocoa belt village to Trinidad Central Oilfields.
Even in the Unites States, there were no pipelines at the time of this length for transit of light crude which made the Tabaquite-Claxton Bay trajectory a world first. Because the deposits were shallow, output at Tabaquite fell in the years following 1919 and by 1939, around the time Evelyn died, Trinidad Central Oilfields ceased to exist.

READ: The Rise and Fall

by Angelo Bissessarsingh. Sat Jul 16 2016.
Angelo Bissessarsingh was an historian and author from Trinidad and Tobago.
His written works include A Walk Back in Time: Snapshots of the History of Trinidad and Tobago.  Wikipedia.

December 26, 2019

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