Legacy of the School Vendor: The Way We Were
By: Lear Matthews
Whether it was Ms. Murray, Ms. Stefie or Auntie Gertie, her presence represented an impressionable dimension of the educational environment of primary school children since the 1950’s and to a lesser extent, today. She has been a daytime fixture occupying an unsolicited “spot” outside the school building, either near a lantern post, under one of Guyana’s massive oaks or a tattered umbrella sheltering from the beaming sun. Typically, she was a simple middle-aged woman wearing a plain dress, matching “head tie” or straw hat and apron with side pockets. Fondly known as “the sweetie Lady”, this veritable street vendor was a beloved entrepreneur peddling a potpourri of local snacks. She sold a variety of succulent and tart indigenous fruit, arguably of some nutritional value, sweets and beverages displayed on a shallow, well-worn unpainted wooden tray.
Popular items were green mango, tamarind, golden apple, guinep, dunks, sugar-cake, coconut ice, chip chip, hard sweetie (nevah done), lump, tamarind balls, plantain chips, chicken foot, mittai, fudge, channa, phulourie, flutie, and custard block.