The Way I See It

A Nevispages weekly feature by Curtis Morton Sr

The way I see it, we do not always recognize and appreciate how much people have impacted our lives, until, sadly, after they are gone.

As I sit to write this week, I have fond memories of Hugh Raphael RAFFIE Wallace.  Due to my love for the game of Cricket, I can vividly recall my first close up view of RAFFIE.  Embedded in my mind, is the very energetic and spritely fast bowler, sprinting in from the pavilion end.

There was a noticeable red spot on the right side of his trousers, because as the late commentator, Hugh Claxton would say: ‘He is rubbing the ball vigorously in his flannels!”

Well I newa!

Fast forward several years and now having to face RAFFIE as a batsman in a cup match at Ball Pasture.  It was a nerve-racking experience because he totally enjoyed terrorizing batsmen and I was an easy target.

Fast forward yet again and as a Sports journalist, I had many interactions with RAFFIE.

He was very present at matches that I would be recording and was never shy in voicing his opinion of a batsman or a bowler, or a fielder for that matter and that right LOUDLY!  This week I focus on a few choice moments with the great man.

RAFFIE forced me to learn to swim, even though he did not know it officially.  I was just about 20 years old and very conscious of the fact that I did not know how to swim.  Not that I never wanted to learn, but in our early years of growing up in Fenton Hill, we were forbidden by our parents, to even venture to the nearby bays with the other boys of the village.

Our beach excursions were far and in between and that was when Daddy would take the family to the beach.  He was a strong swimmer and tried to teach us to swim, but all of us were afraid to venture out further than where we could stand comfortably (emphasis on COMFORTABLY).

So, on this particular day, I was at Gallows Bay, with a group of persons from my church.  Most of them could swim and I was feeling uncomfortable, as the spoilsport in the bunch.  As I looked up the beach, I saw Raffie, walking towards us on the sand.  It suddenly occurred to me that the last person I would want to know about my impediment was Raffie.

So I proceeded further out into the water with deep dread and trepidation and stood with water just about my shoulders.  As Raffie got closer I commenced throwing my hands in a swimming motion, but of course, I was walking.  I was comforted in the fact that he could not see my feet.

He passed by and he said not a word. Not a word in English!  I breathed a sigh of relief.  My secret was safe with me and the group.

That same afternoon, I had the occasion to go to Grove Park, to video record a Cricket match.  Everything was going fine until I heard Raffie’s voice, loud and clear from the pavilion:  “Bwoy ley me tell you all bout Sandopey.  He dung Gallows bay this morning with some little children and some women and he alone can’t swim!”

The heckling proved so much that I could not concentrate on my recording and I jumped the wall close to the school and caught a bus and went home.  I must admit that I was not very happy with Raffie that day.

However, as I reflected, I purposed in my heart that I had to learn to swim.

So, the following day I made some queries as to persons who could really teach pole to swim. Someone recommended JOB. I don’t remember his real name but he is Shirley’s brother. Shirley who used to sell those nice parched nuts, from Ramsbury.

Now I knew JOB well because he would have represented Nevis as a very outstanding wicketkeeper.  I spoke to Job and told him what Raffie had done and he promised to teach me to swim.

Thereafter, we had an arrangement: I would ride my little Chappy to town every morning and meet him at Gallows Bay.  This went on for several weeks and then one day, thanks to Job, I pushed off in the waters at Gallows Bay and swam way outside of my comfort zone and back to shore, much to the approval of my teacher.

A few months later, our church was having an activity at Oualie beach and while I was in the water, Raffie passed by again.  This time, it was a totally different me.  I dove into the water, swam out for a bit and asked Raffie to join me.

I was shocked at his response: “Out dey mek for fish.’

I was puzzled, but Elquemedo Willet recently told me that Raffie was never a good swimmer.

Well I newa!

That was Raffie for you.

I had another interesting encounter with Raffie.

One day, as I was driving through Ramsbury, I passed a group of boys from the Charlestown Primary School.  As I passed them, I heard a loud bang on the door of the bus.

I braked suddenly and all four boys TEK HEAD MEK FOOT!  I examined the bus and noted a slight dent.

I made a query as to the names of the boys from some other students and they gave me two names.

When I found the first boy, he indicated that the stone was thrown by a certain Philo Wallace, but that they all ran because they were scared.  I went to Raffie’s home and after hearing me out, he asked if I wanted compensation and I told him No.

What he said he was going to do with Philo when he got home and how he was going to do it, ought not to be repeated.  However, I eventually managed to persuade him to just talk to Philo and not to ‘wash him in.’

Philo later developed to be one of Nevis’ finest young cricketers, before his untimely demise.

There was another occasion when Raffie was asked to manage a Nevis under 13 Cricket team on a trip to St. Maarten.  Raffie told me that one of the youngsters lost his passport and as they were helping him to search for it, one of the other youngsters asked Raffie how the guy would get home without his passport.

Raffie told me that he told the youngster, that he would have to tear out a page from his and lend him so he could get home.  The youngster went for his passport and was about to tear out a page  when Raffie stopped him and told him: ‘Bwoy a joke me a mek!”

That was Raffie for you.

This last one.

It was obvious that Raffie was ailing, in recent times and it was commendable that his sister Sandrine and his brother in law, Elquemedo, took time out to care for him even bringing him to watch his beloved cricket matches.

Raffie may have been walking slowly, but there was certainly nothing wrong with that mouth and sharp tongue of his.

We were at the Park one afternoon, watching a cricket match.  Augustine Merchant and Elquemedo Willet were sitting in the pavilion chatting.  I thought to myself that this would be a good photo opportunity, but I wanted Raffie in the frame as well.

I asked Raffie to go and sit with them and his response was hilarious: ‘Me nar go sit with dem two old man dey. They going mek me feel old!’

That was the Raffie I knew.

He was a determined individual; hard trier and immensely humorous.

I again extend condolences to his surviving family members and I hope that before he gave his last breath, that he would have made his calling and election sure.

I would sure love some more fun moments with the great Raffie, in heaven

That’s the way I see it. How do you see it?

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