I Had Been There

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While touring a property in Jamaica which was once a sugar plantation, I 'met' a slave named Jacob, who said :"Tell my story".

The one-time Counting House is now a honeymoon suite at Good Hope Plantation in Jamaica. Plantation owner John Tharp, a ...

BOB DOWNING/TNS

The one-time Counting House is now a honeymoon suite at Good Hope Plantation in Jamaica. Plantation owner John Tharp, a major sugar trader, built the structure to house his business operations.

An article on slave quarters reminded me of an experience I am sharing publicly with some amount of trepidation.   Many years ago,I went with a video crew to interview the owner of one of our old plantation estates, Good Hope in Trelawny (Jamaica). As executive producer, I wasn't part of the production crew. I went along out of curiousity and was therefore free to make my own observations of what I saw. 
   The tour was intensive and extensive and our guide, Patrick Tennyson, whose family owned the estate at that time was very knowledgeable about the estate.   He took us all over the estate, some parts in ruins, and he give us the history of intriguing old buildings where they produced the lucrative sugar, the old slave hospital, old stone walls, beautiful landscape, and the well preserved Great House.

MY EXPERIENCE
   There was a section with just rubble with the remains of one or two rusty old iron implements. This was the slave quarters. I have no explanation of what I experienced on this site after he informed us that this was the area where the slaves were housed. There are a couple seconds of my life that time reversed and I 'met' a slave called Jacob who instructed me to tell his story. I still get goose pimples when I recall the incident. I felt as if I actually was transported into past time seeing huts and people dimly – everything ghostly. It could only have been a brief time because nobody sensed that anything was wrong with me.    For the rest of the day I followed the crew and our guide around in a daze. But all that I saw burned into my imagination, so some time later I wrote Jacob's story. It was published, in1991, in my collection of short stories titled Singerman by Peepal Tree Press as Jacob Bubbles.    This is a very scary story for which I have absolutely no explanation. I re- read the story just now. It still scares me, and I am sad that so much of it can still be considered contemporary, for Jacob's story got mixed up with his descendant, Bubbles.

  

 

P.S.
The Good Hope Plantation, about 13km south of Falmouth, was started in 1744, after Col. Thomas Williams got a land grant of 1,000 acres. He built a house that was later demolished and started a sugar factory by the river.

It was once the home of a Jamaican planter who was one of the wealthiest men in the Americas. Today the 2,000-acre estate offers tours of the Great House and outdoor activities.

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