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Cynthia Rodriques

Cynthia Rodriques was born at home, on Richmond Green Farm, in St Mary, Jamaica, to parents - Egbert Stewart and Pauline Owens. When Pauline Owens started going into labor, Pauline's mother, Marian Owens told her youngest daughter, Elsie, who was about 7 years old at the time, to go get the midwife, Ms. Marry Taylor. The midwife immediately ran over to the Owens farm with Elsie.

"I stood outside the door listening to everything that was going on inside the room. I heard when the baby cried for the first time. It made me so excited and very happy," Aunt Elsie recalled, smiling, as she gave her account of the birth of her baby niece, Cynthia.

There was a big celebration on the farm and in the community too, because Cynthia was the first grandchild for Alexander and Marian Owens, they were quite affluent. Alexander was the manager at the Jamaica Railroad Company in Montego Bay. Although this was some distance from St. Mary, he commuted easily by rail between St. Mary and Montego Bay.

Cynthia grew up with her mother Pauline, aunts, Elsie, Lena, Ellen, Olga, uncles, Oscar and Ernest, and baby sister, Gwen, on the Owens family farm in Richmond Green.

They raised chickens, goats, pigs and horses, and cultivated bananas, coffee, chocolate, pimento, breadfruit and ackee on the farm. They were happy in this tropical paradise.

Cynthia made beautiful memories on the farm with her mother, grandparents, aunts, uncles and the neighbors in the district, and attended Jackson All Age School in St. Mary, and then went on to Secondary school.

There was a big jackfruit tree on the farm, and just about every other day, Cynthia, her aunts and mom, would go to pick jackfruit. However almost every time they attempted to do this, a large green lizard would challenge them by bobbing his head up and down and sticking out the bright orange dewlap under his throat. The girls would run screaming down the hill without the jackfruit. They all felt maybe it was a ghost (duppy) that had taken on the form of the lizard to stop them from getting the jackfruit.
Cynthia her sister Gwen and their aunts, were quite mischievous as most children are, so they got into trouble sometimes. There was a lady in the district - Ms. Liddy who had an Avocado Pear tree, she also grew sugar cane. Cynthia, Gwen and also Elsie, Lena and Ellen could not resist picking pears from this tree and breaking the cane without permission on the way to school. They would eat the cane on their journey, but hide the pears in the bushes and get them on their way home from school. They loved to torment Ms. Liddy, and so, though she would complain about their behavior and they would be punished, they persisted in their actions.

After her grandparents passed away, Cynthia, her mother Pauline, sister Gwen, and the remaining family members moved from St Mary to Kingston as there were more opportunities there. The family all lived on Lady Huggins Avenue in the Grants Pen Area. 

The years went by, and Cynthia had 2 children - Ian and Michelle. Gwen, Cynthia's sister, migrated to London, England, and later, sponsored Cynthia, there. For her trip to England, Cynthia wore a beautiful dress Aunt Elsie made for her. Uncle Jimmy drove Aunt Elsie, her mother Pauline, and all the aunts, her children Ian and Michelle, her sisters Evelyn, Delta and brother Hector went to the wharf at the intersection of King Street and Duke Street to see Cynthia off. It was very exciting and emotional, Cynthia was crying, but although she knew she would miss everybody, she was also happy to be embarking on this new phase of her life.  Ian and Michelle, who had stayed in Jamaica, eventually joined Cynthia in London. Sometime later, Cynthia married Rupert. She had another daughter – Jennifer.  Cynthia became a Registered Nurse in London. 

Both Cynthia and Gwen lived in Halstead and Kentish Town in London, England, where they raised their families. Every Friday, Cynthia and Gwen would fry fritters and invite their friends and family over to start the weekend, it was a fun time for the families. Gwen and Cynthia enjoyed shopping at the Queens Market in Halstead. Cynthia had an air about her that made her stand out. After living in London for many years Gwen used to joke that Cynthia acted like the Queen of England. 

Cynthia eventually relocated to New York, and then New Jersey, USA, in the 70’s the nursing board required that all Registered Nurses obtain a bachelor’s degree. Cynthia, enrolled in Jersey City State College and quickly obtained her BSN Degree. Cynthia believed in education, and tried to inspire excellence in this area, not only in her children, but in anyone who would listen to her. Cynthia moved to West Palm Beach Florida, and worked at the Hospital there as the Head nurse, for many years.
After the funeral of our mother, Pauline, who passed away in 2008, family members from London, Canada, California and New York, had a wonderful family reunion at the Riu Rios Hotel in Jamaica. We also went to see the Richmond Green Farm, the Jackson All Age School where they saw their birth certificates in a book, and the church my mom, Pauline, all of our aunts, uncles, Cynthia and Gwen had attended; Broad Stone River where they used to bathe and wash clothes, and all the other locations that had been a part of their growing up years. Aunt Elsie, Cynthia and Gwen thought that part of the trip was more wonderful than the rest. That was the first time I saw Cynthia so excited. WOW! And she continued to share more memories with us about her childhood. You could see the sparkle in her eyes. I think that journey into the past made a very positive impression on all of us. It was a wonderful day. The trip not only highlighted some of their great experiences, but reconnected our family. 

Image by Pedro Monteiro

The Owens Family