By Naomi Ambrose, Staff Writer
Last summer on a Sunday afternoon, my grandmother and I sat on her porch and sipped ice-cold homemade lemonade.
As we sat, my grandmother told me stories about her wonderful days at her Islanders Club meetings.
My grandmother was one of the founding members of the Islanders Club, established in Santa Helena on May 2, 1962.
“We were the oldest Islanders Club in Santa Helena,” my grandmother said, with a smile as bright as the sun. “Some of my fondest memories are from when I was the improvisation topics coordinator in 1965. That was a special year for us, the year that the rainbow lorikeet became our island’s national bird.
“To celebrate that special milestone, I brought a bag filled with mini hand-crocheted rainbow lorikeets for our members to use as props. I then called my fellow club members Mama Royce and Miss Catherina to use the lorikeets to celebrate their island heritage. Mama Royce stared at the lorikeets in amazement. Suddenly, Miss Catherina started to dance like a graceful ballroom dancer. Mama Royce swayed her head from one side to another. She couldn’t contain her excitement, joining Miss Catherina on the dance floor.
“Miss Catherina stopped dancing, faced the audience, and said, ‘Thank you, little lorikeet. Thank you for your companionship,’ in her little grandma-like voice.
“On July 20, 1973, I chaired the meeting. The theme was ‘Summer Games’ because that same year, the Santa Helena Summer Games were held in my hometown.
“I encouraged all the members to dress like Olympic Athletes. I tell you, child, the meeting was unforgettable,” my grandmother chuckled. “Some members dressed like gymnasts, while others wore long, dark blue swimming trunks with white goggles, ready to jump straight into the sea. Other members dressed like wrestlers. Lady Tora, another member, dashed into the room and shouted, ‘I received a gold medal in the 100-metre race!’”
“On November 12, 1986, I was the word-of-the-day-officer. My grandmother said she chose independence as the word of the day because in 1986, Santa Helena celebrated its own independence.
“The members sure found innovative ways to use the word independence in their improvisation monologues. In fact, during her monologue, Mama Royce jokingly said that her 23-year-old grandson would hopefully learn to cook when he achieved his independence in the next 1,986 years,” said Grandma.
I was so engrossed with my grandmother’s memories of her Islanders Club meetings that I was almost late for a meeting of my own! Before I got up from her brown wooden rocking chair, she held my hand and told me in her soft and gentle voice: “Always remember the exciting times you’ll experience at your own meetings.”
I haven’t forgotten her words since.