Buxton pair married for 75 years

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By Neil Marks

He was 21, a labourer, and she was 15, a stay at home worker or “domestic” in her father’s “cake” shop.

The day after Christmas in 1942, they became Mr and Mrs Lorenzo Persaud. More than 75 years later, they are still married.

Theirs is an enduring love story that could be captured in “How I love you” by Engelbert Humperdinck, one of the musicians, apart from Johnny Mathis and Jim Reeves, Lorenzo is fond of:

You know me like a book
You’ve read a thousand times
We know each other’s hearts
We read each other’s minds
These feelings are always new
How I love you
How I love you

When Eileen Ramroop served a tired Lorenzo lemonade, sometimes mauby, on his way back from cutting grass to feed his father’s one heifer and two calves in the late 1930s, she hadn’t the slightest idea that she would be filling his desire for “sweet things” for the rest of her life.

Even if she stole glances at him, she wouldn’t have a say on how things would proceed.  In those days, it simply was not up to her, or him, to decide on who they would marry. That was a task for the elders in the family.

His runs past Eileen’s house was a regular chore for Lorenzo; he would get the grass for the cows on mornings before he went to school. Her grandfather ran the local “parlour” or cake shop in Buxton on the East Coast of Demerara. They lived just a few doors from each other and yet being “tired” was his excuse for getting a glass of lemonade or mauby from Eileen.

Lorenzo at age 18. The photo was taken for his driver’s licence

She was beautiful and unassuming, shy almost. Why, she had not outgrown her teenage years yet.

The morning stops at the parlour graduated to him buying lunch at Eileen’s. His father also visited the parlour from time to time.

At home, Lorenzo’s father figured more income was needed. While Lorenzo’s mother, Beatrice, stayed at home, Lorenzo’s father, Seepersaud, cut cane on the sugar estates, sometimes moving from the fields controlled by the estate at Lusignan and at other times the ones controlled by the estate at La Bonne Intention, both East Coast Demerara villages.

“Things were a bit hard, you know. It was British Guiana then; we were under the White man.”

Lorenzo secured the job as a grocery assistant. Now, making his own money, Lorenzo’s father figured it was time for him to get married. He asked Lorenzo about a “wedding” with Eileen.

“I gave the affirmative.”

While Lorenzo worked at her grandfather’s store, there was no such thing as a chance for any “sweet talk” between the two.

So, what made him agree to the marriage?

“She had a lot of respect for people at that time; she was never rude.”

Why did she agree?

“He was always a very hard worker.” His involvement in the church including singing in the choir, earned him a good reputation in the village also.

They were raised as staunch Anglicans.

The wedding was arranged.

Eileen, when she was pregnant with their ninth child

While Eileen’s parents were from Berbice, she was born in Buxton and grew up there; the wedding, though, was arranged for Berbice and Eileen returned their sometime before.

In the run up to the wedding, Lorenzo made a few trips to Berbice.

Their wedding invitation, preserved to this day, shows that they got married at the St Michael Parish Church in Fort Wellington on December 26, 1942.

“The Scottish Reverend Joseph Jones married us,” Lorenzo remembers.

The wedding invitations from both sides of the family

From the church ceremony, they made their way to Eileen’s family home for a reception, but a flood at that time did not allow the car to get all the way. So, Lorenzo and Eileen made their way to the reception venue in a boat.

The village was not that populated at the time and so the guests were not many, mostly relatives and friends.

After the wedding, they returned to Buxton, where Lorenzo’s father built a house for them on the same plot where he had his house.

Moving on from the grocery shop, Lorenzo found work as a labourer with the Works Department of the Colonial government. At one time, his job entailed “wetting” the dusty roads that were built at the time. At other times, he was part of the group that built the roads using “red brick.”

In the meantime, Eileen worked at home, cooking, cleaning and taking care of the children as they came along. And could she cook! Lorenzo is smart enough to say “everything” was delicious; but his specialties were mutton curry with dhall and rice, cook-up, Pepperpot, and soup “with nice beef.”

Lorenzo was then put to work as a porter in one of the stores of the Works Department, distributing building supplies as needed. He then became an assistant to the storekeeper and eventually, he was made a storekeeper.

He was then hired by the Finance Department to check the books of the Works Department in various parts of the colony. That took him across the coast and to interior locations.

All the while, Eileen was diligent at home, making sure that the children followed a disciplined way of life, that included them not being on the road after dark.

“She never worked anywhere; morning to night she was with the children,” Lorenzo recalls.

During the disturbances on the colony in the 1960s, the family fled Buxton and settled at Strathspey, also on the East Coast.

Lorenzo recalls that their home always had children; they had 11 children, and then the grandchildren, 22 in all, came later, followed by 29 great grandchildren.

“I would advise young people to read the Scriptures,” Lorenzo says, indicating that the Bible has sound advice for those who are married.

They both lived by that advice. Lorenzo was a hard worker who provided for his family and Eileen supported him loyally.

When they did have the occasional disagreements, they tried to keep that from anyone else, and they learned to forgive each other.

“She would overlook his errors. In fact, they wouldn’t harbour ill feelings and they wouldn’t talk bad about each other with others,” says Maureen, one of their daughters.

“For peace sake,” was an expression Eileen always used as a way of getting things to calm down.

These days, Lorenzo and Eileen live in Canada, where they have been since 1991.

Neither of them are as mobile as they used to be and much of their time is spent watching television.

Lorenzo is an avid fan of old western movies and names like The Crimson Pirate and Blood and Sand were the first he named when asked about his favourites.

He sits with Eileen and looks at soap operas and Judge Judy and the likes. While Eileen no longer cooks, she is the resident critic at home.

Lorenzo is now 96 and Eileen is 90.

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