Amy Johnson Crow “no story too small” suggested that we write a story to Define “nice” however you want to 🙂
Our family historian Nita, shares a “Nice” Ole Time Christmas Story with her grandson Dominick Scott.
Anita Chanette Elaine (Bough) Moorhead
Anita Moorhead was born on October 25, 1918, the daughter of Joseph E. Bough and Alice M. (Smith) Bough both of St. Croix, Virgin Islands. She is also the granddaughter of David Bough and Elizabeth (Prince) Bough as well as Emma (Mueller) Smith of St. Croix and William Smith of Tortola. In 1942, she married Adrian L. Moorheard.
Nita, as she was affectionately called by family was a very effective Teacher as early as 1937 at the Frederiksted Grammar School and the Christiansted Grammar School. After 40 years of teaching she retired from Pearl B Larsen School in 1977. She received the award of “teacher of the year” occasionally. As a teacher she impacted the lives of many Virgin Islanders. She was an active member of the Lord God of Sabaoth Church overseeing confirmation classes and acolyte training.
Anita Bough-Moorhead was our Family historian. Cousin Nita was proud of her Bough Heritage and was an inspiration for the first Bough family reunion in the late 90’s. She created the first family tree for the reunion and as my interest in the history and genealogy grew, we shared information. I became 100% consumed with this knowledge and began blogging my genealogical journey. Her love and the way she reached out and kept up with family was just incredible.
More importantly, she shared with her grandson Dominick Scott a treasure trove on how Christmas was celebrated when she was a child. Each time I read this composition by my cousin, I get into the seasonal mood. I hope you will enjoy this as much as I have each year. Curl up with your sweet bread and guava berry drink and listen as dear “Nita” describes to her grandson about an Ole Time Christmas.
Old-Time Crucian Christmas. Whim Museum, St. Croix, USVI personal photograph by author 2013
An Ole Time Christmas written by Dominick Scott
According to my great-grandmother, Anita Moorhead in the 1920’s the Christmas season in St. Croix began after Thanksgiving. People started to get the stores ready. Most of the goods came from Denmark and England. Most of the merchants were natives; there were one or two European merchants and some Puerto Ricans. Her father Joseph Bough was a merchant at that time. Everywhere there was a festive air. The stores would be decorated with garlands and other Christmas decoration like colored lanterns.
Women with large wooden trays sat under the galleries of Company Street and King Street selling candies. The candies were all homemade. They were: coconut sugar cakes that were colored brown, pink and white; brown, white, or pink losenges; peppermint candies; peanut sugar cake, and dundaslau.
“Coming Home to St Croix” Old time candy, St. Croix USVI personal photograph by author 2015
There was also a candy that was similar to a lollipop that was shaped in the form of an animal to which a stick has been inserted called sugar babies. The sticks were decorated with allkinds of colored paper. Sweet Breads and all kinds of buns were sold. Rusk was a small sweet bun that twas cut in half and baked until it became very hard and crusty. People ate it with their tea.
On Christmas Eve night, the streets were crowded with people because most everybody lived in town. The only people who lived in the country were those who worked on the estates. There were no fireworks as there is today, but people would walk around blowing horns and lighting Roman candles and firing thunderbolts. After church, carolers went about the streets singing Christmas carols and visiting various homes. They were given money, sweet bread, guava berry liqueur or cherry herring drink.
Sweet bread and ham were delicacies for the season. Breakfast on Christmas morning consisted of sweet bread and ham with cocoa or tea. All during the season sweet bread and ham were eaten for breakfast. Dinner was either baked chicken or duck, which was usually raised by the family. There was no cold storage. There was only an ice box. With the chicken or duck, potato stuffing and home gown vegetables like beets, carrots, corn, or string beans were eaten. There were no soda factories. The common drinks were maubi, ginger beer, or punch made from many of our fruits – guava, gooseberry, plum, sour sop and tamarind. People visited families and friends after dinner. One would always be served sweet bread, guava berry liqueur, cherry herring, or Danish brandy.
Christmas Second Day was one of great celebrations. There were masquerades dancing throughout the streets from noon until six in the evening. This occurred on all the streets not just down one street. People would look out their window and the troupes would stop and dance under the windows. People would throw down money for them. Some people would follow the troupes that they liked best, just like today when people follow a tramp. The types of troupes were The Bull, David and Goliath, Donkey Want Water, Indians, Mocko Jumbies and other pretty troupes.
Personal photograph by author 2015
Christmas at that time was joyous and safe. There were no crimes or violence. Everyone had a good time.
On March 19, 2015 we lost our dear relative, she was 97 years old. Nita=Nice.
http://www.visharoots.org/ St. Croix Population Database
http://home.ancestry.com/ US Federal Census, 1920,1930,1940
In Celebration of Life Anita Bough Moorhead. St. Croix: funeral booklet., 2015.
Scott, Dominick. “Ole Time Christmas.” (class composition)