Our condolences to the family of another beacon, Dickson Benjamin.
A tribute to Dickson Benjamin by Anthony ‘Cortex; DeCoteau.
There were already three Benjamin brothers in the GBSS when I became a student there. During my stay the number increased to 5, from Osbert (Punjab) the oldest and a Master, to Layne the youngest. Other than my friend Michael, all the others have since departed.
The latest of the brothers to move to the world beyond is Dickson Benjamin also known as “Benji” and “Dick.”
Unlike his older brothers, Michael and Cecil, Dick was not much interested in sports, whether it was football or cricket or athletics. Despite many pleas to join us, Dick would rather watch from the sidelines. But Dick was a boy in love and that’s what he will always be remembered by his contemporary Hostel mates for. Hostel boys couldn’t just leave the Hostel to stay overnight at anyone’s home without first getting parental permission and then approval from the Hostel Master, who at that time was Sir Paul Scoon. That made sense when you consider that each year Sir Paul was ultimately responsible for the whereabouts and well-being of 52 boys varying in ages. One weekend, Dick was hell-bent on visiting his girlfriend Myrna, who eventually became his wife. So he cooked up a scheme and went to our favorite swimming place. There, he rubbed sea grapes or “manchineel”(sp) all over his face. Whether he knew how dangerous it was or not, I do not recall, but the long and short of it was the fruits turned Dick’s face into a hideous monster, the likes of which only Hollywood’s make-up men would have been proud.
That drastic measure did not help Dick one bit. Instead of him being sent home to Victoria where Myrna was sure to visit him, Dick was confined for a week or so in the Hostel’s “sick bay” room where he recovered under the loving care of the Hostel’s matron, Mrs. Brathwaite (MaBraff as we all fondly called her). Unfortunately for him, the Hostel allowed no visiting privileges to girlfriends.
We were both holidaying when I ran into Dick in Gouyave one Fish Friday night. The dark, though fading patches on his face remained with him as a constant reminder of how madly in love he was.
Dick joins his many brothers and sister(s) who have long since left us. My deepest sympathies go out to his family and relatives. May Dickson “Dick” Benjamin rest in peace.
*** The offer is still open to readers to write a blog-piece on the GBSS Hostel (or other boarding schools), the GBSS, and related experiences deriving therefrom.