Tribute to the Late Sir Paul Scoon of Grenada By Herman Hall
Most Grenadians, the Caribbean and world communities would probably remember the late Sir Paul Scoon (July 4, 1935 to September 2, 2013) as the head of state during Grenada’s most trying time – 1979 to 1983 – in its modern history. In 1978, Paul Scoon was appointed Governor General by Queen Elizabeth II on the advice of Prime Minister Eric Gairy. The next year, 1979, Governor General Sir Paul Scoon experienced the overthrow of Gairy in a coup d’état led by Maurice Bishop and Bernard Coard. Surprisingly, Sir Paul remained Governor General during the Bishop years. After the assassination of Bishop, the destruction of the People’s Revolutionary Government and the invasion/rescue mission by the U.S., Sir Paul led Grenada back to constitutional government and the path to Western style democracy. That’s how world history records him.
However, a group of men in their 50s and 60s have fond memories of Sir Paul from a totally different setting. He was their geography master when they attended the Grenada Boys’ Secondary School (GBSS.) That group includes me.
A special group, and I am also included, will always remember Sir Paul Scoon as our hostel master. Many country boys and boys from the islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique lived at the GBSS Hostel during school semesters. He provided fatherly responsibilities to all 52 hostel boys daily. He instilled discipline in us and taught us table etiquette such as showing us how to hold a spoon in a different angle when having porridge as opposed to when having soup. He made sure we were up at 6am, Mondays-Fridays, to exercise. On Sundays, Paul Scoon made sure each boy attended the church the boy parents desired. Led by Mr. Scoon, boys arrived for meals – breakfast, lunch, tea and supper – on time even on Carnival Mondays and Tuesdays.
Paul Scoon impacted the lives of all of us who were hostel boys. He molded us into disciplined and productive men and we are indebted to him.
Long before that, even before I was ten, I heard of Paul Scoon and I sometimes saw him in Gouyave where he was born and raised and when he visited Belvidere estate with Miss Camela, his mother. Miss Camela was a vendor in the Gouyave market place. She sold peanuts, blood pudding, sugar-cake and other edible items. She was what Jamaicans call a higgler. Later with the financial assistance of her children, she became a shopkeeper (bodega owner.)
Some of Paul Scoon family lived on Belvidere estate where I grew up. My family knew Miss Camela and they were proud of Miss Camela raising all three children Paul, Ausbert and Norma, and two older ones by herself. The fact that all her children were growing up into fine citizens won her more admiration.
I remember how Mr. Brighton, Sir Paul Uncle, and Frederick Adams, the man who raised me, were elated when Paul Scoon graduated from the GBSS and was hired as a master or teacher at the GBSS. They did not anticipate a boy from a poor family in Gouyave, a boy who came to Clozier and Belvidere to help his mother carry provisions to Gouyave, would become a master at the famed GBSS.
Can you imagine how Mr. Brighton, Miss Mae, his wife, Frederick Adams and other laborers felt years later when Paul Scoon, the first Grenadian from an ordinary and humble family, was sworn-in as Governor-General of Grenada? I was already residing in NY but Frederick Adams (Papa) in a letter told me how Mr. Brighton happily cried for days to know his nephew was Governor General of Grenada.
Back to my teenage years and Paul Scoon, the teacher: I am a hostel boy and Hostel Master oHoScoon would occasionally ask me, “Hall, how is your Uncle Frederick?“
So I regarded Paul Scoon as family. Moreover, we were from the same St. John’s Parish and were nurtured in the same environment. Frederick Adams attended the St. John’s Anglican School between 1908-1914, Paul Scoon in the 1940’s and me from 1952-1958.
Years later Herman Hall Communications would become agent for Sir Paul’s autobiography in the US as the relationship forged at GBSS endured through time.
Only Last Friday, August 31, at midnight during Brooklyn’s Calypso-Soca Tent, I made reference to Sir Paul Scoon teasing Clarence Jeffrey, the lone Trinidadian student at the hostel, when Trinidad & Tobago achieved independence on August 31, 1962. As we, the hostel boys dined a few days later, in September, when school reopened, Scoon wittingly remarked, “Jeffery! Now that Trinidad has gained its independence, you think you are a big man.“
As Grenada and the region mourn the passing of this Caribbean titan, I am certain that most hostel boys who were fortunate to have lived under his jurisdiction are very saddened and tearful of Sir. Paul’s passing as I am.