On a recent thrift store outing, I struck upon a clutch of postcards, including many from Trinidad and Tobago. I didn’t have any postcards from there! So I picked three from Queen’s Park Savannah in the capital, Port of Spain. They seem to be from the 1970s.
The Savannah is a 260 acre circular park. The 2.2 mile road around it is the world’s largest roundabout!
On the sign to the far left, the stand advertises:
Snowball & Milk
Mauby & Milk
I couldn’t find what they meant by “snowball”–something ice cream based?–but I did learn about mauby. Mauby is a tea concoction, often fermented like kombucha, and popular all over the Caribbean (going by slightly different names). It’s made by boiling buckthorn tree bark, with added sugar and spices like anise. It seems to be mostly bought in syrup form for people to mix their own. But in Trinidad and Tobago, Pepsi sells bottled Mauby Fizzz–carbonated, unfermented mauby.
Along with both Pepsi and Coca-Cola, the signs offer what seems to be called Solo Juc. There’s also a cigarette brand I can’t quite make out, something like “Makehit.” Please comment if you know about either of these!
As for the painting of the turbaned snowcone man all in white, the country’s largest ethnic group is East Indian (35%)–basically equal with the African population at 34%.
Stollmeyer’s Castle, completed 1904
In 1830s Philadelphia, a German immigrant and abolitionist named Conrad F. Stollmeyer again pulled up roots to co-found a utopian community in South America. His ship was supposed to arrive in Caracas, but due to a cholera epidemic there, it turned back and dropped anchor in Trinidad. And so did Stollmeyer. He discovered oil in the south of the island, and bought up land, presumably for his utopian community.
Conrad had a son whom he named after the French philosopher associated with utopian-socialism, Charles Fourier. Charles Fourier Stollmeyer expanded his father’s business, becoming a contractor and asphalt manufacturer. In 1902, he used his wealth, not to live up to his namesake, but to build a home based on a wing of the British royal family’s Balmoral Castle in Scotland.
So there it was, plopped on the western edge of the Savannah in Port of Spain, and his wife decided it was too fancy to be the home in which they’d retire. They ended up giving it to their son, Conrad C. Stollmeyer, and his wife as a wedding present. The bride had hoped to honeymoon in Ireland, and, in a blow to the Scots, named the castle Killarney.
The U.S. military took it over as a base of operations during WWII.
Stollmeyer’s Castle saw several owners up to 1979, when the government of Trinidad and Tobago bought it. It’s currently being converted into more offices for the prime minister’s staff. The castle neighbors Whitehall, the prime minister’s offices. Stollmeyer’s Castle and Whitehall share the street with five other late-Victorian mansions, together known as the Magnificent Seven.
This is one of my favorite things about postcards. They entice me to learn about places I’ve never been. I knew nothing about Trinidad and Tobago. Now I know a little more than nothing.