Monday, November 09, 2009

TIME MACHINE: Trinidad Carnival 1959.

The Ministry of Tourism has posted some Trinidad and Tobago Carnival video clips from the Carnival of 1959 on you tube.
On the videos you can see great Masters of the Art form such as Harold Saldenha and George Bailey in their prime, and their epic Carnival presentations crossing the Queens Park Savannah stage to become subjects of legend in the colourful history of  Trinidad an Tobago’s Carnival.
And for those of you who wish to know a little more about Trinidad Carnival 1959, here are some more facts.          

Carnival Monday and Tuesday of 1959 was on the 9th and 10th of February, the Road March of that year was ‘Run the Gunslingers’ by the Mighty Caruso, The Mighty Striker won the Calypso King competition for the second year in a row with the Calypso’s ‘Ban the hula hoop’, and ‘Comparison between West Indians in England and foreigners in Trinidad’.
The first Queen of the bands title was won by Esther Theodore “who portrayed the Empress Alexandra, wife of Nicholas II of Russia. She was from the San Fernando band Festival of Moscow”. (M. Anthony 1989, p274).
A lot of people debate if the period between the mid 1950’s and the early 1980’s can be considered the Golden Age of Carnival, but consider the names of the legendary Mas Men and bandleaders that competed against each other during this period and their presentations.
Spectators of 1959 would have witnessed a spectacle that composed of bands such as these...All Stars with over 1000 playing United States Naval Forces, Bobby Ammon’s ‘Conquistadores’ “ a band depicting the meeting between Spanish forces and Montezuma II just before the fall of Mexico at Christmas in 1521” (M. Anthony 1989, p276).
Irving Mc Williams ‘Feast of Belshazzar’, Neville Aming, ‘The Reign of the Ming’s,  Harold Saldenha’s ‘The Cree Indians of Canada’, and the band that won Band of the year, George Bailey’s ‘Relics of Egypt’. Bailey’s band also won the first people’s choice title. The band was made up of 350 members and divided into 15 sections portraying 36 dynasties of Ancient Egypt.
Saldenha’s band was made up of 550 members and 26 sections, the Irving Mc Williams band Feast of Belshazzar was made up of 502 members.
Carnival 1959 also saw an infamous Clash on the streets of POS between Desperadoes and San Juan All Stars leaving around 30 people injured, San Juan’s theme that year was ‘War Cry’, the Desperadoes presentation of Fruits and Flowers was destroyed in the battle. (M. Anthony 1989, p278).
One thing about looking at these videos there is no doubt that there is an evident decrease in the creative
efforts put into Mas since the late 1950’s , however one thing cannot be denied, then like now a fantastic time is always had by all.

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