Mrs. Moulda Beache Archie
I had made two calls that day to verify the address of this lady I was going to interview. As the female person on the other end of the phone gave me the directions again, I tried to picture the location and as far as I knew, there were no houses opposite the Botanic Gardens access from Crooks River in Scarborough. Nonetheless, at 3:30 in the afternoon, I got my cameraman and off we went to find this house location that I couldn’t imagine.
We got there close to 4:00 pm and surely enough there was a quaint, antique house opposite the entrance, just as the directions said, almost unnoticeable because of the trees in the yard and the vines that semi covered the fence. Standing at the doorway beautifully adorned in a hand woven dress, we met Mrs. Moulda Beache Archie as she stood, evidently expecting us; a warm smile lit her face welcoming us to her humble abode.
Being the mother of two sons, one a well known businessman, and the other, this country’s Chief Justice, she admitted never having had a desire for a daughter. As the smile blossomed on her face, she exuded simplicity and humility, not quite what one might expect for a woman who has accomplished all that she has.
We exchanged greetings as she invited us into the dwelling. As I sat looking around at all the antique furniture, nicely displayed in the family room, I felt like I was in a time machine and had gone back to a time when Tobago was Tobago. I later found out that this family, had moved to the current location 8 years after marriage and have been residing at this site for over 50 years; having previously lived on a nearby spot now occupied by the Tambrin Radio station.
This house stood against the elements, having passed through Hurricane Flora in 1962, when many had expected it to slide down. Those were the days when ventilation blocks cost 4cents, and cellutex was only 8cents.
Enthusiasm caused me to ask about her very unusual name, “Moulda” and what might be its meaning. She said she didn’t know, but chuckled as she went on to explain that
By: Rhea Richardson George
maybe someone saw that she would be a “moulder of great minds and thus the name Moulda. Beautiful explanation, I thought, as we continued to chat about her teaching career. Teachers long ago, she said, seemed to have more passion, they had a relationship with their students as there was a much stronger sense of community, and even parents and teachers worked hand in hand to develop a well rounded child. Teaching was her passion and if given an opportunity to live life all over again, she wouldn’t change a thing. She says proudly, that she knew since she was a child that teaching was her thing, as she would discipline and reprimand the steps and the trees with ruler in hand. Of the hundreds of students whom she taught over the years, several names seem etched in her memory, such as Edwin Carrington, Dr. Learie B. Luke, Russel Martineau, Winston Dillon, Dr. Eastlyn McKenzie, Shelton Nichols, Hollis Lynch, Stephan Gift, Claire Alexander, Claudette Allard, Gwenyth Armstrong and Curtis Yeates, most of whom have become agents of change for the development of Tobago.
Early on in her career, she was involved in Girl Guides, but got very busy teaching and studying for external exams that she had to give it up. Having been skipped ahead by two levels, she did the senior Cambridge at age 15 and placed 15th in the top twenty in Trinidad and Tobago. Always having had a love for Mathematics, she had to drop the subject, as her teacher at the time had just gotten married and left and there was no immediate relief for the class. After studying, at age 17, she was immediately offered a job at Bishops High School. A job she took very seriously, as she wound up teaching students who were much older than she was. She tilted her head over and smiled as she recollected, how nice they were to her back then.
Although Moulda gets assistance twice weekly with the other chores she admitted that together she and her husband William, made quite the team in the kitchen as she still enjoys doing her own cooking. She would usually bake bread and him, the cakes and sweet bread.
The evening was winding down, so I asked about her about her leisure time and how it is usually spent. Her face lit up as she said tennis and sleep. She is not shy, as she informs us that she is the easiest person to fall asleep. By the time the sun is setting, so is she, with a routine bedtime of 7pm. With that she shared a fond memory of being in form three at Bishops High School and having had a friend stay at her home for some time. This friend later confessed that, while at school she had often heard Archie, speak of her early bedtime, but had never believed her until she had come to stay at her family’s home.
She shared about her earlier years of travelling with her husband and when asked about their two sons, and who cared for them when she and Willaim travelled, she happily mentions her sister, who at the time owned and operated a drug store, in Point Fortin, and was always happy to have her two nephews from Tobago, visit, while their parents were away. Among the places visited, she recounts Venezuala, Surname, Aruba, Curacao, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, Canada, Columbia, America, England, across the Channel, Holland, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Isle of Capri and Venice. She leans her head, with a wondering look on her face, and indicates that there were other countries, but she was unable to remember them at that time. Most of their travels were aboard either one of two ships given to Trinidad by the Canadian Government at that time; the Federal Palm and the Federal Maple.
She admits that she has lived a wonderful life and owes it all to the Glory of God. “God, has been so good to us, don’t know how to thank him. I’ve been married for 57 ½ years and counting, have 2 loving and devoted sons, 5 grand children, very loving, a praying family, God is good” she ended.