Many people who grew up on St. Martin before the tourism era remember hard times. The search for work abroad separated many families. At home, it often took hard work and resourcefulness to make ends meet. In an interview in 2018, Delphine David shared some of her memories:
My name is Delphine David, born the 11th of October, 1940 on St. Martin. My mother taught us to cook from young, and secondly, my father was in Aruba. So, my mother had to be the father and mother. So, when she go out to make a dollar, I had to stay home and mind the other brothers and sister. Many days I couldn’t go to school, ‘cause I had to stay home with them.
I used to make johnny cake, fry up johnny cake, with them, with the bush tea. My favorite thing was fish and dumpling. And fried chicken, I had to kill the chicken and then cook it. So, we used to eat fresh things in those days. It’s not like now, you go in the shop and buy a box of chicken. No, I had to go out there and catch a fowl, clean it, season it and cook it for them.
When I was growing up, things were so bad with my mother that she will buy a bag of flour, a big bag of flour. And where she throw the flour, I don’t know. But she used to take the bag, the flour bag, wash it good, put it in the sun, let the sun draw out the marks. She used to crochet, so she will take that bag, measure us, and crochet right around, fix our waist, tie our waist with a string, and that was our outfit.
At the tender age of fifteen years, I went on to Aruba. I lived there for sixteen years. Got married and I divorced. I came home with my two kids.
Sometimes we’d go on a beach, celebrate parties on the beach. The music box in the tree. And a barbecue grill, we was barbecuing chicken, spare ribs. And we had a coal pot cooking rice, rice and peas. We left home with everything raw and when we reach there, we cook it.
Living as a single mother alone with two kids, all I can remember is that I worked very hard. But after I raised my two kids, send them on to scholarship, they’re my happy life. Never had no one to worry about.