Is Story Of 17 Year Old Boy With Cross True Curepe and the First Steel Pan

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Curepe and the First Steel Pan

A certain Lloyd Valentine Williams claims that the globally adored but once hated steel pan was actually conceived in Curepe, not Port-of-Spain, the capital of Trinidad. Williams also claims that he, during his childhood, invented the famous instrument as a toy for himself and his impoverished siblings.

The people of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as around the world, have long heard and are used to the frying pan being a Port-of-Spain invention that arrived via the ‘music’ or ‘music’ bin that is played on paint, milk and tin cans. git. This line of history claims that a disturbance during a ‘carnival’ in 1935 forced string band leader Alexander Forde of Alexander’s Ragtime Band to call out his band members by banging a trash can several times. His actions, according to the story, not only had the desired effect of regrouping the band members and taking them home, but also inadvertently spawned the ‘trash music’ that ‘flooded’ the streets the following year. Lloyd Valentine Williams, who was born in Woodford Street, Curepe in 1934, refutes this idea as complete and utter nonsense. “Why,” Williams said, “would a string band equipped with established instruments use trash cans for music?” But there is something more to this story about a famous string band from the past. It is known that the Alexander Ragtime Band got its name from the American film of the same name, but that film was not released until 1938, three years after the band leader’s legendary actions on the streets of Port-of-Spain.

Another claim to the invention of the steel pan was that of George Goddard who stated in his book that a Laventille man named Fred Corbin was the first to play tin pans in the hills overlooking downtown Port-of-Spain in 1937. These were, of course, vessels for paint, milk, putty, or other goods, and not real musical instruments with notes tuned by the heat of the fire. They couldn’t be anywhere near what is now known as the steel pan because the city’s long-standing ordinance against lighting fires was still intact. ‘Any hint of smoke’ according to Williams, ‘would warrant a visit from the fire brigade and the police.’ This therefore eliminated any kind of real setup in Port of Spain. He claims that both units were one and the same when he was a boy.

I won’t entertain Winston ‘Spree’ Simon’s story which is as bogus as it comes, but during my own research into the origins of the instrument all I kept coming across were short fragmented stories here and there or myth-like vignettes told 10 different ways; nothing concrete, substantial or consistently coherent was or is available. Over time, many of these stories grew to the status of fact and were the basis for books, documentaries, speeches and anecdotes. It was only when I came into contact with the experiences of Lloyd Valentine Williams that I breathed in the fragrance of the truth about the invention of the only musical instrument of the 20th century. After all, something has to come from somewhere; there has to be a beginning and it certainly wasn’t with trash cans and paint cans which are both ridiculous.

According to Mr. Williams, ping-pong, as it was then called, began with his desire for a squirrel. Told by his sister that one could easily pass out from the guava tree where they regularly moved if the can were hit repeatedly with a piece of wood, young Williams accepted the challenge. Unable to find the can, Williams found a galvanized basin and furiously hit it with a piece of guava branch which yielded nothing; not a single squirrel fell. The only things he achieved were dents in the sink and a mild scolding from his mother who was told by a naughty sister that his chores were being neglected.

But when Williams’ stepfather, a cruel man who worked in a public works workshop in Laventille, began bringing home cut-up 25-gallon steel drums to use as troughs to feed the family’s greedy pigs, the early steel pan, or what was then known like ping-pong it started to take shape. Williams told me that he had always been fascinated by sound of all kinds, and claimed that the sound emanating from his mother’s sewing machine was the first that ever captivated him. This later led him to always play or hit with old pieces of iron from the railway track, a metal cart wheel and an old sunrise biscuit drum, among other things. Williams also made it clear that while he was never a musician, he was always somehow drawn to sound.

He claims that after hollowing out his ‘squirrel basin’ he took a lump of coal and marked four places on

sorry piece of electroplating and started playing with it as a toy. The 25-gallon pig trough, according to Williams, was even more attractive as a game; ‘after all,’ he said, ‘we, as poor children, didn’t have a china doll or a toy soldier to play with, we had to make our toys out of the dung heaps in our backyards.’ As with the sunken pool, he marked four spots with a piece of charcoal based on the cart wheel segments and grooved them with a piece of an old hammer and the edge of a worn bicycle pedal. This crude ‘instrument’ he claims was actually the first ping-pong/pan. The first time it was ‘played’, Williams said, was on Christmas morning in 1940. He claims that the existing iron bands in town would get together around Christmas and play in people’s homes and he became intrigued when they saw his little steel toy. An iron band leader and bicycle repairman named Clebert, better known as ‘Shanghai’, was the first to adopt his little ping-pong for iron band use. Williams claims that Clebert later modified his ping-pong by heating (or tuning) it, transforming it into an instrument worthy of playing along with pieces of iron at Christmas time. He also claims that around this time it was never used during masquerades or carnivals; that festival had its own musical instruments a long time ago. The fire ordinance that swept Port-of-Spain had little effect in Curepe, Williams said, since almost every area outside the city is unofficially considered “country.” This is very plausible as even today many Port-of-Spain residents refer to most places, even built up urbanized areas outside the city, as “country”. It may sound a little strange, but this is something I have personally experienced.

Williams said passengers on a train passing through Curepe began spreading knowledge of the instrument after hearing the beautiful music it made. The first place outside Curepe, he claims, to use a steel pan was the southern town of Siparia, which used it during its La Divina Pastora festival. From there it was worn on beach trips and played every Christmas, but never for a masquerade ball or carnival dominated by white Roman Catholics.

Williams claims that while Port-of-Spain had rhythm sections, tambu bamboo, brass and string bands, they knew nothing about ping-pong or pans. He said that the first man to introduce the city to the new instrument was Mango Rose, owner of Laventille club (casino) Teddy Kingsale who frequented Curepe and immediately liked ping-pong. Williams said Kingsale took a young Curepe called ‘Mice’ to his club to play the instrument to the delight of onlookers, some of whom had probably never seen or heard the instrument played before. After World War II, Williams said, the steel pan began to make waves and was included in the daily VE (Victory in Europe) and VJ (Victory over Japan) street parades in 1945. Williams said its popularity in the Port – of-Spain caught fire when a Calypsonian whose name he can’t remember sang a song that said “Port-of-Spain almost caught fire when a steel band crossed a dry river, Ziglee, Pops and Batasby play ah semitone tune, jung -bang- ka-jung-bank-ka-jung-bank-ka.” This song, according to Williams, clearly states that a steel band came from outside the city and caused quite a commotion upon entering. Existing city bands also couldn’t play a full tune because of the instruments they had at the time.

Port-of-Spain would later dominate and claim the steel pan as their own and little by little a movement developed in the city. But while Williams was an integral part of the burgeoning steel band scene, he never became a pan player or musician. His vocation was in mechanics, and personal difficulties together with private ambitions forced him to seek his daily bread. At the same time, innovators and players such as Ellie Mannette, Neville Jules and Winston ‘Spree’ Simon began to emerge as the 55-gallon oil drum was introduced and tuned in Port-of-Spain which was then exempt from the burning ban. fire. And as Williams’ trials and tribulations mounted, his experience with pigs and ‘Shanghai’ genius got lost in the fog of fantastic new stories that began to emerge around town about the birth of the frying pan. Williams said he clearly remembers Neville Jules coming to Curepe to learn how to adjust a pan.

Today, various names are mentioned in connection with the steel vessel and its origin; Lloyd Valentine Williams is not among them because, according to him, his life took a different course and as mentioned earlier, he was never a musician; just a lover of sound and rhythm. Without thinking, everyone who enters this topic makes the grave mistake of claiming that the ‘pan man’ invented the steel pan or that it was invented somewhere in the ‘panda’. But it could never be; there could not have been such things before the instrument itself was invented. And it was called ping-pong long before it was called a steel pan.

Space wouldn’t allow me to include everything Williams relayed, but there’s much more to learn about the fascinating experiences of a man who claims he was just trying to create a toy for himself and his siblings to play with on Christmas morning from their parents. were too poor to buy devices made in stores for them. However, Williams stands head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to the authentic story of the origin of the steel vessel. He lived in the United States; worked for General Motors; owned their own houses, vehicles and businesses; and even visited National Invention Services Inc, in New York in 1994. He also tried to convey his version of events to people such as George Goddard, Kim Johnson, Aldwyn Primus, Rocky McCullen and JW Lynch, but was either ignored or imprisoned. But why would such a man want to lie about an instrument whose origins are buried in myth and legend? And even worse is the supposed desire of those at the helm to keep their genesis shrouded in mysterious, fantastic stories and weak pontifications like divine inspiration. As previously stated, all things must have an origin; they have to come from somewhere, there is always a beginning. And no serious academic or intellectual would give credence to any ‘divine inspiration’.

Although Lloyd Valentine Williams claims to have invented the original ping-pong/steel pan, he consistently credits the innovation of well-known pan exponents who contributed to the development of his little Christmas toy. Those interested can follow the link below to get an instructive and educational experience in full because this article doesn’t even tell the half of it.

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