Wed | Jun 19, 2024

Advertorial | Grange Hill is the birthplace of Crystal Evans, an Amazon Caribbean Bestselling author and publisher

Published:Friday | May 24, 2024 | 3:41 PM

The following content is created and paid for by Crystal Evans

In her introduction to her historiography book on Grange Hill, Crystal Evans writes, "I have created a town, Glambas, fictional but representing a town I grew up in, with people like my older relatives hanging on to an expired post colonial past and the emerging millennials with debauch lifestyles rippled with flashy cars, seedy gangs, and burgeoning badmind."

"I have sought to make sense of this chaos. I do it a lot, writing this new piece (I've used parts of this introduction before) and I drown out the shouts of my tyrannical grandmother trying to prevent my intransigent four-year-old from eating out of the Lasco. I ignore it. For many times, the people in my life, big or small, are overbearing, and my otherwise quiet and reserved nature makes me resentful of their loud, despotic, and intrusive ways."

"My grandmother asks me questions about people I don't know or should know. My granny isn't the brightest. In our small, immediate (not extended) family, I am possibly the first with any real, tangible formal education. My granny frequently pesters me with questions about things I have no time to explain. Her inquiries are at best innocent and at worst frivolous."

"This town that I am a product of is rife with highs and lows, it is imminent in its history. Great people came from Grange Hill, great people lived in Grange Hill, were born in Grange Hill, but great people also leave. Nothing attests to this more than the colonial house juxtaposed to the local health centre and the police station, with a rotting 1962 Mercedes-Benz in the dilapidated garage."

"This book is an ode to my grandmother, pictured here some thirty years ago before I was born. This is a photograph cropped from her passport issued to her in the 1970s. When I listen to the stories from my eighty-year-old grandmother, I understand why I am the way I am. I am a progeny of trying people."

"I wanted to limit this historical book to Grange Hill, but it wouldn't be fair to my grandmother as her life's journey went beyond Grange Hill and Frome, and she spent years at the Ricketts River Holiness church."

"About fifty years ago, Blossom Bennett decided to relocate to Westmoreland. She was pregnant with my father, and she gave birth to him on Westmoreland soil. My family came here almost six decades ago, and my grandmother told me they first lived in a rental complex more popularly known around that time as a tenement yard. This rental complex was where Mr. Thompson lives now (Basil Thompson's father). I know about housing like these; there was one beside Mass Taylor's yard, where Froggy house is now, beside Dimple at Mint Road."

"My grandmother lived at Frome, Grange Hill, before making her home at Mint Road. I met my grandmother at four years old. When some guy dropped me off at the ball field, I don't remember this man; I don't know if he is dead or alive, and I don't know his face."

"In retrospect, my upbringing has taught me conclusively the meaning of life: don't treat its meaning as if it were something you find. It's not. It's something you build. It's what you create. I've seen people, I know people, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, artistes, investors, great people who are a product of that community, people of unborn opportunities like myself."

"Grange Hill is a complex town, my father often said. 'Anno wah easy place!'"

"Grange Hill has both built and broken me. It's not exclusive to this community; it's everywhere. People are everywhere. I hope this book brings back glory to a place marred by violence and decadence, so that it won't just be a place where great people were born and then they leave, or their progeny leave and never come back."

Evans's introduction is poignant and heartfelt. She had this to say, “People are often shocked to know that I am from Grange Hill. Most people in Grange Hill don't know about my writing career. People don't really celebrate great minds in that socioeconomic atmosphere. It's a rather superficial place. Considering my research of the history of Grange Hill and the historiography I published, Grange Hill was once a great town, ran by the Storers. The ruins of the family mausoleum is still down by Belle Isle Road, and I am disappointed that the Jamaica Heritage Body has not seen it fit to preserve our historical features. The Grange Hill Anglican Church Cemetery will reaffirm the legacy of Grange Hill.”

Crystal Evans has been writing since high school but decided to pursue writing full-time in 2010 when she registered as a Caricom publisher after unsuccessfully trying to score a deal with a traditional publisher. She registered with the Jamaica National Library and published her first social commentary book.

“I started out with that book because it kind of reflected some observations I made during the early adulthood phase of my life. I also wanted a voice, and the Internet was slowly becoming a main recourse for small voices to be heard through blogs! Hence why I started my blog. I must big up Courts Jamaica for crediting me via hire purchase that first laptop. That first computer was a game changer for me!”

The former Manning's School graduate is also a fledgling businesswoman specialising in business development, consultation, and remote work specialty.

“I've made many mistakes in business, but I've learned from them! Once you are eager and committed to your vision, mistakes are like criticism; you might feel hurt and exposed, but you take what's for you from it and leave the rest. In your quiet moments, you sift through and take what's yours and leave the rest!”

Evans plans to complete an updated version of the Historiography of Western Jamaica book by adding new material she discovered in her research in hopes of highlighting more successful people from Grange Hill.

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