"Easton Lee was born to a Chinese father and a Jamaican mother of mixed
racial heritage in the 1930s at Wait-abit, Trelawny, Jamaica. The family
lived in several villages and towns as his parents 'moved shop' in search
of a livelihood. Life was different then - no television, no telephones,
inadequate road systems, no radio. The life of rural communities revolved
and evolved around the church, the school and the village shop. The
majority of these shops were owned and operated by Chinese families. Lee
recalls that many evenings during his elementary schooldays were spent
under the counter of his parents' shop so he could be near to his mother as
she attended to customers and helped him with homework. Customers, unaware
of his presence, often discussed the village happenings and their private
business in the most intimate details, giving him insight and information
not otherwise available. His mother who was born at the run of the century
fed him with stories and legends she had gleaned from her older relatives.
An avid reader and a great storyteller, she often entertained her children
and their friends with fascinating tales she had read or had heard in her
childhood. His attention later turned to his Chinese heritage with his
father and other Chinese relatives providing the link to that source. He
found to his amazement that those teachings were not all that different
from those of other sources, and in some instances were identical. This
lively interest in and knowledge of Jamaican folklore which began in his
schooldays was broadened and enhanced when, in adulthood, he went to work
with Jamaica Social Welfare Commission, now the Social Development
Commission, in a job which took him to every corner of the country. "

Easton Lee—From Behind The Counter - Poems From A Rural Jamaican Experience

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