Haverblog is always happy to turn over its space to Haverfordians who wish to discuss topics and people of HC interest, Today’s guest Haverblogger is the irrepressible F. Scott Kimmich ’51, who writes concerning a very special Ford, Evan Jones ’49. Take it away, Scotty:
A few years ago, I was watching The Favorite Program Project, where ordinary Americans read their favorite poems….A baker from Hartford began to recite poem called The Song of the Banana Man…Not only did I know the poem but I knew its author, Evan Jones ’49. I called Evan the next day in the UK and put him in touch with the baker and they had a long gabfest about the poem and its impact t on the Jamaican people.
Whenever I meet Jamaican people, I ask them about the Song and most of them can recite it word for word. I was visiting grandchildren in a camp this summer and meta Jamaican woman who gushed with joy when I told her I knew its author. The Banana Man has become an anthem of Jamaican folkways that speaks to the resiliency, fierce independence and pride shared by Jamaicans. We have nothing to compare it with in American literature, no single short work that describes us as a people, serves as a rallying cry, makes us proud to be Americans. Evan wrote most of the Song as a graduate student at Oxford, where he argued with friends about the future of West Indian poetry, whether it should be written in the native idiom or in standard English. Evan decided on a mixture.
Later on after finishing the poem and publishing it to instantaneous acclaim, Evan wrote textbooks for the West Indian educational system. Meeting with Trinidad’s Minister of Education, an imposing black woman, Evan informed her he was the author of the Song.
“‘No, you’re not,” she shot back, “you’re not big enough and you’re not black enough.”
He was big enough to be a bona fide Haverford sports hero. Evan was a forward starter on the varsity soccer team from his arrival at Haverford in fall, 1945. He was extremely fast, shifty, and a great ball handler with a deadly eye and strong foot, scoring 46 goals in four years at Haverford, which played fewer games then, mostly against colleges currently in NCAA Division I. He was named to the 1st All-American squad in 1946 and 1947, and captained the 1948 team whose center halfback, Andy Lucine ’50,edged him out for another All-American berth. In the spring, Evan ran the sprints for Pop Haddleton while at the same time playing cricket. He won more varsity letters than all but a tiny elite of other Haverford all-around athletes.
Scotty Kimmich waxes eloquent on Evan’s subsequent career, including two years at Oxford, administering a UN/Quaker refugee camp in Gaza, teaching, writing plays, scripts and screenplays for TV and the movies on themes of racial tension and our common humanity. Scott Kimmich can tell you a lot more. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org and he’ll e-mail you a wonderful article he’s written on Evan’s past, present and future (especially daughters Melissa and Sadie, now well-known authors in their own right.) If you do, you’ll be even more proud of Evan, Scotty and Haverford!
(And read the Song. You can easily find it on the Internet and even listen to that baker from Hartford’s rendition at youtube.com.)