a turn for the better
War years development of the steelpan and steelband.
WWII (1939 - 1945)
There were more ships in Port of Spain, more sailors at shore, more work for the war, more money; and last but not least of all, more Yanks.
Where there is no doubt that in Trinidad and Tobago the war years were a time of austerity, which deepened towards the wars climax under a British Colonial rule; the economy of the USA on the other hand, was undergoing a restructuring and boom due to the war effort. The presence of US troops and personnel on the islands, would spill out no insignificant amount of opportunist US$ into the back allies and dubious corners of Port of Spain, in particular, in the search for entertainment. This went directly and unaccounted into the pockets of the underprivileged of the area. The rank and file of our ever inventive pan pioneers.
The Yanks were here to protect the oil. From the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery in the South of the Island; and from Point Fortin even further in the South; oil was being produced in grater quantities because of this war effort. Refined products needed drums. The Yanks shipped them in, in quantity and in different sizes. The Yanks built a base at Chagaramas Bay, a few miles West out of Port of Spain. They stationed ships and sea planes there.
Bonanza! More drums; and more people to entertain with music!
So the prohibition due to war; and this time of the war, probably accelerated the early and necessary experimentation and development of the steelpan instrument, as the pan pioneers had nothing wider to do than entertain themselves and to keep out of trouble. This hastened by extension the growth of the steelband, simply by opportunity and necessity, and compressed part of the early development time scale, into the war years themselves.
A lot of this development would have probably been delayed another 5 years without the war.
[The Americans were called Yanks and The British were Limies; There were a lot of both groups in the islands; and they were called other things as well.]
[This reference is a matter of research for these pages]
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Historic Update: 19 April 1998; Last Update: 01 July 2014 14:48:00 TT
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