Notes: I don’t know if the tradition continues today, but most of my West Indian friends were brought up with tales of Anancy, the clever spider, who is a character taken from West African folk tales.
“Club” refers to the old Virgin Island custom of family and friends helping one another out when big jobs needed to be done. The one holding club would traditionally prepare food and beverages for the helpers and would be available if called upon to do club work for someone else.
The term “to resen” means, “to baptize”.
The man referred to as Roy is Roy Sewer, then seventeen years old. Roy Sewer was later to become the Island Administrator for St. John and the principal of the Julius Sprauve School.
“Roy…heard the discussion, and heard us speak of Anancy, the clever spider who figures in West African folk tales as a kind of culture hero. That night…Roy brought us some of the Anancy stories current in St. John, all written out by himself. Here is one:
Once upon a time, there were two spiders, one name Bru Tuckomar and the other Bru Anancy.
One day, Bru Tuckomar said to Bru Anancy, “Bru, would like you to help me cut some wood.”
Bru Anancy said, “Surely. I will willingly help you.”
So Bru Tuckomar said, “I will cook peas soup for your lunch.”
So, when the day came for the wood to cut, he cook the soup before they began to work. After he finish cook, he said, “Let us go to work.” And they went.
About 9: 30, Bru Anancy said, “Lord have marsey, every day resenin’ bastard child! Resenin’ child so!”
But, before they went to work, he hang a pan in the tree and whenever the wind blow, the pan made a loud sound much like a bell.
So he would say, “Bru, I have to go to resen that child.”
Bru Tuckomar said, “All right, you go.” He went right where the pot was and began to eat. He ate one third of the soup and went back to work. When he reach, he said, “Well, I resen the good-for-nothing!”
Bru Tuckomar said, “What the child’s name?”
“Just Begin,” said Anancy.
They work until about eleven and the pan made the same noise. Bru Anancy stop work and listen. Bru Tuckomar said, “I hear a call, Bru. They must be calling you to a next resening.”
Anancy said, “Hell! Then I wish all them damn children would die. Anyway, me go.”
And he went, and he did resen the child! He ate about three fourths of the food and went back.
What this child’s name?” said Bru Tuckomar.
“Half Gone,” said Anancy.
Bru Tuckomar said, “Quare names, indeed!’
Anancy said “Half Gone” because there was less than that in the pot from what there was at first.
So they work and conversed and, all of a sudden, a big wind come and the pan call again for the rest of the food to be finish. Bru Anancy made as if he didn’t hear a sound and Bru Tuckomar said, “Bru, them is call again for you to resen another bastard child.”
Bru Anancy made believe that he didn’t want to go. Bru Tuckomar said, “You know it is your duty to go, so go.”
And Anancy began to swar and say all manner of thing so Bru Tuckomar would think he didn’t want to go. But it was just from joy. He want to make a finishing touch.
He went and all was gone this time so, when he went back, Bru Tuckomar said, “What’s the name?”
“None Left For You!”
“What? None Left for Me! The idear of such a name for a child!”
When the club finish, the two left for food and rest. But, to Bru Tuckomar surprise, the pot was empty. They look at one another.
Bru Tuckomar said, “I know the children had funny names!” and he rush for Anancy. But Bru Anancy, being too fast, side-slip him, and cut his head off with a cutlash.
And since that, spiders never keep club.”
(From the book, Escape To The Tropics, by Desmond Holdridge, Harcourt Brace and Company, NY 1937.)