“This man had a distinct flair for prose that creatively and vividly took us back to a bygone era…”
Prolific writer and historian, P. Anthony White
Photo: David Knowles
By Hadassah Deleveaux (née Hall)
I miss P. Anthony White.
In my opinion, he was the nation’s BEST storyteller. To this day, I have yet to read the work of any other Bahamian, whose writing so compellingly interweaves history, culture, politics and government, sprinkled with humour.
P. Anthony was an historian and a gifted, extraordinary storyteller wrapped in one. The work of this literary artist remains unrivaled locally. This man had a distinct flair for prose that creatively and vividly took us back to a bygone era, when over the hill was way more respected. Really, he was our record keeper.
P. Anthony’s work revealed what the history books didn’t. From folk history to neighbourly kindnesses, his delightful writing was absolutely fascinating and if I happened to gain access to a Punch, the one column I had to read was his. He educated me. Ultimately, he refused to allow us to forget from whence we came. He was this lone voice prolifically writing about our history on a weekly basis, including memories from the prominent to the average old lady down the street – who probably wasn’t so average in his eyes. He did it not for accolades, but from the heart.
P. Anthony White and former Free National Movement (FNM) Member of Parliament, Sylvia Scriven.
Photo: Derek Smith
I believe if P. Anthony were alive, he would be proud of what I’m trying to do with my over the hill blog. If anyone would support my wilderness experiences, it would definitely be him. I’m sure he would have so many facts to share and people for me to write about. He undoubtedly would have emailed or called to critique my work. In fact, I remember one time receiving a phone call from P. Anthony shortly after anchoring the one o’clock radio report. He promptly corrected me about a term I had misused. He then took the time to explain when it should be used. It made me realize he cared enough to correct me and secondly, he was listening. I accepted and respected his constructive criticism. After all, this was P. Anthony White.
Initially trained in journalism by the late Cyril Stevenson of The Nassau Herald, “The White Boy,” as he was affectionately called, served as a New York correspondent for The Nassau Herald and spent three years at the New York Herald-Tribune. His writing and communications strategies were so respected locally that he was placed in high esteem by the Free National Movement (FNM) and former Prime Minister, the Right Honourable, Hubert Ingraham – writing his speeches and the party’s press statements.
From left to right: P. Anthony White, the Right Honourable Hubert A. Ingraham and
Photo: P. Anthony White
Then Minister of Labour, Randol Fawkes, congratulating P. Anthony White on his heed to the call to return home to help build the nation.
Photo courtesy of Rosalie Fawkes
Meanwhile, P. Anthony was clearly proud of his Grants Town roots. And even back in 1999/2000 when he had a birthday party, instead of it being held at a fancy restaurant or hotel, I remember him choosing to host it at the Zanzibar on Baillou Hill Road. That was the first and last time I was in that place, but it was his birthday and I was honoured to have been invited.
This giant of a Bahamian writer might have long moved away from the over the hill area, but his roots were so deeply entrenched, he spent a lot of time there still, whether attending his beloved St. Agnes Anglican Church or meeting up with friends at one of the eateries and/or bars. His naval string was deeply buried in Grants Town. He loved that place!
Additionally, I still remember the day I met P. Anthony. I was fresh out of college and had not begun working at The Nassau Guardian as yet. I applied to a particular organization for a writing position and P. Anthony was the interviewer. Even though I didn’t get the job, he clearly followed my work to the point of writing about me in his column and years later, felt confident enough in my writing to ask me to produce a few articles for a magazine he once published and edited.
So as I sit here and am feeling a bit nostalgic, I remember the extraordinary P. Anthony, who passed away six years ago this month at the age of 73. Certainly, his skills have been passed on to his daughters Tuesday and Adair – who are also writers – but who in The Bahamas could ever take his place?
I salute my storytelling mentor. He is gone, but his literary prowess lives on in his writings.
For what it’s worth.