A recap…. War was still raging. Cecil’s Nephew, Vin, had been working as a farmer in America. Cecil had studied at the Farm School in Kingston. It was now his turn to go to the States.
A bit of updated information before we move on…. Sometime in the 1930’s, Cecil had been to Kingston. He watched the West Indies or a Jamaica XI cricket team, play at Sabina Park. He came into contact with West Indian stars, including the best of the bunch, George Headley, the world-famous West Indian batsman.
George Headley, born in Panama but living in Jamaica, was a world-class batsman. He was known as the “black Bradman” in reference to the white Australian legend Don Bradman, who was known as the greatest ever batsman of cricket.
George Headley saw Cecil play and rated him very highly. He thought Cecil was a great batsman, once saying to him “How come I have never heard of you before?” “you should have been a West Indian test player” It was not the last time that George and Cecil would cross paths….
31st May 1944
Back to Cecil the farmer…. Sometime after attaining his agricultural education, 32-year-old Cecil Hodgson was issued with an American visa at Kingston on the 23rd March 1944. The visa stipulated that he was allowed to stay in America for 8 months.
His mother, Mabel Hodgson of Southfield was listed as his nearest relative. Described as a negro he boarded the Marine Robin at Kingston. With his passage being paid by the U.S Government, the ship headed out from Kingston Harbour on the 31st May 1944.
He was now on his way to America to work as an “Agricultural Labourer” I know nothing of his journey experience. I really wish that I could have spoken to Uncle Cecil about his travels.
Five days after sailing off, the Marine Robin docked at New York on the 5th June. In New York, Cecil visited his brother and sister Maurice and Ida Mae. Both were married with children. “I remember when Uncle Cecil visited us in 1944, he took me shopping in New York and brought me a Scottish tartan plaid skirt” (Telephone Conversation with Ida Mae’s daughter, Lorrelle Henry, née Burkley. 30th April 2006.)
Cecil became an American Farmer, helping the war effort. He would have faced all the issues that his Nephew Vin had gone through the year before. After eight months farming, his visa expired. His American adventure was over. On the 25th January 1945, Cecil went back to Southfield, Jamaica. However, he still had his heart set on moving abroad….
“It is amazing to think what our ancestors went through back in those days. Racism, war, bombs and death. These were all the huge hazards they faced to make a better life for themselves. We should all be very proud of our Jamaican ancestors. Robert Roy Hodgson
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Next Blog: The Family Mourns
Later This Month: On English Soil