Every year somebody dear give us cause to shed a tear And mourn for they are gone. Now all that’s left is a faint memory. Based on the theme of a strange melody. Still we must think of them and recall their image with pride. Telling people from deep inside. This is dedicated to those who died.
Simple words cannot define the memories that fills the mind. Of those who are left behind. To some of us it’s a kin or a friend or a great love that was shared to the end. So it is our duty, I mean each and every one. See that their memories live on. Even though they are dead and gone.
—Memories by the
During the airing of a 1998 recorded Independence Show featuring calypso kings of the then 36 year of Independence, Errol Fabien, broke into the programme, coincidentally while Dennis “Sprangalang”Hall was doing emcee duties.
Errol’s voice unable to conceal his emotions came to tell us that Dennis had departed our company close to 10 pm. Another cultural icon, advocate and knowledge storehouse is gone.
On hearing this news, the words of Sparrow’s Memories immediately came to mind.
Immediately, my encounters with Dennis, who I knew as “Halls” over the years from the time I first encountered him in the first half of the decade of the 70s.
I spent at least a couple weeks of the August school vacation in those years with “family” in San Fernando, staying at the home of the Burgess family at the corner of Rushworth and Blanche Fraser Streets.
Those were my teenage years and San Fernando in those days was not only the industrial capital but also headquarters of the arts of our country.
Every evening, the regulars of the neighbourhood gathered for the ritualistic lime on the railings along Blanche Fraser Street. It was at those nightly gatherings and a few visits to the Hall’s residence on a street just off that one, that I had the distinct and memorable pleasure of schooling in matters of culture in the presence of Dennis and, to a lesser extent, Tony.
Among the Blanche Fraser Street lime, Dennis, Tony, twins Eli and Elias Williams, were the most involved in the cultural life of Sando and they were stage crew for several productions at the Naparima Bowl. Thanks to them I attended the first full stage production I ever attended (The Joker of Seville) which was on at the Bowl.
On the railings, Halls, had already developed his comedic oratorial skills and some of the signature phrases that became familiar to many in the course of his presence on stage, radio, tv, screen later. He was already in possession of vast amounts of knowledge of our nation’s cultural history and contributions.
“I’m telling you,” “and so on,” “Is ah dog show,” “speaking picoplatically from a keskidee point of view” and so many other phrases from the railings would also later come from the Draxie, in Cultural Sprangalang on Gayelle, the Show on Banyan TV and so many other places.
Under street lights almost as spotlights, Halls would also edify us on the various stages of tabanca, from chilinki to fralff and sarafatat.
His experience in the 1970 Revolution also helped to form his political and philosophical views which he never refused to share with anyone willing to listen.
In those days, and for years beyond, Dennis was involved in stage lighting and sound engineering, largely with productions by several communities in the Best Village Competition. Later, he had begun a series of shows at Mas Camp which led to the production of the Raw Kaiso CD recordings with Trinidad Rio, Zandolie and Blakie.
To describe Dennis “Sprangalang” Hall, aka Halls, as a veteran comedian and theatre practitioner, historian, actor, producer, talk show host, singer/composer, are not adequate to fully tell the story of the measure of this remarkable human being.
Dennis was a loyal and devoted patriot of this land of his birth and life, no matter how far his career opportunities took him in various parts of the world. He was a mentor, an encourager of young artistes and performers and supported many causes and campaigns to promote the interests of his Sando hometown and T&T overall.
After life and its demands on our time and efforts would have prevented the Blache Fraser Street form assembling in later years, I encountered Dennis when he came to live in my community. One afternoon, walking out of Trincity Mall, I saw this panel van pull up in the car park and the driver was a familiar face. As we chatted and he went to close the van, several tranches of stage lights and other equipment were in there.
The last time we spoke was at a client at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex a couple years ago. I have formed the view that when there are people with whom my life journey leads us to cross paths on at least a few occasions whether close or more dispersed in time, then all that those people bring to my life must be fully appreciated and be the basis of celebrating their having been here.
As Sparrow reminded us when we, as a collective, cross paths with the likes of Dennis, “it is our duty, I mean each and every one, See that their memories live on, Even though they are dead and gone.”
Let us celebrate the opportunity we had to have Dennis in our presence and cherish and pay homage to his contribution by preserving, defending and amplifying our cultural treasury and adding to it for the generations to come.
Our thanks to Natasha and his entire family circle for allowing us the opportunity. Accept our sympathies and love.