Forgotten World War II stories collected by Mulberry Egstorf

PHILIPSBURG–Author Mulberry Egstorf-Pantophlet presented her book A Different Stick o’ Fire: World War Two in the Caribbean, Fragments of a forgotten Legacy on Friday evening to a small but appreciative audience at Philipsburg Jubilee Library.

After a career in regular and special education, which earned her the honorary title “Miss Mac from Cul-de-Sac,” Egstorf became a researcher in science and technology. But, as it is with many things in life, one reverts back to one’s original profession, and even after retirement Egstorf feels the need to pass on knowledge to educate and stimulate youngsters in particular to broaden their horizon and become critical thinkers.

Her first book For a Stick of Fire tells about the resilience of Caribbean people during the 1950s and 1960s. In her new publication A Different Stick o’ Fire, the author brings the forgotten legacy of World War II in the Caribbean to the attention of the present-day generation and to those to come.

Egstorf’s motivation for writing the book is that oral reports, narratives, and memories of the role played by the Caribbean in the global fight for “freedom from tyranny” during World War II, are gradually fading as more and more informants are passing away.

“This compels those of us who have had any form of oral history pertaining to the War handed down to us by senior West Indians, to capitalise and expound on it for the sake of future generations,” according to the author.

During her childhood years on St. Maarten in the 1950s Egstorf and her brother would occasionally hear elders speak about “when Hitler had sent submarines all de way down here.” They would also relate how “they had try to bomb Aruba” and end with “Germans were out to rule de world, and down here too.”

The book indicates that the Caribbean region has its own authentic and compelling war-related narratives to tell, positioned against the background of the looming threat of Nazi domination. Overseas territories and colonial rulers alike were both up against a common enemy, who could only be defeated with combined efforts. In that respect, the legacy of World War II is a shared legacy. This is the reason the narratives in verse are supplemented with quotes in the Dutch language. Together they form an introductory “mosaic” for a Caribbean approach to World War II.

A Different Stick o’ Fire is written for an audience between the ages of 12 and 80, and is a read-out-loud book. The publication was realised with support of Prince Bernhard Culture Fund Caribbean Territory PBCCG.

Copies of the book were presented to PBCCG representatives, the Library and Danielle Jeffry, as well as to St. Maarten Academy’s Academic Section, Milton Peters College and St. Maarten’s National Heritage Museum.

Source: The Daily Herald