by Howard Campbell
[SOUTH FLORIDA] – A respected legal mind, Marlon A. Hill is one of the people who have made South Florida’s Jamaican Diaspora a vibrant force. Born in Kingston, he credits the discipline learned there as a youth for his adult diligence.
Growing up in Kingston, there was plenty to see and do. More than enough to satisfy his curious mind.
New Providence Primary School Days
“Though my maternal and paternal roots were grounded in Spanish Town, St. Catherine, Lucea, Hanover and Montego Bay, St. James, my childhood memories were rooted in the streets of Kingston and St Andrew. I was born at Andrews Hospital on Hope Road, hence my middle name. My grandmother had been a primary school teacher for many years and my early years were spent as one of her first grade students at New Providence Primary School, nestled between the contrasting communities of Standpipe and Hope Pastures in Liguanea,” he recalled.
At New Providence, Hill said there was no special treatment from his grandmother, a disciplinarian whom he looked up to. Some of his most memorable childhood memories were spent at that school.
“My late grandmother, Eglantine Gordon, did not grant me any leeway or favors as one of her students. In fact, I learned firsthand that there are no loopholes in rules and discipline. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at New Providence and devoured every opportunity to learn,” he stated. “I loved my blue First Aid in English book, my orange Social Studies book, and looked forward to sessions of repeating my multiplications. I was a voracious learner and actively engaged with my classmates.”
Annual Sports Day
Another treat was the annual sports day in which Hill represented Blue House. Those meets were “our own versions of the World Championships”; he competed in the egg and spoon and three-legged races as well as sprints and relays.
Walking home from school, Hill passed the Consulates and Embassies which sparked his interest in diverse cultures and languages. By the time he went to St. George’s College, that curiosity was fully developed.
Founded and operated by Jesuits, St. George’s College is one of Jamaica’s leading high schools. Its alumni includes Grammy winners, Ziggy and Stephen Marley, as well as former British soccer star John Barnes.
Remembering the Days At St George’s College
At St George’s College, Hill played for the Under-15 soccer team. Unlike New Providence where he could walk home, his high school journey was a completely different story.
“Getting to St. George’s from Barbican on the bus was always filled with drama. From the bus drivers and conductors who shouted, ‘No schoolers’ to the walks downtown (Kingston) or through Cross Roads, the sights and sounds of Kingston was a classroom in culture,” he remembers. “With the small change in my pocket, I would savor those moments for my usual June Plum vendor or my favorite combo of a Tastee patty and cinnamon Danish washed down with a pineapple D&G soda. I can still feel the burn on my tongue from eating the patty too fast.”
Marlon A. Hill’s memories of living in Jamaica are filled with “joyful accomplishments”, but teenage naivete in the early 1980s prevented him from seeing his country’s problems.
“I didn’t really fully understand the gravity of why I couldn’t get a consistent bus to school and why some roads were blocked. It was tumultuous time in Jamaican politics between the rival JLP (Jamaica Labour Party) and PNP (People’s National Party) faithful. I remember having to walk all the way from North Street, through Cross Roads, through Half-Way Tree and all the way to Valentine Gardens on Red Hills Road to the safe arms of my grandmother. I am glad I reached home safely that day. It could have turned out differently,” he said.