January 2019 Volume 15

A Special Gathering in Toronto 2018.

Neville Morris
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A group of Kingston College 1974/75 graduates met with a few members of the Toronto Canada Kingston College Old Boys Association to break-bread and talk for a while. Although they have never met before and only recently introduced by a mutual acquaintance a few days earlier, the gathering was like that of separated brothers at birth coming together a few decades later. The common bond they all shared was the ‘ Purple Fortis Blood’ from their beloved Kingston College High School of Jamaica West Indies.

TORONTO-2018: The visiting Fortis brothers were in Toronto for their 27th annual gathering. A few members of the Toronto Kingston College Old Boys Association took time out to meet with them, break-bread, and in one accord, gave thanks and praises to the Almighty for the experience they all had in common, being graduates of the ever great Kingston College of Jamaica West Indies.

At ages 11 and 12, the Toronto visitors were accepted into the Kingston College Brotherhood in September 1969 as they reported for their first day of high school at the Melbourne Park Campus. These enthusiastic short pants wearing boys met each other then and with no idea of the remarkable future they would be carving together. Undoubtedly, they knew they were a part of something special because they were fortunate enough to be chosen for what was considered then to be one of the best high schools in Jamaica. Exactly where this great experience would take them, of that they had no clue but what they knew for sure was that they were in for the ride of their life. Totally oblivious to the sacred friendship they would be holding and that 49 years later, this meandering purple brick road would be taking them to Toronto Canada.

“By 1974/75, these Toronto visitors were long-pants wearing

graduating young men going off to face the world.”

Although their lives, careers, religions, and families have taken them in a thousand different directions, they have managed the unfathomable task of remaining close friends throughout the next 49 years. As unlikely as it may sound to anyone on the outside of Jamaica, hearing that it is the product of a few Fortis blooded Kingston College Graduates would not be a surprise to the average Jamaican. Why, historically, you name it, on almost any spectrum ranging from good to great, tis not a surprise to most that the name Kingston College would be mentioned somewhere in there.

As one of our youthful Jamaican artist Ray-I (Raymond Bygrave-1969er)

would often say, “If a egg, we inna the red”.

As a youth, we all knew the meaning of the phrase and how to use it appropriately, however every now and then, one Smart Alec would have the nerve to question the teachings of the elders to state the obvious that "There is no red in an egg”. Such blasphemous out of line statements are often met with dead silence so as not to further desecrate that which is deemed as our sacred teachings.

Each year over the past 27 years, these Toronto Visitors would leave behind, wives, girlfriends, children, work, and pets to converge somewhere in America or overseas for a 5-day weekend, to have fun, celebrate life, and give thanks and praises to the Almighty for all that is good. Of such is the testimony of their friendship. Fortis.

Kingston College under the tutelage of men like The Right Reverend Percival William Gibson CBE (Founding Principal) and Douglas Wrexham Eric Forrest (2nd Principal) has inspired countless students to achieve great heights in any field they endeavor, and low and behold, this is one such manifestation of the Kingston College Fortis Fortitude.

In a time when many have superficial relationships that frazzle after a year or two of convenience, these visiting brothers from the entering class of 1969 managed to accomplish a most unique bond that seems unfathomable and yet, it is as real as real can get. Fortis.

Irrespective of the dissimilarities within the group, and there are many, for their annual gatherings, they manage to withhold judgment on their differences and rally around that which they have in common. They are graduates of the great Kingston College, they are of the Jamaican culture, love their music, family and Jamaican “food”. Beyond that, the similarities drop like a falling rock at the edge of a cliff. In the fortitude of the Fortis spirit, they are able to hold that relationship together and make the best of the annual 5-day weekend each year as they come together and break bread, have fun and give thanks.

BYLAWS : This Fortis Brotherhood has a set of bylaws that lay the foundation for how they conduct themselves at the annual gatherings. The occasional conflict at an event is easily resolved as maintaining the relationships take precedence over the individual idiosyncrasies that may have lead to the incident in the first place. If the conflict escalates and threaten that which is most sacred to the group, the friendship, then its often deemed necessary to add an amendment to the foundational bylaws to minimize the chances of reoccurrence.

The group is 11 strong and the annual gatherings for the most part ranges from 4 to 11 members. The strongest showings at these events occurs when there is a cruise out of Florida or a convergence taking place somewhere in Jamaica. Over the past 27 annual meetings, the group has met in multiple locations across the United States of America and overseas in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Canada and 5 times in Jamaica.

MEETING MINUTES : The secretary of the group Neville Morris usually publishes the formal meeting minutes of each gathering. The minutes have multiple purposes and primarily serve as a gentle reminder in years to come of what the group can all look back on as some of their most treasured and memorable fun filled days of laughter through this earthly pilgrimage we call “life on earth”. The minutes could be as short at 13 pages or as long as the 8”x11” 123 page book for the 2003 gathering. From cover to cover, the minutes are loaded with religious references that would make our 1969 Bible Knowledge teacher Mr. Keith Brian most proud. Within the group, the appreciation for the minutes may range from priceless to too much is said that is better left unsaid.

ANNUAL CD : The group often seals the memory of a great annual event with a musical compilation by DJ Keith Cole adding dancehall style comments on that which unfolded over the weekend. Since we have been friends for almost 50 years, the DJ has an encyclopedia of memorable incidents that he sprinkles all over the CD thus making it uniquely special and serve as authentic reminders of the times spent together being etched forever in a digital format. Over the years, the members of the group play these CD’s and relive the joy of each moment.

Keith Cole and Neville Morris through the suggestion of Paul Gascoigne became young entrepreneurs in Jamaica and managed a roaming Disc Jockey sound system called RIDIM FORCE DISCO. The sound had a few down years as they both migrated to the United States, however It was resurrected a few years later and given a new life by another Fortis 69er known as Knolly Derby of Florida and so to this day it lives on. Fortis longevity.

MONTHLY PHONE CALLS : Like the clock of Hickory Dickory Dock, the group has a standing monthly phone call where they talk for an hour. The subject is anything and everything, mostly joyful, filled with comedic laughter, rarely sorrowful, and each time touching on family, music, food, religion, you name it, and they will shine the Fortis purple light on it. For example, shortly after the subject of a coke bottle is introduced into the conversation, they can meander from how the bottle is shaped like a woman, to the cost of the share on the stock market, to the religious aspect of feeding the multitudes, to how it explodes when hit during target practice, to the health concerns of the sugar within, and even the politics of the Coke Brothers. Then with a straight face to an outsider listening in to the eclectic conversation, they would declare that in September 1969, Miss B. Urquhart their English teacher would say “The body of the paragraph remained consistent with the subject of the first sentence” the Coke Bottle. Then out of nowhere, another bright-eyed French smitten student would speak of what their 1969 Kingston College mini skirt wearing French teacher Miss Helen Douglas had to say about the subject matching the predicate.

CALENDAR: A calendar featuring the birthday of each member of the group along with dates related to any Kingston College event, and pictures of the group going back as far as 1969 is sometimes compiled by Paul Gascoigne. Dates such as the Studio Opening or the unavailing of a new bronze statue immortalized somewhere by our renown Jamaican Sculpture from the same class of 1969, Mr. Basil Watson or a date related to one of the Kingston College Old Boys Association. Discussion of a group crest has surfaced over the years but has yet to materialize and works of a T-Shirt has also been in the making.

FUNERALS: Every now and then a member of the starting class of 1969 moves on and depending on the location and relationship with the deceased, members of the group would attend and show their last respects. Most recently, one of our 1969 brothers Barrington Leslie Taylor of The Family Pharmacy Of Harbor View moved on in June 2018. Keith Johnston, Middleton March and Norman Reid, of the group and host of other members from the class of 1969, and other Fortis brothers were in attendance.

SPECIAL THANKS: A special thanks goes out to the Toronto Kingston College Old Boys Association for taking time out of their schedules to welcome their fellow Fortis brothers on this most memorable occasion, their 27th annual coming together to celebrate a remarkable and unique bond of friendship. Fortis.

Written by Neville Morris and Clive Howard.

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