Barbados – Hazel Beckles talks of her becoming a Baha’i in the mid 1960’s

In a 1987 interview with Hazel Beckles from Barbados, she talks of how she heard of the Faith and became a Baha’i. She also shares her memories of the early meetings held. It should be noted that this is an edited version, and the interviewers’ questions have been removed.

I became a Bahá’í when I was probably 18 or 19. I was working in Max’s shop. And a guy I knew (Mozart Newton) used to visit me pretty often. So he came here one night and he said “man I got the book here and it’s got some prayers in it. And these words. I’ve never seen prayers like it before. So I said you want me to think I’d be interested that you brought your book He said man it’s better than you’ve ever seen before.” So I took one, it was something about unity.

You interested in anything like this? I said not really.. He said you does go to church. I said no. He said why? I said well I don’t get nothing so I don’t go. So he ask me listen to this listen to this man so he read something. I can’t even remember what it was he read…so if I come for you to go to a meeting, you wouldn’t go? I said I don’t care if you do or not and He said alright he gone come for me..

This girl in the shop turn and say, “You going to their foolish thing, that man he always discuss foolishness already”. I say sometimes he can get very fresh things in his head. She say, “but if you want to go don’t let me stop you, go along.”

So I went. And the night I went it was just some people in the room. I didn’t know all the people. There was some people in the room and they all sitting there and read from a book. And he introduce me to everybody and after it finish the lady said “welcome” and that was it but I didn’t understand anything they had said.

She say that there was going to be another meeting some other time and if I want to come I could call and say I want to come and if I can’t get there she would ask somebody to bring me. And she gave me this phone number. And that was it.

I went to the meeting and a man named Dr. Collymore was there. There 7 or 8 people there.

I went to other meetings then, lots of times. Sometimes he (Mozart) would pick me up, sometimes I would go with the bus. I wasn’t working so he said well “uhm, I can get a job for you. Bahá’u’lláh, you know this man Bahá’u’lláh, he’s the best, he know the best job for you.” So he went and he ask Mrs. Ramsey if she could give me a job. So she say yes, I do want somebody to work for me. She paid me $12. a week, I had been getting $7.50 at Max’s store.

So I kept going to meetings. —- sometimes I would just walk in. I think she would get me something to eat and then we’d have youth meeting. You know, not singing or clapping or anything, just reading. We didn’t used to sing—just read. But at the time I couldn’t read so I didn’t used to read, I would just sit down in the back cause I couldn’t really read. You know I could read but not like take up one of these books and read… She gave me 2 books. –a little prayer book, with about ten prayers in it and the print was very big, print and she gave me that and then she gave me another one, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era. I still got that one

Then I buy another one for $2.50 Gleanings, and then I buy another one, Prayer and Meditations, for $3 something, $3.60 or something so. I had those so I used to look in them. I couldn’t read them. You know I could pick up words here and there but I couldn’t read them so I used to look in them and write my name all over it.

At that time, everybody wanted to sign a card, and there was a little card space card in that room— and everybody wanted to sign the card. —-“You ain’t ready to sign a card yet” she said. “You should sign the card when you’re a part of this thing, this is a worldwide thing, this is what’s gonna bring world peace and turn all them rebels upside down—She said you know You ain’t understand what this Cause is all about.”

She was right. I didn’t really know what this was all about. I didn’t know who Bahá’u’lláh was. I didn’t know who Abdu’l-Bahá was. I didn’t know who Shoghi Effendi was. And there was the clapping, the singing and the collection, and everybody getting up talking and reading and they talking and some arguing then they walk here and there and they going back quiet and they hollering all over again and then they laughing and taking pictures and you know it was strange. It sound like the quarreling ones are there and then they get back quiet and then we are happy and merry. That’s the Caribbean.

Then we had a Feast one night— we all went to and the only one there was me, trust me nobody else, so she turn off the lights…. And then Mozart actually came and she turn on the lights and nobody else. So Mozart asking where everybody that was there the Thursday night and everybody promised to come and not one soul came and she just sit down there and read a prayer

Then she said to me “you ready to sign the card yet?” I said yes, I ready to sign ……