Aug. 17, 2008 — As a boy Olric "Ric" Carrington would sit in the crook of a tree on the bay in Watergut and watch ships sail off to places he could only imagine. But he got the chance to see the world first as an Army recruit and later, in more relaxed fashion, as part of the West End Travel Club on St. Croix.
While rocking in the tree, he also dreamed of moving to the states. He wanted to get to the States where he heard people could prosper. That dream came true when he was 15.
Carrington was born in Frederiksted in 1924 to Henry and Ilma Carrington. He moved to the Watergut area of Christiansted at six months.
Carrington's face lit up as he talked recently in the park in Frederiksted about his days as a boy on the bay.
"I was happy as a lark with plenty of things to do in the sea," Carrington said. He and his friends swam, dove, fished and paddled around on little boats they made themselves.
They engineered a little skimmer type boat called a "pooser." Carrington said the kids made it out of 4 by 8-foot sheets of corrugated tin. They pounded out the corrugations with rocks then bent it in half and braced it with two by fours and paddled around the bays.
The majority of the time they ran around barefoot which, Carrington said, could be uncomfortable at times. The tarred roads were so hot you could not walk barefoot on them. So to meet pals at different bays the poosers could be used as the boys went by way of the sea.
"Coming up as boy in Watergut, we were extremely poor, but didn't know it," Carrington said.
They didn't have any store-bought toys other than marbles. They fashioned toys out of castoff barrel hoops and tires for races. He also played baseball — but first he was the mascot for the Stars pickup team.
He said his mother was a major influence on him, stressing respect, kindness and consideration.
"We were taught to say yes ma'am and tip our hat," Carrington said. "To this day I try to respect everyone. Respect is lost, and it hurts me."
Carrington's father was living in New York City, making a decent living and in 1941 he sent for him. His dream of going to the states became reality. He loved living in New York getting the chance to go to clubs in Harlem and listen to jazz musicians.
But his father died and he had to find work. And soon he was drafted into the U.S. Army July 3, 1943.
He boarded a troop train for basic training in Louisiana. He was surprised at the racism and segregation that he experienced for the first time while in the South.
His tour of duty took him to Scotland aboard a troop ship; from there he boarded a train for England. He was a medic attached to the 1310 Engineer division, landing on Normandy beach two weeks after the D-Day assault.
Later, Carrington sailed through the Panama Canal and to the Philippines. His last stop was as a corporal in California.
He got out in 1946 and headed back to New York where he met and married Winifred Seely, from St. Thomas, in 1950. While in New York, he worked in the U.S. Post office as a postal clerk. Mrs. Carrington did not like the New York scene so he got a transfer to St. Croix in 1963. He worked 28 years for the USPS first at the Kingshill post office as a supervisor, then on to the Frederiksted office, retiring at 59.
He was very active as an assistant scoutmaster in Boy Scouts when his three sons were young. In the 1970s he managed their contemporary band, the Soul Busters. Carrington also has four daughters.
"I have always loved to sing and act," Carrington said. He said he got the chance to sing in the St. Croix Community Chorus and act with the Courtyard Players for more than 15 years.
"I felt it was time to let young people take over," Carrington said. "Some say move the old people to make room for the young."
But still, he is off on adventures around the world, only now it's with his wife and five other couples. The West End Travel Club will be going on a cruise in the Greek Isles in September.
Since 1963 he has been in a little social group called the Clan Social Group, meeting stag under a tree in a member's yard once a month to play dominoes and cards.
Carrington has been active in the American Legion 133 Bromely Berkly Post since 1965. He was recently interviewed in a documentary on World War II veterans (See: "World War II Vets See Their Story in Documentary,").
"I got so many benefits from being in the Army that what I do for the legion is my way of giving back," Carrington said. "I look highly on the privileges this country has offered me."
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