REMEMBERING BIG EYES

 

Memorable times, from left to right: Carl - Big Eyes, Floyd, Yoli, Austin, Lida, Mark, Greg and Dayne on Miami Beach

Gregory Lewin
glewin@bluefieldspulse.com

Maryland - October 20, 2010 - On assignment in Toulouse, France, I received the disconcerting message that one of my childhood friend, Carlos Taylor, was no longer with us. His lifeless body was found in his car after he had been missing for two days in Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua.

Big Eyes, as we fondly called him, was funny, very talented and smart, but he was also very naďve. Big Eyes had a heart made of gold. He was always willing to help anyone in need.

In the 1980’s we migrated to the United States where we met with other childhood friends in search of better opportunities. One of the first things we did upon arrival in the United States was to enroll in school. Big Eyes graduated from Bethesda Chevy High School in Bethesda, Maryland just a few minutes from Rosemary Hills apartments where he lived with his older brother Poyoy aka Winston Taylor. 

We juggled work and school to help with our personal needs. After school, most of us would go to part-time jobs, arriving back home past midnight to hit the books and complete homework for the next day. After graduating from high school, most of us did not have the opportunity to go to college, but God had given us enough knowledge to persevere. We worked hard until we were able to land the jobs of our lives. For Big eyes it was the restaurant business that he was most interested in. He loved the kitchen. On weekends, we would hookup and cook up a storm while playing casino. I vividly remember one time the guys asked for Johnny cakes. Well Big Eyes and I knew exactly how to make them; we had made them before. To our surprised this batch of Johnny cakes came out of the oven nice and soft but they turned solid as rock when they cooled. Big Eyes and I tried to figure out what had gone wrong. We found out as soon as we removed the grocery bags from the table. We realized the lard was still in the bag. You figure out the rest. It was the laugh of the day. Nothing could break the Johnny cakes, and I mean nothing, no electric saw, no laser beam. We ended up donating the bricks to the construction crew.

Big eyes worked several jobs: cleaning, retail and fast food. He landed the job of his life when he was promoted from fry cook at Popeye’s to restaurant manager. He was given his own store to manage where he employed many of his countrymen who needed a start upon arrival in the U.S. He also trained many of the managers who are now managing Popeye’s restaurants in Maryland and Washington, D.C. It makes me proud to see that he was able to pass on his knowledge to others who are now benefiting from it. 

As fry cook at Popeye’s, Big Eyes made sure he cooked an extra batch of chicken and nuggets because he knew we would be waiting for him at the entrance of Rosemary Hills especially on the weekends when the boys would be socializing and having a few beers up by the trash bin. Many of you will know what I am talking about. There were times when cooking was not an issue because we knew that each of us would be receiving a package from Big Eyes with enough chicken and side orders. Those were memorable moments to us because whenever we met, we reminisced and laughed about them. 

After a few years managing his shop, Big Eyes decided to move to Florida and then back to Nicaragua. Before moving back to Nicaragua, those of us who considered Big Eyes a dear friend advised him to be the first to open a Popeye’s in Nicaragua because he knew the work well.  We advised him to put forth the idea to the owners of the store he managed, but Big Eyes had other plans. He had enough of the restaurant business and wanted to start something of his own, and he did.

Big Eyes was also a good DJ. Back in the 80’s, his brother Titus had one of the biggest street radio cassette players with inputs for microphones and turntables. Big Eyes and I would plug in the turntable and sing to versions of the hottest reggae songs at that time. After many recordings, we came up with a hit. We did that song so well that Big Eyes took the cassette and never gave me a copy (smile). Every time I talked to Big Eyes he promised to give me a copy of the song, but he never did. The title of that song is “Bongo Natty”: Bongo natty trod a lonely road, bongo natty met a policeman, are lines of the song. The chorus was just a simple repetition of the following: Ta ty ta ty ty ty ty (repeat) when it came to the chorus we changed it around to say” Ta ty ta ty ty ty ty, Ta ty ta ty ty Titus, the alias of his brother. The last time I spoke to Big Eyes was in August. He was on his way back to Nicaragua. We talked and we laughed about the song again. Sadly we never knew it would be the last conversation between us.

I am very saddened to know that our friend is no longer with us. He never harmed anyone in anyway. He was easy going and made friends very easily … that is just the way he was. He left us many fun memories to laugh about for the rest of our lives.

We are hurting because we lost a true friend. My friend you are gone but trust me you will never be forgotten.

Memorable moments:

The best one I always remember is at a party at the Anglican hall off 183rd and 7th Ave, he was sitting next to me while Mark was playing the music and this song came on and he started singing it to me, and I told him that he can't sing, so he told me never mind that, just remember every time you hear this song that I dedicate it to you, and he kept on signing it.  I don't know the name of the song, but it says "Oh sweet darling, what did I do to deserve you, what did I say to make your angel eyes turn my way, If I only had the world, I'd give it all to you baby". Yolanda Spencer

Here is Big Eyes doing what Big Eyes loves best

 

 

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