Iserbyt recalls an incident that happened while she was living on the island of Grenada.
One morning I looked out the window of our house and saw an official Grenadian Govt. jeep approaching my house. Out gets the President of Grenada, Eric Gairy, who I had met socially on occasion. He had recently, due to the leftist Jewel Movement opposition to his so-called conservative government, instituted gun controls on the island.
He, as did many Grenadians, knew of the terrifying invasion of my house and threats to rape and murder me (see below). The Grenadians spoke to me at their open markets with apologies for what happened, stating that is not what we on this island are all about. Wonderful people.
Despite the gun controls measures recently instituted, President Gairy said to me: “I want to give you permission to own a gun”.
Here is my story:
While living in Grenada, West Indies, from 1968-1973, I had two break-ins of my house. The second one was very serious. I was alone in the house with one young child, aged 18 months old. I was about to give birth to my second child who was about three days overdue. My husband, enroute to starting a yacht charter business in Grenada, was in the middle of the Atlantic.
During this break-in the intruder, wearing a ski mask, ordered me not to turn the lights on. He also asked me if I had any money in the house. I responded “no” and he said if he found any money he would rape and shoot me. The intruder ordered me to lie down on the bed. He continued on for about one half hour his frightening threats until I managed to compose myself and said “how would you like it if someone broke into your mother’s home when she was about to give birth to a child and threatened to rape or kill her? His attitude switched like that of a light bulb and, after one hour of horror for me, he left the house, still with his face mask on.
In trying to keep this account short, I will say that the Grenadian girls, who helped me and lived in an apartment below my bedroom, were great when they heard me knock on the window to warn them an intruder had visited. They called the Grenadian Police who arrived late as usual (right at the time the intruder was escaping my house.) One of the gals (sisters) courageously (small island) identified the intruder during a line up.
Case went to court, British judge came down from Barbados. I had to testify, at the same time looking at the criminal who had broken into my house. The judge questioned me if the criminal had touched me, and I said “No”. He very severely admonished the criminal by saying “Mrs. Isyerbyt could be dead; she could have had a miscarriage, she could have had a heart attack, etc. due to what you did.” Judge gave him one year in jail.
Grenadian police, after the appearance in court, told me I should not have responded as I did, allowing the invader to get such a light sentence. I said “I just told the truth”. They said “if this happens again and you see someone jumping over your fence, shoot him, drag his body into the house, put a knife in his hand and then call the police”.
One day a Grenadian friend of mine who kept her eyes and ears open to what was going on in Grenada (nutmeg, not grape vine) called me and said: “He’s out of jail; be careful.” We had moved to another house, for obvious reasons, and I thought “we are safe; he won’t know where we live.”
Well, guess what? One day I look out the window and I see my husband talking to the guy (my husband didn’t know who he was talking to since he’d been out on charter when the first incident occurred; he’s also a big chit chatter). I go into shock and go out on the porch. Guy says “Hello, Mistress Iserbyt, how are you? How are the boys?” I stutter “they are fine” while I gulp, wondering what on earth is going on here. He says he just wanted to make sure we were OK.
I take no chances so call the Grenadian police and tell them what just happened. They say: “Don’t worry. He returned because he knew he got a short sentence due to your testimony and wanted to make sure you and the boys were OK.”
I never forgot that.
Our family returned to the USA in 1973 and I became politically involved and was occasionally invited as a guest on radio programs… calling in, that is. Well, the subject was the need for gun controls. After attempting to relay the above story to the listeners, the radio station cut me off half way through.