Jamaica Gleaner / It took a long time before June knew that the man who introduced himself to her as ‘Tooth’ at Randy’s record store, North Parade, Kingston, was the singer whose song she dropped her coins and selected on the jukebox in Portland. It took a concert at Shortwood Teachers’ College, where June trained in the late 1970s to teach Physical Education and Human and Social Biology at the secondary level, for her to know that the man who spoke so quietly in the crowded record shop, and then turned up at her college in a brown Ford Pinto, was a professional singer – with hits.
“We had a concert. We (she and her friends) invited him and he went on stage as a volunteer,” June Isaacs told The Sunday Gleaner . “That was when I knew it was him.”
There was a time when June and those teacher trainee friends literally ran from Gregory, after he singled her out at Randy’s, where they had gone to buy records.
“I was in there and this man came up to me. He was talking to me softly. I was warned by my parents – worse is a Rastaman,” June said. Gregory’s hair was put up in a cap, but she could see that it was dreadlocks. She remembers that he was dressed in full brown. “He spoke softly, like a lamb,” she said. “He was a different kind of Rasta.”
When they left to go back to the college’s campus, where they lived, ‘Tooth’ asked what number bus they were taking and “I said 36”, June said. “When we arrived at the college he was there”. When they saw the brown Ford Pinto, June said, “we got scared.” They ran across the playfield on to the school’s campus. Gregory would not be deterred and drove on to the campus, this time when, “We were sitting under the big tree. He drove up and parked. He came out and talked.”
THE SACRED BOND And that is where a union that was formalised by marriage on December 1, 1983, and lasted until Gregory’s death on October 25, 2010, in London, England. June kept her relationship with Gregory a secret from her parents, even as she started to introduce him to her siblings.
“My birthday is November 28. He woke up that morning in 1983 and said come here Mummy, I am going to give you one of the greatest gifts.” As the day went on June did not see any bouquets, a car or anything else that could fit the bill of a ‘greatest gift’.
“About 2 p.m., or 3 p.m., he said let’s get married. Let’s get rings. I said this must be a joke,” June told The Sunday Gleaner . It wasn’t, as Gregory got them rings and again said she should find a church. She could not on that day, but a few days after, “we tied the knot”.
It was only then that June told her father, who was living in Portland (her mother was in England) that she had got married.
“My dad was the kind of dad… I was the spoilt child. He was not at the wedding. My mother knew more about Gregory. My only problem with my mother was when I started to wear locks,” June said, her father not taking issue with her hair. When June told her father that she had got married, he simply said that if that was her choice he went along with it, and spoke to her about the sacred bond.
And there turned out to be a strong bond between June’s father and Gregory, who June said “would be so happy to go to Fruitful Vale to visit him and go to the river. They had a very good relationship.”