The Star Publishing Company turned thirty in June 2017. It was an idea long in incubation, as worthy ideas often are. Its establishment marked a point of arrival for a man who had grown to love and appreciate the printed word, perhaps as much as he loved and appreciated his well developed muscles of steel. I therefore deem ‘wings of steel’ an appropriate metaphor for a newspaper that has weathered many challenges and is still standing. It is the way noble visions are borne and executed. For this reason I see a parallel between the STAR and the man who gave it birth – Rick Wayne.
My first recollection is of him winning a boxing contest at Victoria Park in Castries around 1957. At the announcement he displayed a cocky body-builder stance, exposing young expanding laterals. I saw him again one day at Freddie’s gym, a shack near the mouth of the Castries River, pumping iron. My friend Clayton De Beauville and I had gone there in search of our own muscles. And then, like thin air, he disappeared.
Next he was in England pursuing a body-building career whilst exploring new avenues as a singing star. He achieved international success in both, more so in the former. Then he fell off the radar again. When next we heard, he was in Los Angeles, USA, still pursuing body-building. This time he had moved up a notch, writing and editing a major body-building magazine. He may even have tried a career in Hollywood, as his friend Arnold Schwarzenegger had done. Who knows?
He continued to win major international body-building titles but, slowly and surely, brawn was giving way to brain in his writing and publishing work. He soon fell out of reach again, and this time he was travelling between Los Angeles and New York in search of the American dream, perchance at the same time learning to interpret the spirit which motivated and drove him.
Finally, by 1972 or so, he was home in Saint Lucia as a new man, with a new name. He had metamorphosed into Rick Wayne, perhaps pandering to the popular John Wayne of Western movies of an earlier era.
Not surprisingly, he had returned to pursue a career in printing or, more appropriately, as a publisher of newspapers and books. His competitive muscles wars were drawing to an end. His life’s journey had spun the gamut of a restless soul in search of nirvana. He would soon discover that little spaces tend to breed little minds with little vision.
He was instrumental in starting a weekly newspaper – the Vanguard – for the United Workers Party of John Compton who had employed him as government public relations guru. Before that, he edited the leading weekly newspaper on the island. It may havebeen pressure from young political upstarts seeking a place in the people’s political kingdom that forced Compton to call on him.
By then even Compton must have seen that the Vanguard was flogging a comatose horse. The weekly Crusader, rejuvenated by George Odlum and his friends, had gained a strong foothold with its weekly editorial pieces plus its ‘Cocky and Stocky’ comic. These were lessons in politics, philosophy, and economics that Saint Lucians gobbled down on weekends.
Perhaps out of frustration, or by a shared determination to begin his own printing business, Rick started a one-man-show called the STAR. Why the name? Maybe the man had discovered that in the midst of darkness one had to look up occasionally, perchance to discover the constancy of the Northern Star.
One morning in the early seventies, George Odlum and I dropped in on Rick at a house located at the back of the Morne, a short distance from the A-level college. The man was busy cutting and pasting pictures to make up a page for his newspaper. I was struck by the artistry and patience it took to do what he was doing. He had obviously enjoyed many years practising that particular skill. The computer had not yet appeared on the Saint Lucia horizon. And I, who had long considered myself a manual graphic artist of sorts, took much pleasure in his work, as we spoke.
Then in plain view he fell out of sight once more. This time it was not the black power rhetoric and power-to-the-people ‘nonsense’, as some people called it, which had turned him off; instead, he was busy building his own printing empire and, like most wise men, he had taken himself a wife who would help him pursue his dreams to be a publisher.
Both bride and groom took to the STAR publishing enterprise the whole of their energies and life savings, according to the grape vine.
The two brought an international quality of printing and publishing that had not before been seen on the island. The seamless book binding, the clear separation of colours, the famous larger-than-life posters, the on-time delivery and more, defined a new level of publishing business.
I was first made aware of the high quality of the STAR’s publishing work by someone who was raving about it in far-off London. Still later, I discovered that even in Trinidad, with many years of professional printing, some businesses there preferred to have their printing jobs done by the Star Publishing Company in Saint Lucia.
Therefore, when I wanted to publish my first book, ‘Shattered Dreams’, I had little choice but to turn to the Star Publishing Company. Later, they delivered an equally fine finish to ‘The Shopping List’, my second book. I expect the same high quality for my third book, which I intend to publish next year.
Father Time never stands still, never takes a rest. We turn around too slowly and another decade has flown past. If I were to accurately capture the STAR’s performance over the last thirty years, a comparison with Rick’s life journey would not be farfetched. Unlike Icarus in Greek mythology, Rick was able to fly close to the sun because he had built wings of steel; not of feathers and wax. It is my wish and prayer that the company, with son Christian plus its loyal employees and customers, continues to produce the quality of work that has made it a clear choice for those in search of class and enlightenment. Long may the STAR shed light on this experiment in parliamentary democracy, on this rock of sages.