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Four hundreds in seven years

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December last year, mother Olive Dickson, one ah my Murray Villagers celebrated her 100th birthday, she was de third villager within de last six years to have attained dat magnificent milestone, de other two were Beatrice “Tanty B” Smith and Mother McIntosh. Ah wrote at de time, dat come 2015, if it was de Lord’s will, Hannah “Aunt Hannah” Dickson will do de batsman’s ritual by taking off her helmet and raising her bat high when she strokes de ball foh an easy single to reach her first century. Even though ah was reminded by relatives dat Wednesday, June 23rd was de Big Day, ah got de days mixed up and went Tuesday afternoon to congratulate her foh giving de Village its fourth century in seven years.{{more}}

De ole McLean Hill is still standing, but de whole place is quite different to what it was when ah was ah youth when six family homes belonging to de McLean clan occupied ah hillside ten acre block dat Ole man Eddy “Grampa Mac” McLean of Scottish descent maintained as ah homestead. He and his dear wife Granny, along wid daughters Helen and Hannah lived in de original family home. Interestingly within de walls of de other five homes, lived about thirty grandchildren dat roamed de estate on which Grampa Mac kept cows and goats in between fruit trees and cultivation. Grampa Mac will bawl foh murder if he sees de transformation of de hill, now like ah small city wid close to thirty homes of all sizes and construction. It’s now a development wid water, electricity and paved roads, vehicles driving thru.

Ah made it up to de house but before entering, ah knock on de door and widout identifying me-self, ah call-out: “Aunt Hannah how yuh do, ah come to have ah drink wid yuh foh yuh birthday.” Ah was taken aback dat she took one look, recognized me, still very alert and her humour still biting. She sharply replied: “Bas boy you come look foh Aunt Hannah, de ole girl still dey, but de birthday is not until tomorrow, so yuh will have to come back foh dat drink!” Like all other caring ole person, she start unloading de questions one after de other. Den she told me about herself: “Well as you see, Aunt Hannah still holding on, today is not one of my best days, but I have to be thankful as I wait till de Lord ready for me.”

Ah took out my Cuatro and female mouth-organ, mine is ah Her-monica and ah invited Aunt Hannah to sing along as ah played some real oldies: “Jane and Louisa; My Bonnie Lies over de Ocean; When I grow too ole to dream; Ah little more oil in your lamp.” She remembered dem all and sang lustily, voice still strong. But what really touched me deeply was her Testimony, confirmation of her faith in Jesus as she waved her hands prayerfully singing de words of ” How Great Thou Art” and “Redemption Ground.” Ah didn’t believe dat ah would ah receive so much blessings from witnessing to ah loving 100 year ole Soul. She wants ah repeat on Sunday.

FIX DAT GRAMMAR SCHOOL BUILDING

It’s Graduation season and ah want to thank principals Jones and Curtis King along wid ah cadre of dedicated and committed teachers foh taking our son thru to de next level. In his address, Mr King cried out loud foh minister Me-girl to hear dat de Prime Minister’s Alma Mater is falling apart (like de Govenom-mint). Ah worked on dat Grammar School building fifty years ago, de roof and floors were constructed from hollow (red) clay bricks, dat was ah new roof concept at de time, it is not surprising dat after 50 years de roof and floors are now leaking, plumbing and electrical gone thru as well. De situation is dangerously poised, so ah begging de Go-venom-mint to fix de School. Wednesday’s Graduation was my son’s last day, he better dan me, ah never graduated. Interestingly though, 60 years ago, January 1955, was my first day at dat Noble Institution, ah ole nuff to know exactly how ah ole roof and ole floors feel.

MS B LIFTED DE BAR

De passing of Ms Beryl Baptiste is probably neither hey nor dey wid de present crop of Public Servants. But when ah joined de Service in 1961, she was at Audit maybe as ah Senior Clerk. Dat department was de prestigious arm of de service; Hugh Hamlet was Director followed by Saville Cummings, Clem Iton, Ms Baptiste et al. But no female ever held de post of Director of Audit or female Permanent Secretary. Is woe-men like Ms B who struggled thru toil and sweat, yes she must have had her pull-it-to-kill preference, but no compromising when it came to loyalty and service to country. Beryl Baptiste walked wid Dignity, Pride and Prince Apple and became dis country’s first female Director of Audit, possibly de region’s first. It would be remiss of me if ah failed to men-shun she was always first in dress code and fashions. Thank yuh Ms B foh setting standards and foh having Lifted de Bar in de Public Service. Rest peacefully. And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.

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