Gladston Allen pleased with new wheelchair
Claudia Gardner, Assignment Coordinator
Even though a double amputee, 84-year-old Gladston Allen is as sharp as a razor, and a happy man. He might have lost his legs, but he still possesses a very firm handshake, and a remarkable sense of humour.
The father of three has his early origins in Green Island, Hanover, but in his boyhood years moved to Westmoreland to live with his father, where he said he attended The Manning's School for just under two years, before running off to Kingston on a market truck. Over the decades, he did a series of what he referred to as "odd jobs" at entities, including seaports and at Red Stripe.
Currently, he is a resident at the Lucea Infirmary to which he moved three years ago.
"I didn't like it (school) very much. I skipped school many days and went off with my friends and go all over the place to do fishing and so," he said. "Then I ran off to Kingston just before the 1951 storm. I came back to Green Island in 1972 when my parents got old. They had some land and property and I came back to help them with the land and so forth."
On Wednesday, Allen was in for a treat, as members of the Rotary Club of Montego Bay Dominica Pradere and Denton Campbell visited his regular haunt, the Lucea library, to present him with a special wheelchair to aid him in getting around, and to replace the worn one that he was using. An all-terrain vehicle, the wheelchair is arm propelled and has storage space, which will enable him to transport his library books and other items.
It was acquired through the Rotary Club of Montego Bay's wheelchair project, in collaboration with the Sioux Falls Rotary Club in North Dakota and the Hope Haven Foundation in the United States, which reconditions used wheelchairs and other mobility aids. Allen was one of the recipients from Hanover selected by the Rotary Club of Lucea to benefit from the programme.
The senior was overwhelmed with joy at his new means of transportation and as soon as he was strapped on to the vehicle, immediately started to propel himself around the library compound.
"I am pleased with it, but I need a little more practice. It nice. I like it. It's firm and my hands not going to be dirtied up. They will remain clean," he told Western Focus.
Allen told Western Focus that he lost one of his legs after he was hit by a motor vehicle. He said the other leg also got infected and was removed three months ago. Nonetheless, he said he is happy that the second leg has been removed as it had become not only a source of discomfort to himself, but because he did not want to cause additional stress to his caregivers at the infirmary.
"I am very comfortable now, very, very much comfortable. I prefer it this way," he explained.
An avid reader, Allen is one of the oldest members of the Hanover Parish Library, which he joined six months ago, and where Library Assistant Marvin Jowrey has been providing him with computer lessons. Allen told Western Focus that he has been reading his favourite newspaper, The Gleaner, from as long as he could remember, and still purchases copies of the publication whenever possible.
"I like to read a lot. I prefer The Gleaner. Sports and horoscope are my favourite. When I was small I always have my Gleaner in my pocket. People always call me "pickpocket" because I always walk with my Gleaner in my back pocket," he said laughing. "I love my Gleaner though, all now I buy my Gleaner. And when I don't buy it, I borrow it from Matron."
"At the library, I read books about history, like Marcus Garvey. I don't read fiction; I don't like those," he said.
Allen is also a seasoned jewellery maker, a skill he learnt many years ago as a craft trader in Negril. On weekdays, he sets up his sales stand at the front of the infirmary in a bid to attract sales from visitors to the adjoining Hanover Museum.
"I put out my jewellery to sell Mondays to Fridays. They are very beautiful. Anybody who sees them would like them. But right now, I need a market for my products," he said.