Daviot Kelly, Staff Reporter
AS SOON as The Gleaner vehicle pulled up to the gate on Mannings Hill Road, a man told us "she's around here man". They knew we were looking for 'Miss Ivy'.
Ivy Andrews was born and raised in the Mannings Hill area and today, December 5, she celebrates 100 years on the planet. We found Miss Ivy having a hearty lunch in her small house. On the menu was good old rice and peas and chicken, which she cooked. Despite her age, she is still a whiz in the kitchen.
"She a do better dan me, she nuh need nuh help," said one of her many great-grandchildren (she has 14). Miss Ivy's one son (now deceased), gave her three grandchildren, including Ian Carter Snr, the man who showed us in. And her 'great-grands' have produced 21 great-great-grandchildren; so far.
"Mi nuh have nuh secret to live long. Mi just eat anything. Mi nuh eat nutten special," said Miss Ivy. Her aunt raised her after her mother went to Cuba, never to return.
"I feel pleasure and satisfied in the Lord for keeping me so long, considering I grew without a mother and father," she said. "I never met my father until long after (he had moved to Canada)." She remembers life in the district.
"Some were poor, but some were a likkle better off than others," she said. Miss Ivy recalled that many were higglers, while others were labourers or domestic workers.
"Some people used to pick ackee and mango and sell them downtown. People from other places would come up here to buy fruits because the area was very fruitful," she remembered. Slow in foot speed, her wit is lightning-quick.
"Things did cheaper, better than now," she said. "One shilling could buy you dinner. Now $1,000 done as you open yuh wallet." She became a dressmaker at an early age.
"I made men's shirts too, even underpants. But is just brief dem a wear now," she laughed. She worked in England for a few years but "mi neva like di cold". She left shortly before Independence, missing the festivities.
"But mi ketch some of di Independence when mi come back," she smiled. She used to travel to Miami, Florida, at times to visit relatives and get goods for the shop she ran at the front of the yard. This was her livelihood after she stopped sewing.
Quality of life
"All when Gilbert came, I was in there. But we close it now, 'bout a year now. Business got slow," she said. "Plus I never have enough strength to go town to buy goods again. You haffi walk up and down fi get what you want." But she still makes the trek to nearby Clifton New Testament Church of God where she worships.
Carter Snr said he suggested Miss Ivy leave the shop and take it easy. He not only admires her long years, but also her quality of life.
"She nuh senile at all," he said. "Brain still sharp. You have some 60-year-old who nuh walk strong like she." Miss Ivy remembers "the good times", when tram cars rolled and when people were kinder. She feels young people are living too recklessly now.
"What mashing up the place is di girls a have pickney and don't know how to train them," she said. "People just deh pon a 'fast move', dem nuh live careful," she lamented.
"Dem nuh waan stay wid one smaddy, dem have all four baby-father. Dem life nuh straight." But she said there were still some nice young people, who were "holding their heads up".
Dorel Myers, a family friend, stopped by for a visit.
"Anywhere in the area, if you just say 'Granny' dem know a who yuh talking," he said. "She's a kind and nice woman to everyone. Is an 'everybody' lady dat!" Miss Ivy said she occasionally stands by the front gate, just to look out, and always meets people she either sewed for, or sold to from her shop.
Being a true church woman, she bestowed a blessing on us as we departed.
"May God give you long life, and health," she said. Sounds like a good recipe.