Karen Sudu, Gleaner Writer
THE OCCASION was an outpouring of love and appreciation in song, poetry and speeches, as well as a fine array of food, drinks, liquor and some great music.
The ambience befitted the celebration, and those who attended wished they never had to leave.
They welcomed and relished the moments shared with Alburn George Whyte, affectionately called 'Maas Alban', of Spring Village, St Catherine, at his 100th birthday party held at his home last Saturday.
"I am 100 years and three days today," he shared with Rural Express.
Maas Alban, born July 31, 1913, to a district constable and a dressmaker, attended Spring Gardens Elementary School where he said he was a "bright boy" and later pursued higher education at an institution in Old Harbour.
"My chief aim was to join the police force. I had the qualification, but I wasn't tall enough," he explained.
So, the centenarian, who has an impeccable memory, spent most of his working life at Amity Hall in the parish.
"My chief job was a supervisor. I was a heavy-duty mechanic. I worked with ADC at Amity Hall, at the rice mill, on the farm and at the workshop. I worked there for 42 years, from 1953 to 1995," he stated.
One of his hallmarks was riding his bicycle to and from work.
"I ride my bicycle to work at Amity Hall. Sometimes, I ride to the seaside to get a sea bath. When I ride the bicycle, I get exercise. I ride my bicycle up to a year ago," he said proudly.
He also got exercise from playing his favourite sport.
"I love to play cricket. I used to play for Spring Village CC (cricket club). I was better in bowling than batting," Maas Alban said.
Willard, 68, his second son, who migrated to the United States of America in 1975, underscored his father's agility.
Maas Alban's third son, Garfield, who also resides in the USA, beamed as he reflected on the times he shared with his father.
"My father always taught me to show gratitude and have respect. I remember he used to take me to the river and he always swam with me on his back,' he reminisced.
Notably, Maas Alban was the first person in the community to buy a car.
"He couldn't drive when he bought the car, but the car was needed, because it was used to take people to the hospital. If there were any emergency, people would come to him for help, and Papa Harris, his close friend, who has died, was the driver at that time," explained Garfield.
The witty centenarian, a Baptist, has won the admiration and respect of many in the community.
"His ability to encourage each and everyone to aspire for great heights is remarkable. He is my church brother, so I visit him regularly and give him a shoulder rub, leg rub and massage and all those things," Christine Lewis, retired teacher, told Rural Xpress.
"Last year, I was in Canada and I missed his 99th birthday party, and this year I decided to postpone my departure, so that I would be here to celebrate his 100th birthday."
The spirited elder has 13 grandchildren, 22 great grandchildren, 10 great, great grandchildren, three great, great, great grandchildren and two great, great, great, great grandchildren.