Martin Luther Brown, 103, still enjoys JB Rum

BY DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE Sunday Observer staff reporter

Sunday, June 29, 2014

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THE first words from the mouth of 103-year-old Martin Luther Brown upon entry to his New Mills home in Hanover last week were: 'Mi fi get a draw now', referring to his desire to smoke a cigarette.

"Him still want to smoke but mi nah give him, man," Brown's son, 55-year-old Winston, stated. "What him really want to do is drink rum, and sometimes mi give him a little. Better mi give him the rum than cigarette," Winston added.

In fact, Winston explained that his father had a bottle of rum in a suitcase kept on his bed within arm's reach, which, from time to time, he would help himself to.

"Him just open it and take a sip more time," Winston told the Jamaica Observer during a recent visit to their home, even as he reached inside the suitcase and pulled out a flask of JB Rum.

Another empty flask of the same brand of rum was sitting on a dresser not
far away.

"That is one that him done already," the centenarian's son explained, "and him onto this one now," he went on.

Winston also stated that his father does not drink the liquor with any chaser but enjoys it straight from
the bottle.

"I put some pimento into this one yesterday, because people say it will help with him belly. He has a belly problem, man. Sometimes you can't sleep at night because him a bawl fi him belly. I don't know what kind of business that. If you take him to the doctor him get some tablet and by the time him come back it worse,"
he said, hissing his teeth seemingly in frustration. "But mi nuh think it will help. Is the first mi a try it now so mi have to just see."

Winston said that it takes two weeks for his dad to empty a flask of the rum as he will take a sip at his
own leisure.

Born on March 31, 1911 in Chigwell, Hanover, Brown said that he soon moved to the nearby community of Welcome to live with his grandfather. When he was old enough he bought his own land at New Mills where he built his home and is currently living with two of his five children, Winston and Sydney. One of his children lives overseas while the other two reside elsewhere on the island.

As a child, Brown attended the Mount Peter School in Hanover and explained that after leaving school at 15 he started working for himself.

"Mi never work with anybody, mi only work fi myself," Brown said. "I was doing well, you know. I raise cow and goat and them dead out, and them tief out some. But mi never really work anywhere else. From mi a 15 mi start work fi myself,"
he said.

Brown was quick to reveal that he was no longer able to see or hear well.

"Lawd mi ears bad, you know. Sometimes mi just pick up the sound but mi can't pick up the words at all sometimes," he said. "Mi blind now, mi cah glimpse at all, mi stiff, total blind,"
he said.

Winston said that his father's sight had deteriorated over the last five years while he has been "bedridden" and unable to walk on his own for
eight years.

Today, Winston said that his father will not refuse meat, as this is something he loves, enjoying a plate of rice with "nuff meat". He
also enjoys eating a lot
of vegetables.

Winston, the eldest child, described his father as one who was feisty and would "cuss" them tirelessly when he was up and about.

"Him feisty bad, but when we mother dead him take care of us," Winston said of his father.

Brown was never married, and took to caring for his three children -- two boys and one girl -- after their mother, whom he was living with died in 1963. The eldest child was only four years old at the time.

Brown later got two other children.

Winston said that his father had told him that he had three children before he got involved with his mother but they all died early. The eldest was born in 1943.

"Him take care of we after we mother dead but him cuss we, man, him nuh have nuh manners," Winston added. As much as him sick yah now, if him call and nuh hear we him cuss we, man."

Despite loving his rum and often coming home drunk from the bar, Winston said that his father was baptised in the Baptist faith, but could not remember when that was.

"Even though him feisty, him nah really cuss nuh bad words yah now," the centenarian's son said.

He explained, too, that Sydney is hardly home as he would come home on weekends but would hang out with friends in the community on the 'front' whenever he did.

Winston said that when his father was young, he loved playing marbles and was not into cricket as other boys his age were. But above all, there was no denying what he loved the most.

"What I know is that him a 'rummer 'man, him love rum bad. That mi know him as, and him love him milk," Winston said.

But despite the cussing and name-calling that Winston and his siblings received, he said that his father taught him a lot.

"Him teach mi nuff 'bout geography still," Winston said. "Him teach mi nuff history, man. First time when him did younger.

"But what mi wouldn't want is for him to get weak, and so," Winston said. "One time him take up him bag and say him want go bush, and mi a say, boy it look like him ago dead now. That was about two years now, and him still alive, but him always a say how 'so and so' dead and him can't dead -- that him say all the while. So mi tell him not to talk them tings deh, man ... is like him want dead," Winston said.




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