Late Councillor Glover Allen remembered as amazing man who blazed many trails

Late Councillor Glover Allen remembered as amazing man who blazed many trails

Sunday, January 24, 2021

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Late councillor in the then St James Parish Council Glover Allen was remembered, among other things, as an “amazing conceptualiser”, who “blazed many trails” by daughter Nicole during the service of thanksgiving for his life at St James Parish Church in Montego Bay, on Saturday, January 16.

Attorney-at-law Nicole, sister of Senator Janice Allen, told the audience, reduced due to strict COVID-19 protocols, that her father, who served as councillor of the Granville Division from 1974 to 1981, was an outstanding citizen of Jamaica who did well in business ventures despite setbacks of fires and other challenges, and touched several lives, many of them in sports.

“My father approached everything with such enthusiasm, intensity, diligence, commitment and precision; even his exercises, which he did to the very end,” she said of the man who was involved in iron works, and the food industry in Jamaica and Florida, USA for many years.

“He was an artisan, born of peasant stock in Granville, St James, to a blacksmith and a housewife in September 1940. After completing school, he joined his father, a well-known blacksmith, and his brother Blandel in the business of Z Allen & Son, at 44 Barnett Lane in Montego Bay where he honed his skill. As with everything his talented hands touched, he enthusiastically learned and finessed his craft and the student soon became the master. He could bend and twist a piece of iron and forge it into any object or piece of furniture that the client wanted.

“He could plait a piece of iron to resemble a rope with knot at the end. Uncle Blandel recalls a request from an interior designer to make furniture looking like bamboo from iron for the Atlas' Villa (of Atlas Thread Fame). Always a man for a challenge, daddy created a masterpiece, and the designer was bowled over.

“Glover Allen was indeed a man skilled with his hands. This skill was not limited to his artistry with iron as his prowess extended seamlessly as a top-order batsman for St James, Irwin and Barnett Limited. He also captained the Granville team. He was an all-rounder, a magician on the pitch whether as an outstanding batsman, a reliable bowler or as exceptional fielder in the slips. I pause to wonder whether he was born with a natural talent for the game. I suspect he excelled at cricket because of his disciplined and focused character, which he brought to every field of endeavour throughout his life. In his twilight years, he went on to coach the Granville School cricket team and I can recall driving through Granville, you'd hear many a youth calling out 'coach', '' Nicole said of her father, a long time member of the People's National Party.

Glover Allen died on January 5, aged 80.

She told the audience that her father made significant contributions to the success that Allen Ironworks, which started in Montego Bay and moved to Granville, enjoyed specialising in wrought iron – producing gates and grilles. It later led to the establishment of wrought iron manufacturing plant – Forge of Allen – where he trained and managed many young men from the community and the wider St James in the art.

“It is with great pride that we are able to still see some of his best wrought iron work at Rose Hall Great House, Sandals Inn, homes in Tryall and Round Hill and so many other places. Daddy was not content to simply delegate, point and direct the young men he managed. He did the work, the hard work, the grunt work. He was the lynchpin, and this encouraged his apprentices to respectfully follow.

“All was not smooth sailing, as my father has known the vagaries of disappointment as Forge suffered a major setback. There was a fire that resulted in them being forced in an unholy partnership. They lost control as the 51 per cent partner took over. Daddy was never the man to fold and lose hope. He was sent by uncle Blandel back to Montego Bay to establish a new business.

“Like a phoenix, daddy rose from the ashes of the fire of Forge as the production manager at Lyform Limited at 6 Creek Street producing pool and patio aluminium furniture with his siblings uncle Blandel as the managing director and chairman of the board; uncle Dave, director of marketing and sales, and aunt Norma as the interior designer.

“Within three years Lyford controlled the pool and patio aluminium furniture market in the island supplying hotels like Trident, the Pegasus, Shaw Park Gardens, Frenchman's Cove and numerous villas in Tryall Hall & Round Hill with their signature design.

“Given that the business was hinged on the tourist industry it was naturally a casualty when the industry collapsed in the 1970s as the cold war was played out in Jamaica and they were turned back. It was in this said period of the turbulent 1970s that daddy made his most prominent mark.

“Whilst manufacturing and producing at Lyform, daddy was serving his community in varying capacities, at the civic level he served as president of Granville Citizen's Association. He supported the Granville Festival Queen Competition and was patron of the Granville Corner League.

“Notwithstanding, that daddy was an emerging entrepreneur he was a firebrand standing at the forefront of the fight to improve the lives of the poor and the dispossessed. He fearlessly challenged the establishment. With the passing of the property tax legislation, he stood at the forefront and rallied the youth organisation of the party in Montego Bay under the Slogan 'Tax the rich and educate the poor'.”

Nicole said her father's community activism spawned his political involvement. He also became a justice of the peace in 1974.

But his desire to become a Member of Parliament was dashed when the party selected trade unionist Clive Dobson over him to contest the St James Central seat (now St James West Central), after he had defeated Dobson by one vote in the delegates' selection.

“Daddy was a serious representative,” Nicole went on. “He was passionate about housing for the people of Granville particularly the young people starting out in life. When he saw the condition that many of them were living in, Glover Allen, without permission or paperwork, placed them in available homes in the new Government-built housing scheme in Pitfour. Today, we would say, 'him capture the land'. He was a rebel! Taking the position, 'better to seek forgiveness than permission'. The relevant authorities from the ministry would take steps to remove them but by end of day, mommy would put them straight back.

“On March 2, 1981, daddy tendered his resignation and brought the curtain down on his life in representational politics. Again, he pivoted and this time, into business with mommy. His biggest success, I believe, was Livity Burger at 45 St James Street, which uncle Dave supported, encouraged and helped them realise. In fact, it was also uncle Dave who came up with the name 'Livity'.

“The courtyard at Livity was the political epicentre for the party in the west as it sought to rebuild itself after the devastating loss of October 1980. It was in that courtyard that I first heard names like DK Duncan, Maxine Henry and 'Scree' Bertram as they would pass through. This was where people like Carl Miller and Patrick Rose Green emerged and became Members of Parliament. It was during this period that my political consciousness was awakened, as various politicos converged daily in the courtyard charting the strategies for the return of the party,” she stated.

She said that her father organised one of the early road races in Montego Bay – a 10k event.

“Daddy always had an uncanny ability to know when the time has come and when to move on. Many competitors came on the scene in Montego Bay and this affected the business' financial viability of Livity, but daddy, always resilient, looked to a new frontier for a new opportunity. Again, he pivoted!

“This time to Florida with mommy. Another journey for which there is not enough time to recall the adventure, save to say that they had no idea where they were going, all they knew was that they wanted to find a good spot to set up a Jamaican restaurant. They made a windfall, as the city of Miami acquired the land on which the Cuban restaurant that took over, operated from. They found an excellent spot at 240 North Miami Avenue. Just imagine mommy and daddy operating a business with an all-Spanish staff with neither of them speaking a word of Spanish. Over time they recruited the staff they wanted.

“The Eating Place or the Jamaican Restaurant as most called it, in downtown became an epicentre just like 45 St James Street. This time it was the meeting place for Jamaicans who worked in downtown Miami, the Jamaican cruise ship workers, the farm workers and the informal commercial importers, the 'ICI's' who came to Miami to buy peas, onions, pretty clothes and hair to take to Jamaica for resale. Daddy and mommy happily accommodated the ICIs, by providing them the space to pack their boxes and barrels.

“Daddy and mommy were presumptuous enough to use the Jamaica flag to create the restaurant's awning. That was the first Jamaican restaurant in downtown Miami and I would go to the extent to say that theirs' was the first black-owned business in downtown Miami. I did not observe any other. That was the confidence of the man.

“Daddy taught me how to love my country and to be committed to it. So, when Janice and I joined mommy and daddy in Miami in 1991 for our tertiary education, daddy sat us down and said to us, 'Now Janice and Nicole you are here for just one thing “to get an education. Don't fall in love with it. This is not a place to fall in love with it, Jamaica is home.' He purposely gave us the most basic existence in Miami. When all our friends got luxury apartments and fancy cars we got the bare essentials. Imagine Janice driving an old American station wagon into FIU. That was not cool but she knew where she was going,” the lawyer reminisced about her father.

She underscored his commitment to the church, in particular St Mary Magdalene in Granville, which he donated a gate marking his final iron work. The gate was later dedicated to his memory.

“My father was grateful for his life and knew he did his very best. He was content that Michelle, Janice and I had achieved and provided us with a good base to do more — Michelle an educator, my work as an attorney and in politics contributing to nation -building, but I think Janice's appointment to Senate was particularly special. He got the opportunity to hear her speak in the Senate and beamed unabashedly as he watched,” Nicole said.

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