Prince Ayers

92 years - Moruga

Ayers' father was a gardener on the Herrera Estate and a musician. His mother, a worker on the same estate, would meet his father and marry him at age 30. The marriage arrangements were made through the parents.

Born in Rock River, Moruga, Prince attended Rock River RC School. After primary school he worked at a cocoa estate but then moved over to the oil fields. He struck out on his own at age 16. He left the oil fields after three years, pursued tailoring and became a certified tailor at the age of 18. A tailoring machine cost 32 dollars.

Mas in Moruga was his passion. He was in charge of a carnival band, making favourite costumes like the King Sailor, Cowboy, Black Devil and Pierrot Grenade with his whip. "I made everybody costume but when mas done nobody paying you, but when you meet them in a bar they buying you drinks." Spending hours at his machine he would work tirelessly, stopping only for his occasional sip of rum.

In the Island Walking Race he was the Champion. From San Fernando to Port of Spain, it would take him six and a half hours starting at 6:30 A.M. and finishing at 1 P.M.

Hosay time one would sing in Hindi, Prince remembers. Teams would be picked among the children for stick fighting, "the Gatkaa would give you a shield and a stick, put you in the middle…and you had to go". Prince had just left school when WWII started. "School children [were made] to dig trenches. Eight hours a day were spent digging roads and you were required to accomplish 32 feet in this time or you were not paid (20c a day)."

Hurricane of 1933. "Nobody know what a hurricane was when the wind start to blow. Immortelle tree fall right on a car and on cattle. People were falling down in the wind." In a time of no early warning meteorological systems, no one could have been prepared for an event such as a hurricane. This particular hurricane came with no name and swept the southern part of the island, in particular Cedros and Icacos. Prince still drinks at the bar down the street and proudly displays his trophies from his walking race days.