Gertrude Mollineau

96 years - Brasseterre, Moruga

"My father was in agriculture; he worked on the estates. My mother was a housewife; she had 10 children. My father got 40c a day and worked from nine to four."

Funerals were a community affair. A heavy plate and pool grass was placed on the stomach to keep from swelling.Men would beat a bongo drum and bamboo. Women would walk with their hymn books and light candles. The body would be placed on a hammock [and] would be carried through the village. Weddings started in the evening and went all night. They used shade lamps. People would play chak chak, banjo, cuatro, violin and guitar. Christenings were big celebrations also.

Ground provisions were the main stay of any country diet: Cassava (where manioc was the bitter variety), Chinese yam grew in bunches of five and six, and Cush Cush yams, "we don't see again." "Even though we were poor we always had something to eat." Men would hunt two to three days into the forest to supplement their diet with meat.

At 10 years old I went into Port of Spain for the first time in a Ford motor car across a narrow bridge at Caroni which would flood in the morning at high tide. It was the first place I saw movies. They were silent pictures. I watched a movie about a woman who danced with everybody, then when she went back to her room to undress she took off her wooden leg and put it in the corner, it was very funny…'Pit' cost one penny and only boys went there. Girls went to 'house' and paid 12 cents. Holiday time, the movies were full of children.

Gertrude never married but remained a pillar in her community and to this day writes poetry and hymns, and tells stories to the children. She has always been an outspoken member of her family - something greatly valued in her community.