Dada crosses milestone
May 24, 2013

Dada crosses milestone

Matthew “Dada” Culzac would be the first to tell you that he has not reached the stage where he requires assistance to do simple things.{{more}}

He prepares his own breakfast, can cook his own meals and does other chores around his home at Rose Place, Kingstown.

Culzac is 100 years old.

Born May 19, 1913, Culzac celebrated his milestone birthday in grand style on Sunday, May 19, with close family and friends at the Catholic Pastoral Centre at Edinboro.

Showing no signs of slowing down and moving more gracefully than some half his age, the centenarian was given the royal treatment as relatives jostled for position to have their photographs taken with him.

As the cameras flashed, Dada posed and put on his best smile. At one point, he jokingly asked, “I wonder what all yo going do with all them pictures?”

Smartly clad in a pair of navy blue trousers, a white pin striped shirt, black sandals and black socks, Dada shared jokes and chatted with those who had come to celebrate with him.

In an interview with Dada, the first question SEARCHLIGHT put to him was, what is the secret to his longevity?

Dada, with a big smile said, “Boy! I don’t have a clue. All I know is that I live a life that I believe and still believe, is pleasing to the almighty God. I don’t know how to put it. That is my belief and that’s what keeps me up.”

“To tell you the truth, I feel good today. I glad that it happen that I live to see today…,” Dada stated with a smile.

Taking us on a trip down memory lane, Dada said he grew up and spent all of his life in Rose Place.

After leaving school at a young age, he went straight to work.

“After I left school, I start to do tradesman work. I did that for a couple months, but I had to leave it because the man who I was working with went away,” Dada recounted as he sat in a chair with both hands on his legs.

He said when the man returned, he tried to get his job back.

“I was going up there every week to see if I could get a work, but I couldn’t get none. So rather than I wasting time, I just forget that.”

The father of 11 said he was never the type to sit back and depend on people and always had to be busy doing something.

“I used to take life anyway it come. I used to go an do painting, take my boat and go fishing; anything that came where I could get money, I used to do that,” Dada added.

Dada, a widower, who lost his wife Mary Nanton-Culzac more than 30 years ago, said there is one thing that still haunts him up to today.

He can’t remember the date he was married.

Dada explained that when he and his late wife were married, a woman told his wife to hide the marriage certificate from him.

“I can’t tell. I never see the certificate again. I forget the date. The woman told her (Mary) to do it and she do it. Up to now that does humbug me,” Dada disclosed.

Stating that he doesn’t experience any joint pains, Dada shared that only his head and neck hurt every now and then.

Comparing life when he was younger to what obtains at present, Dada said people lived more peacefully back then.

“I could remember when I was home, I could leave the door open and go sleep. Nowadays, you can’t do that. You wink and people want to do a set of damage to you. It was just a different thing all together back in my day,” Dada said.

Dada, who is still a staunch member of the Roman Catholic Church, declined to offer any word of advice to the youth of today.

“Don’t be upset with me, but the younger generation do not listen to what the older heads have to say. I am not putting myself out of the way to offer advice. I would rather offer it to people who are older…”

Asked how he now spends his time, Dada said he just spends his time at home chatting to people who might drop in to say hello.

“It’s okay. I am glad that I can still do a lot of things by myself. The time ain’t reach yet when people have to help me to go to the bathroom, way you talking bout?” Dada joked.

He further stated that he does not like depending on people.

“I am very happy where I am now… I don’t want to be an offence to a soul,” he further joked.

Dada said when he passes on, he wants his family to remember him in a great way.

“When I pass this life into another, my children can make reference to their children and to the others coming behind and say, that was my father or grandfather. And that is how I would like to hear it happen. No further,” he remarked.

Celebrating with Culzac, was Governor General Sir Frederick Ballantyne, who said he knows Dada very well.

“He was reminding me that I was his doctor some 50 years ago and as you can see, his mind is still as sharp as anybody here…,” Ballanytne said.

Ballantyne extended his congratulations to Dada and said special thanks to those in his family who take care of him. Sir Frederick also presented Dada with a gift basket and a special card from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Former West Kingstown parliamentary representative John Horne described the occasion as a “stupendous moment” and stated that this sort of milestone does not happen every day in our society.

“Today we celebrate someone who has reached four scores and ten; 100 years…”

Horne said it must be a rare thing for someone to be born in an area, to grow and live entirely there.

“That is why Dada has become a father figure in that community…This is a remarkable achievement… Look at his demeanour, even today, his shoulders are still upright and solid…,” Horne said.

Rose Place resident and calypsonian Robert “Patches” Knights was of the view that something should be done in honour of Culzac.

Knights suggested that the street where Culzac lives in Rose Place, should be named after him.

“We believe, to identify where you going when you go down Bottom Town, these places should be significantly listed and that street that Dada lives on, be named after Dada…,” Knights suggested.

Current parliamentary representative for West Kingstown, Daniel Cummings, expressed how happy they are in the constituency to have yet another centenarian, one whom he said does not look not a day older than 60.

Culzac’s eldest son, Maxi who journeyed from the United States for the occasion, said his father was always a very strict man, but always very nice.

“Dada, I love you and I hope you live to see another 10 years…,” he said.

Dada’s eldest daughter, Yvonne, who travelled from England, was also on hand and recited a poem for her dad.

Granddaughter Lystra Culzac-Wilson of the Heritage Museum and Science Centre at the Botanic Gardens, said along with preserving some of the country’s priceless possessions, she wants to also display some of the Culzac history at the museum.

She noted that pieces of Dada’s work are on display at the museum, including a basin stand, which he built when he was married.

Following all the remarks and toasts to Dada, he was presented with two birthday cakes.

As everyone gathered to sing happy birthday to him, Dada took a deep breath and blew out the candles, missing only one.

He took another deep breath and put out the last candle on his cake.

SEARCHLIGHT congratulates Dada on his 100th birthday.