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Arnold Cann, 93, is enjoying life but misses wife of 60 years

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Arnold Cann is 93 and feeling great (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Arnold Cann, left, with his brother Jerry (Photograph supplied)
Arnold Cann was a mason in his younger days, and still enjoys working on projects around the house (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Arnold Cann as a young man (Photograph supplied)

Arnold Cann is 93 and enjoying life. His magic elixir is cabbage.

“[It is] is a healer. I put a leaf with whatever I eat. I don’t cook it. I cut it small and eat it up. I found out that secret later in life.”

Oddly enough it is one of the few vegetables he does not grow.

“I rent a plot of land where I grow string beans, beets, potatoes,” said Mr Cann, who gives most of it away. “My carrots come out really big. I kept giving them to this lady until she said please, no more.

“The other day someone went to my farm and pulled up all my string beans. They were big enough to be transplanted somewhere. I told the lady who owns the land if it happens again I will find somewhere else.”

Mr Cann grew up on Cox’s Hill in Pembroke, the middle child of three sons.

His father William worked at the Bermuda Mineral Water Co which had its bottling plant in nearby Fairylands.

“He used to make the orange mineral,” Mr Cann said. “It tasted so good!”

He remembers once confusing it with the rum punch his father brought home from a party. After having a generous sample he went out to join his friends.

“They were playing marbles in the yard,” he said. “I said, ‘Guys, the yard is moving.’ They had to put me in a cart and push me up Cox’s Hill. I was drunk at seven years old.”

His mother, Albertha James, was originally from St Kitts. She died when he was three.

“She was 25 when she died,” he said. “I don’t remember her at all. My father remarried. My stepmother’s name was Adelaide.”

Mr Cann left school at 13 to help his family. His first job was helping some men in the neighbourhood who were dividing a property into lots.

He loved cricket and was a good bowler.

“I could bowl that ball down and put it on the off,” he said. “Most cricketers when the ball is on the off they let it go by. Not me, I could make it turn.”

Some of his friends went on to play for the Somerset Cricket Club, but he joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church instead and gave up playing. He figured there were far too many temptations attached to the game for him to do it and be a good Christian at the same time.

“Now I think you could probably do both,” he said. “In my life I am most proud of knowing Jesus Christ. It is more meaningful to me now. I understand now, how he died to save the world.”

He attends the Devonshire Seventh Day Adventist Church on Roberts Avenue, but previously was a member of the Hamilton branch.

“I used to be the head deacon and the janitor too,” he said. “I used to clean up as well.”

He and his wife, Mary, lived near each other as teenagers. They had four sons, Michael, Leonard, William and Dilton, and shared 60 years of marriage before she died two years ago.

“I don’t remember exactly how we met,” he said. “I used to go up her house too late at night. After a certain hour her auntie would call her inside, so I only got a few minutes to spend with her.

“I still miss her. I would love to talk to her right now or give her a hug. My wife and I were really tight.”

For 16 years, Mr Cann drove a bus.

“I used to leave Hamilton and go to Ord Road. From there I would come back, go Somerset, go all the way to St George’s, come back, go Somerset again,” he said.

Crisscrossing Bermuda like that could get tiring. One day in his thirties, while driving on Middle Road in Warwick, he fell asleep at the wheel.

“Thankfully, the road is fairly straight there,” he said. “When I woke up I was so shocked that there was a steering wheel in my hand. I thought I was home in bed. And there were people on the bus.”

It happened again on another day when he was driving the bus down Scotts Hill Road in Sandys towards Cavello Bay.

“I went sleep coming off the hill,” he said.

He was awakened by the sound of the bus scraping against the hedge.

“If I hadn’t woken up in time I wouldn’t be here today,” he said.

Mr Cann gave up driving after that and went to work for Victor Walters and John Ming of Central Construction.

“Dr Walters was a dentist but he wanted to do something else so he went into masonry,” he explained.

“I was a good floor surfacer. I used a lambs’ wool mop. You wouldn’t want to walk on the floor afterward it was so shiny.”

He can remember being tasked with the floors at Hamilton Hotel, located where City Hall is today on Church Street.

“For some reason the floors were too oily and I couldn’t surface them,” he said.

He did not witness the hotel burning down in 1955 but remembers quite vividly the destruction of buildings such as the Playhouse Theatre on Queen Street.

“At that time there were no professional firemen,” he said. “There were only volunteers. If there was a fire in town, a whistle would blow four times, and they would leave their regular jobs and go and put out the fire. The same whistle was used to signal when it was midday.”

Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Wednesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or jmhardy@royalgazette.com with the full name and contact details and the reason you are suggesting them

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Published January 20, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated January 19, 2021 at 7:49 am)

Arnold Cann, 93, is enjoying life but misses wife of 60 years

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