Anyone can achieve if they have a mind to succeed.
This is the motto of 75-year-old East End resident Osgood Christian, who says his lack of education in his younger days did not stop him from succeeding in life.
Today he is a qualified electrician, engineer, building estimator, carpenter, auto mechanic, model ship builder and rock collector.
He went on in life and gained his engineering license from a marine school in New York and through an International Correspondence School received degrees in building estimation and auto mechanics. He got his electrical licence during the 23 years he spent working with Caribbean Utilities Company.
Mr. Christian was like so many Caymanians who could only afford to get an elementary education, but went to sea to become first mates, engineers, captains and the pioneers of this country.
‘We were men of renown with a determination to succeed in life coming from far with so little,’ he said.
It was normal for most Caymanians males to join ships such as the National Bulk Carrier after gaining an elementary education mostly because it was not much in the way of work for them to do in Cayman.
After returning home from sea in 1967, Mr. Christian started work with a construction company at Cayman Kai. In later years he moved to CUC.
Mr. Christian said he can challenge any man, with the limited education he has to be successful in life.
‘Many people have the opportunity to go to college and university and they still do not make a success of life.
‘What we accomplished through good and hard times is much to be said today.’
After retiring form CUC in September 1999, Mr. Christian now spends his time building model schooners, doing odd jobs around the home and collecting unusual Cayman cliff rocks.
Finding himself with a lot of time on his hands, Mr. Christian said he decided to try his hand at ship building since he knew every rigging by heart.
‘It takes a lot of knowledge and skill to put a model boat together and within the three months that it took me to finish it’ I thought of quitting many times,” he says of his first effort, in 3 years.
‘I am not a quitter so I continued,” he said. Since then, Mr. Christian has built two more model schooners – one he gave to Ms Susan Olde after Hurricane Ivan for her contributions to the district of East End and others are displayed at his home. He is taking a break for nowbut hopes to start another one when he feels motivated.
Mr. Christian is even talked about as a hero in his district after he and another friend risked their lives in rough seas to rescue two fishermen. He said he was returning from church one day when a commotion by some residents on the beach caught his attention.
Apparently two fishermen where having problems making it to shore because of rough seas. No one wanted to take the chance to rescue them but him and friend got a boat and paddled through the rough seas and got the men safely back on shore.
Unusual Cayman cliff rocks
Mr. Christian’s interest in unusual cliff rocks began when he found some strange rocks while tending his garden in-land.
A particularly rock that resembles a beehive he found about 4 years ago is quite a mystery, he said.
I do not know how it was made but it resembles a bee hive but it is solid cliff rock.”
Mr. Christian said he found the rock just lying on the ground but others he had to chip out of the cliff side which also contained preserved clam shells from the sea.
‘An American geologist that once worked with me at Caribbean utilities offered me money for the piece of cliff rock,’ he explained, but Mr. Christian said he would not part with it.
‘I was thinking of giving it to the museum but I do not know if they would accept it.’
For now Mr. Christian just keeps it displayed at his home in East End, along with his other collections.
Mr. Christian was born in East End to parents Zola and Arley Christian; he spent most of his younger years growing up with his aunt in George Town. In later years he married Linda also from East End and between the two had three children.
He started working at age 10 making 4 cents a day and later joined Southwell ships at age 14 as wiper but worked his way up to junior engineer.