One of Cayman’s oldest residents and certainly its oldest shoemaker, Wellesley Howell, celebrated his 102nd birthday on Saturday, playing dominoes with family and friends at the South Sound Civic Centre.
An excellent domino player and lover of the game, Mr. Howell dropped six-love on his opponents with the help of domino partner Rene Barnes. For those who know the game, placing a six-love win on opponents is the ultimate goal.
Mr. Howell, a shoemaker and saxophone player who has shared his love of music and his craft with Cayman residents for many years, continues to work as a shoemaker and can be found most days in his small shoe repair store tucked away in a corner of Shedden Road in George Town. There he shares stories and tales of Cayman with his longtime customers, as well as any other visitors who drop by.
He says his secret to a long and happy life is not to worry and to smile at things that life throws your way.
“Smiling and getting together with family and friends is the joy of my life,” he said.
Mr. Howell’s favorite place is home, and his love is music. “Music is the most enjoyable thing in my life. I love the saxophone, and I always put my whole thoughts and heart into my music,” he said.
For Mr. Howell, shoemaking is a gift, just like his music. His business has been in operation for more than 30 years and he says he will be in business as long as there are customers.
Mr. Howell arrived in Cayman in 1958 at the invitation of Caymanian band leader S.E. Nembhard, who wanted his services as a saxophone player. After staying on the island for six months, he went back to Jamaica to get married but returned to rejoin Nembhard’s band, and later to take up the shoemaking business.