Charlie Mattress’ legend lives on - COVID spoilt plans for link-up of his four dozen kids

June 12, 2020
When Egbert Alfonso Jackson, aka Charlie Mattress, passed away, it was big news.
When Egbert Alfonso Jackson, aka Charlie Mattress, passed away, it was big news.
Egbert Alfonso Jackson, aka Charlie Mattress.
Egbert Alfonso Jackson, aka Charlie Mattress.
Michelle Forad-George, one of Jackson’s granddaughters.
Michelle Forad-George, one of Jackson’s granddaughters.
Norma Nicholson, Jackson’s oldest child.
Norma Nicholson, Jackson’s oldest child.

If one should visit Matthews Lane and mention the name 'Charlie Mattress', it's very likely that residents, both young and old, would share tales of the man many describe as one of the most colourful characters in Central Kingston.

In addition to being a successful businessman, Charlie Mattress, given name Egbert Jackson, was quite the Casanova, boasting numerous girlfriends, and was father to at least 52 children.

His father, Charles Jackson, was a well-known mattress maker and the story is that that was how he got his nickname.

Jackson died of cardiac arrest at age 65 on May 10, 1985. When news of Jackson's death spread through Matthews Lane, the entire community was plunged into mourning, and flags were hoisted in remembrance.

He was buried at Dovecot Memorial Gardens. Relatives were planning a family reunion and celebration to mark his 100th birthday on April 16 of this year.

Those plans were, however, halted by the novel coronavirus. Among those slated to attend was Jackson's eldest child, Norma. She shared fond memories of him.

"I had lived at a whole lot of address, but I had settled with my stepmother, the woman who he had married. My father had a lot of girlfriends and babymothers, but I never got a chance to meet all of my siblings. I know about 36 of them. He was very kind, and everyone would come to him for stuff, and even though he would curse them out, he would always help them. He was very sharp on his mouth, and instead of whipping, he would line us up with profanity," she laughed.

Very attentive

She stated that although her father had more than four dozen children, he was very attentive to all of their needs.

"His babymothers somewhat live close to each other, and I remember that there was a big hurricane, and the night, he used a bicycle and rode and checked on all his kids and babymoms. There was no war or fighting between babymothers. I remember some of them would come and visit, and he and them would sit at the bar and talk. My stepmother knew, but she didn't let it bother her," said Norma.

Jackson was a deep-sea fisherman who fished in the Pedro Banks. After one of his boats, Star of the Sea, sank in 1974, he went back to selling fish as a subcontractor.

He remained in the fishing industry up to the time of his death in addition to owning and operating a haberdashery at 31 Matthews Lane.

"He was the first person that I saw 'married' items when things were scarce. I would ask him what he meant by married, and he would tell me that there was one item that wasn't selling, so he would sell it and the one that was scarce together. He used to say, 'I don't care what dem going to do with the other one, but that's how I am selling it'," one of Jackson's granddaughters, Michelle Forad-George, said.

"He was like a low-key politician, and I remember him taking me to a lot of meetings, and I would meet and sit next to persons I would only see on TV. I used to marvel because at home, I saw him as my grandpa. But when we went out, he was my grandfather, and more, because everyone showed him so much respect," she added.

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