Marie Magdeleine Nicholas (née Charlery), also known as Rebecca Nicholas and affectionately called ‘Mam Beck,’ was born to Annaville Charlery and Angelic Constantine (Ma Lic) on December 10, 1917, though official documentation has her birth date recorded as 16th December 16, 1917. Her father was a fisherman and her mother a housekeeper.
On January 23, 1937 Marie Magdeleine gave birth to a son, Sylvester ‘Evans’ Charlery. He would be her only child. A brief marriage resulted in her carrying the surname Nicholas. In the early 1950s Marie Magdeleine migrated to Cayenne with her son. There she worked making mattresses at a company owned by the gold mining company. After leaving Cayenne, Marie Magdeleine lived in Guyana briefly, before returning to Saint Lucia permanently.
Marie Magdeleine made her home in Mon Repos where she made an honest and decent living as a seamstress. She sewed everything from school uniforms to costumes for the La Marguerite and La Woz flower festivals, as well as soft furnishings. She was also skilled in making straw hats which became popular with local fishermen. Marie Magdeleine produced hats into her late nineties, on her very faithful Singer sewing machine. Even in her nineties, she had a preference for the pedal machine as opposed to the faster and less labour-intensive motor.
A pillar of strength and wisdom and a warm, kind-hearted person, Marie Magdeleine is known and respected by all in the close-knit Mon Repos community. Children and adults greet her with a drawn out, almost sung greeting of ‘Mam Beck’ as they pass her home located on the main street. Even at 99 years old she remains lucid, astute and fiercely independent. She is proud that athough she produced only one child, she has to date been blessed with five grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.