Where are you for the Christmas Holidays?
Christmas is always a time when we can hopefully look back on our lives with fond memories of the good old days!
I vividly recall being invited up to Sgt Derek Fletcher’s home at Prospect for my first Bermuda Christmas dinner in 1964. His wife cooked a delicious meal for the family and in so doing introduced me to cassava pie for the first time. I have to confess to not having been a great cassava fan for the first few years but these days I would have withdrawal symptoms if my wife decided not to include it with our Christmas dinner.
We may not have the snow and ice, or even the cool weather enjoyed elsewhere but we Bermudians certainly know how to get into the Christmas “spirit”! Our dinner will include roast turkey with Bermuda thyme and onion stuffing, new Bermuda potatoes – if we get to the vegetable cart early enough and bearing in mind that many of our crops were destroyed during the visits of Fay and Gonzalo - fresh carrots, brussell sprouts, roast parsnips, cassava, ham, loads of gravy and mustard sauce, and all dat der! It will be followed by homemade Christmas pudding and brandy sauce, mince pies (from Msrks and Spencer's) and if still hungry, homemade Christmas cake that has been soaking for months Goslings finest black rum. And of course it can be washed down with egg nog with brandy or the same Goslings black!
We are fortunate to have our family here for the festivities so our apartment will be inundated with children and their spouses, and our five grandchildren, all of whom are still firmly in the “I believe in Santa” phase. In fact they know he's for real because they witnessed him arriving in Bermuda last Friday on top of City Hall, and saw him again this afternoon at the Santa Clause Parade through Hamilton. CLICK HERE to see great photos of the Parade on Bernews, and see if you can find Gertie Barker's son, Che, in motion!
Early on Christmas morning we might even head down to John Smith’s Bay for an invigorating swim, depending of course, on the weather. The alternative would be a walk around Spittal Pond.
We have many former colleagues who served in Bermuda Police spread all around the globe, and we would be delighted to hear from you about where you are and what you will be doing over the Christmas period. Please also feel free to use our website to pass your best wishes on to old friends and colleagues who you served with whilst here in Bermuda. And by all means send us any photos you would like to see published of either Christmas's past, or this one.
On behalf of our Bermuda Ex-Police Officers Association I wish everyone a healthy and happy Christmas and New Year.
“Greetings from St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
I would like to wish all my retired associates very special Seasonal Greetings and the very best for the New Year.
This season in Bermuda brings back happy memories but life goes on and we must move on with it. I miss my cassava pie and dark and stormies but substitutes can always be found.
My sympathies to the family of Inspector Hubert Simmons with whom I have shared some treasured moments in the Police Choir,
All the best and I would be grateful if you can secure me a copy of that Historical Police Book, payment can be arranged.
All the best to all the guys and gals.
Happy New Year
Former Det.Chief Insp Norrell B,Hull
Editors note - We have just published a Press Release from the Bermuda Police Service about how to obtain a copy of the History of the Bermuda Police Service book which is due out in February 2015. CLICK HERE to view the press release on their website.
He wrote, “Your request is a bit of a memory test as it is now forty six years since we left for Scotland but Bermuda is such a special place that we will answer you by way of sentiment.
Yes, we did enjoy the cassava pie but not the eggnog. We remember having Christmas dinner with the Woodwards (Jimmy was a Sergeant at Prospect) along with George Hammond and his wife (Carol) who was a Doctor at the Hospital. Another Christmas and we were with John Napier and his wife, Janet. (John returned to Edinburgh, and we understand, eventually become a Prosecuting Counsel in a Procurator Fiscal’s Office).
We remember taking walks in the Arboretum, just off Middle Road and below Prospect on Boxing Days - just to get some exercise. We also remember a magnificent hedge of poinsettias, also on Middle Road, near the Four Ways Inn. For Christmas, this was very exotic! Now, they are common place here in the UK and sell for just £2.50 – about $4 US dollars in our Supermarkets!
And the turkey? This was generally bought at the Piggly Wiggly – no less, a Supermarket diagonally opposite the Cathedral or at a similar store on Front Street next to the Fire Brigade Station.
And, alcohol? Well, I don’t remember but we do remember Gosling’s Liquor Store on Front Street just before turning up Parliament Hill. The front door and window frames were made of superb Bermuda cedar and once all was decorated for Christmas fare, looked superb.
Similarly, Smith’s and Trimingham’s were decorated like mini Harrods. Combine all that with colour illustrations in the, then Bermuda Magazine, of the grand interiors of some century old Bermudian houses mostly built with cedar together with Christmas decorations and you have the gist of it.
Here in England, we will be with our two daughters for Christmas dinner (not forgetting 2 grandchildren, one 5 yrs old and the other 11 months). On Boxing Day we generally go to the ‘the local Hunt Meeting’ (all red coats, horns etc) at Lambourn, West Berkshire, in the Valley of the White Horse which is the centre for ‘flat and jump’ race training - simply to get some mulled wine and fresh air!
We hope you all enjoy Christmas and will be very pleased to hear of any other memories and current circumstances of ex colleagues.
Alan and Brenda Coates
Editors note - Just a few updates on people and places mentioned by Alan:-
- Jim and Woodward are living out in Western Canada and Jim keeps in touch with us from time to time;
- George and Carol Hammond live in Tucker’s Town and are avid golfers when not surrounded by children and grandchildren. Carol went on to have her own practice, and George left the Police Force to set up a very successful business, Weir Enterprises, selling spare parts for mainly Japanese cars. George stays in contact with Arthur Rose who retired to live in England;
- We heard that John Napier is living in Scotland but havn’t heard from him for quite a while. Would love to hear how he’s doing these days;
- The Fourways Inn is still one of Bermuda’s finest restaurants, on Middle Road in Paget. Not sure where the poincettias are that Alan refers to, but we have a major shortage of Christmas poincettias this year due to a double blow from Hurricanes Fay and Gonzalo;
- The “Piggly Wiggly” supermarket is still there, opposite the Cathedral on Church Street, but is now called the Marketplace – the biggest supermarket chain on the Island).
- The old Fire Station was situated for many years at the junction of Front Street and Court Street, but our “new” Fire Station, now over 40 years old is now located on King Street. However, the supermarket Alan is no doubt referring to is the Supermart which is just 50 yards east of the junction of Court Street, and at that time you would have passed the Forty Thieves Club to get to it!
- Gosling’s Liquor stores are still an institution in Bermuda, all the more famous for the finest black rum, an essential ingredient for “dark and stormies”. Anyone who directed traffic at the birdcage on Front Street would have been in fully view of Gosling’s store right in the heart of Hamilton at the junction with Queen Street.
- Sadly, both H. A. and E. Smith’s and Trimingham’s are no longer the Bermuda institutions they were for many years;
- The magazine Alan refers to is The Bermudian magazine which is still going strong and is still a delight to see and read. There is an excellent section called “Who, What, Where and When” which features lots of fabulous old photos of Bermuda which might be of interest to anyone who has lived here. By coincidence, the latest edition (December 2014) features an old building which will be very familiar to any former police officers who visited or worked in Somerset. CLICK HERE to view the latest edition.
I do believe that we should feature a section on our website, where you can ask what became of buildings, businesses, clubs, hotels etc that you were familiar with when you lived here in Bermuda, and we would do our best to bring you up to date and perhaps feature photos of the places you fondly remember, and what they look like today.
We received this message from Barry (Tim) Burch who served from May 1962 – August 1965.
I'm rather sad that the real Christmas appears to be rapidly disappearing, and has been taken over by the electronic age.
Well, this year I will be in Hospital for a few days prior to the big day having heart surgery but hope to be home in time to eat the bird!
I can remember a time when as a young copper on the Island on Christmas Day I was on motorcycle patrol and dropped into the old Nurses Residence and was introduced to eggnog plus (Gosling’s) Black Seal and thought it tasted just like custard - so I had a couple more! I then went out to ride around the island, only to kick up the bike start off and ran though a big clump of oleander bushes into someone’s back yard.
I cannot recall what happened after that, but it has made me extremely wary of eggnog ever since. I just remember howls of laughter at my demise.
All the best of the season to you all in the Force at this time and to all my old colleagues who are still with us. I enjoyed my years of service in Bermuda, and married one of the nurses.
Tim Burch exPC 103
Editors note - We wish Tim all the best with his heart surgery and for the Christmas Season.
Colin Mackenzie we have received this message from Colin:-
Just wanted to wish friends and former colleagues best wishes for a happy and healthy Christmas and all the best for 2015.
I pass on good wishes to Barrie Mancell and his wife Jenny, Mike Rickards and his wife Rosalie, Dave and Sue Garland, Bill Butterworth, Moby Pett, Tom and Morag Smith and Peter Stubbs.
In keeping with the season, thought you should know that Santa has been doing his homework during 2014 and this is what seems to be happening in his world now. He is looking for some changes from everybody..... like this!
On the afternoon that he wrote to us Colin and his wife were hosting their annual Christmas Lunch Gift exchange. Colin explains, ‘Friends and neighbours bring a wrapped present and we draw names as to who picks a gift. The next person can "steal" that gift or pick another one. A maximum of three steals for a gift and that's it. I have never heard so much cackling and laughter in all my life..... almost noisy enough to get the bobbies to come by!!
Of course, my dark and stormy will be close at hand!!’
Colin has also promised to write to us about his recollections of Christmas’s in Bermuda.
14th December 2014
Dave Barber has written:-
Marge & I have always enjoyed our Christmas's in Bermuda, but every year when the children were small I would go to Boston in early December with Pete Shaw, Charlie Dorrington and Trevor Knight, we would all shop till we dropped in the daytime buying lots of gifts, then wine and dine in the evening.
After a few years we decided Boston was too cold; also we had to carry heavy winter stuff with us, so we changed our venue to Florida doing our shop till you drop in a warmer climate.
One year our Mini bus wouldn’t take all our purchases - TV's, sound systems etc. etc so we had to hire a car to carry the excess!
At Christmas the Somerset Police club used to have a great Party with a wonderful selection of food prepared by Eddie Robinson who was a Prison officer who had worked in several hotels in London & Europe as a qualified Chef. The evening would also include a wonderful raffle.
Young Inspector Dave Barber
Possibly my most memorable Christmas Day happening was on December 25th 1980 about 7am as I was preparing to go to work at Western CID where I was a Detective Sergeant. I told my small unit to take the day off and I will go to the Station, and deal with any overnight crime.
Approximately 7.15am the phone rang and it was Commissioner L.M “Nobby” Clarke. He asked me, “Dave, what have you got for Christmas?” I told him and he then said, “I have another present for you …. you are promoted from this day to the rank of Inspector.”
Shortly after, WPC Coralie Trott shouted out, “You have been promoted. It’s just come on the teleprinter.”
I believe I’m the only person in the Service who was promoted on Christmas Day. Enough said.
Marge & I wish everyone a peaceful and Happy Christmas.
14th December 2014
Gerry Lyons wrote to let us know who is in our latest “Who, Where and When” Photo – the one of the darts team in Somerset Mess - and he added:-
“My first Christmas in Bermuda was spent working night shift. But I did have Christmas Dinner with my landlady and family. She was Bessie Lowe, mother of Robert Lowe and mother-in-law of Hazel Lowe of Salt Kettle.
Gerry and Shina Lyons will be hosting family and
friends for dinner at their home on Christmas Day
This year we will have our usual dinner at home on Wreck Road with some family members and a few friends.
We generally have a few strays wander in later in the evening to partake in some of MY Christmas spirits.
Wishing everyone a great holiday,
12th December 2014
John McQuaid - We just received this article from our old friend Sgt John McQuaid in the UK. Apologies to you John if it is not in quite the same format you sent it. Hopefully the content is the same.
At this festive time of year Roger asks of his colleagues past and present, to remember and record bygone memories of Christmas times spent in the Islands - for me, a span of some 50 years since. Lynn and I were to marry at Hamilton Register Office in 1965 and so next year is the golden one, but ask Lynn and she will assert that I have remembered only about 20 of them! Anyway, what has that got to do with Christmas’s past? Well, there is a tacit connection in my case, so get a bottle of Bacardi and some of those mince pies and I will explain.
Harman’s Bay, Somerset.
During the week before that particular Christmas, Lynn and I were just settling down to married life in to our new home at Leastways Cottage, then tucked away in deep undergrowth at Harman’s Bay on the Great Sound in Somerset (currently occupied by Dave and Marjie Barber.) Over the entrance track and above our heads was a very noisy wooden bridge which once carried the old railway track across the to our little house and later the ‘diddleybops’taking the back roads with their little illegal packages; it was then still in need of serious renovation. To digress for a while, I had happened across this very tiny one bedroomed cottage on the Heydon Trust property whilst on patrol and seeing that it was approaching dereliction and almost totally covered in vegetation besides lacking a front and back door, I enquired of the owners as to its availability for me to rent with a promise of repair. Receiving a response which suggested that I might be a bit odd, I was handed the house at a peppercorn rent.
As Christmas approached in 1965, not only were the turkeys getting fattened up for for the festive season but Mrs McQuaid was by now extremely large with child. With the cottage by now watertight and the front jungle converted into a passable lawn, where else on earth would anyone choose to be than on the edge of the Great Sound, isolated amidst one of the largest undeveloped areas of the Island and looking East towards Hamilton harbour - especially on my rent! Of course, in between times I worked hard patrolling the highways and byways of the Western side of Bermuda and controlling crime to earn a meagre living for my soon to be enlarged family. I suppose in many ways I was halfway to heaven - but down on earth, fatherhood loomed!
Around the 18th day of that December the ominous warnings of imminent childbirth began - like the rumbling of thunder before a great storm or the shaking of buildings during an earthquake - well it perhaps wasn’t quite like that, but Lynn certainly described feelings which led us to abandon ship and prepare to head to the safe enclosure of KEMH at Hamilton for her delivery. I had borrowed my good friend Bob Holdbrook’s blue mini and when loaded up with our requirements we were to make base in good time and without incident. In no time at all, my good lady was whisked away from me, prepared for her ordeal and placed into a side ward.
I need to digress here once more, this time for the benefit of any younger people who might not understand. It is to inform you that men, husbands that is, did not in those long-ago days, attend or partake in the birth of their offspring. Fathers in the room was just taboo and I remember clearly that this suited me fine as I never did like to witness great pain at a close proximity. Anyway, that is the way it was then and so ushered into a nearby waiting room, Matron assured me that I would be well informed of any progress and that they would indeed take great care of my precious cargo as it underwent this very common ritual; I knew my place.
Within an hour or so, I was officially informed that the magic moment was probably a little further off than first anticipated and that I could relax; perhaps return home? I chose to stay and when approached by a young off-duty nurse, (whom I knew well from my very recent courting days), I felt justified in doing so when she informed me that she was off to the nurse’s Christmas party being held that very night and just across the way: would I like to tag along?
“Oh gosh no, but I couldn’t, my dear wife is in there and about to give birth”I asserted, but with very weak conviction.
Well, after being assured that they all knew what I was hanging around for and that as soon as anything might happen of interest to me they would be able to whip me away for the moment. Well, that seemed O.K. to me, so off I went to the ball.
I don’t remember too much of the actual party but it appears that I got pretty well laced. I do though, recall being discovered in some sort of bike shed, apparently asleep on a concrete floor and looking decidedly rough. It was by now 8.30am and I slowly began to remember where I was and the reason for my presence - quel horreur - my wife! my baby! - was this day to be a defining one in my life? In panic, believing that I was well and truly in the dog house, I headed for the ward.
KEMH Maternity Ward - 1965
A Child is Born
Another discernible memory I retain is that of the ‘old fashioned’approach to maternity care at the hospital in Bermuda and indeed, in England. Securely locked doors which afforded only lawful access to a small ‘viewing room’which in turn was separated from the busy nursery by large glass ‘observation’windows. Being somewhat akin to visiting hours at Casemates, no physical contact was allowed, especially in the hours immediately following birth when babies were held up high by the nurses on the business side of the glass and pirouetted like dolls to display their features.
What I do need to tell you however, is that upon my tardy arrival I was greeted by the self-same nurse who had earlier inveigled me into her drinking den and whom I was later prepared to accuse of getting me drunk or worse. Between them, my apparently forgiving wife and the nurses on duty were awaiting my arrival seemingly hell-bent on some sort of feminine vengeance plot. Being directed to the observation point at the window I was next approached by my nurse ‘friend’, now returned for the morning and carefully cradling my precious bundle - oh how my little heart was beating! With a deft flick of her fingers and right in front of me, she folded back the blanket to expose the most beautiful little black baby girl you would ever wish to see. This awful attempt at humour did actually work for a few seconds as I violently shook my head in a manner suggesting that a mistake had surely occurred. My face must have been a picture as just about the whole shift of nurses came forward to congratulate me and as a special favour, they unlocked the portals to the inner sanctum and allowed me a visit to Lynn beside whom, in a small cot lay my very own, first-born child and son, red-faced, tousled black hair which was wet and matted: looking not unlike a skinned rabbit lying on the kitchen worktop, he had only just arrived!
Monday, 20th December, 1965 was indeed a special day for us, as of course such moments have been for the many of us over the years, but this was my stellar moment, Michael John weighed in at 8lbs, 3ozs which is not a bad weight in anybody’s book and when the time was right - up to 10 days in some cases in those days - he would be joining us at tranquil and festive Leastways.
Christmas was by this time well upon us and as Lynn lay abed at Hamilton cuddling her new charge, the ‘nouveau père’made himself busy around the home. A small tree was gifted to which I applied my artistic best, crepe paper streamers, silver glitter and the usual wrapped up presents festooned the very small area of our little home whilst great excitement mounted. When I received a call from the hospital to say that Lynn and Michael were to be liberated prematurely on Christmas Eve my joy knew no bounds. Bob’s mini was requisitioned once more and I drove off into the morning rush hour to collect my presents.
A minor mishap at the hospital occurred when, in all the excitement of the morning, I drove away from the car park having forgotten to remove a very expensive topcoat from the car roof which must have slid off somewhere along the journey never again to see the light of day. But more important things were happening and before long we three were bumping in Bob’s little car down the very precarious and rutted track which led from Sound View Road, under the wooden bridge and the overhanging cedar tree, just about on its last legs and onto the front of our house. With bundle in arms, we went into our home to enjoy our first Christmas as a family. But we were not taking into account a serious problem which need to be resolved - and this, sooner rather than later.
Lynn doesn’t have a great memory of my former colleagues from Bermuda, but there is one man, now passed on, whom she constantly reminds me of. What rankles with her to the present time, especially at this time of year, relates to events on the day which I have been describing, the 24th December, 1965 and her memory goes something like this.
All of my preparations for her homecoming seemed to have passed muster, but whilst our excitement knew no bounds what was pretty daunting about the situation was that we were now totally on our own; isolated. It rapidly dawned on us that we had no follow-up care or help from the authorities and worst of all, no other family member was nearer than about 3,500 miles away and this realisation soon began to play upon our minds. In an effort to cheer her up I recall making the crass remark to her that ‘all we needed to to do was to feed him at one end and clean him up at the other.’- rocket science advice, that was not and which went down like a lead balloon! Then to compound this situation, yet another, even worse thought came to both of us when I realised that in the haste of the moment combined with her unexpected and early discharge from hospital, I had not taken into consideration the small fact that I was scheduled to work a night shift that very night. I realised that it was extremely short notice and on contacting Sonny Roberts, my erstwhile shift sergeant, I was informed that my chances were slim as the minimum staff could not be pared further. Following his conference with the station Inspector George Taylor, Sonny was to advise me that I must turn out and that childbirth could not rate as exceptional reasons or grounds. Our dream was rapidly becoming a nightmare.
Astonished as the reader might be in today’s enlightened society, I did go to work that night and left a frightened new mother at home with her little one. I enquired of her quite recently whether I did in fact return home during that shift and she assured me that I most certainly did not, it seems that I went off to Hamilton to provide cover in the capital; it is all very clear in her memory as she recalls that her eyes never closed until I came home the following morning. Suffice to say that that Christmas day was punctuated with mainly the sounds of snoring. (CLICK HERE for John's article in our "Then and Now" column)
On Christmas day, sometime in the morning when we are all together once again and have shared our presents, Lynn will raise up her glass, look across at me and say quietly, “Cheers Sonny, cheers George; Rest in peace” Michael, who will have recently turned 49, will just grin and Mimi, now 45 will just let it all pass by.
And a very Merry Christmas to you all.
Greetings from David & Penny, Spruce Creek Fly-In, Daytona Beach, Florida. I love Christmas and possibly still believe in Santa! This year David and I are taking a cruise, very different from any Christmas before but we are looking forward to it. We set sail on 21st and return home on 28th.
David and Penny Long
Over all the years we have carried on many traditions from Bermuda or from our British heritage. Our Christmas tree stands majestically decorated including many ornaments from Bermuda, a “gold” one of The Bird Cage, Bermuda Cedar Christmas cut-outs and I am sure everyone one reading this has a Bermuda sand filled ball in their collection! Over the years we have carefully selected an ornament that depicts something special representing the year. We love unpacking all the ornaments as each one “tells a story.”
David still gets his haircut on Christmas Eve as he did for many years at the barbers in the Walker Arcade. Ready to look dapper for his Christmas photos! The stockings are filled and hung and a great feeling that all has been done.
On Christmas Day we start very early in the morning stuffing our turkey and throughout the bastings we sip on our Harveys Bristol Cream (not sure where this comes from, I believe David put this into play, perhaps thinking of years gone by celebrating New Years Day at Prospect!) Somewhere during preparation time I switch from sherry to Eggnog laced with no other but Bermuda traditional rum, a much tamer concoction than the Bermuda recipe served at “Clarendon!”
We telephone and receive many phone calls from Bermuda, England etc. reliving many memories of Christmas past and their news of the day! Trying to time the calls just right with hour differences not wanting to interrupt any one’s Christmas feast!
I take great pride in setting a formal table with all our finery mostly from wedding presents when we married in Bermuda, 1966. I set the table a day or so before as it really is a masterpiece and I have memories of who gave us what and it is a lovely warm feeling! Our table is adorned with Christmas Crackers at each place setting. I have come to buying the “stuff your own gift” ones, they come with the hat, joke and of course the cracker to pull. I have it down pat to what gift to put inside: a golf ball, miniature Black Seal, lipstick etc. snuggly fitting in place A little more thought when it comes to an age appropriate toy as you have only so much room to insert the gift!
Another lovely tradition David makes a toast to all present, absent friends and family including passed loved ones. My Mom was the last of her generation; she passed away just before Christmas last year at the ripe ole’ age of 95. We will miss her dearly.
Unfortunately, our traditional meal does not include homemade Cassava Pie or Auntie Joan’s renowned Christmas pud anymore. I do still have the pudding bowl to remind me of her thoughtful special additions to our meal over the years! I now look for the smallest Cross and Blackwell Christmas Pudding to present in brandy flames and my family always say something like “Oh no, here comes that Christmas Pud again!” Luckily they have my English Trifle made with Mount Gay Eclipse rather than sherry, petite fors and many other Christmas delights to satisfy that sweet tooth.
Not to forget the mincemeat tarts that I make each year, remembering that as a child we always put out a mincemeat tart and brandy for Santa. Actually that is how I found out who Santa was, as one year although the brandy was gone, the tart had been neatly placed back in the bakery box still counting to a dozen!!!!
Should I mention one act that has been a tradition over all the years? After such an extravagant sumptuous meal most men of the house tend to nod off while clean up is being done! Well planned I am sure! Our photograph collection has them well documented over the years.
We will be thinking of many of our Bermuda Police friends this Christmas and wish you all a very special day wherever you celebrate. We wish you full of memories past and new ones to follow and hope your New Year is one of happiness and good health. Cheers!
David and Penny Long
NB David served in the Bermuda Police from 1964-1967 before leaving Bermuda with his Bermudian wife, Penny (nee Stevens) and moving to the U.S. where David took up a new career as an Airline Pilot. He and Penny are now retired and live in Florida where they are both avid golfers. CLICK HERE for an article in our "Then and Now" column for an article on David and Penny.
DAVE AND SUE GARLAND - Dave Garland’s recollections of his first Christmas in Bermuda.
I well remember my first Xmas in Bermuda, but before I get there let me describe my arrival. I, along with Derek Singleton. Peter Rose and John Bailey were met at the Airport by Inspector Jim Hanlon. He told us that we were being billeted at Admiralty House, which didn’t mean a thing at the time. (Editors note - Does anyone have photos of the old Admiralty House as it was in the early 1960's?)
Derek and Peter were dropped off and taken to rooms in Cypher Block while John and I were taken to the main house. John disappeared into the bowels of the old house with Insp Hanlon who returned a few minutes later to myself where I was standing in the hallway. “Follow me” he said as we ascended a large stairway, went down a passageway where at the end he opened a door into a vast room. (about 30 x 16 ft).
This, he said, was the Admiral’s bedroom. The room had two windows on each side, except the back wall which had a built-in closet the length of the wall. Two 8 ft fans overheard whirred into action when I switched them on. Boy, did I love those fans! I had a view of north shore from Dockyard to Fort St Catherine's. There was a massive flagpole on the north side. From the room I had a great view of the beautiful bay below.
Later I ventured downstairs and met a real character, Sid Gregory who lived downstairs in a room opposite the Ballroom. Welcome to Bongo Land was his opening remark as he stood there in baggy underwear and a grubby looking vest two sizes smaller that needed. What a character! I loved him. In a room at the right hand end of the building, up some turning stairs, resided Bob Stewart who introduced himself later that day. Bob was, and is, a bright Scotsman who went on to a great career with Shell. An excellent sportsman, he played centre half on a very good Police football team, and also represented Bermuda in international matches.
So, around to Xmas. Due to Derek Jenkinson and I assisting him in building the first police boat we met Tony Soares and his family who lived in Spanish Point. Tony was a boat builder, and Mary was his lovely wife. Along with another officer named Clive Thompson we had a great dinner with their family, and, became good friends with Earl, their son, who later became a Customs Officer.
We were welcomed into quite a few houses in the area. The good old days! Through this friendship Tony and Mary visited my family in Yorkshire the following year.
I would say that having Xmas in a home like the Soares’ was very comforting and made me think of my own family back home in the old farm house where I was brought up. Because of this Sue and I, when we lived at Prospect, always invited single poIice boys to the house for Xmas dinner. The first I remember to be invited were Ian “Paddy” Ackroyd, Jimmy “The Wop” Costello and “Big” Mike Parris. I believe that was in 1971.
That year we also hosted Pat and Linda McBride. Many others followed in subsequent years including Phil and Kathy Every, Malcy and Diane Smith, Jeff Baker, and many others. Apart from the PRC what was there at Prospect at Xmas time?
Perhaps Ian “Paddy” Ackroyd sums it up best when he says, “I feel very fortunate to have been "adopted" by Sue and Dave Garland shortly after arriving in Bermuda.We became and remain good friends and still stay in touch.
“Their home at Prospect was an oasis for many of us and their hospitality and friendship was truly appreciated by the new recruits when they welcomed us to their home.”
First class hosts - Dave and Sue Garland
3rd December 2014
RAY AND PAT SOUSA - Celebrating Christmas in Western Australia – A Far Cry from early days in Bermuda!
Our old friend Ray Sousa just wrote to let us know what he and Pat will be doing this Christmas.
We have just been told that one of our children and his family from Bridgetown (Australia) are coming for the Christmas Parade in Perth on Saturday (Editors note - It might be warm in Bermuda over Christmas but it’s the height of summer in Perth). Of course Pat already had plans for the week, which have to be changed. Whenever these 3 grand-children stay with us Pat and the dog take a week to recover!
You can imagine the state of Pat and our dog "Muffy" a few years ago when we had our 4 children with their families including 7 grandchildren for Christmas.
The procedure at Christmas is for everyone including the Muffy to gather around the Christmas Tree whilst I give out presents one at a time. Sometimes this is interrupted by a bush fire call. In the case of the Bridgetown mob, we are not likely to see them at Christmas [due to distance and fires]; so we are rushing around putting up the Christmas tree, lights etc.
Comparing Christmas in Bermuda and Australia. In Bermuda my life can be divided into different sections. As a kid the smell of 'gun powder' from cap guns and cooking comes to mind. Every kid wanted a cowboy set of rhinestone or ivory handle guns. I remember some big shoot-outs including outside St. George’s Police Station when the shooting was with toy guns!
Preparation for Christmas started months before. The Bermudian tradition was to soak mixed dry fruit in strong rum in large glass bottles. The mix was used for fruit cakes and puddings. It was also tradition for kids to find the mix and eat some before it was used. Yes, some kids became very happy before Christmas. Some of us had to dig up, soak and grate cassava for Christmas. Then there was the smell of cooking, my favourite being baked hams. Bermudians, particularly those with a West Indian background used a lot of nutmeg and cinnamon, and of course rum.
Then there was the year my mother died the week before Christmas. I was 11, and had to look after a sick baby brother. By Christmas Eve I had a bad case of flu. I remember telling my father it was his turn to look after the baby. I poured myself a glass of rum, added lemon, and honey, walked over to my bed and drank it. I woke up the next morning with the worst possible hangover, but no flu.
My father remarried a few months later. I then spent a lot of time before Christmases killing, cleaning, plucking chickens and geese for my step-mother's friends and relatives. Thinking of the smells still make me sick. I also hated most of her meals at that time.
I have previously mentioned my first Christmas when I was on the Force. Due to friction in the family, my Christmas lunch at barracks was a tin of ham and a glass of scotch. I worked the 4-12 shift and dealt with a domestic family fight. I must have broken every rule in the books, but made two little girls happy by sorting the problem out without making an arrest. Other than 1972 and 1973, after I got married, my Christmases were spent with other Police Officers.
Christmas in Australia varies a lot. A considerable number of people spend Christmas at the beach. Pat, like most people, likes to cook large dinners / lunches. Due to the heat I prefer something light such as salads.
As mentioned before, I have dealt with a number of Bush Fires and other emergencies at Christmas. One year I dealt with 3 fatal traffic accidents between Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. People have stated that they appreciated my professionalism at these incidents, and this helped them at the time. However I do get flash backs this time of the year, including the smell of chicken and geese on my hands. Much to her credit, Pat is aware of my issues, and ensures the kids always have a good Christmas. Although some kids in other families might have got more, our children seem to have good memories of Christmas.
It is possible due to having difficult Christmases as a child in Bermuda, that I enjoy helping people this time of year. Besides dealing with emergencies, Pat and I do volunteer welfare work. One project will result in 120 families receiving Christmas Hampers and over 200 children receiving presents.
I mentioned that people spend Christmas in different ways in Australia. Here is one such story.
A city slicker decided he had enough of the rat race and moved to the bush. After 6 months he was getting lonely and was glad when his nearest neighbour 250 miles away dropped in to invite him over for a Christmas party.
" I must warn you" said the neighbour, "that at my parties, there's a lot of drinking, drugs, loud music, swearing, fighting and wild sex "
" I don’t mind that ", said the city slicker. " What should I wear? ".
" You can wear anything you want. There’ll only be the two of us", came the reply.
Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas, and a Happy Healthy 2015.
All the best,
Pat, 'Muffy' and Ray
Editors note - We asked Ray to send a Christmas photo and he obliged with this one of himself with Pat's beloved dog "Muffy" taken just recently when he and his family went off to see their Christmas Parade in Perth, along with 300,000 others (5 times the population of Bermuda!). As we figured, the temperature in Perth on the day of the parade was over 80 degrees but dropped down to around 70 by the time the parade started. Ray and Pat have 7 grandchildren, and Ray is here with three of them (l-r) Adison (5), Jada (9) and Brandon (7) who managed to stand still for just a moment for the camera.
Pat adopted "Muffy" about 4 years ago and you can see her size from the photo, but Ray says she always wants to fight dogs bigger than herself and loves to chase snakes (not a problem we have in Bermuda!). This is definitely NOT an Australian traditions, but two Christmases ago, Ray and Pat's daughter Reber; dyed Muffy bright pink which glowed in the dark and nearly caused accidents when she was out walking at night!
We wish Ray and Pat and their family a wonderful Christmas.
11th December 2014
Joe Mercer - There is probably no one who has served in the Bermuda Police who will still remember former P.C. Joe Mercer who served here as a Constable having joined the Force in February 1949. Joe only served here for 9 months but during that time he formed a close friendship with a Bermudian constable, Howard Mitchell who many of us will remember as a Parish PC in the early 1960’s.
I had been given Joe’s contact details by former P.C. Derek Singleton who met him at a Memorial Service held in Rutland, England in 2010, and subsequently wrote a brief article about him in our “Then and Now” column (CLICK HERE to view the article).
I called Joe in the UK earlier today to enquire what he would be doing over the Christmas holidays. Although he lives alone in the Lake District he is still exceptionally active for an 86 year old who was diagnosed with Prostate cancer several years ago but has undergone trial treatment and is doing very well.
In addition to walking daily he assists local farmers in clearing woodland of dead trees and invasive plants to “let in the sunshine” and encourage the growth of daffodils and bluebells. He does this as an unpaid volunteer in return for half the logs he removes. In fact, when I called him he was sitting in his living room in front of a warm and cosy wood fire.
When asked what he would be doing for Christmas, Joe said he has been invited to a nearby neighbor’s farm for Christmas dinner, and will spend Boxing Day with another family who always extend a welcome to him for 26th December.
Joe says he has excellent choices of local pubs and restaurants in his area; he still drives his car, and by all accounts he is still living life to the full. He sent his best regards to Derek Singleton and to all former members of the Bermuda Police.