Somersfield Academy students record seniors’ memories

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  • Catherine Daniels

    Catherine Daniels

  • Learning from a voice of experience: Daniel Nash interviews Gertrude Barker

    Learning from a voice of experience: Daniel Nash interviews Gertrude Barker

  • Distinguished: Dalton E Tucker (centre), who was interviewed by Santee Symonds-Dill

    Distinguished: Dalton E Tucker (centre), who was interviewed by Santee Symonds-Dill

  • Ottiwell Simmons

    Ottiwell Simmons


The “Write It Down” project has been led by Fredrick Hassell, MBE, since 2005. Today Young Observer applauds and celebrates Mr Hassell’s efforts. Mr Hassell is the director of Bermuda Senior Islanders Centre. The Write It down project saw children overwhelmed and astonished at the experiences of people 70-90 years of age, who spoke of their young days growing up in Bermuda without electricity, telephone, cars, radio and television stations and all the necessary household and domestic conveniences we can’t do without today.

Somersfield Academy students have accomplished a virtuous and cultural deed under the committed guidance of their teachers, Megan Troake and Jason Hammer to get Write It Down ready for an initial publication. Today Young Observer includes just a few of the many interviews which are hoped to published in to a book one day.

Accompanied by parents and teacher the children were driven to Admiralty House on four occasions during their school day to meet, chat and record their elders’ memories. What a wonderful and exciting buzz of fun and chat that ensued between children and seniors as they went about the interviews and photo sessions.

Shirley Brangman, Norma Showers, Illy Richardson, Sylvia Wilson Rabain, Eugene Carmichael Edna Bean and the late Ruth Talbot, JP, members of the Bermuda Senior Islanders’ Centre, launched Write It Down in 2005 when they endorsed the idea with legibly handwritten and typed essays of what it was like to be a senior living on the Island of Bermuda.

The group are delighted that through the Write It Down project another opportunity to honour, revere and spotlight seniors in an optimistic and positive light. This project brought seniors of Admiralty House and children of Somersfield Academy together for a spontaneous transmission of history, with elders passing on a tiny portion of their life experience and stories of growing up on old Bermuda. The project was a collaborative one with seniors writing their reminiscences of growing up on the Island, while the children used their savvy computer skills to record and capture their oral recollections through interviews.

Mr. Hassell is quoted: “You can’t read this kind of stuff in history books that is in these essays. We are getting a glimpse into lives lived. We have people in their 80s and 90s describing a society that has disappeared. Stories of people growing up in Middle Town and on the North Shore and watching movies in the cellar- it really sparked something in me.”

For anyone wishing to learn more about the project, please contact Mr Hassell 295-9094 and/or seniorislanders@logic.bm.

Dalton E Tucker

By student reporter Santee Symonds-Dill

My name is Mrs Tucker and I was born in 1916. I was born into a strong Christian family, with a wonderful mother and a strict father. I was very fortunate to be in a Christian family who taught me and my brothers and sisters good values and how to listen. I was the youngest of six children. I have one brother and four sisters. We all grew up on Dundonald Street, Hamilton.

When I was growing up I could not play and joke around a lot because my father would bring out his strap and hit me with it. When I was 14, I went to the side of my mother’s bed and gave my heart to the Lord. That is something I would never forget. I attended Berkeley Institute where I received a scholarship to go to Jamaica to school. I stayed in Jamaica for two years and I became a school teacher. After that I got a job and they soon made me principal of a school. Teaching is in my blood. My mother, my grandfather and my auntie were all school teachers, so it was natural for me to become one.

When I came back to Bermuda I taught in the prison in Hamilton. I was the first person ever to teach in that prison. I worked in the prisons for over 30 years. When people hear the word prison they get scared but there is nothing to be afraid of because they are human and they have made mistakes. The only thing is that what they did was much more serious than ours. I taught them math, English and social studies. The prisoners worked really hard because they realised that they could go farther with their education. Now I continue to visit but now I visit the ladies in the prison down in St George’s.

It is fine to be a senior because you have got a lot of experience behind you so I think it is wonderful. I do not have hobbies anymore. I mostly do only visiting these days.

When I was younger, the children were more obedient to their parents and teachers. The young people now days are rude and disrespectful to their parents. They do not speak kindly to older people.

I love to travel. I have been to the US seven times, Canada seven times. I went to school in Canada for a couple of years. I have been to England, West Indies, Hong Kong, Japan and Israel. I love to travel. They had an airport at Darrell’s Island. I would catch a boat to Darrell’s Island and from there I would catch the plane.

The Southampton Glebe School was renamed after me, Dalton E Tucker Primary School. If you go to Somerset, you will pass by it. I taught at the school for many years and they made me a principal. God has been very good to me over the years and I will always be grateful for that.

Student reporter - Santee Symonds-Dill: My birth date is October 10, 1996 and my nationality is Bermudian. The things I like about Bermuda is how most of the people say good afternoon and good morning to you. The things that I learned from the project is that we should treat the seniors with more respect than anyone else.

Ottiwell Simmons

By Catherine Daniels

Once a person who has reached the age of 65, he or she is officially a senior citizen. At this age, one is legally privileged to retire. Once this person has contributed to a pension plan that has adequate benefits, than that person may stop work and allow to live on accumulated savings as they choose.

A young senior is a person between the ages of 50 to 60 years old. If they choose to retire below age of 65 at legal age 65, he or she have would very short time to produce enough money. Because of this they would have fewer advantages than what is being offered if they were to retire at the official age.

Bermuda is highly expensive place to live. It is rated to be one of the three richest countries in the world based on per capita income. But this does not mean that we do not have poor homeless or mentally challenged people. However, we do have several charitable organisations to assist and relieve the less fortunate.

It is believed that young seniors living in Bermuda have a higher of living than those young seniors who live in the US and the UK, because we have no income tax. It is also a known fact that most basic food and supplies are more expensive in Bermuda than elsewhere because we have to import these products. However young seniors are well travelled and take the opportunity to shop ‘til they drop’ because they can take of advantages of lower retail prices. In comparison young seniors live quite well.

One of the main problems is a high cost of health care. We have one hospital and one acute care facility to serve a population of over 65,000 people. Our health care system is therefore supported by other hospitals and doctors in the UK. Therefore traveling overseas for special treatment is very expensive. Although local insurance plans will cover some of the cost there is the added expense of travel and hotel accommodations if a family has to travel with you. Sometimes the insurance plans will only cover 80 percent of some treatments. This will require patients to carry with them extra funds.

An example of the high cost of medical insurance plans is a policy paid by a retired married couple who pay over $2,600 per month on a major medical insurance plan. Although their plan covers all sicknesses, and has very generous benefits it is more than or equivalent to the monthly rent paid by some families.

Based on what I’ve told you, it is advised that seniors and young seniors devise a comprehensive retire plan that will allow them to cope with all medical expenses. They should also start on this plan as soon as possible so that the policy will serve them when needed. Although living Bermuda is peaceful and a beautiful place to live and retire, it can be very costly and difficult to live out your seniors years if you do not have a good pension plan.

Student reporter - Catherine Daniels: What I love about Bermuda are the beaches and the close and easy transportation that you don’t get in the States. The things I’ve learned from the project is how the island itself is affected by the seniors and how their feeling towards the island can be both meaningful and harsh.

Gertrude Hazel Rosemarie Barker

By Daniel Nash

On October, 1944, a baby girl named Gertrude Hazel Rosemarie Barker was born. Today, in Bermuda, she is known by the name “Gertie”. Gertie was born in St David’s, the area where she grew up and lived most of her life. She feels at home in St David’s and loves being there. Gertie was born in St. David’s, which as I said was where she mostly grew up. It was when she was 3 she went to Warwick for year. In Warwick was where she had her first memory with the train. She then moved back to St David’s, and spent almost all of the rest of her life living there. Gertie is currently living in Warwick with a German Shepherd. Gertie did not stay in Bermuda her whole life. She went to a school in Boston. Still, St David’s is her home and she loves it.

Gertie was born to Ethel and Clarence Cannonier in a family of seven. She had three brothers and one sister who all had to help out around the house. Gertie’s Family was part of the old tradition of extended families looking out for each other. Ethel was a very caring and giving person. She went out of her way to help others whenever she could. She taught at the girl guides, brownies, and sea rangers. Ethel was even a teacher for a year at prospect primary. She raised five kids, working endlessly for them. Gertie will always have good, warm memories of her mother raising her and the rest of her family. Clarence Cannonier was Gertie’s father. He worked as a local bus driver. Where he did well working there, before going to work at the base, by the airport. His job was working at the Esso station there. He lived a good life, and was a great person, but sadly, he drowned at the age of 35.

Gertie Barker excelled in her chosen career. She decided to be a police officer and went very far as one. She moved up through the ranks of the Bermuda police service through hard work and dedication. She remembers a story from her time as a police officer. She was in patrolling when she found a man drunk on Court Street. He was making lots of noise so she arrested him. Gertie then had to walk the man all the way to the police station. On the way there, the man pleaded that she not tell him mom. Looking back, Gertie is surprised how brave she was when she needed to be.

Gertie thinks that Bermuda is a good place to grow up in. You can get a strong foundation for the rest of your life. Bermuda can help you as there is a lot you can learn in Bermuda that you can’t learn in other places. It is still important to get off the island and experience the rest of the world as well. Gertie also thinks that Bermuda today is much less friendly then it was before. People always keep to themselves nowadays. Gertie always has fond memories of growing up in Bermuda.

Student Reporter - Daniel Nash: My name is Daniel Nash. My birthday is April 19, 1996. I love Bermuda because its size allows me to know the whole Island well. I learned more about the past in Bermuda.

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Published Apr 25, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 24, 2013 at 1:22 pm)

Somersfield Academy students record seniors’ memories

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