Celebrating one of the fabulous 49
Norman “Mickey” Scotland was one of the fabulous 49 teenage Bermudians who were apprentices at the old Royal Naval Dockyard at Ireland Island when the British Government decided to close down the Bermuda outpost.
Mickey had just turned 15. He was the tallest, and the youngest, of the 49 sent to Portsmouth Dockyard, England, in 1950 aboard the liner MV Georgic.
In 1953, after five years’ overall training, he qualified as a shipwright.
The vast majority of the Bermudians eventually returned home, some with their English-born wives.
One in particular, Osrola “Bo” Smith, went on an exciting course — an officer aboard a ship that took him to faraway India.
About four or five apprentices pursued broader horizons overseas, mainly in the United States, among them Earlston Burrows, Mickey, and Guilden Gilbert Sr, who impacted in the Bahamas.
The remainder settled down in Bermuda, established their own businesses or became leaders in various government and private enterprises; a number became ranking officers in the Bermuda Police Service.
To date, 15 of the fabulous 49 have passed away.
Mickey was not just naturally head and shoulders above his peers, he was exciting, different, a smooth attention-getter.
His family’s homestead bordered Sound View Road on one side and the other side overlooked the Great Sound. He was attracted to the water.
He will never be forgotten for the fact that he used his shipwright expertise to build one of the fastest small boats around.
It was called The Whistler, and it could go from Somerset to St George’s in about ten minutes. It was The Whistler that attracted the attention of an American tourist, a “Long Tail” as black American ladies were popularly termed in those days.
She had a most Bermudian name, Elizabeth Tucker, which was never explained, and they married.
Their residence in Yonkers, New York, somehow became a home away from home for young Bermudians, such as the now MP Dennis Lister, and others with relationships to any of the fabulous 49.
Mickey became a ‘big man’ in Yonkers for building distinctive, affordable homes
Credit was given to his wife Elizabeth, better known as Betty, for her determination in ensuring that Mickey never lost touch with his native land, and she enlisted friends such as Molly Simons in making Mickey’s big 80th at the Fairmont Southampton the fabulous event it was.
The master of ceremonies was the former MP Walter Lister.