What would Nelson and Ambrose do?
“If a child lives with recognition, he learns that it is good to have a goal.
If a child lives with sharing, he learns about generosity.
If a child lives with honesty and fairness, he learns what truth and justice are.”
— Dorothy Law Nolte (from Children Learn What They Live)
Over the course of a young person’s life, they will have many people who will serve them as both direct and indirect teachers and mentors. These individuals will have a profound influence on shaping how the young person views life, carries themselves and how they, in turn, influence others.
Today, I would like to speak about a couple of individuals who have been major examples to many in the community.
Ambrose Hill was a man who took his life challenges and turned them into life lessons for countless young men from Pond Hill (Glebe Road) and the surrounding areas. For decades, he and his wife, Virginia, turned their home on North Hill into a sort of Sunday school in the afternoon.
He took his time to explain to the young men that he had made errors in his life, errors he did not want to see us repeat in our lives.
At times he used to take off his shirt to show us where he had received a lashing from prison officers with the dreaded cat-o’-nine-tails.
If nothing else, this shocked many into the stark realities of what corporal punishment really meant for young black men.
Mr Hill’s trademark Bible quotation of John 3:16 became our weekly mantra.
One of the young men who lived a mere three-minute walk away from Mr Hill took those Sunday afternoon lessons to heart and became a professional counsellor to countless other men who had found themselves in challenging situations.
In addition to the counselling, he served as a football coach for his beloved Devonshire Colts, served as a proud member of the Kappa fraternity, and still found time to become one of Bermuda’s most progressive Members of Parliament.
Yes, indeed, that gentleman would be the legendary Nelson Bascome Jr. A proud “Pond Dog”.
I write about these men to show that there always have been, and always will be, men who will dedicate their lives to building up the next generation of young men in their respective communities. Without a doubt, there will be untold numbers of men — silent heroes, if you will — throughout our island who have done the same in their respective communities.
As a country, we search high and low for solutions to many of our social challenges: lack of Bermudian tradesmen, single-parent homes, unemployment, antisocial behaviour.
The stark reality is that we need our men not only to step to the wicket, but also to stay to the wicket to help to guide the next generation. There is no magic wand that can be waved, nor a silver bullet that can be fired.
So, today as I recognise and honour two of the men who groomed hundreds, I also call on the men of my generation to take young men under their wing and teach them any number of skill sets: dress codes, handyman jobs, landscaping, responsible motoring, economics and, yes, the proper way to treat a lady.
Thank you, my brothers.
Roland Skinner (1940-2018)
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