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Bowler, 86, recalls living with no plumbing or electricity

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Speedy bowler Hilton Hayward (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

In his younger years, Hilton Hayward’s balls would rocket down the lanes of bowling alleys. The 86-year-old remembers how staff would worry that his 19mph throws would damage the lane or the pins while friends begged him to “bowl a little softer”.

Tried as he might, he couldn’t.

“I did bodybuilding as a young man, exercised regularly and enjoyed an active career as a carpenter and builder,” Mr Hayward said. “Exceptional strength was a natural outcome of that.”

He started bowling at 25, figuring it offered fewer potential injuries than football, which he played with a team called The Bombardiers.

The sport had only come to the island in 1960 with the opening of The Bermuda Bowl in Warwick.

“Everyone was self-taught,” Mr Hayward said. “We would just go and do our best.”

He and his friends enjoyed it so much they would often play three times a week. Mr Hayward soon joined the Five Stars, a team in the Continental League.

“At first, we would always win,” he said. “Then other teams started to improve as well. So the league got more competitive. I enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun.”

Over the years he played for a number of different teams – the Mixed Majors, The Fishbowl League, The Friday Night League and The Empire League.

His first trip abroad in 1967 was to a bowling competition. Mr Hayward went on to represent Bermuda in the US, Finland, Venezuela, the Bahamas, Trinidad and Mexico.

Hilton Hayward at the Warwick Lanes (Photograph supplied)

“Once, I competed in a tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada, returned to Bermuda, then took off again two days later for another tournament in Caracas, Venezuela,” he said.

Mr Hayward grew up on North Shore, Devonshire.

“I lived in an apartment building that everyone called The Incubator because there were six apartments stacked on top of each other, resembling an egg incubator. We were on the bottom floor,” he said.

In the 1940s, the building had no plumbing or electricity. Tenants dipped water from a tank every day and hauled it to their apartments in buckets.

“We used kerosene oil lamps for light, and we had a kerosene stove,” Mr Hayward said.

His mother, Elsie Hayward, was a cook in a nursing home on Happy Valley Road; his father, Eldon Hayward, worked for Burnaby Cycles.

Mr Hayward was the seventh of 14 children. The lack of running water made bath time a big production.

“We would fill up a tub with water,” he said. “Sometimes we would put it outside in the sun to warm up. The girls went first and then the boys and the order was youngest to oldest.”

From the age of nine he started clearing up his neighbours’ yards to earn money. The summer he was ten, he found a job in a grocery store.

“I never went back to school,” he said. “I had to help the family.”

Eventually, he became a carpenter.

“I had my own business and also did a lot of work at HA & E Smiths,” he said. “I was self-taught in carpentry, to a point.”

He met his late wife Gaynette while bowling.

Hilton Hayward with some of his bowling shirts (Photograph supplied)

“Her friend Marion Wilson was a regular bowler and invited her to The Bermuda Bowl,” Mr Hayward said, admitting his wife was then the better bowler.

“But I took over from there. I would bowl in three or four leagues and she bowled in two, so I was able to accomplish more. My interest was much higher than hers was.”

The pair married in 1967 and had two daughters, Angela and Cheryl.

Mrs Hayward died in 2013.

Mr Hayward has been teaching his ten-year-old grandson Mandela Gilbert and is “very proud” of his progress but hasn’t been able to bowl himself since the start of the pandemic when alleys closed.

Health issues since have prevented him from returning.

“I have aged quite a bit and I do not want to fall down,” he said. “It is easy to do in a bowling alley. I still miss it.”

Still, he feels he had a good life.

“I bowled against the best, and I am pleased my highest score was 260. I represented Bermuda in more competitions than I can count. I am pleased at what I accomplished in bowling. I am also proud of my two beautiful girls. Everything worked out pretty good.”

Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Wednesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or jmhardy@royalgazette.com with the full name and contact details and the reason you are suggesting them

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Published March 23, 2022 at 7:49 am (Updated March 24, 2022 at 8:01 am)

Bowler, 86, recalls living with no plumbing or electricity

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