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E. Michael Jones, passionate about art and St George

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E Michael Jones is a big supporter of the Town of St George (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

E Michael Jones likes to say he was “born at home in St George”, which gave him a love for the Old Towne.

The 71-year-old was a common councillor for the Corporation of St George in the 1990s and the town crier until 2003 when he stepped down to become mayor.

E Michael Jones as town crier at the annual Peppercorn Ceremony in King’s Square, St George (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Twenty years later he’s back in the job, replacing David Frith who was laid off by the pandemic in 2020.

“The Corporation asked me if I would be interested in being the town crier again,” Mr Jones said. “I could go to Penno’s Wharf and greet the visitors coming in from the cruise ships like in days of old.”

But then the cruise ships stopped coming and he had nothing to do until October, when the annual Peppercorn Ceremony was held after it was postponed by Covid-19 in April.

Mr Jones grew up on Wellington Back Road. His parents, Erwin and Winifred Jones, have been married for more than 70 years.

He fell in love with art at the Berkeley Institute under the tutelage of Charles Lloyd Tucker, the island’s first professionally trained Black artist and a prolific painter in the 1950s and 1960s.

It was through his encouragement that Mr Jones joined the Bermuda Society of Arts at the age of 13; the gallery was itself in its infancy at that time.

“I was its first junior member,” he said, laughing as he remembered the model in his first life drawing class was his biology teacher’s fiancee.

“I was with all these artists who were in their thirties and older. She came in with her robe and took it off and sat down in the chair in all her splendour, and we were all sketching this nude.”

He then fell in love with photography which was then an expensive hobby as, back in the day, people had to buy film for cameras.

E Michael Jones in the 1980s modelling for Trimingham’s (Photograph supplied)

To pay for his passions Mr Jones began working.

At 12 he moulded little clay turtles that he sold at the Bermuda Pottery in Hamilton.

He did well in high school, where he excelled in sports and was captain of Green House.

On graduating he went to work for Eastern Airlines during the day and cleaned the hallways at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital in the evenings. He also worked at the Hamilton Princess and the Holiday Inn, which was located where The St Regis Bermuda Resort is today.

“I worked for a plumbing group in the 1970s, and helped to build it,” he said. “Then when it opened I oversaw the social desk, guest services, activities and pool and beach facilities. When it closed, I was involved in imploding the structure.”

In the 1980s he became a sales manager with the Bermuda Department of Tourism; during the early days of the internet he ran one of the first cyber cafés on the island.

Mr Jones remembers putting together a makeshift period costume, and then going off to town crier trials in England without knowing what was involved.

The town crier of Lyme Regis at the time, Richard Fox, took him under his wing.

“He gave me a costume that his wife Marilyn had sewn,” said Mr Jones, who worked his way through competitions across the country. “He also briefed me on what to expect from the competitions. “By the end of it, I had used up my voice because I did not know how to use my lungs.”

Despite that, he came back to Bermuda with an armful of trophies.

“I was quite pleased with myself,” he said. “Most town criers do not win that many awards in 25 years of being a town crier. So I think I was pretty decent at that stage.”

He was disappointed to have to step down from the role when he was elected mayor of St George in 2003.

These days he is enjoying retirement and is determined to live life on his own terms.

He rarely wears shoes and loves driving around in rainstorms, taking photographs of St George through his windshield. The effect gives a dreamy, watercolour quality; he proudly posts the pictures on Facebook.

Although a past president of the Bermuda Society of Arts, and a founding chairman of Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art, he hasn’t exhibited his photography in years.

“I don’t sell my work any more,” he said. “If someone likes my work, I just send it to them.”

He also no longer has a landline or mobile phone, preferring to communicate by e-mail.

“It means I do not have to deal with telephone bills any more,” he said. “You always end up playing phone tag with people anyway. It is only maybe a dozen times a year that I wish I had one. If I am scheduled to meet someone and they don’t show up well, that’s OK, it was a nice outing anyway.”

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 07, 2023 at 7:51 am (Updated March 09, 2023 at 8:10 am)

E. Michael Jones, passionate about art and St George

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