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First female bus driver driven to succeed

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Edith Eve almost stopped traffic the day she took her bus driving test. Heads swivelled and people pointed as she drove along the North Shore. It was 1969.

“They just couldn't believe there was a woman driving the bus,” the 81-year-old said.

“When we got to the Belco office on the corner, the instructor said I'd taken the corner better than some men.”

The drivers back at the depot were not impressed.

“They viewed it as me taking jobs away from men,” she said.

“One of them told me to go back and clean my kitchen. I had to walk through a hail of abuse.”

She and her husband Leroy had four children to feed and bus drivers made good money. But after all the comments, she was not sure she wanted the job.

“I went home and just lay across my bed,” she said. “The boss kept calling and calling but I wouldn't answer until I made up my mind.

“Finally, I thought, what the heck, I'm taking the job.”

An article in The Royal Gazette at the time marvelled that she liked to wear pants.

“At first they didn't have a uniform for a female,” she said. “I wore pants at first and then they had skirts made up and I wore that.”

She was not alone for long — more females were hired weeks later.

“At first, some passengers would get on, see a woman driving and turn right around and get off,” she said. “But people got used to it after a while.”

She loved driving a bus and got to know many of the people along her St George's route.

Her husband, who was a mechanic, also became a bus driver two years later.

They were the first Bermuda couple to drive a bus.

Mrs Eve drove for 26 years. Along the way, she got the nickname “Mama Eve”. At 60, she became a messenger for the Public Transportation Board. She stayed there for five years.

“I'd take tokens to local guesthouses and collect the money from them,” she said.

In retirement, she and her children travelled extensively, often taking bus tours across the United States.

“I always dreamt of driving a Greyhound bus,” she said.

Her daughter, Shirley Eve- Burgess, added: “She always sat up next to the bus driver. She'd tell the driver all about how she used to be a bus driver in Bermuda.

“She wanted them to let her take the wheel. They never did.”

Mr and Mrs Eve were childhood sweethearts at the Central School. Mr Eve often told his children it was her long, flowing hair that attracted his attention.

For their first date they went to the movies; Mrs Eve doesn't remember which one.

“I always loved going to the movies,” she said.

They married on October 15, 1955, at St John's Church in Pembroke.

They had four children: Barry, Shirley, Anita and Rene. Rene followed in her parents' footsteps and became a bus driver. She died last year after a battle with cancer.

“I lost my daughter and my husband last year,” Mrs Eve said.

She was always determined to give her children everything. She had been raised by a foster mother, Marceline Brown.

Although Mrs Eve did well in school, she went out to work at 11. She said: “I wasn't upset because it meant I'd be earning money.”

Her first job was at PieCo & Richardson's, a combined market and general store.

“I started by bagging potatoes and rice,” she said. “Then I moved on to the meat counter.”

As one person cut up meat, she ground it. Eventually, she was assigned to make sausages.

“The secret to the sausages was that we only had pork,” she said. “But the man who ran the place would label some of them as beef. The customers really liked our sausages; nobody seemed to realise.”

By 14 she was managing the store; at 17 she had mastered butchery.

Eight years later, she briefly opened her own store, Atlantic Grocery. She also had stalls at Cup Match and county games, selling things such as cookies and chips.

She was well-known for her codfish cakes and home-made soups.

“She'd still be in the kitchen now but she had a stroke in 2012 and her vision isn't so good so the kitchen isn't a good place for her,” Mrs Eve-Burgess said.

“But she can still sit on a stool and give directions.”

These days Mrs Eve enjoys spending time with her three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

“She also likes to sleep; she didn't have many chances to relax in her younger years.

“Of all the things I've done, I'm most proud of my children,” she said.

Lifestyle profiles senior citizens in the community every Tuesday. To suggest an outstanding senior contact Jessie Moniz Hardy: 278-0150 or jmhardy@royalgazette.com. Have on hand the senior's full name, contact details and the reason you are suggesting them.

Blazing a trail: Edith Eve, now 81, stopped traffic when she took her bus driving test (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Hail of abuse: Edith Eve wearing her bus driver's uniform in the 1980s. When she was training, she was accused of taking a man's job and told to get back in the kitchen (Photograph supplied)

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Published October 04, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated October 04, 2016 at 12:40 pm)

First female bus driver driven to succeed

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