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Visit Bermuda from long ago

*** Described as a `story for the young and the not-so young, for those who'd like to know and those who can remember', The Island That Disappeared refers to Longbird Island, sacrificed in 1941 to make way for the Kindley Air Force Base.

Mrs. Kawaley has drawn on early childhood memories when, as Elizabeth Musson, she lived on the island. At that time, it was connected to St. George's by the swing bridge, and to Hamilton Parish by the causeway.

A note of unexpected topicality accompanies this book. The author could not have known, when she commenced writing it some years ago (it started out as a short story), that Longbird House, built on the only tiny remaining section of the island, is now in danger of demolition in order to meet international aviation standards at the Airport.

Longbird Island itself becomes a metaphor for a way of life that disappeared with the arrival of the American forces and the almost bewildering technological advances that have characterised the second half of this century. Sociologically, as well, enormous changes have taken place within Mrs. Kawaley's lifetime: however idyllic her generation's childhood may have been in its sense of simpler pleasures and today's much vaunted `family values', she reminds us that this was also the era of racial segregation.

Using a sci-fi device, still somewhat optimistic for the mid-1990s, of a `time control' watch, the author whisks her readers back to the year 1927 -- a time that will seem as remote as the Dark Ages to today's young readers. The older generation will enjoy the trip down a distant Memory Lane.

Trained as a teacher, with degrees from Canada's Queen's University and the University of London, Mrs. Kawaley's work is primarily a children's book. As Cultural Affairs officer, Ruth Thomas, points out in her Foreword, however, this book is "not confined by the boundaries of age'': Mrs. Kawaley has added to our knowledge of Bermuda Past which, if historians are to be believed, place the present in perspective.

Through the thinly disguised family name of `Mason', the author, who has an accurate ear for dialogue, vividly evokes the everyday ups and downs of life in the '20s -- a time when tall cedars covered the Island, and quiet, dusty roads were undisturbed by the now ubiquitous motor car. It is a world where clothes are still scrubbed on a washboard, water is dipped from the tank in a bucket, goats are tethered in the garden, and `alleys' (marbles), humming tops as well as the family story and singing sessions provide entertainment in a world that has never heard of television.

By visiting other members of the family, the reader is taken on a horse-drawn bus tour of the rest of the Island, meandering through the busy village of Flatts, stopping off in a still mainly residential Hamilton where, in the main streets, bicycles compete with horse and carriages. On through a countryside where houses are still few and far between, the family make their leisurely way to Aunt Sissy's house in Somerset, where bread is still baked in her brick oven and the house is lit by kerosene lamps.

The book is beautifully illustrated with colour and black and white archival photographs and the attractive sketches are by the author's daughter, Kathleen Kawaley.

The Island That Disappeared, published by Longbird Press, is on sale at most book and department stores and costs $30.