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Tucker’s Town-born Laura celebrates her 92nd birthday

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We cannot imagine there was a happier and livelier household in Bermuda on Tuesday than that of Mrs Laura Ursaline O'Connor Wade. That's when she celebrated her 92nd birthday at her home on Broken Hill Lane in Smith's Parish, on a hill overlooking both Harrington Sound and the South shore. Significantly, Mrs Wade (pictured below) was her mother's only child. And she became the mother of seven boys and four girls, two of whom are deceased. She also has 34 grandchildren, 32 great grands and five great-great grands. Laura boasts of the fact that she was born in Tucker's Town. Her birth certificate gives the date as November 8, 1919. That makes her one of the two oldest and last survivors of the black families uprooted with Government sanction from Tucker's Town after World War One to allow for the area to be developed as a playground and resort for wealthy whites. Mrs Wade knows her family history well. Her grandmother became the wife of an Irishman named O'Connor. He was a sort of miracle baby. His pregnant mother arrived in Bermuda aboard a yacht. When it left these shores, her baby was found abandoned in a house on St David's Island. He was raised by the good people of St David's. Laura was aged 16 when she married Edmund Wade, who was popularly nicknamed 'Nine Eggs'. He was a BMA soldier, who with other BMAs, volunteered to become part of the Caribbean Regiment that served with Allied forces in Egypt and Italy during the Second World War. Edmund and his brother Archie were children of Austin Wade who migrated from Somerset to marry a St David's Islander, the former Geraldine Minors. Laura claims that 'all Wades are related'. Her husband was badly injured and nearly killed in an accident while on duty in Italy. His injuries she believed shortened his life. But as a veteran, he got no benefits. When he died the family struggled to pay for his funeral. They were given the runaround, only to be told in the end to go and see the Lady Cubitt Compassionate Association (LCCA). 'You can say what you like about Dr Brown and Colonel Burch,' Mrs Wade remarked, commenting on the benefits widows and old war vets now receive under laws they put on the statute books more than two years ago. Regarding her Irish roots, Mrs Wade enjoys telling how she worked at the Pink Beach Cottage Colony. Its owner, Harold Gibbons, called the staff together to inform them that a new executive housekeeper had come to Bermuda to take charge. And he wanted to alert them to the fact that she was 'Irish and saucy'. Laura flared up when the boss made that comment. She told him 'she's no more Irish than me', causing Mr Gibbons to back up, saying: 'Excuse me!' It was a struggle raising a family of 11, she said, not being able to afford or even get a decent place to live in with so many children. They had to move from one area to another in three- and four-room houses. They were nicely settled once on Knapton Hill, and eventually ended up at Sinky Bay in Southampton, which proved to be the locale for some of the best times for the family. Mrs Wade's children adore their mother, and have built a lovely home for her on Broken Hill Lane, where she wants for nothing. They were all born at home, including a set of twin boys, delivered by Nurse Spencer. The order in which they were born was Elliott, Ralph (deceased), Juliette, Beresford, Urselene (deceased), Keith, Odell, twins Rodwell and Robert, Carol and Michael. The siblings believe Laura is the best cook in the world. They get together along with spouses and grands mostly every Sunday, when they come for breakfast and stayuntil well after lunch. They argue interminably about everything, ranging from who is Momma's pet, who she spoilt and who got the most or hardest licks with the ironing cord, or whether Quaker Oats are more beneficial than cornmeal. They laugh and joke about how their mother fell overboard at Sinky Bay, and about how a couple of the boys got marooned at sea in a storm. Mrs Wade serenely sits back and watches them fight it out. She is a devout member of the Southampton Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is active in its Seniors' Club.