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A hectic week of mourning, birthdays and keeping an eye on history

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It has been an inordinately busy week for yours truly relating to extraordinary milestones of no less than five close neighbours and friends, who in their own spheres individually and collectively walking down the corridors of life in pursuit of their academic, professional and family objectives have brought honour to themselves and country.

I refer specifically to the passing a week ago of the Rt. Rev Vinton Randolph Anderson, BA, MA, MD, PhD.

He died one day short of his 87th birthday.

Also to the 80th birthday celebration Sunday at the Willowbank Somerset Resort. for the famous Young Twins of Sandys, Joan Gooden and Janet Morris; they were born July 9, 1934.

And Monday was the start of the weeklong celebration of the 90th birthday of Maville Wilson (née Ratteray Trott).

Maville is the matriarch of the Rudolph Wilson Family and the last serving member of the Mary Hamilton and Charles Stuart Trott of the Charles Roach Ratteray Clan.

Maville's birthday was yesterday, Friday July 18. (More on Maville later.)

Her brother Gladstone Trott, who died last year, will be remembered for the three highly publicised unsuccessful bids he made, attempting to become the first black Mayor of the town of St George's.

Coincidentally, they were all close neighbours and my personal friends, living a stone-throw from each other.

Joan and Janet were two doors from the homestead of my late wife Ismay Louise Grant Philip.

My feature today relates to Joan and Janet and the day they were born, which happened to have been the day 80 yeas ago when Italy became The World Cup Champions.

I am grateful to Marla Smith, the Youth Services Librarian of the Bermuda National Library, for the following history she presented at Sunday's celebration, about her mother Joan and aunt Janet.

Marla related: how it all started in July of 1934 when Albertha (Bertha) and Orien (Toby) were expecting the birth of their third child.

This child was to be the sibling of their two sons, Eric (Buster) and Orien Jr.

The family was in for a big surprise when, as Toby later said: “Buggit, it's not only one girl, but two”.

These twin girls would quickly become the apples of their parents' eyes.

Joan and Janet grew up in a time when identical twins were not as common as today. Therefore, they were often the centre of attention as they were typically dressed alike by their proud mother.

They attended primary school and then went off to Sandys Secondary for four years. Joan later travelled to England in 1954 to study nursing. She trained at St Mary's Hospital and qualified as a State Registered Nurse.

She then attained her State Certified Midwifery Certificate and her certificate in Plastic Surgery and Burns.

She held several senior posts in hospitals until she returned to Bermuda in 1970.

However, she did not return alone. By that time, she had married and had four children: Joset, Bruce, Marla and Alethia.

She became the evening supervisor at Lefroy House and was promoted to Assistant Matron prior to her retirement in 1986.

Joan ran First Somerset Brownie Pack and became Western Commissioner before retiring.

She has been an active member of the St James Guild, Somerset Brigade Band, White Hill Salvation Army Home League, Friends of Lefroy and many other organisations.

She has six grandchildren: Damani and Sondai (twins), Keanna, Jomari, Matisse and Marsalis; and two son-in-laws, Keith Smith and Steve Young.

From Sandys Secondary, Janet attended the Bermuda Institute of Arts and Crafts where she graduated at the top of her class in 1952 as exceptional seamstress.

She married and moved to the United States in 1954, but continued to visit Bermuda at least once a year for the past 60 years.

Janet worked several jobs including Pan American Airways and United Airlines and was a seamstress for the Gloria Jackson Dance Studio for several years.

Janet was also a Brownie leader and has been an active member of St David's Episcopal Church in Cambria Heights, NY for over 40 years.

In the last ten years she has served as part of the tenant's association of her senior residence.

She has two daughters, Alvita and Camille, a son-in-law, Arthur, a granddaughter, Anita and a granpuppy, Hershey.

Joan and Janet have always had a close relationship and share a special connection that only twins can share.

For example, there have been times when one of the twins had been sick or unwell and the other twin would feel unwell hundreds of miles away even though nothing was really ailing her.

Also, on several occasions Janet has bought a dress or shoes in New York only to discover that Joan owns almost the identical article of clothing.

They are always in contact with each other via telephone, but when they get together they can talk nonstop for hours!

Joan and Janet have always been the cornerstones of their families, always giving advice or a helping hand to their children, even today now that they are all adults.

On this special occasion, their children and grandchildren want to celebrate this milestone of their 80th birthday by paying tribute to them and giving their friends and family the opportunity to share in this special event.

As a climax to this eventful week it seemed that duty called Ira Philip to Government House at Langton Hill, Pembroke, keeping his record intact by having been on hand for every significant march in Bermuda during the past seventy years - including the one when his car was set on fire on Court Street. This journey began with the one at the old US Naval Operating Base, Southampton, (now Morgan's Point) when Gerald Brangman, Austin Wilson and other workers marched to the home of William Davis on White Hill, and led to the formation of the Bermuda Worker's Association and and later the Bermuda Industrial Union.
Shown with the ‘Young Twins', Joan Gooden and Janet Morris, is retired nurse Marlene Trott (left) who qualified in nursing in the UK. Like Joan Young, she married a West African, and is mother of journalist Ayo Johnson. She spent some time in West Africa, nursing there. The King Edward VII Memorial Hospital did not employ black nurses until after the death in April 1955 of MAZUMBO, aka Dr EF Gordon. Other friends with the twins are Myra Bristol, Lucille Matthews, Marcella Smith and Ione Bailey Smith.
Joan Gooden and Janet Morris, the ‘Young Twins' celebrating their 80th birthday. Janet returned to the Island from her home in New York, and plans to be here until Cup Match.
At Government House on Langton Hill on Tuesday I captured Bermuda's Acting Governor Ginny Ferson and Opposition Leader Marc Bean shaking hands after she promised to forward to the Home Office in London the documentation calling for a Commission of Inquiry into land appropriation in Bermuda's history. Covering Leader Bean's back are some of the hundreds of marchers. Back in the day, suspicious of the then-governor, an untrusting Dr EF Gordon or Mazumbo, personally took a Rights Petition to London himself.

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Published July 19, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated July 18, 2014 at 7:26 pm)

A hectic week of mourning, birthdays and keeping an eye on history

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