Daniels’s quirky pots leave tourists flushed
It’s difficult to pass by Leslene Daniels’s home without stopping for a look.
Her garden is filled with toilets and sinks the 86-year-old has repurposed as plant pots.
It’s a stunning image that has put Mrs Daniels’ Paget home on the tourist map. She and her husband Norman often watch people on sightseeing tours snapping pictures.
“When we moved into the house 30 years ago we renovated the bathroom,” she said. “We took the toilet out and put it on the wall near the road. Then we put in a new sink and it cracked so we put that there too. Then Norman thought, ‘Why don’t we put some dirt in there and plant some flowers?’.”
Over the years friends donated more toilets to the line-up.
As evidenced by her garden, Mrs Daniels has a creative flair. When she’s not gardening she spends her time stitching plastic canvas into mobile phone holders, telephone book covers and crosses.
She and her husband once won a talent competition by staging a wedding, with themselves as the bride and groom.
Their real marriage took place 30 years ago.
“We met at bingo,” said Mrs Daniels. “We still love to play. There’s no trick to bingo, it’s luck.”
The secret to a long, happy marriage is kindness, she added.
“Be loving. Do whatever it takes. There is a lot to marriage.”
Mr Daniels is her second husband.
She first married at 17 and had five children: Cassandra Rodney, Carolyn Williams, Cyrlene Wilson and Charles and Rodney Wilson, both deceased.
“On the day we separated I went to see a lady about a job,” Mrs Daniels said. “She said ‘When can you start?’. I said, ‘Well, I have a little baby.’, so she said, ‘Bring her too and we’ll put her in a drawer while you work.’
That was Edna Stevens. She took care of me well and I worked for her for 29 years.
Her husband ran the concessions on the Ocean Monarch. I also cooked for the Kirkland family for many years. They were also good to me.”
She also worked for Belco and Archie Brown & Son before retiring at 65.
“Raising a large family wasn’t easy,” she said, “but my children never went hungry.”
In her retirement, she’s been heavily involved with The Seniors’ Learning Centre, The Special People’s Club and the BIU Seniors’ Club. She enjoys helping them to decorate before meetings. She has also participated in the Glamorous Granny competition many times and won second place in 2001.
She won a community service award from Community and Cultural Affairs in 2003 for her work with seniors clubs.
This last year though, she’s cut back on her activities.
Her hearing has declined and she sometimes finds it difficult to follow conversations. But she is philosophical about this.
“What I don’t hear, I don’t miss and I don’t worry about it,” she said. “Sometimes my hearing is good.
“It depends on which way the wind is blowing.”
She believes the most valuable lesson she has learnt in life is the importance of love. Her home is crammed with photographs of her offspring, and all the cards and letters they’ve ever sent.
“I am very proud of my family,” she said. “It’s important to keep the family together. I have 14 grandchildren, I think. Don’t ask me to count the great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. I have trouble keeping track of all the birthdays.”
She is also very proud of her long lifespan.
“I am proud to know I have lived this long. I didn’t think I would ever see 80, because my mother died at 46. She had a hard life.
“She didn’t have it easy at all, and she had some faults I didn’t approve of. When I was young, I promised myself I wouldn’t take after her. Maybe that’s why I have lived a long life. I have no regrets. I like to say I’m like Frankie; I did it my way.”