100th birthday in Bermuda
When Priscilla Tully started planning her 100th birthday party, she knew exactly where she wanted it to be — Bermuda.
The Middlebury, Vermont resident has been coming here at least once a year since 1975.
“The location keeps me coming back and people are very nice,” she said.
“Bermuda is a beautiful spot and I love coming down here.”
Nearly 20 people travelled from the US to help her celebrate on February 28.
Priscilla stayed for 3½ weeks at her “home away from home”, Greenbank Guest House in Paget.
“There's not many 100-year- olds who have a destination birthday,” her daughter Sarah joked.
The celebrations included lunch at Elbow Beach Hotel on February 27. On her actual birthday, cocktails and cake were the order of the day at Greenbank.
Priscilla had to endure it all in a tiara and a sash that read: “Fabulous at 100”.
Her daughter, Ellen, said she was always talking up Bermuda to anyone who would listen, even her hairdresser.
“Eighteen people came down to celebrate with her,” she said. “Some of them were friends from Ryder's Cove in Maine, where she also likes to vacation.
“She got to dance with one of her neighbours from when she lived in North Carolina. He always said he would dance with her at her 100th birthday.”
Priscilla made her first trip here 45 years ago with her husband, Bob, a retired naval officer, who died in 1980. The trip was a 25th anniversary gift from their daughters.
“Originally, we stayed at a house on Appleby Lane in Paget,” said Priscilla, who has been coming by herself or with other family members ever since.
When that property became unavailable, she found Greenbank, where she has spent her last 14 visits.
“I've celebrated my last five birthdays at Greenbank,” she said.
On her 98th birthday, Greenbank owner Carol Ashton threw a party for her and her family.
“They had us bused up to their other property, Granaway Guesthouse,” Ellen said. “It was very nice.”
A recent visit was marked by a bathroom fall. It didn't put Priscilla off planning yet another trip. Last year, the family were given a bottle of wine from Delta Air Lines after Sarah told them it was Priscilla's birthday.
The Tullys used to like going to the beach or visiting the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo. These days they are more inclined to sit and watch the water, or go into Hamilton. Bermuda makes a big change from Vermont in the winter.
They have always been impressed by the kindness they've found here.
“One day, we'd been out for an hour-and-a-half on a tour and were headed for the bus to Dockyard,” Ellen said.
“A lady stopped and gave us a ride, even with my mother's walker. All the children are polite and respectful. Bermudians go out of their way to say good afternoon and good morning.”
Meanwhile, her mother has noticed just how much things have changed since the Seventies.
“You just have to look out the window and see the buildings, which I don't remember were all here when I first came,” she said. “It has just mushroomed out there.”
Ellen remembered coming to Bermuda for College Weeks.
“My girlfriends would come down with me,” she said. “I can remember we'd be out riding our mopeds at 3am in the morning and felt perfectly safe. The bike would break down, we'd leave it there and the girlfriend would get on the back of mine.
“Then the next day she'd call the moped place and they'd say: ‘We'll pick it up and bring it to you', and she'd say: ‘I don't want the same bike, I want a new one.'”
Sarah's husband, Tom Weiner, first came to Bermuda in 1952 with his parents when he was six.
“It was very quiet back then,” he said. “There was usually no one on the roads. And the beaches were beautiful.”