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Marjorie looks back on a life well lived

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At 79, Marjorie Correia decided to bite the bullet and head to Transport Control Department to get a licence to drive a truck.

She was tired of having to transport things that were way too big to fit in her car.

“I got it so that if I wanted something I couldn't put in the car, I could drive the truck and get it,” said the 88-year-old, who still drives her car, but let the truck licence expire two years ago. “My husband had a small truck, but there were times when rather than put a man on the job, I just wanted to do things myself. Apparently, I was the talk of TCD.”

Although Mrs Correia now lives in Paget, she spent her childhood on the North Shore in Pembroke with her parents, Elsie and William McGregor, and her sister, Sylvia.

Her mother was a third-generation Bermudian from St George's; her father came to Bermuda with the Scottish Argyle and Southern Highlanders Regiment.

In the 1930s, he worked as a valet for the Governor, Louis Bols, before establishing himself as an entrepreneur, first with a garage and then Pioneer Taxi.

Mrs Correia remembers with amusement, the piano he bought her “that was second, third or fourth-hand”.

“When my father found termites in it, the piano went out and that was the end of my lessons,” she said.

Somehow the notes stuck. Decades later she was able to recall enough of what she learnt to play songs on her brother-in-law Charles Gaum's organ in the United States. As soon as they could afford it, her husband bought her one of her own.

“If I pressed C, it would tell me what chord to play with my left hand,” said Mrs Correia, who never played in public but loved entertaining her family with songs like Danny Boy.

“That is how I learnt. When my husband was alive, I played every day. He used to sit there while I played. After he died in 2015, I hardly played any more and I am out of practice now. I have just started to practise again, just playing my chords.”

She and her husband, Joseph, met as teenagers.

“His bike broke down and he came to my father's garage looking for a tool,” she said. “I guess you could call it love at first sight. He was the one and only for me.”

In 1950, two years after Mr Correia joined Salsbury Construction, they married and had two children, Dennis and Kathryn.

Mr Correia started his own company, Correia Construction, with his son in 1972. “I did all the office work while he worked outside,” Mrs Correia said. “He left his mark all over Bermuda.

“He passed the business on to Dennis when he decided it was time to retire. At one time, we were the largest construction company in Bermuda, then my son had to close it due to poor health.”

Having been married for 64 years, she misses her husband “every day”. One of the secrets to their happy union was knowing when not to talk, Mrs Correia believes.

“Early on, my mother-in-law said never argue with a man,” she said. “If he comes home, just listen. That is what I always did. If he came home unhappy with something on the job, I just listened. He was never really unhappy with me as a person. We just got on. We never had a fight in all those years because I kept my mouth shut.”

Bowling was their shared passion. When Warwick Lanes opened in 1961 Mr Correia joined the Salsbury Construction team in the Fishbowl League.

When she saw how much fun he was having, she joined him and soon discovered she also had the knack for it.

“My husband and I won many, many tournaments. Bowling is really very technical. There are arrows out on the lane; you go for a certain arrow to go for a certain pin or go for a strike. It involves co-ordination.”

Having taught bowling she realises that for those who lack co-ordination, it can be a struggle.

“I say, whether you bowl good or bad, as long as you are having fun, that is the important thing.”

She was secretary of the Fishbowl League for seven years until she retired last year. She was also president of the Bermuda Bowling Club for 25 years, but stepped down in February.

“As president I was responsible to make sure everything was going right,” she said, explaining that the club ran Warwick Lanes. “It was a big responsibility. The place was 200ft long east to west, and was 24 lanes.”

Island life: Marjorie Correia enjoys the summer weather at her home in Paget (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Marjorie Correia used to love to play her organ for her late husband, Joseph (Photograph supplied)
Marjorie Correia in her younger years (Photograph supplied)

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Published August 05, 2020 at 8:58 am (Updated August 05, 2020 at 10:56 am)

Marjorie looks back on a life well lived

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