It had escaped my consciousness that between the age of four years and ten, I had lived in three distinctly differ- ently neighbourhoods: the built-up community area of North Shore, the
outskirts of the city at Spanish Point
and on Cedar Avenue just beyond the city
boundary. I had also attended three distinctly
different schools in different parts of the
My parents were both teachers and principals of schools in the eastern parishes and
I had accompanied them to the Harrington
Sound School and the Francis Patton School
(both Primary) for my formal education after
attending Northlands Primary. This was fairly
unusual as most families stayed in one place
and the children went to the neighbourhood
school primarily because they had to walk. By
eleven years I had had a somewhat nomadic
childhood, with various stimulating environments and exposure.
From the age of four when we moved to
Spanish Point from North Shore, my mother
transported me by bicycle to her mother’s
home on Cedar Avenue. The journey was
undoubtedly arduous as she had to peddle
over large, loosely crushed lime-stone coral
roads which were devoid of a smooth pathway.
When I became too big to sit in a basket-seat,
I stood on a stick held between the bars in the
front of her cycle. A less comfortable but more
convenient ride was sitting in the back of Mr.
Harry Trott’s cart, while my mother peddled
behind on her cycle. Sitting on a cushion
absorbed the shock from the “jail-nut” stones.
There was ample time during the mile-and-one-half horse-and-cart ride to absorb the
sounds of singers and cicadas in the cedar
trees, to observe red birds that flew in pairs in
the forested canopy or look beyond for shapes
formed by clouds in the sky.
Play was an integral part of my growing
up whether it was in Spanish Point where
there was access to the sea and land (large
tracks of uncultivated open space replete with
all types of grasses, felled trees and hidden
groves) or Cedar Avenue where a generational
homestead provided grandchildren with the
opportunity to play from dawn to dusk with
Our play was not without responsibilities:
we swept the long, sandy walkway, and we
stayed in the yard; we swept the veranda and
steps, and we didn’t go in the street; we helped
“pick in” the clothes; and we didn’t disturb the
neighbours; we raked the leaves; and swept
the kitchen after supper.
The rest and reading time after lunch I
realize now was more for our parents and
grandmother’s peace than for us. But this was
the time when we read our books and shared
our comics, played with Sparky Plenty (com-
parable to the Cabbage Patch doll) and our
Wet-Ums dolls (similar to today’s Baby Alive)
or told scary stories to our younger cousin
about our absent uncle’s dog Duke who had
wandered away to die in the nearby ditch!
Our lives revolved around the games and
activities which formed the basis of every Ber-
mudian child’s formative years. Consequently,
there was always something to “pick up”: the
paper dolls that resided under the dining
room table; the bottle-tops used for jacks that
were left on the stoop; the debris from making
oleander bow and arrows for cowboys and
Indians; brown paper bags, scissors, flour-
and-water glue for making kites; fishing lines,
hooks and bait, books, magazines, cata-
logues—all had to be picked up!
I don’t recall being punished or any of my
cousins being punished—unless we didn’t
come home at the appointed time. For the
most part, we did as we were told and as was
expected of us. If there were consequences
it was usually missing the 1: 15 movie at the
Opera House on a Saturday afternoon.
The following is an excerpt from the soon to be released book, Hands On:
The Art of Traditional Crafts and Play in Bermuda by Shirley L. T. Pearman.
on “The Rock”