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NEWSLETTER May 2010

Lady Turnquest

During the month of May, The Bahamas has mourned the loss of two grand ladies, Lady Edith Turnquest (pictured above) and Lady Patricia Isaacs.

At the funeral of Lady Edith Turnquest many loving tributes were given to her. There was a reference in her obituary that as a schoolgirl she would walk from the Alley in Dowdswell Street to Fort Charlotte for sports; to the Priory to play basketball and up Mackey Street to play tennis. That triggered a memory that the other grand Lady Patricia Isaacs also lived in the Dowdswell Street area round the corner from my wife Anne’s great grandmother Henrietta Bethel, who taught Patsy Tat embroidery.

These factoids of history evoke a less populated Bahamas that despite hard times had a wonderful family values and community spirit.

Dear Member,

The lunch/fashion show at the Yacht Club on 22nd April last was a grand event. A large thanks to Clarice Granger and Joan Clarke for the organization and to Beryl Strachan (pictured left) and her team including our BHS Volunteers for the modelling and to Donna Knowles and staff of Yacht Club for an excellent meal and service. Thanks also to Lorraine Lightbourn (announcing) and Dr Gail Saunders, June Maura and Dr Vernell Allen for door and raffle prizes.

And thanks to all who supported the venture. Including the raffle the profit so far is $2381.

Next Meeting: Thursday 27th May at 6pm

Double Feature:

Nicolette Bethel - An Historical Account of Theatre in the Bahamas to 1981

Philip Burrows – Theatre in the Bahamas, 1981-2010


Nicolette Bethel was born and raised in Nassau, Bahamas, where she currently resides. She has lived, studied and worked in the UK and Canada. She served as Director of Culture for five years, and left to become a cultural activist. She is a playwright, poet, fiction writer and anthropologist. She holds a PhD and an MPhil in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge and a BA from the University of Toronto, and is a researcher in the fields of Bahamian national identity and of Junkanoo. She is the editor of Junkanoo: Festival of The Bahamas (Macmillan Caribbean, 1991), excerpted from E. Clement Bethel's M.A. thesis on Bahamian music. Her 1990 play Powercut was made into an independent film and released by Plantation Pictures in 2001; in 2008, her second play, The Children's Teeth, was produced in Nassau to critical acclaim. Her essays, poetry, and plays have been widely published. In 2008, she self-published Essays on Life, Vol I: the first fifty and the script of The Children's Teeth through Lulu.com, and in 2009, she began tongues of the ocean, an online journal of Bahamian and Caribbean literature, established the Day of Absence observance in honour of artists and cultural workers, and, with Ringplay Productions, founded Shakespeare in Paradise, an annual festival of theatre in Nassau.

Philip A. Burrows (Director/Teacher/Actor). Is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. He was the Artistic and Resident Director of the Dundas Repertory Season from its beginning in 1981 through 1997. Mr. Burrows left The Bahamas in 1997, for three years, to introduce and teach a Theatre Arts program at Lester B. Pearson College in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Some of his directing credits include "Sweeney Todd", "The Rimers of Eldritch", "The Good Doctor", "The Foreigner", "Agnes of God" and "Six Degrees of Separation". In addition, he brought a number of original works to the Bahamian stage, most notably "You Can Lead A Horse to Water", "No Seeds in Babylon", "Powercut", "Father's Day", and "I, Nehemiah, Remember When...," Chapters One, Two and Three. In August 1991, he headed the contingent, of some thirty performers, which took part in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe where, under his direction, the first production of "Music of the Bahamas" was staged. That production was co-written, for the stage, by Mr. Burrows and his wife, Nicolette Bethel. As an actor, he has appeared in Edward Albee's "Zoo Story" Neil Simon’s "The Odd Couple" and Lyle Kessler's "Orphans" in Nassau; and in New York, he played, among others, the role of 'Alton' in Lorraine Hansberry's "The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window". His first appearance at the Dundas was in 1976 as a member of the Nassau Amateur Operatic Society in "Hello Dolly" and then in 1977 he appeared in their production of "Finian's Rainbow". He later put his musical ability to work as co-director of E. Clement Bethel’s "Sammie Swain" and of the first Bahamian opera, "Our Boys"; of the latter he was also responsible, with Winston Saunders, for the libretto. For the Ministry of Tourism, he has directed five Cacique Award Ceremonies and wrote and directed "Bahamian Rhapsody" which was performed at The Apollo Theatre in New York. He was responsible for the co-direction of the 20th and 25th "Anniversary of Bahamian Independence" productions staged on Clifford Park and he directed the 30th, 32nd and 34th anniversary productions. Mr. Burrows also directed productions of "You Can Lead A Horse to Water", in 1984, in San Francisco with the Eureka Theatre Company and co-director Richard Seyd, and again in 2005 at Grand Valley State University, in Michigan, with students from that institution. His television credits include "Quincentennial Update"; the Bahamian game show "Brainstorm", of which he was creator and executive producer; the television program "Guess Who’s Cooking" of which he was director, co-producer and editor; he served as producer for the video productions of "Music of The Bahamas", "The National Art Gallery ... A Work of Art" and "The Bahamian Macbeth", and he has directed several commercials. Mr. Burrows has held numerous acting workshops, both in Nassau and in Freeport and in October of 2001 he made his film-directing debut with Plantation Pictures’ production of the Bahamian film "Powercut". Mr. Burrows has been responsible for the direction of over ninety productions, sixty-two of which are plays.

At our museum corner of Shirley Street and Elizabeth Avenue Parking at the ex Psilinakis carpark north of the museum on Elizabeth Ave.
Entrance via First Caribbean Bank on Shirley Street.


Our June talk: Thursday 24th June at 6pm – Alpheus Finlayson – From Vancouver to Athens: 50 years of Track and Field


Annual General Meeting held 29th April

Officers of the Society elected for the year 2010 - 2011

President: Jim Lawlor
1st Vice President: Stephen B. Aranha
2nd Vice President: Vernell Allen
Treasurer: David Cates
Recording Secretary: Vernita Johnson
Corresponding Secretary: Joan Clarke
Trustees: Gail Saunders
John Knowles
Paul Aranha
June Maura
Betty Cole
Clarice Granger
Management Committee*: Virginia Ballance
Anne Lawlor
Beryl Strachan
Dawn Davies
Jamaal Miller
Anthony Roberts
Andrea Major
Chantal Curtis
Editors (Journal): Anne Lawlor
Jim Lawlor
Editorial Committee: Gail Saunders
Lorraine Lightbourn
Grace Turner
Vivienne Ferguson

* The Management Committee includes the Officers and Trustees as well as those named.

Reminder: All membership fees are now due for the year 2010 to 2011. Thanks to those members who have renewed.

I am honoured to serve for another year

Kind regards,

Jim Lawlor, President.


Nostalgic Memories

I have had wonderful responses to my newsletters and many have said that they bring back nostalgic memories. The two recent ones on the silk cotton trees and the Palm Trees on Victoria Avenue brought out the memories of long ago.

I have used some excerpts from an e mail I received from Rosalie Symonette living in the USA now:

I certainly walked, rode bikes, or even drove a car, from Bay St. to Shirley Street, on Victoria Avenue...many times. It was definitely my route when I worked at the Stop-N-Shop, to and from home. Victoria Avenue was a pretty street, with those Palm trees. I remember people who lived there.

I think the Esfaskis family lived on Victoria Avenue. I also think that from Victoria Avenue, you turn onto Dowdswell Street (Middle Road) as we sometimes called it, going east... Union St., which was later re-named something else (Elizabeth Avenue), was also a through street, but always seemed a little bit longer to me. Effie Eldon/James and family lived there once.

Trying to remember the through Streets from Bay to Shirley: First one (started at Hawkins Hill and went to Bay St., Name(?), then Christie St. where Redith/Naomi Malone and fam. lived, then Deveaugh St., remember that well. In fact, at one time, Percy/Violet and family lived in a house on the corner of Deveaugh and Shirley Sts., next Victoria Avenue, Union St., Charlotte St., Frederick Street.

On Charlotte Street there stands a school, Old Q.C.
Full many a scholar owns her rule, Old, Q.C.
Q.C., Nassau, N.P., Old Q.C.
Victoria Hall may one day fall
But not Q.C.

Old Papa Dyer wrote that song. I can see him now playing the piano (mouth open, drooling) while we sang that in School....

Some of you might remember that I was known for riding my bike, everywhere. I have always liked to GO, anywhere that I could (still wish I could). I also remember our School magazine THE MAGPIE. Wish I had saved some copies... In one issue they were writing about favourite pastimes: My favourite pastime was listed as: Riding to the Four Winds. Last time I was in Nassau, I went with Anthony to deliver something to someone (name I can't remember). He said: I remember you, you were all over the place on a bicycle. I said: That's me. Joke: when I got my first bike, very young, I came home from school, ready to go riding, to find that brother Sid, got home before me and had already gone off on it. No comment! I was not happy.

One of my favourite memories from Q.C. was, in Form VI, last two years, a drama teacher, Mrs. MacBeth, helped us to put on an Operetta (Starflower) and several plays. Right up my alley!! The school hall was not big enough, so we used the big hall at the Kirk Church. Those were my fun days from school.

Only got one prize - English Language. I was interested in the fun things. I never even got to be a Prefect at school - the team of male and female students, who manned the entrances from Charlotte St., etc. to report latecomers, whose names were then reported to the head office. Think maybe Anthony and Godfrey got to do that. I remember Emma and her helper, who used to bring in the big baskets of Guava tarts, and cheese tarts, and other goodies, for us to buy at lunch time? I loved those Guava tarts! Also do you remember the janitor? Tallest black fellow I had ever seen - with a little hat on the top of his head!!.

I remember Percy in Form VI. Old Papa Dyer was teaching a Geography lesson, and was talking about time zones, over the world. Mentioning one, he said "And what time is it, Percival" Percy looked at his watch and told him the time at that moment (not the Geog. question) - we laughed. Percy was sitting on edge, ready to take off when the bell rang. I reminded him of that once - he said: Yes I needed to get out of there and get to my job at Eleuthera Ltd.

In fact: my first job after Q.C. was with E.D. Sassoon Banking Company, which was built on Shirley Street, between Union St. and Victoria Avenue. Sir Victor Sasoon's private home, which was a part of the scope of the property, faced onto Victoria Avenue. I actually looked this up, on the Net the other day and did some reading on it. Guess what happened on my first day on that job!!! It was my first job after Q.C., when I showed up for work the first Mon. in January, three fellows and one girl, from my graduating class at Q.C. showed up also - neither of us knew that the others had applied to work there. Several of the staff were from Scotland or England.....so we had tea every morning and afternoon.

The IODE I remember. Seems that they had a canteen, on Bay Street, where they might have had refreshments, etc. for the servicemen during the war. Anyway, Nassau was overrun with sevicemen from all over the world. We had the Royal Air Force, Americans, Canadians, and some others. We got to know some of them, who showed up at our church.

Many of the young girls married and ended up in England or other countries. Of course they were invited into homes for meals, etc

Thanks for the pictures. I think that Victoria is still sitting there in the square. "Auntie Vickie" the old black people used to call her.

Don't have time to get into this now, but do you remember when the Duke of Windsor and his wife Wallis Simpson arrived in Nassau - when he abdicated and became our governor? I remember the day he arrived.....You have never seen crowds like that in your life!!! I think everybody who could walk was in Rawson Square! They were climbing up into the trees and onto everything in site. My mother was pushing Sid and myself, trying to get us to see them. Of course they arrived by boat at Rawson Square and walked over to a position there at the square with the house of assembly.

I have lots of stories from the past....actually from when I was age 5, and we lived on beautiful Cable Beach, the property that in later years was owned by Sir Harry Oakes. My Dad was caretaker, and we lived on that property in the summertime, every year.

Well, I must get back to what is necessary, tonight, down here in Homestead Fla. I love it, but who would ever have thought that I would end up down here, alone, with no family around!!

Thanks Rosalie for those nostalgic memories.


Nostalgic Memories (cont'd)

Dear Jim -
Very sad the passing of these two grand ladies. A loss for the Bahamas.

Victoria Avenue I remember very well. Yes, Mr. & Mrs. Esfakis lived there and they had a huge bird cage in the garden, full of parakeets. I believe that Denis Knowles ended up with this birdcage. (Dennis says he used it for about 30 years before it fell apart)

The Royal Bank of Canada used to be situated on the eastern corner of Bay and Vic (before they moved to the western corner). Right behind RBC was Wee Wisdom Nursery School, run by Ms Mizpah Roberts. Many of my generation and before passed through there. On the western corner of Bay & Vic my uncle John Louis Sr. had a shop (father of Dr. John Louis). My grandparents had a house on Victoria Avenue as well - in the earlier half of the 20th century. And Nancy Oakes and her first husband Count Marigny lived on Victoria Avenue until he was deported following that notorious crime (The murder of Sir Harry Oakes).

Regards Ann Marie (Tiliacos) Hanson

From Joan Lightbourn

This excerpt from your latest newsletter refers to Emma, the employee who used to sell guava tarts from my great-grandfather John Henry Bethel, Jr's bakery on Marlborough St., where the Pirate Museum is now. He was also the Port Officer at the time. Bethel's Bakery was later run by his 4 maiden daughters (my great aunts): Marion was the one who stayed behind to run the bakery; Laura and Florrie (Florence) were teachers at QC; and Eunice worked at the Royal Bank on Bay St. The three ladies who worked outside the bakery would mix cake batters, bread dough, and pastry before leaving for work. All QC students of that era fondly remember Laura, Florrie, and Emma and the guava tarts. I wish I had the recipe!

From Dr Vernell Allen

I found the nostalgia fascinating and it brought back memories of my high school days at the "old" Government High School which was then located at Nassau Court across fromthe Britsh Colonial Hotel . Our family home in the early years was near Wulff Road, a stone's throw from St. Barnabas Anglican Church and I rode a bicycle from home to GHS, returned home at approx. 2pm to change into sports clothes and then rode to either Clifford Park for softball or the Priory for basketball. I was a lousy player at both softball and basketball and would love to blame it on my bicycle rides except that many of the better players also rode bicycles to homes in the east near St.Matthews or walked from Dowdeswell Street as mentioned re Lady Turnquestand Lady Isaacs

On the plus side the daily cycling kept me so trim that when I left the Bahamas to enter medical school my weight was approx 110lbs with a height of 5ft 6.....Oh how I yearn......!!

And Skeebo was certain that Juliette (Walker) Barnwell daughter of Dr C R Walker gave a presentation to the Duchess...and i have word back that Juliette gave a poem and has a photo she would like to share with us when her computer comes back to life.

I went back to my research and found a description of the welcome of the Duke of Windsor

Tribune 24th August 1940 – Duke gives timely advice..Stresses importance of hardy pursuits…Cheered by Thousands of citizens…estimated at 20,000 at Clifford Park given a rousing welcome.

For an hour before the time fixed for the demonstration the main thoroughfares leading to the park were congested with marching “troops”, scouts, friendly societies bearing colourful banners, motor vehicles, horse drawn cabs, bicycles and pedestrians. All life seemed to be converging on one spot, and while this huge crowd made an imposing spectacle along the hillsides and hanging over the battlements of Fort Charlotte…huge crowd could be accommodated at this popular and historic rendezvous with plenty room to spare.

Taking part - Guard of Honour composed of: Bahamas Police Force under Major Lancaster, MC MBE,

Home Defence Force under Lt. Robert Brice, Board of Education & Catholic Free Schools.

Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and Friendly Societies.

On the platform: senior officials and leaders of the political, social and commercial thought of the Colony. …

interesting feature: the entire arrangements of the demonstration were in the hands of the working people and their representatives sponsored by the Central Committee of the South and associated bodies from the East…..The presiding genius was Dr C R Walker, Mr Charles Rhodriquez, President of the Labour Union.

On arrival at the park the Duke and Duchess were received by a committee comprising of Dr C R Walker, Milo Butler, L W Young, S C McPherson and Rev. W V Eneas.

As the Duke and Duchess approached the dais 12 tiny flower girls under the direction of Lilian Archer of the Lydia Club threw flowers in their path..Phillipa Bethell, Voneta Butler, Grace Wilson, Dianah Johnson, Inez Johnson, Audrey Wilson, Sylvia Rhodriquez, Cypriana Bethell, Edna Logan, Dolores Cambridge, Yvonne North and Caroline Williams.

After HRH had inspected Guard of Honour a number of songs were sung by the Community Choir under the direction of Bert Cambridge.

Included in the programme was: Blessings on the Duke of Windsor (words & music by Timothy Gibson)

Bahamian sons and daughters (words & music by Dr C R Walker)

My Native Land (words & music by S O Johnson)
Tiny Phillipa Bethell presented a bouquet to the Duchess.

On behalf of the organizers E R Bain read a speech welcoming the Duke and Duchess and committing the people to work for the public good and the Empire for the betterment of mankind..”It is our hope that the natural charm of these islands and the affection of the people will contribute toward making your stay here long, enjoyable and happy.”

The Duke thanked him and the Committee…and said that he would not forget the Out Islands and “he would pay them a round of calls” …advocated other channels of development..and promised sympathetic interest and support on new ventures to enhance the prosperity of the islands.

Duke and Duchess to occupy Sigrist Mansion while Government House is being renovated.

Beggars and Minstrels in Nassau but not in Bermuda..Common labourer in Bermuda earns 12/- per with Nassau = 4/- per day.


Thanks again to Robert Dorsett for these links from Sir Orville Turnquest's talk in February.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nKTSIpBbEM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gygb4Br-XUU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2igOlRsla04

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNcCPxYob3Y

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCcV2FefwAU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MD-y_cFbe4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MD-y_cFbe4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a60zqzR-a9s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4ZrxH9rgj4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ij7PgW1oNZA

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