Lucille Spencer fits a bit of exercise into every morning. She touches her toes and stretches; if there is music on, she will dance.
The 95-year-old thinks her efforts are one of the reasons she has aged well — most people assume she is years younger.
“When people ask me how old I am, I tell them to guess,” she laughed. “Sometimes they guess that I’m in my 70s, but they never say 95. When I tell them my age they say, ‘Girl go on, you ain’t 95!’ I say, ‘Do you want to see my identification?’
“As a girl, I loved sports. I always came first in running races. And I rode a pedal bike up until I got married.”
She was born on Keith Hall Road in Warwick but spent most of her childhood in Pembroke after the family moved to St John’s Road.
She was christened Armin, but has always used her middle name, Lucille.
“My mother, Kathleen Dill, worked as a waitress at Inverurie,” Mrs Spencer said. “One day while she was expecting me, a hotel guest asked her what she was going to name her baby. My mother said she didn’t know, so the guest asked her to call me Armin.
“One of my aunts didn’t like the name, because no one in the family had ever heard of it. So she called me Lucille and everyone else did too.
“One day a boat came into Hamilton called Armin. I was so excited I almost jumped in the water. That was the first thing I’d ever seen with my first name.”
Although she was a good student, she had to go out to work at 13.
“I was really disappointed I couldn’t go to the Berkeley Institute,” she said. “But we didn’t have the money.”
One of her early jobs was helping out at a centre that cared for babies and mothers-to-be.
“Some of them didn’t make it,” she said. “And sometimes the babies died.”
She thinks that is probably why she felt a little relieved when she realised, years later, that she would probably never have children.
“My husband, Neville Spencer, and I tried but it wasn’t to be,” she said. “It didn’t bother me that much because I had lots of nieces and nephews to put my arms around. I had children already made for me.”
She met her husband as a teenager walking on East Broadway, past what is now the home of Blue Waters Angler’s Club. Mr Spencer was a mason working at the site.
Their marriage on November 20, 1941, lasted until his death in 1979 while working on the Bermuda College construction.
“He always had asthma and that weakened his heart,” Mrs Spencer said. “He had a heart attack.”
She found some solace in her work at H A & E Smith’s.
“I started there in 1946,” she said. “I was one of three maids who kept the store clean. I saw the store change a lot over the years. I liked the work there. You met so many nice people, it was like home to me.”
She retired in 2003, a year before the Front Street department store went out of business.
Mrs Spencer spent the early years of her retirement travelling but now stays closer to home, gardening, sewing and spending time with her many nieces and nephews and their families.
“They threw me a surprise birthday party when I turned 95 in December,” she said. “They didn’t say nothing about what was going on. My niece just called me and said, ‘Make sure you get up and get dressed in the morning’.”
Lifestyle profiles senior citizens in the community every Tuesday. To suggest an outstanding senior contact Jessie Moniz Hardy: 278-0150 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Have on hand the senior’s full name, contact details and the reason you are suggesting them