Family has always been very important to Gloria Carey. It may be because she came from a big one, the 90-year-old was the middle child of ten born to Edith and Albert Spencer.
Her parents moved here from Jamaica in search of a job for her father, a Linotype operator.
“He came to Bermuda because a friend of his was here, and told him they needed people here to do that type of work, and he came,” Mrs Carey said. “He worked for The Recorder, The Mid-Ocean News and all the different places in Bermuda.”
Her dressmaker mother was very strict.
“[She] would cook lunch every day at 12pm,” she said. “All the dishes and pots were left for when I came home from school in the afternoon.”
Every Monday of her summer holiday was spent helping her mother with the weekly washing, no small task for a family of 12.
“We didn’t have any washing machines or dryers,” Mrs Carey said. “We would scrub the clothes on a washboard. Then we’d boil the clothes, then put them in the rinse water, put them in [a brightening agent] and then put them on the line.”
She also had to get down on her hands and knees and scrub their wooden floor.
“We didn’t have a mop, so I had to use clothes to sop up the water afterward,” said Mrs Carey, who never protested against the chores.
She was introduced to her husband, Basil, by Wilfred DeGraff, the lunch wagon owner, who later married her sister Beryl, employed Mr Carey as a mechanic.
“He said to me, ‘I have a nice young fella for you’,” Mrs Carey said. “I said, ‘You don’t have no fella for me, because when I want someone I’ll look for him myself!’”
Mr Carey showed up at her house a few times to try his luck, but she quickly sent him packing. “He tried his best, but I wasn’t interested,” she said.
Then a teenager, Mrs Carey took the train every day from Hamilton to Sandys Secondary School. One day on the return trip, she came across Mr Carey working under a car on Parliament Street.
He called out but, because he was under the car, she couldn’t see who it was and kept walking. He came out from underneath and said: “So you don’t talk to people any more?”
“I had books in my arms, because in those days, we didn’t have bookbags,” she said. “He said, ‘Can I come and see you tonight?’ I said, ‘Are you crazy? I have homework to do when I go home!’ I was very stubborn.”
The couple met up again a few years later at her sister’s wedding, and started dating.
They married on September 15, 1949, at Wesley Methodist Church in Hamilton, and moved to Friswells Hill, soon afterward.
Mrs Carey immediately made friends with their next door neighbour.
Grace Woodley, who turned 100 last month, then worked at Coral Beach Club and helped Mrs Carey find a housekeeping job there.
Today, it remains her favourite of all the hotels she worked at before joining Trimingham’s shoe department, where she spent 27 years before retiring.
Mrs Carey learnt to drive early on in her marriage but didn’t take to it. The final straw was having her car stall outside Clayhouse Inn.
“I had my mother-in-law in the car and my children,” she said. “There were a lot of people there that day. Someone said, ‘You want some help ma’am?’
“Grandma said, ‘What’s the matter? You can’t get it started?’ The children were laughing. I finally got it started and took off.”
Embarrassed, Mrs Carey refused to ever get behind the wheel again.
She made her way around on a series of motorbikes while her husband, by then a taxi driver, drove the children when they needed transportation.
She is proud to have been able to send all five of their children to university.
Ultimately, Albert joined Belco; Pamela Thomas worked in the Tax Commissioner’s Office, before she left the island; Raymond did architectural drawing; Wayne was a permanent secretary in government; Michael worked for Telco for a while and then went into insurance.
Mrs Carey recalls the death of Michael in 2012 and Raymond the year after as two very sad times for the family. Equally as sad was the death of her husband in 2017.
“Raymond died on our wedding anniversary,” she said. “That was very hard.”
Today she loves gardening and is particularly fond of the fruit trees in her backyard, although she says they took a beating from Hurricane Humberto last year.
She’s thrilled to live across the street from three of her nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
• Lifestyle profiles the island’s senior citizens every Tuesday. Contact Jessie Moniz Hardy on 278-0150 or email@example.com with their full name, contact details and the reason you are suggesting them