My sincere condolences to the Francis and Richardson families of Friswell’s Hill and Parsons Road on the loss of their patriach and matriarch.

Captain America opened up to record box office sales this weekend. Many flocked to go see their hero. Not wanting to be left out, I decided to go see some of my heroes as well.

So I took a walk through my neighbourhood and paid a visit to some of the elders of the community of Pond Hill aka Friswell’s Hill. 

My first stop was to the home of Mr Calvin Harris, and Mrs Naomi Harris. Mr Harris is not only my neighbour, but my father’s cousin, so I can say I grew up in the Harris household. Mr Harris is a retired taxi driver of T1654. Mrs. Harris served many decades at Hamilton Princess.

With very little effort, Mrs Harris lured me into a long and fruitful history lesson, with one of her homemade rolls as bait. She told me of how “town boys” used to ride their Triumph motorcycles westward, to court those “innocent country girls”.

She waxed ever so lovingly about her father, who was an engineer on the Bermuda railway, and their weekly treat of train rides throughout Bermuda. As I inhaled her every word, I closed my eyes to envision the Bermuda she knew and grew up in. It must have been a simpler place, based on strong familial ties, young men learning trades, and young women learning homemaking skills.

After that history lesson, Mrs Harris took me by the hand and walked me next door to the home of Mr and Mrs Ambrose Hill.

Sitting atop their veranda, one will catch an ever-present breeze as you look down towards the Pembroke Marsh, the City of Hamilton, and an uninterrupted view of Dockyard.

The Bermuda of yesteryear

Again I was intoxicated with the stories of the Bermuda of yesteryear. Buildings that no longer exist, and courtship practices of 60 years ago. Mrs Hill shared with me how she captured her husband’s heart via the pastries she brought home daily from her job at Bermuda Bakery. His chuckling signified his acceptance of a “weakness for sweetness”. 

Mr Hill used to have an afternoon Sunday school service at his house when we were children growing up. To this day, his faith in God and family remains as strong as I can recall 40 years ago. I could not leave until we held hands and had a good old-fashioned Pond Hill prayer.

On Saturday morning I attended First Church of God, for the life celebration and home-going service for another Friswell’s Hill elder, Mr Herbert ‘Chico’ Francis. Anyone from back of town will testify to the size of the Francis clan, so person after person gave heartfelt tributes to this giant of a man. Among his life accomplishments: master plumber; national softball coach; avid stalwart of Young Men’s Social Club; uncle and brother.

But ‘Uncle Chico’s’ proudest accomplishment was husband, father, and grandfather.

He was the father of C. Anthony Francis. A moving spirit and multitudes of tears came upon the service as C.A.F. took the podium and spoke of the life lessons he learned from his hero. Their relationship exemplified the generational inspiration fathers must impart to their sons.

To the elders of Friswell’s Hill, thank you for being our heroes. Anthony and I owe our foundation to you and your principles.

Bermuda, Captain America is not real. Go take an hour to hug a real hero. 

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