An original: The multi-talented Charlie Berry *Photo courtesy of Scott Stallard
An original: The multi-talented Charlie Berry *Photo courtesy of Scott Stallard

Well-loved, fondly remembered and “awesome, awesome, awesome guy” — Charles ‘Charlie’ Berry was the feature of last week’s archive photo

We had a tremendous response from the public, with many different stories about this Bermuda character.

Musician and entertainer; avid sailor; Elbow Beach photographer; worked in real estate; guest-house owner; Hog Penny manager; “probably kicked out of every bar in town”… it seems Charlie Berry was many things to many people. The photo itself appears to be inside Hog Penny or the RBYC bar, and displays his “trademark” moustache, pipe and beer bottle.

Vincent Frith said he came to the island around 1950 with Terry Brannon and others as an entertainer at the Hamilton Princess. He apparently also performed in a group with Geoffrey “Dickie” Bird and Alec Foster. 

Gail Fox shared a story from the Belmont Hotel, where her father Peter Rosorea was manager. Charlie was playing with the hotel band during dinner and had “spent a bit too much time at the bar. His pants fell down around his ankles and, to my father’s dismay, the more the guests laughed the more Mr Berry continued his antics”.

Malcolm Macpherson also shared his grandfather’s tale of Charlie playing saxophone one May 24th at the St. George’s Dinghy Club, and that he poured beer into his saxophone so he could play and drink at the same time!

Mr Berry also had storied adventures on the seas. Warren Brown, who taught Charlie some of his seamanship, said he was “excellent on the helm and a fine shipmate along with Teddy Gosling and Fenton Trimingham” and “one of my best friends”.

Mr. Brown said that Charlie “crossed the ocean with me many times both racing and cruising. He sailed on my expedition near to the North Pole north of Svalbard and also South America and New Zealand”. Mr. Berry’s “excellent” photography skills provided several thousand slides of the polar journey.

John Barnett told stories about racing with Charlie. Prior to one race on the Great Sound during a very windy day, Charlie polished off half a flask of whiskey for some ‘Dutch courage’; “Suffice to say we didn’t win the race!”, said Mr. Barnett.

On another occasion, Charlie was trapped under the sail after their boat had flipped over. John Barnett said “fortunately he had a bright orange top on and I could see where he was so I dived under the sail, cut him loose from the rigging he was surrounded by and brought him to the surface. He needed a shot of whiskey after that!”

Divine intervention?

Finally, Mr. Barnett described visiting an ill Charlie at his Paget home several days before he died in December 1987. He was trying to speak quietly to Mr. Berry’s ex-wife Monica as Charlie slept, but Charlie spoke up — “Barnett, you always did talk too much”.

Warren Brown spoke of his and Charlie’s adventures at Mr. Berry’s funeral, and he, along with family and some friends, sailed several miles out to sea where Charlie Berry was buried according to his wishes.

Perhaps the most uncanny element of last week’s archive photo is the fact that, unbeknownst to us at the Bermuda Sun, we published the photo on Charlie’s birthday, April 4, 1917. Mr. Berry’s son Mark said it was a “great tribute” and wondered if it was “Divine intervention!”

This has easily been the strongest response to ‘Back in the Day’ so far, and we would like to thank everybody who contributed: Warren Brown, John Barnett, Vincent Frith, Mark Berry, Gail Fox, Patricia De Silva, Chic Moniz, Jane Vickers, Patrick Outerbridge, Gilbert Pearman, Malcolm Macpherson, Joanna Wellman, Keith Musson, D. Whitehead, Catherine Greet, Lyndy Thatcher and one unidentified caller.