Judith James

Bermuda Day Grand Marshal 2018 – What We Share: Honouring Contributions to Preserving Bermuda’s Traditional Art of Play

In our era of plentiful ready-made toys and organised games and activities, it could be easy to assume that in the past Bermuda’s children did not have the same opportunities for play as they do today. Older adults, who remember childhoods during a time when money was not plentiful at all, assure us nothing could be further from the truth. One such adult is Mrs. Judith James, retired primary school teacher, who taught at Northlands Primary, the Ord Road School, now Paget Primary, the Elliot School, and at Victor Scott. By sharing her childhood memories, she has made a vital contribution to Bermuda’s heritage.

In 2001 she was chosen to participate in the Bermuda Connections Programme in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, held in Washington. There she explained and demonstrated many of the games she played with her friends while growing up on Angle Street in Hamilton. More recently, she has been featured in the Bermuda Folklife documentary, Traditional Bermuda Games and Crafts. She describes, for example, playing various “ring” games, rolling hoops made out bicycle wheels, skipping with bluebell vines, and making dolls out of weeds and mineral bottles, or out of rope. Her memories show us that before the advent of televisions, computers and iPhones, arguably children were more inventive and imaginative, as well as being better able to make magical toys out of very little. Recalling her childhood, she says, “Oh we had ‘de’ fun!”