By Theresa Goodwin
Two sisters – believed to be Antigua and Barbuda’s oldest set of twins – are today celebrating their 95th birthday.
Leah “Miss George” Solomon and Elfreda “Tiny” Abbott were born on January 27 1926 to the late James “Jim” Payne of Barnes Hill and Elizabeth “Addie” Nurse-Payne of Sea View Farm.
Family members told Observer yesterday that the identical pair are the fifth and sixth children for their parents and the last surviving siblings.
Another noteworthy fact is that all but one of their siblings that have passed on lived past the age of 90. Those who have preceded them in death died at ages 81, 91, 96 and 95.
Solomon was the first to be welcomed into the world. She earned the title Miss George because many felt she resembled her brother George. Abbott, on the other hand, got the name Tiny because of her small size at birth.
The Payne sisters grew up in Sea View Farm with their mother after losing their father at a very young age. They were separated for a while following their father’s death when Tiny was sent to live with relatives in Parham.
Although they didn’t live under the same roof, that did not affect the twins’ relationship as they would make regular trips back and forth, until Tiny retuned to Sea View Farm when she became a young adult.
Tiny was the first of the pair to get married to her now deceased husband Edgar Abbott. Edgar, who worked on a number of sugar estates, died when the last of the couple’s five children was very young leaving his wife alone to raise the family.
Along with her sister, Tiny worked on various sugar estates and engaged in both field and domestic work. The sisters also sewed clothing, worked as hairdressers and offered laundry and baking services. Tiny was famous for her chocolate (for tea) and grape wine.
Miss George, a mother of seven, was married to Leonard Solomon who is also deceased.
The twins worked as vegetable and livestock farmers, and sold produce and other items in the Sea View Farm, North Sound areas. In the morning, Miss George would be seen distributing milk to local villagers, and her homemade butter and confectionaries were also in high demand.
The sisters have been members of the Lebanon Moravian Church in Sea View Farm from birth. They were singled out among several others in 2013 when the church celebrated its 175th anniversary.
Miss George is currently in New York with her family, while Tiny remains in Antigua. Family say they remain very energetic and, while they are both diabetic, they remain in good health and fine spirits.