Seamstress with a passion for fashion celebrates 100th birthday

Hermena Joseph Goodwin (Photo contributed)
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Hermena Joseph Goodwin – also known as Winifred or Winnie – was born on December 28 1920 as told to her by her mother. However, her birth was officially recorded as January 10 1921 based on the date given by the midwife. In those days most children were born at home and the birth would not have been recorded until the midwife came through the area. 

Goodwin was born on the historic Betty’s Hope Estate to Clementina Benjamin and Edward Joseph.  She was the last of four children for her mother and the first of seven for her father. She attended All Saints School from the age of five.

She later decided she wanted to become a seamstress. This had been a dream of hers since the age of 10 when she would be constantly making clothes for her dolls whenever she was able to find a piece of fabric.

She would leave home in Pares Village at 5am every morning, walking nine miles to St John’s where she would attend classes with ‘Miss Baby’ on the corner of Redcliffe Street and Corn Alley, returning home by 6pm. 

So passionate was she about her future career that she would practice on her own during her spare time. She laughed as she recalled her first attempt at making her own underwear; upon trying it on, she realised it was too tight.

She was under Miss Baby’s tutelage for one year after which she was able to start sewing on her own for persons in her village and surrounding area. She designed dresses including wedding gowns, school uniforms and other clothing and was able to construct them without the use of patterns. 

In the 1930s and 1940s her skills afforded her the opportunity to work at Lyons Estate where she made and fitted dresses for the Goodwin family who were the occupants at the time. In the 1960s she was employed by the Studio on Cross Street where she proved to be one of their best seamstresses and again was highly involved in the construction of elaborate designs to include Carnival Queen gowns.

She eventually met her husband Ashwell “Affie” Goodwin who fell for her almost immediately. She attended church with the family the following day, Sunday, at Bethesda Methodist Church. 

While working at Lyons Estate, Affie, who was a carpenter at a nearby estate, would frequently come to visit her. They married in 1942 at St John’s Cathedral on September 30 and had seven children.

Goodwin loves to be entertained and is a great dancer. She recalls the different dances in Glanvilles that she would attend on August Monday and Tuesday.

She is described as an awesome grandmother and to most of her grandchildren she is the third parent as she was instrumental in their upbringing. 

Goodwin has an eye for fashion and pays attention to detail. Naturally she loves to dress up and is admired by many whenever she steps out to go to church or any other event. For her, getting ready to go out is an art where she will first select her outfit ensuring that she has the best hat, shoes and accessories to match. 

This ritual usually takes place the day before the event but if it is a wedding or some other special occasion, this activity could occur weeks before. Once she is dressed and ready to go she ensures that she applies a little spritz of perfume.

She also enjoyed cooking and her specialty was fungi and shad, lentil rice, bread pudding and potato pudding. She also has her favourite foods which include potato pancake, soups, and vanilla and rum and raisin ice cream. She is not a drinker but she loves Ponche Cuba occasionally.

Never short on lending a listening ear she always offers sound advice whether solicited or not. She hated seeing her children and grandchildren waste money and would always quote her mother saying, ‘money need a good manager’ and ‘eat a little, save a little, spend a little’. 

She lived by these words and this is manifested in her ability to save as much as she could to build her dream house in which she has lived for over 40 years. She was passionate about her work and would stay up late at night sewing and still get up early for work.

Goodwin was christened Anglican and attends All Saints Anglican Church. These days she also amuses herself by watching Judge Judy and Justice TV as well as watching the news on ABS TV. 

She also enjoys listening to Healthy Living and Old Time Something on Observer Radio, programmes on Radio Lighthouse and Sly J on ZDK.

Asked what was the key to a long life, her words were, “Go to church, read your Bible and don’t stay out late at night”.

Her children and grandchildren thank Almighty God for allowing her to be in their lives all these years and pray that he will continue to grant her good health and happiness.

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