Crow Lane Park (open sunrise to sunset daily, admission free), at the foot of Corkscrew Hill near the parish boundary with Devonshire, has a small lawn tucked along the waterside of “Foot of the Lane,” the bottom of Hamilton Harbour. It’s a good place for picnics or watching the sun set. A multitude of small pleasure craft are moored here next to the mangroves.
But despite the sunny surroundings, the park has a sordid history. In 1730, slave Sally Bassett was publicly executed by burning here after being accused of poisoning a slave-owning Sandys couple (her statue now stands in the grounds of the Cabinet building on Front Street). Her case was the most notorious of many so-called poison plots used as a form of rebellion by slaves who practiced the religious art of Obeah. Bassett has been remembered in island folklore, and the park is now one of the sights on the African Diaspora Trail through the island.
His bronze statue stands just 50 yards away, but you can see Johnny Barnes in person every morning, rain or shine, at the Crow Lane roundabout. With his white beard, straw hat, and a smile to stop traffic, the octogenarian Bermudian waves rigorously to motorists on their way to work, shouting out loudly, “I love you!” While many thought Johnny was plain nuts when he first began his morning ritual in the 1980s, commuters now have come to expect and even look forward to his beaming face.
Indeed, when Johnny misses a rare day, hundreds of calls flood local media to find out if he’s okay. A group of area citizens decided to honor his goodwill with the statue, erected in 1996 along the garden verge at the start of East Broadway.
© Rosemary Jones from Moon Bermuda, 2nd Edition