Sandra North

Sandra North

3/8/2017 3:31:50 PM

Sandra Marina North (nee Russell) was born in Nassau, Bahamas on January 13, 1937 to Mary Delores Thurston and Samuel Russell, Jr. Like her grandmother, Blanche Ethel Hanna Thurston (Mama), she was an only child, and just like Mama, she was blessed with uncles, aunts, and numerous cousins and other extended family who loved her dearly, so she never felt alone. Sandra was the eldest of the many grandchildren of Henry and Blanche Thurston, and she took her position as the first grandchild seriously, in that she cared for, nurtured, mentored, and served as a role model for her many little cousins. They all strived to emulate her. They wanted ‘to be just like Sandra’.

Sandra grew up under the care of her grandmother; her aunts, Agnes and Sylvia, and her uncles, Arthur, Henry, Samuel, and Edwin were more like her older siblings. They were all raised and played together. They were a close-knit family, experiencing the ups and downs of family life like any other family. From her beloved grandmother and great-grandmother, Georgiana Armbrister Moss, she learned the essence of hard work and perseverance. She was always ready, willing, and able to lend a helping hand to one and all alike. She lived by this motto.

 

Sandra attended Western Junior and Senior schools, and Jordan Memorial School. She later pursued a course in cosmetology at Carter School of Beauty Culture in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where her mother, Mary, was residing at the time. Upon her return to Nassau, her mother made arrangements for a beauty parlour to be built for her, attached to the Thurston house on Nassau Street, and it was from this humble location that she practiced her craft for many years. The shop was known as “Sandra’s Beauty Box.” Her skills as a hairdresser were very well-known, and she was always sought after by many of the beauty contestants and fashion–conscious ladies of the day who desired exquisite hairstyles to complement their character and style.

As a responsible older cousin, Sandra took special care of all of the children of her uncles and aunts. She had a natural, nurturing spirit. She always tried to make life fun and enjoyable for her little ones, looking after them on those long, hot summer days, taking them down to the beach or on Fort Charlotte to play ball, pick sea grapes, almonds, tamarind, and cocoa plums. It was a joy of hers to take them to the Priory Grounds (St. Francis Xavier Cathedral grounds) on a Friday evening to watch the basketball games between different sporting clubs, such as the Cee Bees, of which she was a member, the Pioneers, and other clubs. She herself was an avid sportsperson, taking part in such activities as bicycle riding, basketball, roller skating, and softball. Some of her sports peers were Cynthia “Mother” Pratt and Patsy Taylor, both of whom grew up in the Nassau Street/South Street neighborhood.

Sandra was an excellent dancer, practicing all the latest moves of the day, including the Cha-Cha, the Twist, the Hully-Gully, and many more. She  and her many friends enjoyed the popular American entertainers of the day, such as Sam Cooke, Ben E. King, the Platters, the Impressions, Jackie Wilson, and many more. They spent their hard-earned small change on the latest “45’s and 78’s”, and Sandra herself had quite an envious collection of records. Occasionally, when the nightclubs of the day, the Cat-and-Fiddle and the Zanzibar in particular, invited many of these entertainers to perform in Nassau, she and her friends hustled to attend the shows. Sometimes the shows were sold out, but not to be deterred, they found creative ways to see the performances anyway, from rooftops and other side-openings. As little children, we relished her accounts of how spectacular these shows were and how ‘fine’ the performers were. She and her cohorts, when they were allowed to, also enjoyed attending the weekly Friday afternoon matinee dance at the Cat-and-Fiddle. Young people at that time exhibited a strong sense of responsibility and adhered to their parents’ instructions, so parents were not afraid to let their youths go to such functions because they knew they would behave themselves and be back home at a decent time.

In the early sixties, Sandra married the man of her dreams, Robert Kendal (Conchy) North of West Street. They settled in the home in Boyd Subdivision, where she remained until her recent illness. “Conchy” died a few years into the marriage, but with the help or her family, she was able to carry on with her trade and take care of herself. For many years following the death of her husband, Sandra opened her home to the children of many of her friends and family. She was a surrogate for so many. She also opened her home and heart to many family and friends during challenging times. She never asked anything in return. Later on, she was blessed with a son, Brian, who was the child of an extended family member. With Brian in her life, she proved herself to be a wonderful mother. She worked hard to give him a good life and encouraged him to value education and hard work. Today, he is a product of her sacrifice. 

Sandra’s passion was to serve others, in various capacities. In the sixties, she began working at Bethel Brothers Funeral Home on Nassau Street as the cosmetologist. She continued in that job for over forty years, and retired only a few years ago. In the 1970’s she and her dear friend, Althea Conliffe, started a junior Junkanoo group known as the “Aztecs”. For the next thirty years this group performed at both Boxing Day and New Year’s Day parades, and they collected a trove of trophies, to the delight of Sandra and Althea. Sandra was also a school lunch vendor at a few of the primary schools in Nassau, she assisted in the kitchen at St. John’s Native Baptist Church during the annual convention, and she participated in many fairs, food sales, and other public events as a food vendor. She was a long time member of the Bahamas Mothers Club, and assisted with the Annual Mothers’ Day Celebration and ‘Soup Day’ activity. She was also a member of the Elks Lodge and the Princess Oziel No. 3, Order of the Eastern Star. She was a Stalwart Councilor in the Progressive Liberal Party, and worked hard to support the Party’s candidates.
On Sunday, February 26, 2017, Sandra passed away at the Princess Margaret Hospital following a few months of illness.