1.401 JONES, May, Untitled, MS (c.17,000 words). Brunel University Library.
Transcribed by Jess Brandwood, 2018
I remember, I remember, the night that I was born. I was tucked up in bed and crying, crying, as loud as ever I could and no one came to see what was the matter, nothing happened, so I well remember crying out, “Mama I’m crying” I never had to tell them before that I was crying, as soon as they heard me, Dada always came upstairs, wrapped me in a shawl and carried me downstairs, where I sat on his knee and shared his tea, which was often an egg butty. This night something had gone wrong no notice was being taken of me, no one came to take me out of bed and downstairs, I couldn’t make it out so kept on yelling even harder. Suddenly the (?) door opened and my mothers voice called, stop making that noise and go to sleep, and the door was closed again, at that I (?) even a bit louder and again the (?) door opened and mother said stop making that noise at once or I will come up and smack your bottom, I knew what that meant and I remember I stopped, it was a terrible shock, whatever had happened, the sky had fallen in on my poor bald head, somehow I felt I was different I had been born to the understanding that I was alone, a (?) being, my mama and dada will not part of me any longer, until now they had been my life and my all, they gave me everything I wanted and now I knew I was on my own, and the world was not my oyster, I think I cried myself quietly to sleep.
Looking back I must have been about two years old at this time and my mother must have been expecting her second child and she must have decided that it was time her first born was weaned from dependent babyhood and I expect there were (to be) no more jaunts down/stairs once I had been put to bed.
My father was a carpenter and well known as a good workman, he was also a very skilled wood carver and whilst still in his teens won first prize in an all England competition for a carved panel which he had designed. Wages were low in those days and my father helped to support his widowed mother as well as his own family. To make ends meet he did carpentry and wood carving at home in the evenings after he had finished work at the builders yard, He also taught wood carving at an evening class in the village (?) (?) (?) Amongst my earliest memories are masses of wood shavings, how I loved playing with them and I stood in them up to my knees or sat on the floor watching them fall from the (?) as my father worked and sometimes putting them under my old hat and pretending they were real ringlets
From a very early age my father taught me the scents and colouring of different woods and I liked best the soft (?) (?) trees from (?) (?), they curled up (?) best and were the colour of my own hair.
I think that some of the first words that my mother taught me were
Gentle Jesus, meek and mild
Look after a little child,
In the kingdom of thy Grace
give a little child a place
Bless mama, Bless Dadda
then she told me to bless who I likes so I added
Bless on Frank (my baby brother)
Bless our Chitty (The cat) (?)
at first I sat on mothers knee to learn the words and (later) when I had learned them and when I was undressed and ready for bed mother brought her chair on the hearth hearth rug and I knelt at her knee there, (?) (?) (?) (?) (?) It must have taken me a little while to learn this little prayer and I think I must have been about three when my father thought I was ready to learn the Lords Prayer, I used to love to sit on his knee by his work bench and learn words then when I knew some of them he let me kneel amongst the shavings that were lying around his work bench, when there were no shavings, thus, I somehow did not remember the words very well
I once remember asking him if I could say Our Dadda and (not Our Father) and he told me that Dadda belonged especially and only to me, but Our Father belonged to him and everybody else. Memories of life from about three to five are not very clear but I do remember having to share the perambulator and everything else with my new baby brother, I also remember starched (?) frills on knickers and petticoats that scratched my legs.
I remember too sharing the perambulator with my new baby brother. We lived in a cottage in a small country village it had no back door and mother put us out through the window to play in the field. I had a happy childhood tho a very strict one. Mother believed that to spare the rod is to spoil the child and she (?) kept to this principle and after I was too sore to sit down. We had plenty of fun and games, but no (?) toys, mud pies made in bin-lids, a can of water and some (?), mixed with an old spoon or a stick into a soft paste, and decorated daisy or buttercup (?), a bit of (?) (?) or a bit of old pottery kept us busy for hours. Our toys were mostly home made a rag doll, a little wagon made out of an old wooden box a piece of wall paper to write on and a penny box of crayons was a great treat. When I got a bit bigger we played at hop scotch, five stones, (?) and (?), rounders and lots of other ball games, and skipping and jumping with a rope were great fun. Games somehow were (?) and all the children of the village played the same games at the same time. In the spring our bowls came out just a ring of wood for girls and of iron for boys, there were different (?) suitable for (?) (?) to big ones for children ready to learn school, the wooden ones were pushed and guided with a wooden stick and the iron bowls had an iron rod with a hook on the end and we kept (?) (?) running after them, skipping ropes came out next , and any old piece of rope would do
but you were very lucky if you could have a bought one with wooden handles, we played a jumping game called higher and higher, two children held the rope across the road, and the others jumped (?) (?) (?) (?), the rope was on the ground at the start and was raised a few inches after each jump those who could not get over it were out and the one who was the last and jumped the highest won the game. Next game was (?) and (?), the right kind of string was very important for this but any kind of stick would do, one had to wind the string round the small (?) (?), learn how to (?) it a throw to start it spinning and then (?) it along the road quite (?). We played shuttle cock and ball games, all in the middle of the road, it was quite safe (?) we were all on the look out for the occasional horse and cart and when (?) motor cars came along they did not move much more quickly and we had plenty of time to get out of the road.
Life was not all play, from a very early age mother taught us how to work and we never questioned out little tasks. We thought it great fun to have an apron tied round one and sleeves rolled up to the elbow then put to stand on a (?) at the slapstone to wash up. We started with the small (?), spoons, knives and forks, cups and saucers and mother did the large plates, dishes and pans until we were tall enough to reach without having to stand on a (?). We were taught to dust, brush the yard, clean spoons and forks, cleaning knives was a big job it took my brother and I all Saturday morning, we had a special piece of board covered with (?) (?) (?) and in those days there was no stainless steel and knives had to be rubbed backwards and forwards for quite a long time to clean stains collected during a week. We had to brush the yard and garden paths, get coal in, shake the doormats and all the small rugs on a wall outside. There was some little chore each day and we could not go out to play until (?) was done and mother inspected the work and if it was not done properly it had to be done over again.
Errands took up quite a lot of time, milk and butter from one farm, eggs from another, vegetables from a (?) gardener, bread and (?) (?) from the village shop, for all there little jobs and errands we were given a penny each to spend not to be put our money boxes unless we wanted to. What a thrill it was to spend that penny. I can see the little
Life was not all play, from a very early age mother taught us how to work and we never questioned out little tasks. We thought it great fun to have an apron tied round our middle and sleeves rolled up to the elbo then put to stand on a (?) at the slapstone to wash up, we started with the small things at first, spoons and forks, cups and saucers, and mother did the large plates and pans until we were tall enough to reach without having to stand on a (?). We were taught how to dust, polish furniture, brush the yard, get in coal and sticks, polish spoons and forks, cleaning knifes was a big job we had a special board covered with (?) (?) and we had to rub the blade over this for a long time to get the stains off. There was no stainless steel in those days. We had to brush the yard and garden path, shake door mats and small rugs on a wall outside. There was some little chore to be done each day before we go out to play and if the work was not done properly it had to be done all over again.
Errands took up quite a lot of time, milk and butter fetched from the farm, eggs from another farm, vegetables from a small (?) garden bread and groceries from the village shop, for all our little jobs and errands we were given a penny each to spend. What a thrill it was spending that penny, I can see the little[ shop now in my minds eye. The window was small and low enough for a small child to look in There were boxes of sweets along the bottom, “Hanky Panky” a pink and white sticky (?), “Everlasting sweets,” narrow brown strips which needed a lot of chewing, “Jacobs ladders” long thin strips of black Spanish (?), “Lemon (?)” a fizzy powder you ate with a tiny tin spoon and “Gobstoppers”, round hard balls like marbels, flavoured with aniseed, which with sucking changed to different colours. It was not an uncommon thing to be allowed by a friend to have a suck until the colour changed. One task I very much dislike doing was cleaning boots and shoes they had to be cleaned with blacking which came in the form of a hard piece and had to be softened with water and worked into a soft paste this was applied with a soft stiff brush, polished with a soft one and rubbed with a soft rag, a velvet one if you were lucky, my mother to get a good shine. My mothers shoes were new and would not take the blacky In those day fire grates were cleaned with a metal polish which did not
need so much rubbing and was made for that purpose and gave a shine without much rubbing so I thought I would use it on mothers best shoes, they had a good shine alright but instead of being black they had turned a horrible grey but I thought they looked lovely. On Sunday morning when we were all ready for church (?) to pulling our shoes on, my mother had a shock and so did I, mother cried when she saw her shoes and so did I after she had dealt with me. Father went to church on his own and I was sent to bed. I cannot remember what happened to the (?) (?) they (?) have been (?)
I start school
I remember I was quite a big girl when I started school, later my mother told me it was because the doctor had told her that my brain was too active and that I must be kept back. I must have been I must have been over five when first I went and four was the usual age. It was a small village elementary school governed by the church and catered for children from four to thirteen years of age
In the infants room there were three classes, babies, second, and first. I was put in the babies, I remember it because we had to sit on the gallery which consisted of five wooden steps each one wide and long enough to sit four children. There were no backrests or cushions of any sort and we had to sit still with our feet together, we were each given a slate with a heavy wooden frame and a pencil made of (?) to write with. We sat with the slates on our knees and were shown how to make round Os and (?) hooks (?), all three classes were close together in one room and a few days later I heard the children in the first class singing the alphabet. I knew this, I had heard my playmates singing in the road so I joined in and sang it with them and finished it while some of the older children only got half way through. When we had finished singing the teacher called me out and asked me if I knew my figures so I counted up to ten for her, these again were learned (?) fashion, I suppose she thought I knew more than I did being a big girl so she put me in the first class. I remember the first lesson she gave us, she taught or tried to teach us that one and one made two
= 2 and made 4. I had never seen figures written down before and was very puzzled. After the lesson we all had come into the middle of the room and stand back to back with another child and were told by the teacher to do with the figures what she had shown us to do on the black boar. I remember putting down the only figures I knew 0 and 6, the slates were heavy and we had to rest it on one arm and write with the other, I did not like it. When the teacher came round to see what we had done and saw my effort she must have been very cross I remember she boxed my ears soundly, at this I threw my slate on the floor, stamped on her foot and ran out before she could catch me and ran home to tell my mother all about it, mother took me back to school and when the teacher saw me she said, Well have you thrashed the naughty child, mother said no I want to see the head mistress. We saw her and I little knew it that time that I had met a saint named Margaret Gilchrist, mother told her about the doctors orders and she
mother told the headmistress what had happened and about the doctors orders that I should not be given any instructions before starting school and had only learned the alphabet and figures (?) fashion copying older playmates than myself, and so needed to start lessons right at the beginning, Miss (?) told my mother to bring me round to her home after tea and she would give me a few lessons, how I loved both the lessons and the teacher and soon learned the (?) of writing letters and figures and was able to join the children in higher class. Some time later I passed into the big room which held standards from 1 to 7, standards 1 and 2 were divided by a heavy curtain from the other classes. Punctuality was very strict we all had to be assembled by 9 oclock every morning the curtain dividing the classes was drawn back, Miss (?) played the little (?) and we all sang a hymn together and said prayers. How I loved the old childrens hymns, “Theres a friend for little children above the bright blue sky, All things bright and beautiful, Loving Shepard of the sheep and others, I learned the words off by heart and now at 83 still (?) (?) on their promises when I feel a bit down and lonely, after the singing we had a short reading from the bible and a few prayers, then we were ready for the days work.
First the register was called and late comers were and late comers were let in, these were given a red mark and if one collected more than three in one week one got the cane. Standards one and two do not stand out in my memory very well but I remember that there were three large windows in the room, oval shaped at the top and small panes of colourful round them, and at times when teacher told us some bit of history I would sit and (?) at one of these colours and relive what she had been telling us. One day we had been reading about “the black hole of Calcutta” and I must have gone off in to my bit of coloured glass and daydreamed all the horror I had been reading about, suddenly a sharp box on the ears and a cross voice saying stop that wool gathering at once, after that I only remember being taken home by a girl out of the big room and the doctor coming to see me. He must have prescribed three months away from school and I was taken to Wales to stay with an aunt for that time. I learnt quite a lot of Welsh words and could sing a welsh song whilst I was there. This happened several times during my school life and the doctor told my mother that I should grow out of it, I was either blessed or cursed with a vivid imagination, I loved reading but the doctor said that I was only to read in school, my father took a weekly magazine called carpenter and builder, these were kept in a cupboard in my bedroom and I read them all from cover to cover
I think it was in standard two that I (first) learned how to sew and how a sharp wrap on the knuckles with a ruler by the teacher made one do ones best to put in small (?) stitches on the hems, seems and (?) we had to do on a small square of calico. I dont think standards 3,4, 5,6 or 7 bothered me a great deal, we had religious instruction for (?) half an hour each morning readings from the old and new testaments, we learned the (?) and (?) and had to memorise them, each day we had to read and memorise either a verse of a hymn, or (?), part of a psalm or a (?), and (?) (?) (?) if you could not do it, you had to stay behind after all the other children had gone home until you did know at least some part of it. Once a week the (?) came in to hear us and find out how much we had learned, Miss (?) retired and we had a new school master when I reached standard (?). He was very strict and handy with the cane, looking back I’m sure he was a sadist I remember he used to swish the cane a few times before it came down on a hand or behind, with a smile on his face I’m grateful to him for a love of poetry, we had to read and learn them off by heart also whole psalms and now if I lie awake at night I can often go to sleep saying one over in my mind. He was also a keen botonist and weather permitting took us for a country walk and (?) we looked for and collected specimens and in class next day, he gave us a lesson on the plants structure and history and (?) (?) us if we could not remember the a flowers latin name or (?), writing (spelling) and arithmetic were taught with the sticks in hand too, I dont think I got it so very (?) in these subjects but in music, alas how I hated it He tried to teach us tonic sol far, all the classes were close together and a few
He put the scales up on the board, we all had to stand up in desk, and sang the scale together then, he would point to a child and then to a note on the board and you knew what to expect if you sang me when you ought to have sang la, sometimes we all had to follow and (altogether) sing the notes he pointed to with his cane and if one sang a wrong note he gave all of us we all got the stick all the way (?), a new teacher came in the infants classroom – she was young and a suppose pretty, our school master must have found her attractive as he spent much of his time in there with her, and we were given silent reading for a great number of lessons, this didnt bother me as I loved reading and leaned quite a lot from it. some of the children got very restless and played about one day drew a funny face on the black board and (?) (?) (?) (?) it, the school master had a beard. He was very angry when he came in from his business in the infants room, we all saw the boy who had drawn the face and when (the master) he asked who had done it nobody answered so he gave us all the cane. We were all crying ( (?) (?) (?) (?) (?) (?) (?) ) when the vicar and insisted on knowing what had happened we were sent home I dont know what happened between the vicar and the school master but soon after we had a new teacher. Years later I got to know that he was earning his living as a (?) in one of the (?) (?) (?). I didnt see much the new teacher, by this time I was twelve and the eldest of a family of four, my brother was ten then came a gap of seven years and (?) (?) sister ((?)) arrived one aged two and one a few weeks old. My mother was very ill, after the last baby was born
Margaret Gilchrist was loved, respected and revered by everyone who knew her, she was headmistress of the small village Church of England school I attended I was five years old when first I met her, I was late in starting school and backward for my age but a few private lessons from her soon brought me up to standard and I loved her even at that early age, In school she taught the higher standards 3 to 7, and by the time she ha I had reached standard 3 she had retired so I was never a pupil in her class except on Sunday when she took Sunday school I loved going to her house, I must have been an inquisitive child and she encouraged me to take all my little puzzlements to her and she helped me to solve them, sometimes she would read a little bit to me, sometimes she would play a little tune for me on her old fashioned (?) and very often she found me little jobs to do for her.
Often it was to take a parcel out for her, I had strict instructions to take it to the back door of the house and give it to the mother and say a friend had sent it, and never never to say who the friend was. sometimes I would feel it the parcel as I carried it and sometimes it felt like a pair of clogs and I did wonder one day when I saw Tommy B with a new pair on when he had been to school bare foot in the snow and mud the day before, sometimes the parcel would be big and soft at other times firm and solid, then again there would be the feel of hard round things like apples or potatoes, occasionally it was a small bottle which I took to an old lady and sometimes it was an envelope in which I could feel a small coin, It was not until I was much older,
that I discovered what was in the parcels that I delivered on the little errands she sent me on, very frequently, a pair of clogs for a child who had been to school bare foot in the snow and mud the day before,
a loaf, piece of cheese and some meat for a family with the father out of work, sometimes it was a bag of oatmeal and some eggs, the soft parcels contained a wool shawl or blankets for someone short of bed clothes
The little botte contained a drop of brandy for old granny B who had a pain in her chest, the coin in the envelope was a shilling to buy a bag of coal for someone with children who had no fire. all the little gifts were given secretly, no one knew who the friend was who sent them, Miss (?) became very weak and frail and it became very evident that she was having a struggling time to keep on teaching
she would often say to me, “Child, (?) thy bread upon the waters and it shall return to thee in due season” This tennet of her faith must have been sorely tried, my father and several of her old pupils were very concerned about the state of her health and her evident struggle to keep on teaching, so they called a meeting of her old scholars, and they agreed to find out the reason for this, they soon discovered that she had to work to live, she had given all her savings away to people she knew to be in dire need, or as she put it, “had cast her bread upon the waters,” it must have seemed a long time before it started coming back to her, As the result of the meeting a subscription (?) was opened and everyone gave to (?) uppermost
The village was small but among her old scholars many were in good regular jobs and two of them from poor childhood homes has by her help an extra tuition risen to be professional men and they gave generously and enough money was subscribed to buy her an annuity of £2 a week, a lot of money in those days and some return for all the love and care she had cast upon the waters
I loved school, but equally I loved holidays especially the summer ones, we got three weeks then and we enjoyed every minute of them, we also loved the weeks before in anticipation, and the weeks after memorising, and now eighty years later I still enjoy what I remember of them.
Our summer holiday came at Barnabys, the three weeks following St Barnabas’ day, 23, June, our home was in a small village a few miles from a manufacturing town, my mothers home before she married was eight miles further into the country the heart of the lovely Cheshire plain, She was one of a family of thirteen children and her father, looked after by one of his daughters, still lived there, So my brother and I, earthly paradise was to spend three weeks holiday in mothers old home. Our holidays came just at the time when (?) in this part of the country (?) the early crop of potatoes were being harvested and farmers brought their crops into town to sell in the local shops, The potatoes were brought in large square basket ships, in a cart drawn by a beautiful heavy shire horse, one farm from which these came was quite near grandfathers home and on Barnaby Monday when the farmer was returning from the market with empty ships, he would call at our house for us. The empty ships had been piled one on top of each other in the back of the cart and two which had been brushed out for us, put specially on the front of the cart, then my brother was lifted into one and I was put in the other, our clothes were packed in a straw dress case, fastened by a strong leather strap, Mother kissed us and waved us off. the farmer flicked his whip over Bonnie the shire horse and away we went, our eight mile magic journey taking about an hour.
It must have rained during those three weeks but I do not remember it, it always seemed to be sunny and warm. The old house was long, low, half timbered and whitewashed with a heavy thatched roof. It had four rooms downstairs, a big living room, a very big kitchen , a stone slapped pantry and funny little cubby hole of a room with red house bricks for a floor and a funny smell, this was called the parlour. There were three rooms upstairs, at the far end a small room, Mother and Fathers room, in the middle was a long low room with a sloping roof, this held six beds for all ten girls, then at the other end a smaller room which held two beds for the three boys, of course when we went there on holiday all the birds had left their nest and flown, leaving only Grandad and one of his children, Aunt Ruth,
Grandad was a grand old man we all loved him He worked very hard, the cottage stood well back from the road, it was surrounded by a very big garden where he grew all kinds of vegetables, and soft fruits, raspberrys, black, red and white currants gooseberrys and a big bed of rhubarb, there were apple, pear and plum trees, and in pride of place in front of the house a huge red cherry tree. This garden to me was a very special place, every morning I searched diligently under all the gooseberry bushes, but never told anyone what I was looking for however grandad must have guessed, as one morning he gave me a handful of hay and said, put this under a big rhubarb leaf, little maid, I dont think the fairies would leave it under a gooseberry bush it might get scratch and then it would dry, I should be about seven years old at this time
There was magic in that old world garden, I never found what I was searching for but never failed to make some wonderful discovery there, from the road up to the house there was a short drive and at the road end a large white gate, what fun we had climbing and swinging on it. The field on (?) at the side and back of the house was where grandfather grew most of the food to feed his thirteen children, there was a big open yard at the side of the house with out building round it, a storage barn, a (?), two pig stys and a (?) (?) and beyond these two hay stacks a marvellous adventure playground for two small children beyond these was a good (?) field with a high (?) hedge round it, aunt Ruth sometimes took us round it looking for birds nests, there were brambles, nettles, (?) and rough grass there which scratched our legs, we found lots of nests and auntie told us we could take one egg each and she would boil it for our tea, When grandad heard of this he was cross and said never do that again or the birds will never sing for you. At the far end of the field there was a short stretch of common covered with gorse, heather, (?) bushes and rough grass and beyond that a thick dark wood, (?) our imaginations had plenty to feed on. from the bedroom window we could see small lights moving about at the edge of the wood among the trees, grandad said they were only poachers or game keepers, but we though they might be smugglers or brigands, we were scared stiff but thoroughly (?) watching them from the safety of the bed room.
A lovely little sunken road ran past the cottage it had cart (?) and wheel tracks, with grass growing in between
It had high banks on each side where lots of wild flowers grew, which we had never seen before. There were little blue Bobbies Buttons, (scabious) heather, and tiny ferns. Auntie gave us each a small jam jar and we were happy collecting little posies in them. The field was much higher than the road and in the hedge beyond the buildings there grew a wonderful old oak tree, one favourite play spot, it was old, its trunk was thick with low branches, easy to climb a branch had been torn off during a storm and an owl lived in the hole it left, there was a cleft in the bottom of the trunk where we were sure we saw the little elves and (?) going in, the grass rowing under it was fine and soft, lovely to sit and (?) on we decorated it with flowers in the jam jars and had acorn cups or buttercup flowers for the little folk to drink from
There was an old sheep dog called laddie, the poor (?) was chained up most of the time because he would wander into the forest and had been caught twice in a (?) (?), however we were allowed to take him for little walks on a rope, and loved it. All was not quite perfect tho, the one thing we did not like was that there was no water in the house one had to go out to the pump in the garden (?) to fill a (?), and the pump handle was heavy to use. We missed the water closet too, we had to go across the yard past all the building to get to the (?), Aunt Ruth told us a funny story about this (?) it happened when she was a little girl. One of her sisters had eaten a lot of hard green apples and wakened in the night with stomach ache, she wakened two of her sisters to go across the yard to the (?) with her, but when they looked at the wood at the end of the field they saw the little flickering lights there and they darent go so they had the brain wave off the girl with the (?)(?) to sit
through the window and the other two would each hold a leg to keep her from falling out and then she could do her business on the garden and they would get up very early next morning and clean it away before anyone saw it. Alas they had not reconed on the cottage wall being very old was not straight but bowed out very much so the target missed, and scrubbing brushes fastened to clothes (?) presided over by a very angry mother with a (?) handy was the occupation of three little girls.
(?) puzzlements to her and she helped me to solve them, (?)
They say the course of true love never runs smooth, There must have been eruptions in Mother and Dads life but we children were never aware of them until there was a mighty volcanic eruption.
There was an epidemic of measles in the village and the school had to be closed, my brother and I were among the few who escaped, so it was decided to send us to stay with Aunt Ruth for a little while where we should be safe. Transport was the problem, there were no (?) carts going there this time of year so I t was arranged that Dad should make the journey there on his bicycle twice, first with my brother sitting on a cushion strapped to the cross bar of his bicycle, and myself on the second journey. It was Sunday, and my father said he had to go early to work just to see that some (?) was alright while we got ready to go.
Suddenly, there was a terrific (?) in front of the cottage, it was a loud (?) (?) (?) of a (?) motor horn We ran out to see what it was and there was Dad sitting at the wheel of a small motor car. Smiles all over his face as he proudly sad, “This is ours”
I have a photograph of our car year about 1900 and my bicycle about 1901
I can only imagine what mothers face looked like at this news, However we set out on our journey, all the smiles had vanished from Dads face and mother refused to come. We got about three miles down the road, half way, when the car spluttered and broke down and in spite of all Dads tinkerings it refused to budge, It began to rain and we were told to walk back home. Whilst Dad went to the nearest farm for a horse to tow the car home.
The next day we went on Dads bicycle as previously arranged, We had been staying with Aunt Ruth two day when we were both covered with spots, we had measles, and mother had to hire a car to fetch us home. Whilst we were away (they) must have had a real quarrel, they both had been saving every penny they had towards building the new house they both wanted and needed, my father had caught motor car fever and his millionaire boss has persuaded him to buy the little car, to do this father had to draw every penny they had been saving out of the post office It was a good thing we children were away for two days while our parents sorted things out, mother won, I wonder if she would have left him really, the car was taken back, Dad got his money back, he left his electrical job, our lights were taken out we went back to paraffin lamps an candles, Dad went to work as a carpenter again, We got out new house built, a new baby arrived and we were all happy once more.
Until I was nine years old there were just the two of us my brother and myself, Then Mother had another baby a lovely little girl, the prettiest and bonniest of us all She was a happy little soul, she was my big doll come alive, I idolised her. She was very sharp too, at nine months, she was pulling herself up by the (?) standing on her own two feet and trying to walk, teeth were showing in her gums and looked almost ready for coming through, she could say little words Mam Mam, Da, Da, we all loved her.
Then Mother was not very well and the doctor came to see her, he looked at the baby and said, “I think it is time to have her vaccinated, the other two were done about this age,”, mother agreed. A few days later when the doctor came mother was still not well and I was called in to hold the baby whilst he made four little cuts on the top of her arm, dabbed some (?) on the wounds, covered them with gause and strapped a small wire cage over to keep the clothes off the wound. The poor little mite cried all the time, she had a fretful night and wimpered all the next day. Mother though this was to be expected from her experience with the other children, and thought it was the vaccination taking its course, however next morning her arm was sore and inflamed and she cried
Constantly so mother sent for the doctor again, he said she was alright the vaccination was taking its normal course The next morning her whole arm was sore and inflamed and she had a high temperature, so again Mother sent for the doctor, this time when he saw her he was very alarmed and said he didn’t understand it, (?) was running down her arm from the four wounds he said he was puzzled and brought in several other doctors to see he, she was very ill, a little while later her head began to swell until it became almost twice its normal size and gradually all the firmness went out of her little bones, they were soft like gristle and bent easily in the wrong places and she shrunk back into being like a new born baby again. Mother had to lift her on a pillow.
The doctor did what he could but she got worse, thus he brought an old doctor to see her, and he said “Misses let her go home,” if she lives she will be either a cripple or an imbecile,” Mother said I believe that where there is life there is hope, she then took matters in her own hands, she had (?) and water on the brain from after the vaccination, in her baby to deal with. Th elongated fight to save her baby’s life was on, She went to the farmer to get milk twice a day from one cow, his healthiest, she got the butcher (?) send a small amount of fresh blood each day
She went to the builder yard for a piece of rock lime which she (?) daily, she got cod liver oil and oranges. these she adminstered in very small doses (?) large amounts of love, her little limbs were (?) with olive oil and she carried the baby lying on a pillow for small doses of sunshine into the garden,
Gradually the miracle began to happen, the baby stopped wimpering, she began to smile again, one little leg moved on its own and then the other little arms began to wave, feebly at first but gradually stronger, a look of recognition came into her eyes and Mother said the baby knew her again, I think I grew up, during that time, Mother had to make me go out to play sometimes I loved helping with my baby sister It took a long time for her to fully recover, she was two years old before she (?) a tooth and began to walk, Her head was larger than normal until she was seven, but she went to school and was of average intelligence, she had a good sense of fun and (?) happiness he grew up to be strong and healthy and a blessing to all of us.
An answer to Mothers prayer
My Mother had her first two children, my brother and I within two years, then seven years went by and she gave birth to two more with about the same time in between. Helen the little one who had been so terribly ill was about two and a half years old when the next baby arrived and Mother was very ill after this with (?) and angina.
In those days, if one did not work one did not eat, these was no dole or insurance, only (?) relief or the workhouse, so my father had to keep on with his work but he did all he could before he went and when he came home
There was no district nurse or health visitor, a midwife came for two weeks after the birth and then one had to do the best one could, neighbours were very helpful but there had to be someone there to look after the babies all the time so I had to miss school very often and once again had the school board man after me, Luckily Mother had taught me how to do most things about the house and I helped with the first baby, I suppose I made a mess of a lot of things but we managed, I remember I couldnt make (?) a kind of porridge, it always came out lumpy and Mother couldnt drink it, and used to say bring me some (?), boiled milk with small squares of bread in it, my father washed the nappies at night and I tried to do the other washing
But mother got very upset when she saw her love white tablecloths and pillow cases turn tea colour, changing nappies was a struggle, I put the baby on the floor on a big towel and Mother instructed me from her bed. I should be about eleven and a half and rather small at this time, at twelve one could go to school half time, either all mornings or all afternoon, so father had to get special permission for me to stay at home mornings and go to school after sometimes it took me all morning to wash and dress the babies so often I was kept at home afternoons too, however, when I was twelve I was taken to the Town Hall where I sat a little examination in the three Rs, read, writing and arithmetic, I passed these easily and then I was allowed to leave school altogether. I loved going to school and cried a bit when no one was looking. When my old school mistress who was now retired heard this she came to see my Mother and Father and told them I was scholarship material and begged to be allowed to coach me for high school and college, but this was a utter impossibility. My father bought me a little bike and I felt very well compensated It was the first childs bicycle to be seen in the village and I was very proud of it. He needed an assistant and my father was called to help him,
Whilst my little sister was ill I had to miss school quite a lot and ŵas terrified of the school board man who came to the house to see why I was not at school, however when she was a little better I was able to go full time again and was happy. There were more little chores for my brother and I to do when we came home from school but we had fun doing them and I suppose they kept us out of mischief, Mothers (?) rod did not have to come out so often, In the summer both day and Sunday schools gave us a field (?) which all the children thoroughly enjoyed, It was held in one of the near by farmer’s big meadows which had been cleared of cows and cowpats. We had games and races of all kinds, sack races, obstical races, two legged race, potato picking races, 100-200 yd running races I tried most of them but never won, I only got a stitch in my side, We had lovely big rope swings o the (?), and the school teachers pushed us high up to the branches, The local squire brought a huge tin of mixed sweets, humbugs, treacle toffees bulls eyes, fruit (?), butterscotch and peppermints he stood on a box in the middle of the field and threw fist fulls out in all directions among us, and there was a mighty scramble to catch a few from amongst the grass. We had tea after this which consisted of currant buns and milk, after this the prizes were given out and we went home.
during the winter we had prize giving concerts, after school examinations the child with the highest mark in each subject got a book prize. I got a few how I longed for more, I think religious knowledge and composition were my best subjects, We often had magic lantern concerts too, sometimes given by the blue ribbon army, some of the pictures were lovely but mostly they were about the evils of getting drunk I still remember one slide, it was shown at the end of every concert, it was a picture a huge eye which seemed to be looking at just me, over the eye was written, The eye of the Lord is over everything, and underneath, Thou Lord seeest me, This scared me stiff and was one of the puzzlements I look to my old teacher Miss Gilchurst to be solved By this time she had resigned and ran a clothing club among the villagers to get children’s clothes for Christmas and the Church summons, people came regularly with there 3(?) 6(?) or (?) sometimes only a penny, every week and so managed to save enough to buy something new for the Summons, I loved helping her by finding the name and number in her book whilst she marked the cards,
Mother was not well for along time after the last baby came and one day the doctor happened to call whilst my father was at home and he told him that part of my mothers illness was caused through living in a cold, dark, damp and smoky cottage, Father had realized this for a some time had been doing extra work at night to save money to buy materials for a house he had planned to build, Mother had been trying to save too, all our clothes were make do and mend, she made lovely things from old clothes her sister gave her For some time my father had been sent from the builders yard where he worked to one of the very large mansions in the district to do some wood carving there Whilst my father was doing this work he met his the son of his employer a young man about the same age as my father, who used to say that he had a sovereign coming to him every time his heart beat, he was a millionaire, Electric power was beginning to get well known by then and the young millionaire was fascinated by it, he had a coach house and gardeners cottage turned into a large engine house where he installed generators (?) and all the necessary equipment for generating electricity. Father was soon captivated by this new power, money was no object to the young millionaire and he bought all the new electrical gadgets as they were invented
Soon the big house was lit by electricity and even the trees in the long drive had electric lights in them, money was no object, next he began to experiment with telephone and the first one they fixed was in out cottage to the big house a mile away. I remember how excited I was to hear my father speaking from all that distance telling us he would be late for his tea, Mother was rather afraid of it at first, The next thing the young rich man bought was a motor car, which ran on electric batteries, which had to be charged and sometimes would mean father working all night, Soon Mr H persuaded my father to give up carpentry and work for him, my mother was not very pleased with this, she never knew when to expect him to come home and sometimes his wages were forgotten, by the rich man, Sometimes he came to our house and my brother would stand still, he would put his big hand in his pocket and pull out a hand full of money, sovereigns, half sovereigns, crowns and half crowns, (?) shillings and sixpences. he wood root amongst these and if he did not find what he wanted he would get a hand full of coins from his mother pocket and search until he found two halfpennies which he gave to us, this suited us alright, a halfpenny we could keep and spend. Anything larger had to go into our money box, Mother was (?) tho and said something about being mean
Soon our cottage (too) was lit by electricity and we had the first telephone in the district installed, It was like magic to hear my father telling us he would be late home for his tea when he was a mile (away). Soon Mr H persuaded my farther to give up carpentry and work for him, Mother was not very pleased with this she never knew what time he would get home, Mr H bought a large motor car which was run on batteries and my father had to change there on the (?) which sometimes kept him all night and often when they took the car out it would break down and had to be towed home by a couple of horses from a farm There were very few cars on the roads at this time and horses were terrified of them and my father had to get out and lead the horse past. The car made a terrific (?) and travelling at about 6 to 10 miles an hour raised a horrible dust cloud by this time my father was as keen on new toys as Mr H who then persuaded him to give up carpentry and work for him all the time,
New for the Sermons (?)
It was the custom to have, “new”, for the Sermons, every boy had a new suit and every girl a new frock for this very special occasion, often go through much scheming and sacrifice by the parents. We all met at the village Sunday school, all bright and shining, proudly wearing our “new” and each child carring a small much of flowers. From there we walked in procession the half mile along the country pad to the church for a special children’s service where we took our flowers up to the alter, afterwords these were taken to the hospital in town All the village turned out to watch the walk, I suppose every mothers eyes shon with pride, I must have been about eight years old at this time and it was the first time I had discovered hate, it was for my “new,” it was horrible and I refused to have it on, but Mothers threats soon overcame that, Up to now mother had made all my frocks and I had been proud of them, but this year she thought that she would get something special and got the village dressmaker to make one for me. The first thing about it that I did not like was it’s colour, it was a horrid pickle cabbage purple, the material was stiff and dull, it was made with a deep saddle on to which the staff was fully gathered. this made me stick out at the front, (?) (?) (?) (?) the stuff was then into a light waist band there was a straigh collar (?), whale boned to keep it stiff, the sleeves were long with puffs at the top and a light (?) at the (?), The skirt was full and long to give me growing room, on all these bands there was a (?) of the cheapest coalise (white) tooshon lace sold by (?) at a penny a yard there (?) (?) on the saddle and three round the hem of the skirt Mother had washed my hair the night before and had plaited it lightly using sugar water to keep it in, I remember she could not get the comb through it when I was ready to put the new frock on and my hair stuck out like a hedgehog. I did look a sight, however I went to church with all the other children, it was an afternoon service and whilst we were there my mother and father cycled seven miles to see a sick aunt, We got home before them and as the door was locked and we could not get in we went down the fields to play until they came home. We lived in a small village, there was one row of cottages, a shop, a school, Smithy and a Pub, The drainage for the cottage was (?) and the sewage from them drained into a brook which ran through fields where alongside of a public footpath, this was one of our favourite playgrounds in spite of it being smelly, the bank on one side of the stream was higher than the other and jumping across it was great fun. In a corner of a field through
33 and 34 over
In a corner of a field the stream widened into a small shalow pit very black, dirty and smelly; There was a (?) Growing at the edge of it the only one in the (?) The boys had not been able to climb, they were not sure if the branches which hung over the pit were safe several other boys joined my brother and I and they had the idea that me being a girl I should not be as heavy as a boy so they sent me up the tree to test the branches. It was a bit of a struggle (?) up being hampered by my new skirt and when I reached the fork the boys should go along the branch and try it I did, and not many seconds after there was a funny noise, the branch broke and down I went into the black slimy mess, I fell on my back luckily near the edge of the pool and somehow the boys pulled me out. I couldnt yell my mouth, eyes, nose, hair were plastered with the filth, I remember the boys got hands full of grass and scraped my face with it (and I was sick) and then let me off to an old aunt who lived near by, she was horrified when she saw me and said she didnt Know where to start cleaning me up, luckily she had got the dolly tub out ready to start washing early next morning, she stripped me of all my clothes in the backyard, put my head under the outside tap and scrubbed my head until it nearly came off, then she put me in the dolly tub and washed the filth off my body after she took me indoors wrapped me in a blanket and gave me a cup of tea and I sat by the fire and waited until my mother and father came home, not feeling very happy, knowing what to expect, my aunt didnt know what to do with my filthy clothes so she just bundled them up in newspaper until my mother could deal with them. Mother was shocked and cross when she saw the state I was in, I thought I was going to be let off with a sound scolding about climbing trees on a Sunday, but when she saw my new frock the pickle cabbage colour had turned black, grey and green and all the lace on it the same colour, it was absolutely ruined, that did it, my father carried me home, and I got a good working with the (?) rod and sent to bed without any tea, I cried myself to sleep. Next day as usual I called at the village shop to see if Miss B._ wanted any orders delivering, she said yes there is a little parcel I would like you to take but it isnt quite ready so just go and sit by the fire in the Kitchen while I put it up, When she came in she saw me standing up and said why don’t you sit down child. I said I cannot (?) then she wanted to know all about it, and I told her about climbing the tree and falling into
the dirty pond and spoiling my new frock and mother giving me a good hiding, all the children in the village loved old Miss B She would listen to all their troubles and after, one of her humbugs or bulls eyes would help to cure them, today I was lucky she gave me one of each. When I called again a few days later she gave me a small brown paper parcel to give to my mother, In it was a length of beautiful deep ruby red velvet and a frilling of fine cream (?) lace and a little note saying, “please make a simple little frock for May out of the velvet with just a little frill of lace at the neck, Mother made it herself, was the most beautiful frock I ever had and falling into the pit ruining all my clothes and the good hiding were well worth going through for it, I loved Miss B, ever after,
5 continued The Hurdy Gurdy Man 35 and 36. PTO
If one could turn the clock back seventy (odd) years and catch a glimpse of a stretch of footpath in front of a row of cottages in the village one would see children and young people having the time of their life dancing to music played on a hurdy gurdy
It was a weekly treat, every Friday evening during the light nights month We children danced with one another, sometimes the grown ups joined in to show us how the dances should be done.
We always started with a cake walk and put all our might and (?) main into it and when the tune finished we were out of puff and had to sit on the edge of the footpath to get our breath again The Second dance was a (?), done very gracefully and gently, next came a military two step, abit more lively and very much enjoyed, next a dreamy walse, not quite as well performed, some of us got dizzie, then came a (?), and the last and most liked of all, a polka danced again with great jest. after that we again sat on the edge of the footpath and listened to the last tune which was two verses of the hymn, Now the day is over.
The hurdy gurdy man was a dark skinned Italian, He was a little man always smiling he had a little monkey which wore at red cap and (?) sat on top of the hurdy gurdy fastened (?) to it with what we thought was a real silver chair. When the show was over the little monkey rattled a little tin can and we all filled up to put our halfpennie and pennies in
It was considered a great privilege to be allowed to turn the handle at the back of the hurdy gurdy, I tried it once, but only once, it was just like turning the wheel of mothers mangle and I got plenty of that exercise every day, at home.
Most of the children wore clogs, they had leather tops, wooden soles with an iron rim around them, they were stiff to walk in and made a big clatter. If they tried to dance in them they tumbled, although one boy could do a special dance just for clogs, as the dance was a special occasion the children were allowed to wear their Sunday church going shoes but as soon as it was over they had to go home and change back into their clogs (?).
I think in some respects my mother was just a little bit of a snob she was very proud and would never let us wear clogs, it must have been such a struggle to keep us in leather shoes, which might have
looked (?), in some way, but to us wearing them, they seemed just as (?) and unbendable as clogs. Mother put a ring of metal shoe protectors round the sole and an (?) (steel) top on the heel, and we made nearly as much noise in walking as the other children Spending money was (?) in those days a penny each on Saturday and occasional halfpenny during the week the halfpenny we got the most pleasure from was the one we put in the little monkeys box for the Hurdy Gurdy man.
If one could catch a second glimpse of that footpath in front of the cottages, our dancefloor, one would see that it was made of stone flaggs And after the hall was over, one would see from each door a lady wearing a rough apron, and with her sleeves rolled up, come out with a bucket of soapy water, a mop rag and scrubbing brush and on her hands and knees clean every mark we had made on them and they were what people used to say “where clean enough to eat your food off”
This was all done in good humour, they too had enjoyed the Hurdy Gurdy Man.
Some Street days 37-38 P.T.O
It seems to me that among the cats of life missing today are the street cryers, oat cake, watercress and rag bone. I remember well as a child they somehow aroused sense of anticipation, a feeling that one might get something, Sometimes it was the oat cake man I remember he was little and thin and had a squeaky voice, but it was a voice that carried, he came round early every morning and if anyone had overslept he wakened them up, He carried a very big flat square basket on his arm, I suppose it was heavy as he kept changing arms. The basket was neatly packed with piles of hot freshly made oat cakes and kept covered with a very clean white towel. He had been up all night making them, when he saw a cottage door open he would flap the corner of the towel to let out the good smell as he cries out oat cakes, hot oat cakes, fresh oat cakes, It didn’t take him long to empty his basket They tasted as good as they smelled and we children would say oh mother can we have one, please, please and if she could spare a penny we often got one, my father generally had bacon for his breakfast and mother would fry the oatcake for us to make it crisp in the bacon fat, sometimes we found mushrooms and these tasted lovely fried and put on the oat cake, or sometimes a sardine or a bit of cheese was good. People often asked him how he made the oat cakes but he guarded that secret as tho it were the Crown Jewels.
Another crier I remember was Watercress Willie, he too was a small man with a big voice and came round the village. Tuesday and Friday afternoons, about tea time, we could hear him crying Water cress, clean Water cress, fresh Water cress, we children didnt care much for this but my father liked it and said it was good for you it cleaned the blood, so we often went out with a plate and a penny and for this we got about 20 sprigs of watercress, My brother and I had the job of washing and picking it, every leaf had to be examined on both sides for (?) and other creepy crawlies. Watercress Willie gathered other herbs too and mother often bought branches of burdock, (?), (?), buckbean and others from which she made (?) which was nice and she also made a herbal concoction, as a medicine to cure all ills, this was so nasty that one thought twice about saying one had a pain, the thoughts of the horrible stuff cured one, and vanished aches and pains,
Rag bone, Rag bone, any old rags and bones today, ragbone; The rag bone man gave we children the greatest thrill, his strong rough voice could be heard all over (the village) he looked like a walking scarecrow dressed in all sorts of odd old clothes and his head showing through a hole in the top of his hat, actually he was one of the richest men in the town, He had a home made wagon made out of a large wooden box Sunlight soap painted on some parts of it, the handles were two rough pieces of wood nailed to each side of the box P.T.O
the (two) wheels might have come off an old bone shaker bicycle. at the back of his wagon he displayed his payment tokens, real treasures for the little children, windmills and parasols, the windmills were made of stiff cardboard, two sticks about an inch wide and about six inches long crossed in the middle and nailed very loosely on the end of a piece of Ward for our handle, when one ran fast against the wind these whizzed round like a windmill, The parasols were made of two pieces of wallpaper folded into light pleats then opened out like a fan and the two joined in the middle to form a circle and glued on the top of a stick and for a little girl this was a dolls parasol, or you could have either a soft or a hard robbery stone for cleaning door steps or stone window cills, or a bar of whitening for cleaning the hearth stone in front of the kitchen range and all for a handful of old rags or a few bones.
The little village where I lived was on the outskirts of a large manufacturing town. where the mills found work for many of the villagers , the alternate worked for many was going into service in the large houses in the district, most young people preferred the factory as it gave them freedom in the evenings. When we left the damp, smoky, Toll bar cottage and went to live in the new house, mothers health improved a great deal and two babies with bonnie and running about, so at thirteen years old I could be spared again and joined the army of mill workers. In one of the big mills I was found the job of office runabout, there were very few telephones then and a girl had to take messages, orders and samples from one department to another. We hat to be at the mill at 6-30 we worked until 8 oclock and had half an hour for breakfast. One of my first jobs was to collect jugs with tea and sugar in the bottom and take them down to the boiler house to get them brewed, The Mail was six story high and had a well one stone spiral staircase. There were two of us as runabouts and the speed we ran up and down the steps gave me the name of flying angel and the other
girl was the scarlet runner, I liked the work, I liked all the pretty colours the silk on the bobins and people used to tease me and make me laugh, The mill was three quarters of a mile from home and after work when I got there I was very tired and after about six months I became very ill and have to leave I was in bed for about six weeks and when I was feeling better, mother bought a piece of pretty cotton (?) and (?) out a little frock for baby and showed me how to make it, I was thrilled when I saw my handiwork on my little sister
My wages from the mill were only 5/- a week but that helped mother to buy our clothes, so about four months later I saw a notice in a shop window saying a girl wanted, so I went in and asked if I could (?) to do the work. I was told I could start next morning, however, my father thought I should be better at home for a little while longer and he did not like me having to go on Sunday morning, however I persuaded him to let me try, it was a newsagents tobacconists and sweet toy shop, and I liked it all very much (for) about three years, then mother though I ought to have some training in sewing and I was apprenticed to millinery in a big shop in town, I only seemed to kept picking pins up off the floor and running errands and decided to ask to go on the shop and showroom where I had great fun and enjoyed life there for five years.
My love story
each summer during the holidays, a boy from the city came (?) (?) (?) to stay with his aunt who lived quite close to us, He was about (near) my age and we became playmates from about the age of six and we spent many happy hours together, He was a quiet, studious boy and won his way to Cambridge by scholarship, my brother, two years younger than mself was studying to pass an exam for a post in the Civil Service and Philip whilst on holiday came in most evenings to help him with his studies. I should be about seventeen or eighteen at the time Mother always provided a good supper before he went home and as he was leaving one evening, mother said to (?) get Philips hat off the hat stand, He stood talking for a few minutes longer and I saw him looking at me with a twinkle in his eye, and with a great shock I realized I was hugging his hat and stroking it like I did the cat, I felt dreadful and made the excuse that I had forgotten to close the rabbit hutch up for the night and ran off and did not go in again until he had left. At this time I was in my early teens and apprenticed to millinery showroom work; I had to be at the shop at 8-30am 7-30pm and home was two miles away from. The evening following the hat episode, I remember there was a glorious sunset which almost blinded me as I came out of the dark shop and I nearly walked into someone who said: I thought you finished at 7 o’clock, I have been waiting half an hour for you and thought I had missed you,” It is such a lovely evening would you like to walk home Becks Lane way. It was Philip so I said yes. It was the first time I had walked home with him or any other boy and suddenly I felt some how top heavy, grown up and shy. He teased me about being quiet and I said I was tired, He met me most evenings after that and at the end of his holiday we had progressed to him taking my arm as we walked
It was loves young dream, I generally cycled the two miles to work and mother wondered why I had taken to walking and my brother wondered why he did not get so much help with his homework. When Isaac Philip months stay with aunt was over he still had several weeks of his vacation which he spent at home in Manchester and every (?) a Wednesday afternoon he cycled 20 miles to meet me for a couple of hours We walked for miles through fields, woods and country lanes. I sometimes wonder what we found to talk about, we both loved and enjoyed natures wonderful treasures, from the tiniest flower and insect to mighty trees and hill top views of the vast Cheshire plain. I had always loved reading, fairy stories were my first love, as a very small child I believed in fairies and was always searching for the little people, sometimes I thought I heard a laugh like the tinkle of a little bell and then I should see a pretty spot of light climb into a flower but when I got close it had vanished. A few years later I believed in a fairy prince and princess who fell in love, got married and lived happily ever after, once father Christmas bought me a book of fairy stories and I reads it so often that it was worn out, Sunday and day school prizes were the chief source of my treasures, How I worked to win them, amongst them I got St Elmo, “John Halifax gentleman, Jane Eyre, Lorna Doon, Treasure Island, Kim and others I read and re read them until they were shabby. St Elmo was my favourite, I read it so many times that in some (little) way I lived with Edna through her testings, trials, and overcomings, Marie Corellis book were a great inspiration to me and from them I think I progressed from the fairy tale stage to the twin soul philosophy Isaac introduced me to poetry too, and I was enthralled with his
word picture beauty, tho at times they made me sad, He often quoted a few lines of poetry when speaking to me and sometimes when he kissed me good night would say “I could not love thee dear so much loved I not honour more I was very young at that time and wondered what he meant when he said that, In those days I must have been very innocent or very ignorant.
His parents were middle class business people proud to sacrifice so that their son could have a university education Isaac never had much money to spend, sometimes he bought me a post card copy of some famous picture he had told me about, The one I treasured most was a picture of June in the Austrian Tyrol: he could see how much I loved that and said I love that too so when I am through Cambridge and in a post we will get married and go there for our honeymoon.
Alas it was about this time that the 1914-1918 war broke out, Isaac Phillip was a Quaker, he believed and lived according to their teachings and principles of (one) of which was, Thou shalt not kill. When war broke out he registered as a passifist and through defending his faith and way of life was forced to spend some time in prison. Whilst there he studied first aid and care of the sick and wounded in battle and as soon as he was discharge from prison he volunteered for active service in France as a stretcher bearer at the front It must have taken even more courage to go over the top into no mans land during a battle and pick up a wounded man and carry him to a first aid post, He carried neither gun or gas mask, an officer wrote to his parents saying that P.T.O
he was an inspiration to the (?) who were in the trenches even the German snipers respected him for he saw neither British or German, friend or foe (in) who was need what help he (?) could give
Isaac sent me a letter whenever he could, at times it was only a field card but I was thankful for that, Then a letter came to say he was due for leave and was hoping and praying that he would see me very soon I was thrilled at this news so happy that I felt I was walking on air, and every morning I was prepared and hoping to welcome him, and then everything was shattered, a letter came from the war office to say he had been killed in action. The shock and loss was terrible, I felt I had lost half of myself or was it my twin soul, I knew then that I should die an old maid, I was only twenty years old
My musical career
My father was a Welsh man and like many of his compatriots he had a beautiful singing voice and loved music. He taught and encouraged we children to love it too, I can still remember the lovely childrens hymns he taught me when I was little more than a baby. There were four of us and when we were old enough he gave us the most wonderful Christmas present, a marvellous new piano, complete with brass candlesticks on the front. Looking back I can see now why for such a long time the kitchen table was cleared as soon as father had finished his tea and his chisels, malet and other tools were brought out and he worked for several hours each evening on his wood carving. We had no gas or electricity and our only lighting was by paraffin lamps and candles and in the intricate bits of his work my father needed the extra light of a candle held close to his work. Which meant that someone had to stand close by to hold it, my brother who although two years younger than myself was stronger and taller, but he couldn’t or wouldn’t hold the light steady, so that little job fell to me. My father was a very patient man and very rarely got cross but at times he would say rather impatiently, “watch what are doing child” hold the light so that you too can see just where I am working,”how my arms and legs ached and wasn’t I glad when it was bedtime. had I known then that Dad was working in all his spare time to earn enough money to buy us a piano, well the candle could have been held a little steadier.
My brother and sister had lessons on how to play the paino, my youngest sister had a lovely speaking voice and had elocution lessons and I loved and was given a violin, which I learned to play, maybe I should have had greater success had it been a Strad or a Cremona and did not sound so woody and scratchy when I played, We often had musical evenings between ourselves and had great fun out of them especially Sunday evenings when after church we went across the fields to see grandmother and sing for her all the hymns we had sung in church, my sister studied her music rather laboriously and kept steadily to scales, my brother who was a choir boy could play by ear anything be had heard once, from memory so he was the most popular player and soon gave up his lesson, I had violin lessons and enjoyed my playing, tho I dont think anyone else did I didn’t like my teacher, he had a long moustache and made a nasty sucking noise through it when I played a wrong note,, he also had dozens of cheap common little ornaments, presents from Blackpool (?), on the mantle shelf in front of which I was standing and when he made this horrible sound it made me want to swipe them all off the shelf with my bow, I never did my violin playing came in very useful in a practical way, my brother had great difficulty in getting up in the morning, Mother often had to go upstairs who or three times to wake him. Some mornings I would do half an hours practise before I went to work and this seemed to rouse him even tho I was on the other side of the house and he could only hear it faintly and he was
always grumpy when he came down, one morning I had the brain wave of going to play outside his bedroom door to wake him up and played “Blue bells of Scotland (?) at full scratch, it worked like magic, I heard him roar and jump out of bed so I hurried downstairs and was busy feeding the hens when he got down. He looked mad at me but did not say anything, The next morning he got up when mother first called, bit the following morning there was silence in his room after her second call so I got out my fiddle again, and Blue bells of Scotland rang out with a merry scratch outside his door, luckily I was prepared for flight, when the first shouts and roars came from his room. He was shouting, Ill jump on that dam thing, when I get hold of it, so I took refuge in the hen (?) and buried my violin under the hay in one of the nest boxes, He really did mean it when he said he would smash what he called the instrument of torture so I had to go canny with my musical charms, I really did enjoy playing although I dont think anyone else did. I practiced (?) but did not kid myself that I should ever make a great musician, but we had fun with our efforts between ourselves, my teacher was played first violin in a large orchestra in town and when his pupils were far enough advanced he took them to a practical session in the second orchestra. My turn to go there came perhaps a little later than some of the other pupils. I was very nervous and excited and practiced well the piece on which I was to make my debut, but I was still nervous and my teacher told me to just
concentrate on playing, he said “there are so many in the orchestra that no one will hear if you play a wrong note, just keep going.” Along with my apprehension I must confess to just a little bit of pride and this was in for a very nasty fall, once I got going I fiddled away for dear life, suddenly I became conscious of a mighty queer sound, it was silence, broken only by my feeble scratching, I was still playing when all the others had finished. I was only five bars behind, the silence was broken by loud clapping and laughter and cries “(?) it little (?)” finish it off. I never felt so embarrassed in my life, I was only seventeen. but that was the beginning and the end of my musical career. We still had fun amongst ourselves.
I become a vegetarian
I must have been about seven years old when the doctor told my mother that I must be kept back at school as my brain was too active, I never knew how this over activity was expressed, I only remember that I used to talk and do sums in my sleep, looking back I think that it was that my body was undernourished and my physical strength was not altogether strong enough to support my mental energy. We had enough plain good food, adequate protein, fats, carbohydrates, vegetables and fruits, and my mother was a good cook. The trouble was that at about the age of four I became staunch or perhaps stupid vegetarian, I well remember when this happened, it was a late Easter and mother’s sister was staying with us for a short holiday On the Sunday morning my aunt and I went for a little walk in the fields near home. It was a perfect Spring morning the sun was shining, the sky was blue with little fleecy clouds, the blackbirds and thrushes were singing and we watched a skylark souring until it was out of sight. The meadows were covered with buttercups, daisies and (?) and I gathered a lovely bunch of daisies to take home for mother, I remember I tried to pick them with pink lips as I thought they looked as if they had a pink sash on, my aunt gave me a pin and showed me how to make a daisy chain, one made a tiny split in the stalk and then threaded another daisy in it, I found this great fun and made a lovely long chain which I put round my neck. There were lots of lovely little lambs with their mothers in the fields, very frisky, and they gamboled quite near where we were sitting, One of the little lambs had lost its mother and had been hand (?) by the farmers wife and it was very tame, and with a little bit of coaxing this little lamb
came and played with me. I took my daisy chain off my neck and put it round the little lambs neck and loved I, Then my aunt looked at her watch and said it is time to be going home dinner will be ready, I suppose I had got very excited with playing with the little lamb and I didn’t want my dinner. Then auntie dropped her bomb shell, she said “come eat up your dinner it is that pretty little lamb you have been playing with in the fields,” I was old enough to grasp the truth of what she said and I was horrified and pushed my plate up the table and said “I dont want to wat baa lamb I want to play with it,” Then auntie jumped in with both feet and said, “dont be silly, when you eat bacon for breakfast you eat little pig and when you eat beef you eat (?) cows. up to now I had just been crying but this knowledge must have overwhelmed me as I remember I steeped up my crying into yelling and mother said to me, “go upstairs and stay there until you can behave yourself,” I had (?) been crying on the bed for what seemed a long time when Dada came up and talked to me, and then said “there is your favourite rolly polly pudding on the table downstairs, I have come to take you down for some, I never really got over the sudden shock of discovering that we eat lovely little lambs pigs and cows and I firmly refused to eat meat of any kind, Mother tried, explaining, coaxing smacking, and sending me to bed but I just
could not eat it, sometimes I tried to just to please Mother, but somehow my teeth refused to chew it and my throat to swallow it and it made me feel sick and I had to leave the table. Sometimes meant and gravy would be put in front of me and mother would say, “there is nothing else for you until you have eaten that, and I could see apple pie, and custard for afters, but I just could not eat it and went back to school without any dinner, then at tea time what I had left at dinner time was put in front of me again and again it made me feel sick, by bed time I was very hungry and was given a bowel of ‘Pobs’, hot milk with small pieces of bread soaked in it, from my playmates, children older than myself. I learned that rabbits, sheep, goats, dogs, cats, birds as well as lambs pigs and cows were killed and put in butchers shops to be eaten by people, I remember I tried not to look at a butchers shop and I always ran past one. Sometime late my mother told me I used to cry out in my sleep, “I wont, I wont let anybody eat you Daisy,” my favourite cow on the farm near by, and sometime I cried, “please Jesus dont let anybody eat our Chitty” (our cat) and “Whiskers” (our pet rabbit) I think mother must have been concerned and seen the doctor about me and he had recommended that I should go away for a little while, and I was taken to wales to stay with my fathers sister for a little while (holiday), I dearly loved Aunt Marion, she was married to a Welsh man names Jones they had no children of their own and I suppose they spoiled me. but I thrived on it and spent many happy holidays there,
It was a great shock when as a small child I discovered that Santa Claus who filled my stocking with good things at Christmas was my father, but it was with a far greater shock that I learned about our relationship with animals, this revulsion is still with me at the age of 85, In all this long time I have diverged from vegetarianism only twice, once by mistake I took a pile of potted chicken sandwich which had been left for my brother, thinking that they contained fancy cream cheese, these made me voilently sick and gave me diarrhoea, The second time, I ate a sausage, this almost cost me my life, it had be surgically removed and I lost half my stomach and three feet of bowels. This story is in a later chapter,
Timothy was a little hedge sparrow, I was walking home at noon one very cold early April day when I saw a small object on the foot path which moved feebly as I was passing, when I looked closer I saw that it was a newly hatched small bird, it could not have been more than a day or two old, it was quite naked its feathers were at their earliest (?) stage and it was very wobbly. It seemed to sense that I was a friend and opened its little beak very wide begging for food, I thought it must have fallen from its nest so looked round to see if I could find it so that I could put it back, but there was nothing but a well built (?) stone wall with not hedges or trees for about a quarter of a mile and no place for a nest, I waited a little while to see if the parent birds came to help the wee mite but there were no signs of any, It was sitting in the middle of the cold wet footpath and I was afraid it would get trodden on so I picked it up wrapped it in my handkerchief, put it inside my coat and took it home, When my father saw it he said “you will never rear that,” I said , Well I shall have a jolly good try,” I looked round and found a small (?) fruit basket about the size of a nest and I lined it with shredded newspaper put the little bird in it on the hearth where it was warm, it lay exhausted, and was a pitiable little object, after a short time it moved and gave a feeble chirp. When I spoke to it opened its little beak very wide asking for food, We were having egg custard for lunch that day so I put tiny bits of it on the end of a match stick into its open beak
I had what seemed to me a good meal for such a small creature, afterwards it spent a penny over the side of its new nest, shuffled about a bit and settled down for an after dinner nap. I had to go back to work and the wee bird needed constant attention so I wrapped the nest with the bird inside it in an old woolie jacket, put it in my shopping basket and took it on the buss with me to my town workroom, I also took more egg custard with me and bread and milk which I soaked and popped small pieces in the wide open beak every hour or so. I went to the pet shop and bought soft food and seeds for young birds, I watched it rather anxiously for the first dew days it seemed to require food so often. I took it home with me in the basket and to bed so that I could feed it during the night, and wakened about every two hours to find the gaping beak wide open asking for food. I didn’t know much about little birds but after the third night of interrupted sleep. I reasoned with myself parent birds cannot go hunting food all through the night, they too had to sleep so I decided to break the night feeds off. A few days later its little feathers began to grow its legs were less wobbly, it began to chirp and could peck and feed itself, sometimes I went to work by buss and my fellow travellers looked rather suspiciously at the basket I was carrying so carefully, especially when little chirps came from it, gradually the tiny bird grew stronger it ventured out of its little box nest and wobbled round the room exploring, and discovered it could peck and drink and feed itself when I put water and food near it on the floor It seemed very timid at first, of course it had to have a name so I called it Timothy,
My workroom was very old, large light and airy, its sloping roof was open to the rafters which had been plastered and whitewashed and there were large old oak beams, it was the next best place to the great outdoors for a small bird to fly around in, a friend offered to lend me a bird cage but I said no thank you it is a wild bird and when it is fully grown and I think strong enough I shall take it to our garden in the country and let it fly away. Timothy was a very small bird but I think hedge sparrows are smaller than house sparrows; When he could fly I had to leave him in the workroom all the time, but when I had been away and came back he always flew to greet me either pecking on my finger or head, He greeted my friends who called in the same way and was not afraid of any human, He had lots of little tricks, when I put a shallow dish of water on the floor he would splash and take a bath in it, and then hop on to my knee to be wiped dry with a handkerchief, at that time I used an old treadle sewing machine and whilst I was using it Timothy would perch on my knee and sing his little song, he seemed to like the rocking movement. He liked playing with bits of string, wool, and paper which I put in a small basket on the floor, He would tug until he got a piece out and then take it to a long mirror which stood on the floor, I think he could see another bird there, sometimes he was very mischievous and would perch on my shoulder and pull all the hair pins out of my hair.
of my hair and he often left his (?) on my shoulder. There was plenty of space in my room for him to fly about and exercise his wings and I thought rather regretfully that he was strong enough now and ready for his freedom, my work room was in town but my home was two miles away in the country, One Day I put him in a carrier box and took him and let him loose in our garden, it was lovely to see him flying around, when I put my finger out instantly he came back to it. I made my little friend fly away again, I wanted him to be free and happy, but by the time I had got to the door he was back on my shoulder again, once more I sent him off and this time I went inside quickly and closed the door but he came picking at the window and I just had to let him come in. I thought that perhaps he was not quite ready to go yet and decided to take him back to my work room for another month. Then I tried again to let him fly away and this time whilst he was flying round the garden I went indoors quickly and ignored him for quite an hour. Then I had to go back to work, when I went out I could not see him but he was watching me from a tree in the orchard and quickly swooped down onto my shoulder and tried to get under my coat, My glad feeling prevailed and Timothy went back to town with me again It Was late August now, there was a desperate cold nip in the air, telling of wintry weather to come so it seemed
to me That Timothy would be safer and more comfortable in his adopted town home. I tried to make it as natural as possible and brought in the branch of a tree with plenty of twigs on it for him to perch on and a large clod of earth covered with fresh young grass, also a tin of dry soil in which he could have a dust bath. Food was no problem, he seemed to like anything I had, He seemed happy and I was happy.
Then suddenly calamity struck, I had gone downstairs with Timothy on my shoulder when someone from outside opened the back door and at the same time a woman from the next door house shook a huge rag hearth rug which made a dreadful noise and my poor little bird must have been very frightened and flew away, There were rows and rows of small houses, most of them with smoking chimneys and not a tree in sight he must have been bewildered, I was frantic and searched streets, houses, roofs, windows, nooks and crannies but could not find him nearby There was a school where one of my friends was a teacher and she let the children out of school earlier to search for the little bird. I promised a golden sovereign to any one who found him but it was never claimed but spent on sweeties for all the tryers. I was very sad and continued looking for him. When I heard of a tramp who had been sat behind a hedge eating his bread and cheese when a little bird flew on his hand and start pecking his bread, when he had fed it it perched on his shoulder and stayed there so he took it to the pub with him to show off its little tricks which earned him free drinks, I searched every pub in town but never found my little friend again