Sunday, 29 June 2008

Page 17

Silverwood Colliery

Barbara and I went on holiday the next morning, we had a week to ourselves, my Mum,Dad and Dennis were coming the following week. They had to stay behind as my grandad had died ,his funeral was the week we went away.

My Grandad had been in a nursing home for quite a while as he had Alzeimers ,he was 6.6" tall and very strong, he thought he was a child again and no one could control him. He had to go where he could be looked after properly. On several occasions I had to go and bring him home from the railway sidings which were about a half mile away, for some reason he would be alright with me but with any one else he would fight them. it was very sad he was an amazing Grandad , I was the first grandchild,we had a very special bond. I was sorry not to be going to his funeral but it was awkward as Barbara would miss her holiday so it was decided that Barb and I would go on our own, of course this was perfect for us, a week of freedom, although at that time I didn`t think I would enjoy it much, I had lost my boyfriend and my beloved Grandad.

Something I didn`t mention earlier and will make sense later. My Driver and I were doing the run to Silverwood Colliery, taking the miners to work. During the time it took the night shift to get to the surface and the new shift to get ready it meant we had a turnaround time. We spent this time approx. half an hour, in the pit canteen. We got our bacon sarnies and went to sit down, my mate saw another driver, a friend of his, so we sat with him and his conductor. The conductor seemed nice enough ,good looking, black curly hair and very muscular his name was Jackie, we all chatted for a while, he said he was a boxer(amateur). I got the feeling he was chatting me up but I wasn`t interested as at that time I was still with Mark and intended to be forever. Everywhere I went after this meeting this guy Jackie seemed to be behind me, I told him politely that I had a boyfriend and wasn`t interested in him as I was in a long term relationship. Weeks went by Jackie was persistant if nothing else, I believe he would be stalking me in this day and age, he was becoming a real pest.

Coming back from holiday I resisted getting in touch with Mark in spite of the letters I had received asking me to think again. There was no way I would go back to him, no way I would get involved with a married man and split a family. If I had any idea that he was married I wouldn`t have gone out with him in the first place.

Jackie turned up again just as I finished late shift, he asked me out again, I was a free agent now, so I said yes, he was so shocked he was stuck for words, we arranged to go to the pictures the next night. I told him about Mark being married so I had ended it. I thought we would probably go for a drink before the pictures ,when I suggested this he said he did`nt drink, just my luck he said he had signed the pledge, this made me laugh and he got quite upset that I hadn`t taken it seriously. I had never heard of such a thing, he explained it was something to do with him being a catholic. Each to their own.

In spite of this the film was good and afterwards we went for a meal, alcohol free, of course but he was good company. We had a really great time. He asked me out again and we went to a local dance had a great time again, I was really beginning to like him. He told me he was 22 yrs old, the A.B.A boxing champion of Dublin. I loved boxing my Dad and I used to sit up all night sometimes listening to the fights on the radio, we didn`t have TV`s then. He was surprised how much I knew he said other girls he had been out with just hadn`t been at all interested, so of course we had something in common.

I had been going out with Jackie for about a month, my Dad asked me to bring him to our house for a meal, all he really wanted to do was chat about boxing, plus vet him for me, at least that was what he said.

My Mum and Dad really liked him something to do with the Irish Charm. He asked my Dad if he would like to go to the boxing club where he trained . My Dad was thrilled as he never went out and to become part of the boxing fraternity, really gave him a lift.

Jackie lived in lodgings in Masbro, Rotherham he said they were really awful. He spent a lot of time at our house, one day my Mum said we had a spare room would he like to lodge with us.
I think my Mum was thinking of the extra money. I was a bit bemused as nothing had been mentioned to me about it, Jackie was thrilled to bits. He got on really well with all of us, he was a really nice guy, Dennis and he got on and were real mates, boxing,football all the things my Dad couldn`t do.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Page 16

It was really strange this person pulled up on a bike and I didn`t recognise him and I could tell he didn`t recognise me as we both hesitated and then I realised we had only seen each other in the half light. It was very odd, I said that if he didn`t like what he saw in the cool light of day then I would understand and he could go. He said he was quite happy. We then got on like a house on fire and went for a walk to Tinsley Park Woods, it`s a beautiful place, we sat by the golf links and talked.

As he was on his Bike he had to leave at about 9.00pm as by then it had started to get dark,also we were both very tired. He was on late shift the next day he finished at 8.00pm, he asked if I would like to meet him at Wickersley Crossroads at about 9.00pm, we would only have time for a couple of drinks as the pubs closed at 10.00pm in those days.

I continued to see him 4 or 5 times a week except for when our shifts clashed which wasn`t very often,this went on for about 9 months and I thought he was the one, he respected me ,made no demands as most lads did. We never in that time disagreed it was laughs all the time.

I was sat in the canteen ,I was working my day off, I was what we called doing a 4.30am spare. I was there in case someone didn`t turn up for work for whatever reason, on this occasion it was almost time for me to finish, I hadn`t been needed at all. I was sat with Barbara having yet another coffee ,when a girl sitting opposite me, who I had never seen before asked if I was going out with Mark Scott from Maltby. I said that I was and had been for the last 9 months. She said she lived next door to him and was surprised we had been going out so long as his wife had just given birth to their first child. I looked at Barbara she looked at me we were both shocked to say the least, I said this girl must have got the wrong guy, she came up with other facts, like where he worked etc......

This was Wednesday, on Saturday Barbara and I were going to Cleethorpes for two weeks holiday, we were meeting Mark and Hugh at the Plough Pub in Catcliffe,on Friday. Neither of us could wait to hear his explanation. I was so upset but I didn`t believe it, I had seen him nearly every night at least 4 or 5 and also weekends, still pointless speculating, wait until friday. My god it was a long week.

Friday came I was itching to say something but I waited until we got our drinks and sat down. I casually turned to Mark and said " are you married" he looked at me and quietly said "yes" I had been so sure he would deny it but I think the way I asked him just like "what day is it" caught him off guard, then came the apologies, he was so sorry, he would get a divorce. I said what about your new baby does that mean nothing to you, obviously not or he wouldn`t have been going out with me, with this I got up and walked out with Barbara following me, I knew that if I didn`t leave then I would be in tears and I wouldn`t give him the satisfaction.

I was in shock 9 months keeping a secret like that , I still couldn`t get my head round it, I really thought we would get married, what an idiot I was but how do you know, you have to trust. He came out after me and said he was really sorry, he had wanted to tell me before but couldnt, he begged me to still go out with him, I could not believe it, I said I never wanted to see him again. all bravado, I wanted to say ok but there was no way I was going to split a family up. I just couldn`t understand him he wasn`t the guy I thought he was.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Page 15

It was 1.00am on sunday morning when we got to Barbara`s house and we had to be up at about 6.30am to get breakfast and get ready. It all too soon was time to get up, we were both excited looking forward to a day in Blackpool. We only knew one person on the coach that was Frank. We got to Blackpool the weather was roasting , we went on everything there was in the amusement park, we were shattered, we bought presents for our respective families and by this time it was 4.00pm we weren`t supposed to be back on the coach until 5.30pm. We took a chance it would be unlocked and in the same place we left it. The driver could have gone elsewhere. Our luck was in the coach was there and others were already on there. We sat in the first two seats thinking we would have a great view of the illuminations. It was lovely to sit down we had been on our feet about 5 hours.

On the right hand side of the coach a couple of seats back were two lads fast asleep, so we made a bit of noise but to no avail. We chatted away and looked at the presents we had bought,eventually everyone began returning to the coach, it was almost time to for off, it was almost dark.

The lads to our right awoke and asked us the time and we got chatting, soon one of them called Mark asked if he could sit with me in the seat behind and the other lad Hugh could sit with Barbara. We thought about it for a second and said o.k.. they were both Scottish and came from Maltby they were also deepface miners very nasty and dangerous jobs but very well paid they actually dug the coal from the coal face usually on their stomachs in water.

Mark the one I was with was a really nice guy,we got on really well. I am not too sure about Barbara and Hugh , still I was alright jack. We eventually started off down the prom everybody was oohing and aahing the lights were really spectacular we saw about half of them when sleep overtook us. When we woke up the coach had stopped at the halfway point..a pub.

Out we all got to the toilets and have a drink,the weather was getting really foggy, by the time we started off again it was really thick. At one point Mark walked in front to assist the driver, it was very scary,then as quick as it came down it cleared which was a blessing as we were just about at the Snake Pass.

Next thing we knew someone was waking us up saying"last stop before Rotherham Town Centre" panic we had missed our stops by, for the lads about 8 miles and Barbara and I about 3 miles. The last thing we felt like was a long walk home but there was no choice.

Actually when we got going Mark and I quite enjoyed it , scaring each other but the other two did nothing but argue, Barbara really didn`t like Hugh. We got to Wickersley where Barbara lived and had a kiss and cuddle and Mark asked me if he could see me again. I had been hoping he would, I said yes so we arranged to meet the following night about 6.00pm he said he would be on his bike, romantic what!!! Barbara said no when Hugh asked to see her again.

We went to bed for what seemed like an hour . up we got, back to work at 4.00am. Roll on 12 noon I could go to my house and go to bed for a couple of hours before going out again to meet Mark, its a hard life.

Did my shift, went home gave everybody their presents, silly seaside stuff but its the thought that counts. Told my Mum I was meeting Mark, who I had met on the coach, she had a bet with me that he wouldnt turn up. I won the bet he did turn up ,quite a bit late though, I was just about to go home and pay up.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Page 14

He ,Johnny lived in a village called Steetley near Worksop, he took me there to meet his mum and Dad and go to their local club that night (saturday) I would have to stay overnight as it was right out in the sticks and I think the buses stopped running at about 6pm. He came to my house to take me as I had no idea where it was, after we got off the bus we had to walk through woods up hill and then through a chalk pit to this row on either side of the street of about twenty houses. It looked very odd the houses on the skyline. I didn`t know what kind of place I was going to, all I knew was he was the eldest of 6 children, after being an only child for so long I couldn`t imagine having five brothers and sisters.

I had no need to be worried as they were all really nice kids, the youngest was about two yrs old, his Mum and dad were very nice and made me very welcome and said she put me in the eldest girls bedroom, did I mind sharing with her of course I didn`t.

We went out that night, had to reverse the walk I had done earlier to get there as the club was near the bus stop. When we got there I couldn`t believe it , it was just a large hut, like a scouts hut, it probably doubled up as that, still a night of bingo was ahead also some terrible singing by wannabees who thought they were the bees knees, terrible I was glad when it was over. The best part of the night was getting Fish and chips and mushy peas on the way home for the life of me I have no idea where we got them from as there certainly wasn`t any shops, but whatever they were great.

Next day Johnny,myself and two of his sisters went swimming in the chalk pits, quite a dangerous thing to do, especially like me unable to swim and in an ill fitting borrowed swim suit but they were used to it and helped me out.It was a really amazing time.

Then the long walk again to the bus stop, I went home by myself this time as I had to go to work on the late shift at 3.30pm. I would be tired as usual as I wouldn`t finish until 11.30pm then pay in my money catch the staff bus home it would be about 12.30am.

This relationship went on for about 3 months, my brother Dennis often went with me, he loved it there. It started to fizzle out he wanted marriage and I certainly didn`t he wasn`t my idea of a husband, so sometimes you have to be brutal . He insisted I kept the ring, I gave it to my Mum as she did`nt have an engagement ring.

My cousin Anne knew about me going out with this lad but she hadn`t met him and I don`t think I ever mentioned his surname. One day we were talking about the whole farce and she saw the ring and suddenly every thing fel into place, her friend had broken up with her fiance about 6 months ago, his name was the same as my Johnny he was in the army and her engagemant ring, wait for it, was exactly the same as the one he had sent me, coincidence or what, he obviously thought using the same ring a third time was perhaps not the right thing to do , bad luck and all that. We all had a good laugh, you had to or you might cry, I think not.

I was sat in the canteen at work having my usual a plate of chips and gravy when a girl asked if she could sit with my mate and I, we said of course. She said she had just passed out and didn`t know anybody, we soon got chatting her name was Barbara we hit it off straight away and soon became great pals which lasted 30 years, even though in that time I had lived in London but we always kept in touch.

We liked the same things, we both liked to take risks not so much risks but court danger like in the 50`s I can`t remember why but a lot of young Italian guys came to Rotherham in their flash clothes, italian suits, very smart they were. Of course Barbara and I went out with a couple of them, this was of course strictly out of order by the majority of folk but as I said we didn`t do what was expected of us. Who had the most fun do you think? we weren`t that impressed so that was short lived, we preferred home grown guys.

We were sat in the canteen one day when Frank a conductor said his club in Maltby was going on a trip to Blackpool Illuminations in two weeks time and they had a couple of seats going begging. Barbara and I looked at each other and yes we thought we would give it a go , so that was sorted now we only had to arrange the day off. We also found out we had to catch the coach at 8. 00am on sunday morning at Wickersley Crossroads which I couldn`t get to on a sunday as the buses didn`t start running until lunchtime. Barbara said she would ask her mum if I could stay at her house Saturday and sunday night. She did and it was ok.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Page 13

On another occasion we were doing the same thing waiting waiting for our turn-around time this time at a place called Greaseborough, a young lad about 14yrs old came to me saying "help me I`ve been stabbed", he was holding his side and looked as white as a sheet. We were outside the Greaseborough Working Mens Club so we helped him in there and asked them to call the police and ambulance. When they came we explained what had happened and they wouldn`t let us finish our shift, we had to go to the police staion to give a statement and also have our fingerprints taken for elimination, the knife albeit only a penknife had caused quite a serious wound. The lad was ok and had calmed down a bit. It was later found out that he had a row with his mate and one thing led to another and he ended up with a knife in his side.

It would get pretty rowdy ot the weekends but I found if you had a joke with them, situations that were ripe for trouble could be diffused, my mate was always ready if I couldn`t handle it but I always did, ended up getting a few fella's. Never one to pass up a chance, that was me then, I was young,single and free, so why not.

On a Sunday, if I wasn`t working I would go to my cousin Anne`s, who lived in a lovely little village called Todwick. When I was younger I spent all my weekends and school holidays there , it was so in the sticks that they didn`t have electric or flush toilets but I loved being there. We would go to a dance at a place called Swallownest, they had them every sunday night. We knew loads of people there, we would go to the pub first, meet up with everyone then go to the dance.

On the bus home after the dance one sunday I sat next to a lad, quite a goodlooking lad, tall with blonde curly hair, we got chatting he said he was in the army doing his National Service , he had been on leave and was on his way back to his barracks. He asked me if he could write to me I said yes and promptly gave him my address,can you believe it ? I had only known him about 15 minutes. It seemed ok to do that till I got off the bus and thought what a stupid thing to do, too late now.

I went to work the next morning, up at 3.00am to get ready and catch the staff bus at 4.00am to start work at 4.30am to take the coalminers to work. It was difficult getting up at that time , especially when you didn`t get to bed till about 11.30pm, still you can`t have it both ways.

I finished work at about 12 noon got home at as I walked through the door Mum said there was a guy in the front room waiting for me, I had no idea who it could be, shock horror it was the lad I met on the bus last night. I asked him what the hell he was up to, I told him I never expected to see or hear from him. I had made a stupid error giving him my address, to this day I don`t know what happened, he must have got off the bus at the next stop and possibly followed me. I couldn`t get any explanation out of him only that he was so smitten with me ,that he had gone a.w.o.l. from the army.

Anyway I thought he must really be keen (and I was between boyfriends) so we went out for lunch at the local pub. I got to like him and made arrangements to meet him again when he had sorted things out with army.

I didn`t hear anything from him, bearing in mind there were no telephones, unless you were rich. Three weeks later I received a letter from him saying he had been arrested by the military police and was put in the army gaol (glasshouse) for two weeks, also in the letter was an engagement ring, quite a nice one, I showed Mum and Dad and we had a good laugh. I had only seen this guy twice. Dad said i`ll bet he bought this from woolworths. So off he went to Town straight into a jewellers and had it valued, no one was more surprised than him when the jeweller said it was 9ct gold had two diamonds and a sapphire worth about £25 doesn`t sound much now, but that was equivelant to 2 months wages.

I wrote back to him but did not enclose the ring in case it got lost in the post, he would think I had kept it then. I said it was far too soon and that I would like to see him again but on a friendly basis.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Dad and Dennis

Page 12

This went on for two years. I was called in the office one day, this usually meant trouble but i couldn`t think of anything I had done wrong,only one way to find out -knock and enter.

I was informed that I had too many sick days off.I had a few but I didn`t think that many, still they do soon add up. I was given a warning any more in the next three months and I would be in deep trouble. I suffered badly with migraine the real migraine, that made me vomit and be totally incapacitated for several hours but this didn`t deter them. Guess what 3 months later I was called into the office again and told I had to see the company Doctor who would report back to them the outcome depended on that. How the Doctor was going to prove or disprove my migraines I couldn`t fathom out. I went to see the Doctor two days later and told him about the migraine he took my blood pressure and that was about it.

A couple of weeks later around the early part of January 1957 I was once more summoned, they said the Doctor could find no proof of me having migraines therefore I could either hand in my notice or be sacked....what a choice....To my mind it had been already decided that they didn`t want me, seeing the Doctor was just going through the motions. Shock horror now what was I going to do.

My Mum and Dad were amazing , I think they knew I had been a bit fed up with the job so I wasn`t all that bothered ,other than having to find another job quickly.

My Dad had just started work at an electrical company called Plessey in Rotherham, he said it wasn`t much of a place to work, the girls were a bit rough but it would bring in some money. I got a job there started the following monday, hated it, couldn`t do it, it was bearing wires for looms for junction boxes. I didn`t even know what a junction box was, neither my Dad or myself could see us sticking this out. I think we managed it a couple of days and neither of us went back.

I was reading through the job pages in the local paper when I saw an advert for Bus Conductresses and conductors I couldn`t believe the wages, they were £8.10s per week, working shifts of course. I quite fancied it, you had to be 18 yrs old and I would be in two weeks time. I spoke to my Mum & Dad and obviously the money was a big factor. My Dad went to the telephone box to ring them and ask if I could apply now , although it was a couple of weeks before my birthday, they said it would be fine and for me to go for an interview that afternoon.

I went for the interview, liked what I was told about the job and couldnt wait to be 18. I had to do a numeracy test and passed that ok. The guy interviewing me said I had the job and to start the day after my birthday. I was excited and terrified it had all happened so fast.

The day came I started training, was issued with the uniform, a white shirt, trousers and a jacket. I was a bit apprehensive about walking to the bus stop done up like a copper but you soon got used to things. Of course when the neighbours, who didn`t think much of me anyway, saw the uniform well it gave them more to gossip about.

I had promised Dennis, my little brother who was now 8 yrs old a bran d new two wheeler bike if I got this job as I would be earning £5.10s more per week than at the Post Office, so of course he kept saying have you got paid yet? when I did the first thing I did was buy this bike for him, it was red and when he saw it he cried. I dont think he thought it would happen. I felt so good ,even though I had just got paid I was now broke.I loved the job, there was alot to learn, I started with another lad called Ken he was really nice, we became really good mates, he was married by the way, it was only friendship.

The two weeks training was nearly over, we then had to do what they call Passing Out, this entailed going on the bus with just the Inspector who would be watching your every move, you would have to collect the fares, see passengers on and off the bus, it was nerve wracking but I passed thank goodness, he said I did really well, I was now a fully fledged Bus Conductress.

My first shifts on the buses were a little scary, you didn`t know who your driver would be as when you first pass out until you are what they call rostered with a regular driver, you just fill in to cover for sickness and holidays so every day is different.

I had all sorts of drivers careful thoughtful ones and the opposite who thought to stop sharply was a laugh, still I loved the job it was great fun.

I was soon rostered with a guy called Alf, he seemed really nice he was about 45yrs old,married with two young boys , he had been a P.O.W. in Burma it had been very rough by all accounts, he didn`t speak about it much but he was still and I think always would be suffering from the effects of the food deprivation and disease, we got on really well in spite of the age difference.

One day we were at the terminus awaiting time to go back to the depot when a young boy about 7yrs old came running up to me on the bus holding his arm and sobbing. I eventually calmed him down and he said he had fallen and it looked as though his arm was broken, he said his mother was out. My mate and I decided to take him to the hospital ,we had to pass it to get into town, I took him into casuallty and explained the situation, they said they would inform the police and sort the little boy out. Just another day at the office!

Monday, 23 June 2008

G.P.O. Sheffield

Page 11

I had made some great friends since being there they had really brought me out of my shell. Christine the window dresser was my best friend ,from dressing in what I would call school girl clothes she encouraged me to grow up, her Mum was a dressmaker and she made Chris and I teddy girl suits, mine was made out of black and white herringbone tweed with black velvet collar and lapels it also had razor pockets trimmed with black velvet, the razor pockets were just for show I might add. Christines was charcoal grey with black velvet trimmings both had splits at either side. Most of our male friends were teddy boys we had great fun, . we used to meet up in Pont Street bus station in Sheffield most nights, we were a bit rowdy but harmless it was mostly about showing off our outfits.

I remember well going to the cinema to see Rock Around the Clock with Bill Haley it was amazing, the first film of its kind, the onset of Rock and Roll. Yes it did get a bit rowdy, putting it mildly, in the cinema a bit of dancing in the isles and a few seats torn up. Just about everyone was dressed in teddy boy clothes it was truly a new era. At last there was something for us youngsters. Needless to say you did get the bad element who did actually sport flick knives but they were few and far between at least in Sheffield. The newspapers had a great time.

Our neighbours in Whitehill where we lived called me all sorts of names , not to my face but I didn`t care I was only 16 yrs old my Mum and Dad knew I wasn`t a tearaway and they trusted me. I suppose we were given bad names just as later in the in the 60`s with the mods and rockers.

One day I was looking through the local paper when I saw a job advert for trainee G.P.O. telephonists, I liked the sound of it I liked the job I had very much but I didn`t want to be a shop assistant for the rest of my working life. I knew I was capable of better things. I applied for the job and several weeks went by, I had forgotten it when I received a letter inviting me for a preliminary interview, I suppose to sort the wheat from the chaff.

I got myself smartly dressed (not teddy girl clothes) and went for the interview I was led into a large room with three men sat at a huge table .I felt very nervous they fired questions at me ,asked things like why did I think I could do the job and loads of other questions which seemed irrelevant to me. After that I didn`t think I stood much chance but it had been worth a go.

Weeks passed nothing, about 3 weeks later a letter arrived offering me a 2nd interview. I was really proud of myself, I didn`t tell my Mum and Dad in case it came to nothing.

I went for the interview , this was much deeper but I must have come across alright as a week later a letter came offering me the job to start two weeks from that day. Initially there was a six week training course split between the head office and practical work at the telephone exchange in pont Street, Sheffield. My Mum and Dad were really pleased.

It was quite a sad time really as I had made so many good friends at B.H.S. but thats life so they say, onwards and upwards.

My Dads health had not improved he was still unable to keep a job for very long but he still kept trying, my Mum was very good she didn`t have a go, just encouraged him to try ,she was sure one day he would find something that was right for him. Dennis was now 6 yrs old and a little monkey but lovely with it, we were so close ,my Dad still struggled to put up with him but it wasn`t too bad.

I started work at the G.P.O. to do my training, there were about 20 of us. It started with the history of the G.P.O. and what it stood for, the motto being Accuracy, Courtesy and Speed it still sticks in my mind, its like Pavlovs Dog Syndrome(brain washing).

It was good I thoroughly enjoyed it. I also made a good friend named Ann we seemed to hit it off straight away, we both had this zest for life, a bit daredevil, to hell with the consequences. We worked hard all day learning codes for all the towns and cities around the country ie. Rotherham RH, SF Sheffield and so on it was great to this day when writing down a town I write the code. At night Ann and I would be out and because I lived a distance away in Rotherham I would just have a sandwich in the canteen. After our night out I would catch the last bus home which was at 11.15pm this would get me home about 11.45pm then I had the dreaded walk up a mile long lane that had only fields either side and just one house right in the middle, it petrified me but didn`t stop me. I did the same journey just about every night for the next 2-3 years.

The 6 weeks passed very quickly, then came the dreaded tests the outcome of which would determine whether we would become fully fledged telephonists, a lot hinged on this. Hurrah, we both passed and were scared stiff, it was nerve wracking going on the live boards for the first time.

We soon became familiar with the way things worked, although getting used to the Supervisors standing behind you making sure you were working not talking to each other was a bit unnerving, there was approx. 1 for every 12 girls, yes all girls, the men worked the night shift.

Sometimes we worked on sundays, this was overtime, we had great fun then as we weren`t supervised, there was only one supervisor for about 50 girls (skeleton staff- dem bones ,dem bones) we used to call the American Air Base in Stergate,Lincs. and chat to them, make dates as they had brilliant dances at their bases.

Quite a few of the girls married G.I`s and eventually went to America. I met a a lad called Jonny Ortega we met a few times on his base and then he returned home ,he was supposed to be part cheyenne indian I wrote to him for quite a while but it gradually fizzled out.

Ann and I continued our hectic life, work all day, play all evening it seemed like I would just get home then it was time to get up again, still you are only young once .

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Page 10

Castle Market
I spoke to Mum and Dad and they said they would write to Mr Pinion again about me leaving school at 15 yrs old, which was 6months away. Talk about job`s worth, he said this was not possible, the only way it could be done was by being transferred to my local secondary school, which incidently was the school I started at at 5yrs old and Dennis was still there.

I wasn`t too sure about this, but it was the only way so we said yes. It took about 2 weeks I was very nervous, I didn`t know how the other pupils would react to me. I decided that if asked I would tell them exactly why I had been transferred. The end justified the means and I would do anything to make things easier for us. I was accepted straight away, it was very different from Woodhouse, but I got on really well with both teachers and pupils. I ended up being Head Girl and made some good friends.

Easter 1954, I left school and me and Mum started job hunting. We went to the job centre and the only job was in the indoor market in Sheffield I think it was called Castle Market. It was a general store type shop called Heathcotes, the manager seemed quite nice ,the wages were £1 .10shillings in old money, that was for a 5 and a half day week.

The following Monday morning found me a nervous wreck, I was due to start work at 9.00am. I had to catch the bus to Sheffield at 8.14am to get me there for 9am.

It was hard work, very busy especially friday and saturday. I got on very well at first. I picked things up very quickly and soon got a raise, as Mr Breedon put it, I was an asset. I was the youngest ,there were three other women, all married they seemed really nice at first but soon the bitching started , first I was working too hard and making them look slow, I was too eager for their liking, especially one lady Jean she started to cause me trouble with Mr Breedon ,she told lies and he reduced me to tears as he believed her lies.

When I went home Dad was livid when I explained why was upset. The next morning he went to see Mr Breedon and really told him a few home truths and said he would not allow his daughter to work in such an environment. So it was back to job hunting.

Next morning off, mum and I went to Sheffield - The Moor. We went to British Home Stores and they said they had a vacancy, I had to take a short test which I passed with flying colours, they said I could start the following monday. Mum and I were very pleased we needed the money I believe it was £2.10shillings a whole pound more than the market job a good rate for 1954. To make it look a little more realistic the rent on a three bedroom semi was approx. 12 shillings per week.

Monday morning soon came round , I went into the store and all the counters were covered with what appeared to be dust sheets, it seemed huge, I eventually found someone and was kitted out with a blue overall, quite fetching I thought! now came the scary bit - what counter was I going to be put on, excellent I was put on the cosmetic counter, I was thrilled the section manager said I had lovely skin I would be a good advert, I was to work with a lady called Doreen she was about 25 yrs old and her makeup was flawless I hoped I could learn from her.

I loved the job, I liked Doreen and we got on really well. Before too long I was ordering goods for replenishing, the till was always correct, bearing in mind they were not like the tills of today that do everything for you , you had to add up and work out the change yourself.

One day after about 6 months the manager asked to have a word with me, I wondered what I had done wrong but he asked me if I would like to be in charge of the biscuit, cake and sweet counter, this was a huge promotion for me, more money and status, I would have at least 4 staff under me, I was thrilled.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Woodhouse grammer school

I am the third person on the left.

Page 9

Dad got a job at British Oxygen Co., moving oxygen bottles around, it was completely the wrong job for him as it involved lifting but he was so stubborn. He was always pushing himself too hard. Dennis still had this problem with his left arm and Mum decided to speak to our Doctor to see if anything could be done , Dennis was getting older now and getting embarassed by it.

Other children, although his friends, did keep asking him about it and he was getting quite a complex about it. He would soon be going to school and Mum didn't want any problems if it could be helped.

We were referred to a specialist at the Hospital and he thought that with surgery, cutting into the muscle they could certainly improve it, if not make it perfect.

Dennis went into hospital, it was the first time he had been away from us , he was a very nervous child, he wouldn't sleep in his bedroom because he had terrible nightmares. so he was very apprehensive. Visitng times then were only an hour each night.

He had the operation and was in a plaster cast with his arm stretched straight out to the left and the cast down to his waist. He did look a sorry sight. He was in hospital about a week and because he couldn't settle they let him come home, this was awkward we couldn't get his clothes on they all had to be cut, he did look strange with his arm stuck out but he soon adapted and had us with our hearts in our mouths the way he careered about.

The cast stayed on for 6 weeks, finally the day came for it to be removed, we would soon know if it had been successful. We all cried with happiness for Dennis it had been a success , not perfect by any means but 80% better , more movement and straighter, Dennis was thrilled.

November 27th Dennis' 5th birthday for a baby they said wouldn't last until the morning he had shown them he was here to stay.

His first day at school , there is something about the first day and Dennis was tearful and so was Mum, her baby was growing up. He loved school and had made lots of friends. Incidently it had been my first school and Mrs Hill the headmistress was still there.

Saturday morning and Dad was working until 1.30pm, Mum and I had been shopping, it was about midday, I was in the front room and saw a car pull up outside our house, this was a rarity as there weren`t many cars about in 1953. I couldn`t believe it, Dad got out helped by a man. Mum and I stood rooted to the spot, what had happened? All was revealed his leg was in a plaster cast, an oxygen bottle had fallen and crushed his foot. it was now his time to be in a plaster cast.

We settled him down as he was in a lot of pain,we were worried because this could trigger off an epileptic fit. Shock could do this but luckily it didn't. Later that afternoon Gran came across to our house and said that Ken, Mum`s younger brother had just been brought home from work, a vat, that molten steel went in had tipped over on him(luckily it was empty) and broke his leg, yet another one in a plaster cast.

It was a strange sight first Dad going to gran`s house on crutches then the next day it would be Ken coming to our house on crutches,but they kept each other company.

My school work just wasn`t improving in spite of me really trying hard. Mum and Dad and myself had a long talk about it. I would be able to leave school next Easter as I would be 15 in January. I said I thought it better if I left school so that I could get a job and help out with the money as Mum had always had to skrimp and save. Although at the Grammar school my parents had signed for me to stay on until I was 16 yrs old. They decided they would go and see the headmaster and explain the situation, my school work poor plus my Dad`s ill health.

I think the headmaster was relieved I don`t think he knew what to do with me. He said the gap in the different education levels had done me irreparable harm, which it had, I had never caught up. He said he would speak to the relevant people about it but didn`t think they would let me leave at 15 but he would try his best.

I came home from school one day and as I walked down the road to our house I saw Mum making signals at the bedroom window, I dashed the last few yards to the house and ran upstairs, Dad was in bed, he looked at me as if I was a complete stranger and said "Good Afternoon", I was puzzled eventually Mum was able to explain that he had had an attack of some kind and wouldn`t let anyone other than my Mum near him, he became aggressive with my Grandad and he had to leave the room. At that moment the Doctor arrived. It seemed ages waiting to see what was wrong, eventually the Doctor came out and explained that Dad had some sort of seizure that was more serious that the petit mal seizures he usually had. He said it was a sign that he had been overdoing things or he had accidently missed out a tablet.
He said he had given him a sedative and that he would sleep for several hours. He advised us that he should stop working for a while as he had obviously been getting up tight about his work, lack of money etc...

This seemed to confirm to me that I had to leave school and get a job to help the money situation and try to alleviate some of Dad`s worries.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Page 8

Woodhouse Grammer School

Time passed it was great being at my Grans house everyone was so relaxed, even my Dad. Dennis was doing really well and had made a couple of new friends. It was so safe for them here out in the sticks and in those days maybe one or two cars you saw in a week and one of those would be a doctor doing home visits.

My Dad was feeling so much better he came up with this idea to convert the bathroom into a bedroom for me by putting a board over the bath, which could be raised when the bathroom was to be used, which in those days was approx. 1 per week on a friday. One reason for this was was that the water was heated by the fire in the front room.

A mattress was put on top of the board, I must add it was very comfortable, I loved it . It meant I could go to bed when I wanted to , even read in bed instead of waiting for everybody else to go first.

I had now moved to yet another school Woodhouse Grammar School, a coach picked the children up from various points. It was a very strict school, mixed ,which I thought was an improvement. I remember my first lesson was Geography, not one of my better subjects, still the teacher thought it amusing to try and humiliate me because of my London accent but he had met his match it was quite easy to avoid his sarcasm and turn it to my advantage, when the rest of the kids were laughing he soon changed tactics. His attempt at a cockney accent left a lot to be desired but my attempt at a Yorkshire accent went down really well.

In spite of me doing really well in my previous schools and always being near the top of the class in most subjects I am afraid this school just made me fall by the wayside, I am not sure why I just couldn`t keep up. The work was so different, I think they were well in front of the London schools and of course there was a gap which I couldn`t get over.

My Dad got in touch with the local council about re-housing us due to the overcrowding , they said they would do their best and agreed with my dad that me sleeping on top of the bath was not really acceptable and to leave it with them.

One night in the early hours we were all asleep when suddenly the glass in the front door was smashed and a terrible screaming . My Dad and my two uncles ran down stairs, they told me to take Dennis in with me and lock the door. They were just in time to see a man running across the road screaming wearing just a shirt and underpants. He was shouting that there was a gang after him. Next thing, we heard more glass being broken and a lady screamed, it was the house across the road number 17. My Dad and uncles ran across, someone had called the police .When my Dad got into the house Mr Onions the owner pointed a shotgun at my dad thinking he was with the other man who was sat on the stairs. The man had jumped through the top pane of the kitchen window and trailed blood everywhere. He was still calling out that they were after him but there didn`t appear to be anyone else.

The police arrived and he was taken away. The excitement was over,back to bed to attempt to sleep. The next day the police came to the house and explained that the man came from a nearby village called Catcliffe he had been very ill and in his delirium had left his house and the rest we knew. He was taken to hospital and made a full recovery. It had been a very scary incident.

About 12 months had passed and we still lived at number 18 with my Grandparents, we were very happy, my Dads health was slightly improved, Dennis was coming up four years old, although we were happy we did really need more space.

One morning a letter arrived for my Dad offering us number 17- coincidence this was the other house involved with the sick man. It was identical to my Grandparents house and just across the road, we were all thrilled to bits. Mr and Mrs. Onions who had lived there just couldn`t stay there after the incident which was great for us.

Moving day again we didn`t have much to move, no furniture so it was relatively easy. Of course the move involved quite a lot of expense for the furniture but my Mum was a very good money manager. We managed it by the skin of our teeth.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Page 7

Peabody Trust,Camberwell

If Dad got the job we would have to move, I was apprehensive about this as I was now quite established in my new school and loved it but it was important for dad to get a light job and this seemed perfect.

The interview went very well, but I am afraid dad had to omit a few things like he was a registered disabled person now. From past experience if he mentioned this then no job. He got the job we all thought this was it, a lovely three bedroomed flat on the first floor went with the job.

It was all systems go packing etc...another adventure, by this time Dennis was just over 2,he was a very quiet and self contained child,very apprehensive of things and people outside the family. I think maybe this was probably due to the fact that Mum and I did have to try and keep him as quiet as possible because Dad just couldn't contend with him crying. He loved him very much but he just couldn't cope. Dennis was having a very differant childhood to my own.

Dad was for most of my early life a healthy and happy man, nothing was too much trouble, we spent hours together going for walks and talking, but it had all changed now. Even though I was only twelve I could see what was happening and I tried to make up for this, I was no substitute but tried and Dennis and I were very close.

We moved into the flat in Camberwell it was great, a bedroom of my own . The flat was spacious.The nearest Grammar School was in Peckham Rye I had to travel by tram. I didn`t like the school very much it was an all girls school and I found them very bitchy, I felt older than them, they seemed childish, maybe because I had been through so much in the past 2 years it had made me grow up before my time but I got used to the school and was doing very well.

Dad was finding it difficult to cope with his job, but as it was a resident job he had to try and cope. I had a feeling that something was going on and i asked Mum but she said it was ok she was just worried over Dad as he felt he couldn`t do the job properly.
Mum received a letter from my Grandmother in Rotherham and as she read it I saw her face light up. She said its going to be alright now for us ,your Gran has said we can go and live with her for as long as we want. It will be a squeeze ,but it will be better for us all.

Gran lived in a three bedroomed house and two of Mums
brothers, Ken and Dou,g still lived there. They were 16 and 17yrs respectively and my Grandad. Ken and Doug would share a room Gran and Grandad had their room, Mum, Dad and Dennis would have the third bedroom and I would sleep on the sofa, my Gran had it all planned. Dad was pleased too as he really couldn`t work, he had gone back to soon.

Guess what moving day again, we had to sell all the furniture as there was no space at my grans but we kept all the linens and crockery and such like. At last we were on the train another new adventure, I loved this moving about, maybe we should have been gypsies. It was a long journey, they were the old steam trains then. Dennis loved it and we were all looking forward to a completely new start.

We arrived at 18 Brinsworth Avenue and what a welcome we got, all Mum`s family were there to greet us. I just knew we were going to be alright now, we were no longer on our own we had a large family around us ,it was a great comfort. I felt that the pressure was off me now, although I hadn`t previously felt that pressure was there it obviously had been, otherwise I wouldn`t have felt the sudden lifting of a weight. We would have the support of a large family, maybe we should have done this sooner.

Everything was working out really well although cramped for space we all got on very well in spite of the teasing I got from my two uncles.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Page 6

Just over a year had passed and Dennis was doing really well, l although there was no improvement in his left arm. Dad was a little better physically but mentally there were problems. He tried several jobs, but just couldn't cope. He even got a job at the Olympia where he had painted the Royal boxes etc.. but was now reduced to sweeping up, it was a bitter blow to his state of mind, nevertheless he did it to earn some money for his family.

I was worried as I was due to sit the 11+ examination and I had missed so much school, I was convinced I wouldn't pass and have to go to the Secondary School. Mum and Dad said not to worry just do my best. They said they felt guilty keeping me away from school so long, but I knew there hadn't been any alternative and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Taking care of my baby brother was very special. I was still looking after him to try and ease things for Mum.

Dad had changed from a patient,loving,understanding Dad and in his place was a short tempered cantankerous man, but I still loved him. I knew the real Jim Berry, my dad. I could only look back on my childhood with happiness, at least I still had him, that was a bonus in its self. I did feel sorry for Dennis as Dad just had no patience with him but Mum and I tried to make up for it but it wasn't the same.

I went to school as usual on the Monday morning and everything was as it usually was then the headmaster came into our classroom and said " I have the results of the 11+ exam. Some pleasant surprises and some disappointments, so I will call out the names of each of you in order of classification i.e. Grammar school or Central School or Secondary,when called stand up " we were all getting agitated - had we ? hadn't we ?.

I was under no illusion I knew I hadn't passed. He started to read out the names," Paul Davis, Alan Green etc.etc., I was miles away sure that my name would be at the end for secondary school, "Sheila Berry, Sheila Berry" the voice droned on "Sheila Berry" I couldn't believe my ears was that my name I had heard ?, no I must have been mistaken"Sheila Berry are you asleep ?",it was my name I stood up trembling I could not believe it I had gained a place at Grammar School in spite of being away from school three months and many odd days absent which were to help at home.

I couldn't wait to get home and tell Mum and Dad. At 4.00pm I didn't wait for my friends as I usually did I just ran all the way home. "Mum, Dad guess what! I have passed my 11+ I am going to Grammar School" this all came out without a breath.
They were so thrilled, because I know they felt guilty at keeping me at home, they both cried and hugged me. Dennis wondered what was going on and waddled over to give me a hug.

Of course now another problem had arisen what about school uniform, money was very very short as Dad was unable to work regularly in spite of him keep trying, he was neither physically nor mentally able.

The school was aware of our problems as Mum had kept them informed all the way through. The headmaster gave me a letter to take home to my parents this explained all about grants available for people in our situation. My parents particularly Dad was upset , he felt that he should be able to provide for his family, not to have to, as he put it, rely on "state handouts" but common-sense prevailed and the necessary forms were applied for. He was a very proud man.

Dennis by this time was a very bright alert toddler there was a very strong bond between him and I, even at this young age, maybe because I had had to do so much for him and still did.

I eventually started my new school and really enjoyed it. I loved the French Lessons and was really good at it, I was always top of the class. I felt so grown up the uniform was really smart.

Dad applied for a job as a resident caretaker at Peabody Trust, Camberwell, by this time he was walking normally the only paralysis he had was from his ankle to his toes but he had managed to cope with this without a limp. Mr Logue the neuro-surgeon said over time it would improve and he was right, but still a long way to go.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Page 5

By the time Dad was more coherent I visited him most days, but he wanted to see Dennis as he couldn't believe that he was still alive, he thought we were only saying that to stop him getting upset.

The Almoner at the hospital arranged for a taxi to pick Mum and Dennis up to visit him as it was seriously damaging his recovery. This was traumatic for Mum, as she hadn't seen dad she only had my word for what he was like.

Dad was thrilled to see them both ,although he was still criticaly ill he said he could now relax. He was paralysed down his left side but the Doctors assured him he would regain partial if not full use.

He was a mere shadow of his former self but seeing all his family helped enormously.

Mum and I were bathing Dennis one morning, he was about 5 weeks old when suddenly to our utter amazement he swung his right arm in a full circle, my Mum and I both cried with happiness it was the turning point for Dennis, although his right arm was now as it should be his left arm was twisted and with very limited movement. He was a very beautiful and contented baby. I loved him so much.

Dad came home the week before Christmas, again this was traumatic for him and us, he had to use a walking stick due to the paralysis he was also very short tempered and nervous which we were told was to be expected due to the major shock to his nervous system. This operation in 1948 was as major as it could get, no scans or MRI`s. Mum was amazing she knew just how to handle the situation and de-fuse it quickly.

I couldn't believe this was my Dad he was so changed, from a very loving patient and happy man he was now just the opposite, he couldn't even stand Dennis crying. He had to take pheno-barbitone tablets to stop epileptic fits which the operation had caused these made him depressed plus the worry of not being able to work to support his family he felt very inadequate, but he also had a will of iron and was determined to throw away the walking stick which he did in a very short time. He also got a job as a car park attendant which was something else he found difficult to come to terms with after all he was a skilled tradesman, but climbing ladders etc which his job required was out of the question.

Monday, 16 June 2008

page 4

Mr Logue

Me, Mum and Dennis

This was an extremely worrying time for Mum with the baby due in a months time and Dad being so ill but she put on a brave face, she wouldn't let it get her down.

She was having the baby at home and the weekend it was due, Dad was allowed home but Mr Logue , his surgeon insisted that if the baby was not born by Sunday he would have to go back to the hospital as his operation wouldn't wait any longer, he was living on borrowed time , his life was in danger.

With the help of hot baths and castor oil my baby brother was born on 27th november 1948 at 09.30pm. It was a breach birth and the baby had 10 convulsions one after the other, the Doctor said he wouldn't live until morning.

The vicar came to the house to christen him, we called him Dennis James it was a terrible time, not good for Dad facing a life and death operation on Monday knowing he may lose his son and his own life. He had to leave immediately after the birth to prepare for his op.

Dads sister had come to stay with us for the night to give us a little moral support. During the night she gave Dennis drops of brandy all through the night, and by morning he appeared to be much better, at least he was still with us. She said she couldn't lay there without trying something. When the Doctor came he was amazed that Dennis was still with us. Although he found further things wrong for instance his arms appeared to be paralysed, but he was alive.

Dad was now our main concern. Dennis continued to thrive although his arms were still not working.

My Aunt went home, as she had three children to care for. Dad came through the operation. Back in those days, after childbirth the mother had to stay in bed for 14 days, so Mum was not able to visit the hospital. I said I would go, I was only nine years old, but felt capable. Mum was really concerned, but there didn't seem to be any other option. I made it to the hospital but was very scared about seeing Dad and I didn't know if they would let me see him as you were supposed to be 14yrs old to visit.

I found a nurse and told her the situation and she had to ask the matron. They were reluctant to let me see him, but did in the end. Dad was in a private room and all I could see was his head swathed in bandages and his face resembled a big red football, there were tubes and a wire going into his ankle. He managed to mumble something to me but I could not understand. I stayed for some time until the nurse came and said I should leave as it was only upsetting me. I went home and told Mum about it and she said she shouldn't have let me go, but I was glad as I loved my Dad so much.

I was unable to go to school as I was the only person to help my mother, I bathed Dennis, prepared and cooked dinner for Mum and I and also did the housework all under Mums direction. The midwife who came in each morning was amazed at what I was doing. Mum was so proud of me.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Londons Olympia

Page 3

I loved school and was doing very well. Dad was now working at the Olympia painting the Royal Boxes for the multitude of shows and also the stands for the exhibits, Mum also worked there in the cloakrooms during the shows.

My friend and I were allowed in the Olympia as most of the people who manned the doors new me. I remember on one occasion,it was the Royal Tournament show, the soldiers had let me into the actual arena and it was getting quite late, I was ignorant of time as I was so absorbed in everything. the next thing I was aware of was a voice on the tannoy saying "would Sheila Berry please go to the ladies cloakroom to meet her parents".

Suddenly it was 1948 I was now nine years old and a very happy well adjusted child, Mum and Dad said they had something to tell me ,I remember thinking oh no, I`ll bet we are going back to Yorkshire and I didn't want to as I loved London.

They told me I was going to have a brother or sister in 6 months time, I was thrilled one thing I had longed for was a brother or sister I didn't mind which. Dad and I fussed about my Mum as we were so pleased. Things were going great. I was the happiest girl in the world.

It was a saturday in August 1948 my Dad was at work until lunchtime so my Mum and me went shopping. We returned home at about 1.00pm and my Dad was sat in the chair not looking at all well and saying that things like tiny animals and horses, were flying all over the room, I must add my Dad was a bit of a practical joker so we laughed but we soon realised this was no joke.

My Dad appeared to be having a sort of seizure, Mum quickly told me to run and get the Doctor and she tried to get my dad to bed. The Doctor came straight away and Dad was rushed into hospital. After numerous tests he was transferred to the National hospital for Nervous Diseases in Maida Vale where it was eventually confirmed that he had a tumour on the brain.

Mum explained to me what it meant and that we had to help each other as the baby was due in November just a month away. The Doctors wanted to operate on my Dad but he begged and pleaded with them to wait until the baby was born.

We had been told there was only a 50/50 chance of success at the worst he could be blind or paralysed, if not to die on the operating table. He handled it really well but me and Mum found it impossible to believe we could possibly lose my Dad.

Gratton road

Penywern Road

Page 2

Dad was not able to serve his country in the forces as at the time he worked in the power house and manned the searchlights during the war, along with other workers they were needed at home.

During this employment he was gassed and had to give up the work on medical grounds. After being out of work for sometime he was sent to Kent to be trained as a painter and decorator. He had found his vocation he was excellent at it and loved it which was a bonus.

Mum and I missed him dreadfully during the time he was away from us but we survived.

When my dad finished the retraining and came home he was filled with enthusiam about London he said the people were so friendly and there was such a good feeling amongst everyone, relief I should think after the blitz, you may have guessed the next thing I knew my parents were explaining to me that we were going to live in london, far from being upset at being uprooted I was thrilled, it was an adventure. Dad went ahead to find somewhere for us to live and in the meantime my Mum and I started packing.

Before very long Dad wrote and said he had found us somewhere to live and a furniture van was arranged. In those days there were no motorways so we were told it would take approx. six hours. Mum had arranged for me and her to travel in the removal van so this was not going to be a picnic. The weather was so hot as the summers used to be. Undaunted, I couldn't wait to be off. It was a gruelling journey but we did stop several times to recoup ourselves.

At last we reached London the block of flats was at Earls Court. I couldn't believe what I saw these tall buildings so close together I had never seen flats( apartments) before, I remember thinking to myself why on earth are they called flats I would have thought highs would have been more appropriate.

We pulled into this road called Penywern Road and there was my Dad waiting for us. My Mum looked out and the look of horror on her face, I don't think she could believe what she had let herself in for, the flat that was to be our new home was the very top one with 65 stairs to climb, two tiny rooms and a kitchen, she had left behind a rambling farmhouse with views on open fields the view now was into the flats opposite, I was thrilled I loved it but on reflection I could see why my Mum was horrified.

It didn't take long for us all to settle in in spite of the disadvantages. As my Dad had said there was certainly a marvellous atmosphere on the streets of London. Dad had loads of work, money wasn't short anymore, we weren't rich but we had enough. The work was due to rebuilding london after the blitz.

We stayed at Penywern Road for about 2 months and then during the course of his work my Dad found us a much nicer and larger flat in West Kensington- Grattan Road . The block of flats was lovely only three storeys high and ours was on the ground floor. I soon made lots of friends and started school. There was something else that amazed me there were so many differant nationalities there not like Rotherham.

I hadn't ever seen a black person before and plied my Mum and Dad with all sorts of questions I was only 5 yrs old so it was all new to me and my Mum. It must have been the way things were explained to me, because I didn't think about colour after then and they were now my new friends. It is the adults that instil racism, I am sure children accept things so much easier.

My Mum and Dad - Elsie and Jim

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Summer of 1945 page 1

I was six years old, in the summer of 1945.

We, that is my Mum Elsie and my Dad Jim and myself Sheila, lived in a farmhouse in a village in South Yorkshire called Brinsworth near Rotherham. We were tenants and kept two pigs which were more pets than anything else, their names were Dennis and Albert, why escapes me.
We also kept a few chickens for the eggs and christmas dinner. Times were hard being just after the war and the country was trying very hard to recover itself.
Dad was a painter and decorator and mum a housewife. They were very good times, I look back on those on those early years of my life with happiness and contentment.
Mum came from a large family of 13 children and all living in the same area. Dad was one of four, his mother died when he was 7 years old and his father remarried. Life was very difficult for the children to say the least but he was a strong person and coped and was now happily married with one child, myself.
Mum had previously had a stillborn baby boy which had upset them more than can be put into words and when I was born, which was two years later it was an answer to their prayers.