Dorothy Squires (b. 1897): Home and Family Part 1 – Writing Lives

Dorothy Squires (b. 1897): Home and Family Part 1

“There were 9 of us including mum and dad in a 2 bedroom house, but we were a happy family in spite of that and lead decent clean lives” (102)

Dorothy was born the fourth of seven children. Family life is the focal point of Dorothy’s memoir, and each major event that occurs in her memoir is orientated around her family. Births, deaths, marriages and love for her immediate and extended family. There is little focus on her younger years living at home with her parents; the focus is mainly on her life with her husband and children.

Dorothy’s relationship with her parents does not present as strong as her relationships with her children and grandchildren, but she does show love and respect for her parents. She says, ‘what wonderful parents they were, so faithful to each other, if only there were more like them to-day’ (65). There could be varying factors as to why Dorothy did not include much about her childhood. It is possible she did not feel it necessary or important for her family to read about people they have never, or have only briefly met, due to my belief that Dorothy wrote this memoir for her granddaughter (see Purpose and Audience post). Dorothy’s age and memory could also have been a factor as she started writing her memoir at the age of 76 and it is obvious from the beginning that her memory was fragmented due to the additions and edits made at the side of pages.

Though Dorothy is vague about her parents, she always respected their teachings. Her father told them “how to read block and show [them] how to clean your shoes, and never be late.” (1) She was glad in later life, to follow in her father’s footsteps and she “felt very proud to work at the R.S.A.F. because [her] father worked there, from being 15 years old to 63” (57). Her mother gave her relationship advice, which she followed. When writing about the early stages of her relationship with her husband, she says, “He told my mother he loved me and […] he was a good son to his mother, my mother said she always found a good son makes a good husband” (26). She describes her mother as, “The most patient of mothers” (64), which I believe benefited her greatly with seven children in a two bedroomed home. One of Dorothy’s final mentions of her parents is when she speaks about their passing. She says, “I am happy to be able to say they lived to see their diamond wedding, but both died 2 years after, at the age of 83. Such lovely parents, that we still miss them terribly” (57). This shows how much love there was in the family if at 76 years old she still feels the void left by the loss of her parents, years earlier.

The Barrel-Room where Dorothy worked.

“I was married on Boxing day 1918, when I was 21, my future Husband was 5 years older than me. I was married at Holy Trinity church, where I went Sunday school and also Holy Trinity day school” (32)

Dorothy met her husband whilst working as a conductress on the trams during the First World War; he was in the Grenadier Guards. She asked her husband to deliver a letter to a “chap” she “was supposed to meet” (24) but her husband never delivered the note and came back onto the trams to find her. He said, “I have come home again this weekend, to find you out for, for myself” (24-25). She believed that the meeting of him on that day was “fate” (25). They married on Boxing Day 1918 after being offered the house they were to spend their first few months of married life living in.  Dorothy’s life with her husband was one full of happiness and sincere love. He was very protective towards her and “wouldn’t allow [her] to be away from home at nights” (61). He always did things for her and she says, “He was a wonderful help, to me in the home and every respect really,” (63).  She continues this later in her memoir by saying “He didn’t like paying out for decorating, I used to tell him, he shouldn’t climb ladders, but would insist and was happy being able to do things.” (85-86). Not only was he a big help around the house but he was very involved with the upbringing of the children. He dismissed jobs that would have taken him away from the home, Dorothy remembers him saying, “I am not leaving you all week, with our two babies” (39). Although she tried to tell him that she, “would be alright” (39), he did not take the position and was removed from a work programme. Dorothy goes on to share stories of the holidays they took together and then she tells us about his passing. She says “when the Dr. informed me he had no hopes of him recovering but he had very strong will power, and I thought he would get better but sadly to say, he was only in Hpl 3 weeks and 3 days when he passed away.” (86). Luckily for Dorothy her eldest daughter, Dora was there to comfort her. Dora was “a real brick” (86) as she organised the funeral and “she said at the time he died don’t worry too much mum, because I will never leave” (82), and she never did leave her mums side.

Dorothy had two Daughters Dora, born in October 1920, and Joan born in February 1922. She doted on her daughters and frequently refers lovingly to them as her “girlies” in her memoir. When her first daughter was born, shortly after the end of the First World War she says, “My Husband was glad it was a girl, he said he didn’t want a boy of his to go in the army.” (37) As her husband was injured in both deployments during the war, it is obvious that he could not bear a child of his own being subjected to the horrors of the battlefield. Dorothy and her husband loved spending time with the children, they “used to walk miles with the 2 of them in a pram” (38). Even as the children grew older, Dorothy’s husband showed his protective and gentle nature towards his daughters. Dorothy says, “I do recall that when our girlies were small, and took part in the processions of the Co-op fete days, he would walk along the pavement […], he couldn’t bare them to think, some ill might befall them” (62). Dorothy continues to show her husband’s love for the girls by the amount of time he wanted to spend with them. “He was very proud of them and liked to take them out Sunday evenings in the summer for walks even when they were 16. They didn’t always want to go, and I know that the youngest one would pray for it to rain.” (62). When the girls were grown, Joan, the youngest, “married a P.O. overseer and had 2 children.” (66). As memoir is being written they reach their 30th wedding anniversary and Dorothy points out “what a wonderful loving couple they still are” (67). Dora was not to wed; Dorothy believes this was due to a heartbreak early on in her adult life. She says that Dora “never married she was engaged to a school mate of mines son but after he had been in the Air Force and was away, got mixed up with other lads and met another girl who worked in the office at the Air Force. She simply idolised him and believed every promise he had made to her that she has not taken on with any man since, although she had been one or two interested in her but she was too hurt to take on anymore” (81).


Family Photo taken 1984/85

Top Left  – Dorothy, Top Right – Jill, Middle Left – Dora, Bottom Left – Hayley

Courtesy of Haley Brown

Dorothy enjoyed having her growing family around her and was very pleased with the announcement of the arrival of a great granddaughter. She says, “I must admit I cried with joy and thanked God he had seen her safely through her confinement” (91). Dorothy shared “such happy moments with my darling Great Grand Daughter named “Hayley”” (97), and continues to share them with us as the diary portion of the memoir continues. Dorothy has strong feelings towards the institution of marriage, she is always eager to tell us about upcoming nuptials, especially those of her close family. When she hears of her granddaughters wedding she says, “I long for that day and pray that they will both have many happy and healthy years of married life” (99). Having the family around for her 80th birthday was a treat, Dora threw a party and as “It was a lovely warm day for 13th April and [they] had several snaps taken in the garden as it was warm enough to sit out” (128) (See above family photograph.)


Please see post continued in Home and Family Part 2



2:735 SQUIRES, Dorothy, Untitled, MS, pp.142 (c.18,000 words). Brunel University Library


Enfield Market Place [image] URL:

Enfield RSAF Barrel- Room [image] URL: Accessed 21/03/2018

Family portrait courtesy of Hayley Brown.



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