Norah Fearon Knight (1910-2000): transcript of ‘Nostalgia’ – Writing Lives

Norah Fearon Knight (1910-2000): transcript of ‘Nostalgia’




[page too faded, illegible]

[2] her dark skirt. She knew what white clothes were, her table linen was always perfect, she could have told the advent boys all about that extra bit of dazzle in the wash, bless her! Again, I see her bending over the sewing machine, making dresses for Kathleen, me, or, use some of her spare moments of leisure, reading, mother was a great reader in spite of her lack of schooling. I remember, one weekly magazine she used to send me for, called the Yes or No. I wonder if anyone else remembers it? Sometimes she bought a sweetmeat called Jersey Candy, it was one of her favourites. By the time she had offered it all round the family however there couldn’t have been much for herself. As I have already stated, I was the eleventh child, but as one baby was stillborn, our family counting, mother & father, numbered thirteen,. I was the proud possessor of six brothers & four [3] sisters, all of whom I love most dearly. Jack was the eldest, then came Ellen, Francis, Isobel, Joseph, George, Amy, Harold, Kathleen, Norah (thats myself) & Terence who is the youngest.

Jack the eldest, was christened John Cawthorne, but we all called him Jack. He served in the 1914 – 1918 war, was wounded in France & returned to England, to Oswestry, near Shrewsbury, where he met & married his first Wife Lucy. He stayed in Shrewsbury, [2 words illegible] his wife & married again, but he died only a year after his second marriage, aged fifty [one?]. There were no children.

Ellen is always called Nellie, worked on munitions during the first world war, married, has three sons, moved to America in the late 1920s was widowed during the second world war, married again in 1953, & is coming to England [4] in April of this year 1964. I am looking forward very much to seeing her again as its now ten years since her last visit to this country. Francis, otherwise Frank, also served in the first world war, was wounded in the foot, spent many weary months in & out of hospital, married the girl next door Nellie Rob, or, to give her her proper name Helen Robertson. Has four sons, three of whom, served in the second world war. Frank & Jack both become sergeants during their war service, much to our father’s great pleasure & mothers pride. Frank was a [word illegible] both before & after the war, & remained one until his death in 1956 at the age of sixty.

Isobel, who was Bella, a happy hard working girl, married the boy next door Jack Roberton, a brilliant musician and pianist, they were ideally happy for several short years when Jack died, at the early age [5] of twenty seven, leaving Bella with a son & two small daughters to bring up. The strain was too much however & her own health broke down & four or five years later Bella was also laid to rest.

Joe did not live for more than twenty two years but while he was alive, he was gay & friendly, believed everything he was told, must have spent sme time in the army, because I remember him in uniform. Kathleen & I used to say a prayer for the soldiers & sailors, which was as follows, God Bless Jack, Frank, Joe, Willie, Rogger, & send them safely home again. Willie was Nellie’s husband, & Roger I believe was a pal of Franks! Anyway Joe went to live in Shrewsbury after the war, or near to Shrewsbury. I never quite knew why – he also married a girl from Salop, Annie Fardoe! Frank soon changed that to Fanny Ardoe & it was many years before I knew her real name. We all [6] called her Nancy anyway & liked her very much. Joe & Nancy had one adopted son Ron, who still lives in Shrewsbury. Well, after Joe came George the middle one, youngest of the oldest part of the family & eldest of the younger part! He worked hard during his boyhood, up at four thirty most mornings to deliver mail for [Pentallo?]! Had to take his time in keeping dads boots, leggings clean, chopping wood & bringing in the coal. He married a welsh girl, Hannah Roberts from Wrexham, had three children, two daughters & one son, lost the eldest child Joan when she was ten & his only son at the age of thirty. His wife also died, & my dear brother knew much heartache & pain, there were times when he prayed at night, that God would be merciful & not wake him the next morning, but the Lord had work for him to do, & so as time went on, he eventually met Evelyn Bligh, who became [7] his second wife, & now I’m glad to say that George has found peace of mind & happiness again, & is doing good work in the [chapel?], to which they both belong.

Amy, clever, witty, & attractive, loved just living, but she was dogged by ill health, & silent almost a year in Market Drayton [illegible word], all to no avail, & was later away from the life she loved, four months before Joe, at the age of thirty.

Harold, always “in a book” reached the seventh standard at school, where he was twelve plus & left at the ripe old age of thirteen, had a variety of jobs as shop assistants, then worked for the [corporation?]. Married a Liverpool girl Murial, & has two sons Brian & Stuart. Harold served in the Tank Corp during the second world war, & was invalided just two years later, through an attack of spotted fever. He was given a lighter job, then had an offer to work in [8] Derbyshire. Eventually, he was offered a living as a [Presbyterian?] Minister, which was a lifes fulfilment for him, & they moved back to Liverpool. He is a great worker still, & I think he is very clever.

Kathleen was also clever at school & had a real talent for painting & knitting. She was only six & a half when the first war broke out, but she could knit even then, & our brothers Frank & Jack, were kept going in socks which Kathy knitted for them. She also became a good swimmer & excellent needlewoman, married a lad from Bidston, has one beautiful daughter, lost her husband in November 1962.

Well, I am next in age, name Norah, was not outstanding at anything in particular, went to two schools, first to Riverside  & then to St. Joseph’s & loved both. Married a lad from Bristol! Of all places – have two sons, John & Gordon, & if the Lord spares me, I will see my first grandchild before another winter comes.

[9] Now Terry, the youngest, & like Kathleen a talented painter. Was in the R.N.V.R when the second war broke out, & had a very grim time of it during hostilities, was invalided out, & does not enjoy very good health. Married a local girl Jennie & has a son Peter & a daughter Barbara.

That about winds up the family, I have only given a brief outline of each of us, otherwise, I’ll never get to the point of my narrative, which is family about our childhood! I say our childhood deliberately, because without my brothers & sisters, I don’t think I would have had a childhood worth remembering – as it is – well, see what you think!

I was born in 1910 when the twentyeth century was beginning to shake itself, & get to its feet. The South African war was over, & the Great war, still four years away. Lloyd George had introduced old age pensions, & one year later was to bring in national health insurance. 

[10] The relief of Mafeking & Ladysmith was still talked about & the names of Buller and Roberts & Paul Kruger were still being [branded around?], but the people were beginning to realise that exciting things were taking place. The Telephone wireless! Moving pictures were replacing the old Magic Lantern slides, & the motor car was well & truly here. Gilbert & Sullivan were filling the theatres with their music & Marie Lloyd had been filling the halls with laughter. One event had marked the year of 1910 namely, the death of King Edward VII in May but as I saw light of day in August the King was George V. when I said Hello to the world I have not said much about my father yet, but he was very much a part of us, make no mistake. He was rotund & jolly & had twinkling blue eyes & the kindest heart in the world. He was fifteen years older than mother, but the difference in their ages didn’t affect us children at all. His name [11] was Joseph, & we all loved him dearly. 

One of my earliest recollections is of dad getting four of us, namely – Harold, Kathleen, Terry & me, to stand in front of him, at attention of cowlae – & say, “Now, I’ll give a penny to anyone, who can stand still for five minutes” I can’t say, I ever won the coveted prize! He also used to put us through our own drill we had imaginary rifles &  were taught how to [six words illegible] need I say at this point of my story that he was an old soldier, had seen service in the Boer war! He didn’t forget the spit & polish of army life either & the boys, who took it in turns to clean dads boots & leggings, had to do the job properly, & dad himself was always smart & well groomed.

On Saturday when dinner was over, we had our Saturday pennies! Dad would say “well that was lovely army. Thank you for a good dinner & a good cook” – Then he would pay [12] us our penny. One each, all around the table, George, Amy, Harold, Kathleen, me, & Terry. Sunday dinner time was different of course. Sometimes the little ones, (ie) (from Harold down) had our pudding on the stairs! I don’t know how that practice came about, but I do know we used to love it, & thought it was great fun, & there was always a scramble for the top stair, but if one of us had said “Barley Jack the top stair” then the one who shouted that first sat on it. We were always fair about that. Come to think of it, (of) I wonder what the attraction was?

Other times of course, we sat at the table “like Christians” as mother would say, & then the ritual was as follows – The pudding on Sunday was always rice, delicious creamy rice, as only mother could cook it & as soon as we were all served, dad would say – “now would anyone like to buy my share? Who’ll start the bidding?” There would follow a chorus of [13] “One Penny”, “Threepence”, “Sixpence”, so on. Then dad would say, “Right, the one who said sixpence is the winner, you can have it, as soon as I have put the salt on,” Naturally, the one who had bought it, wouldn’t eat it & so dad had the laugh on us. It was all in fun of course.

The house in which we lived, was number four Grosvenor Square. A pleasant little cul de sac off the main Rd. It consisted of five houses, the first two, on the right of the big path as one entered the square, & the other three facing in an ell shape thus

Drawn diagram of road

Our house was the centre one of the three, all has huge front gardens, with trees of some kind. We ourselves had two sycamore & two lilac & no: three the Robertsons had [word illegible] while the Waltons at no: five had two or three silver birch, I think they were my favourites.

[14] The trees, plus the hedges & shrubs & flowers & lawns, made our little corner of the world, the envy of the people who lived in the streets on the other side of the main road.

The house itself was double fronted & one approached it from the main road straight down the big path of which I have spoken, our garden gate, was in a direct line with it. There were two parlours, one we called the big parlour & the other the little one. A big roomy kitchen, a living room, with a blue & red tiled floor, a lovely big fireplace with a high mantelpiece, flowers on either side by two big china dogs, a clock on the centre, which struck the hours & half hours & was very seldom wrong. Indeed, if the hooters went a minute before the clock struck, then the lads would say “Hells, the hooters fast!” The grate was blackleaded, till you could see your face in it. There was a long grass rod across the top just under the mantle [15] shelf. & a brass candlestick on each side of the fire. A steel fender, poker etc, a big fire guard with a brass top. We always had a good fire as far as I can remember, & plenty of hot water, because of a boiler at the back of the grate. There was a scullery, a back kitchen as we called it off the main kitchen, with a big brown glazed sink & long wooden draining board, under which was housed the gas meter. (Penny in the slot type)

There were two large bedrooms at the front, & a bathroom & another bedroom at the back. If you slept in the front, you could tell the clothes of the people in the main road. I distinctly remember the assistants in the Maypole weighing the butter, because in those days the butter came to the shops in bulk & the salesman used plates to break & shape it & the rest of them doing this on am natle slate was quite distinct. 

If one slept in the back room on the other [16] hand, one could hear the trams & of course the cats! Kathleen & I slept together & I think we had as much fun when it was bed time as we had downstairs. Kath, had a vivid imagination, & we played endless games. We were in turn, a beautiful princess, the kindest girl in the school! The cleverest! We could dance, sing, were great actors & we had lots & lots of money! Kath also invented a game which she called Tanks. It involved going down under the bed clothes head first, walking to the bottom, then coming up the other side. Kath would go first, I would follow. The bed must have become a shambles, because after a game of Tanks, we always had to “get fixed”. That meant us making the bed.

Sometimes mother would have visitors to stay, Kathleen & I would sleep in the bathroom! That was fun too, but we didnt like the noise the water tank made, with its plop – plop & fuss & we were usually glad to get [17] back to our own bedroom again.

The winter months were always exciting, Duck apple night, on Hallow’ene was the starting point so to speak, & dad would bring in the big galvanised bath from the wash house & Terry, Kath & I would fill it with water & in would go the apples. Then, with our hands tied behind our backs, we would endeavour to catch an apple with our teeth! The one who caught the most, was the winner. Bob apple followed & you were lucky if you finished that game without getting [two words illegible] all over your face, but it was all part of the fun.

The next event was Bon fire night, but in between the two [three words illegible] we made our own fun & games.

One of my favourites was the family coach. We would sit in a semi sircle, round the fire & one of the older ones would act as master, usually it was George who led us. We each became a part of the coach, one for instance, was the [18] door, another the front wheels a third the back wheels & so on. Now the master had to make up a story about the family coach & as he mentioned each part of it, the one who was that part had to stand up & turn round once then sit down again, & if he said The Family Coach, we all had to stand up & turn around. George was great at being master, he would have us dizzy with the quick [repetition?] of the various parts.. Blind mans buff. Hide & seek & guessing & hunt the thimble were played with expert zest & enjoyment.

We were not particularly well off as the saying goes, had little money to spare for such luxuries as big fireworks like rockets & norman candles but we did have the luck of the Irish because  the Robertsons always had a lot, so we pooled them & sharedin with the experience once but although I liked the pretty ones, I was always secretly glad, when bon-fire night was over. I was always [19] half afraid one of us, would end up minus an eye, or with severe burns, & have to go to hospital. Anyway, once the fifth of November was over we knew that Christmas was on the way & a more delightful place than our home was not to be found anywhere at the festive season. Exciting smells began to invade the house. We would come home from school one afternoon & discover that mother had the big pan & mug ready on the drawing board & Terry & I would try & guess which seasonal dish would be prepared that evening what ever it was, we all had a hand in it. Stone the raisins for the mincemeat & fillings, peeling apples, grating nutmeg! & mother made the most delicious bun loaves when I think of it now, I imagine it must have been very hard work for her, but to us children, it was all part of Christmas.

There was a period of time when we kept a few chickens to fatten up for Christmas & although Harold, Kathleen, Terry & myself, didn’t mind [20] watching mother plucking the bird, we hated to be around when the victim was caught, & had its neck [cutting?] & we would make any excuse to go out when it was drawn, but it was all a part of the [pathing?] of our lives & we learned to take it as it came.

Winter was as good as summer to me, with perhaps one or two exceptions in the way of chilliness & chapped hands. There wasn’t much that could be done for the chillblains, but mother would rub glycerin into my poor cut hands, it used to sting like anything, but the loving care & sympathy, which mother lavished on me at such times was almost worth the [distress, hurt?] & pain. Still, as usual, the pleasant things outnumbered the unpleasant, & the winter was filled with happy activities. The house had to be decorated for Christmas, & weeks beforehand, our evenings were spent making paper chains & hangings from brightly coloured [21] strips of tissue paper. We didn’t spend every evenings indoors of course, & on  dry clear nights we would be joined by Dora, Phelma & Wesley Robertson, & so, with five of us & three of them, we had enough to play, we had enough to play pussy four corners or Time. Then two games, we played in the main road, which as I have said before ran along the top of the Square. There was a blank wall adjacent to the big path, which had once been a brewery & it afforded us just the space we needed. The only traffic about in those days wa, people, an occasional motor car (very rare between six & eight o’clock in the evening) & a few horse drawn vehicles so that playing on the main road was not dangerous as it would certainly be today.

The road was always referred to as the village, at one time it must have been just that as far as we were concerned it remained one, but of course it was really quite a shopping area & called Borough Road, late Victoria Road

[22] We knew a lot of the shopkeepers & went to school with the children. There was Una & Connie Choice, who kept the fishmongers, & Lily Simpson from the greengrocers. Rene Griffiths who’s mother had a furniture shop near the Stanley Entry. The Moores from the butchers, went to a different school, but they were our friends also. Bertie, Marion, Edith, Winnie & Jackie the baby. We knew the Parkers too. They were famous for making steak & kidney pies. I can remember the long queues which used to wait for ages for the pies to come out of the oven. I went to work there when I was fifteen, stayed with them until I married, just before my twenty-third birthday.

The sounds & smells of the village are still vivid in my memory. There are three sounds in particular which I shall never forget! The first being a one man band. We could hear him while he was still a long way off & it [23] gave us time to run down the big path & watch him as he came along, clanging symbols with his feet & beating a big drum. He seemed to have a dozen instruments strapped on to him & he was as entertaining to watch, as he was to listen to! The next was a blind man who played the concertina, his music was sweet & sentimental, & last, but not least, the Hurdy Gurdy. How I loved that old Barrel Organ, (which is what we called it) He used to stop right at the top of the big path & we could hear him when we were in the garden. Other sounds were the street callers. One would hear the coal man, trundling along in his horse cart & shouting out coal coal as he went on his way, & the paper boys coming up from the Ferry with the Liverpool Echo & Express, it always sounded to me as if they were called Echo ell Express & they always shouted out the headlines ending it with the word official as often as not.

George & Harold would mimic the newsboys, [24] making up their own headlines, one of which I particularly remember, it was as follows – Echoelexpress! Read all about it! Ten Thousand Germans smothered in a matchbox – official!!! So much for [word illegible] of the sounds – the smells? Well, during the summer one could almost always smell tar. They used to tar the roads frequently, & in the early morning the water carts would go along, leaving a clean fresh smell in the air. On a cold winter’s day there was no nicer smell, than that which came from Parkers, when the bread was being taken out of the oven, or the steak & kidney pies, of which I have already spoken.

Sometimes of course, it was foggy & then one would hear the [mournful?] sound of the fog horns, which even today bring a strange feeling of nostalgia, whenever I hear them.
Fog as we all know, is downright unpleasant, & the memories which the fog horn brung are not hilariously happy ones, but they are of [25] home. The muffled sound of people hurrying along the village as each ferry boat came in safely to Seacombe landing stage, & [word illegible] its human cargo as usual & although the fog naturally slowed the boats up, I can’t remember any serious collisions! Terry & I would get home from school early & I would be “on pins” until the rest of the family were home & dry. When we were “all in” I would relax & enjoy listening to the new of the day, from the other part of the family, who had been to work. The fog became friendly then, closing around us all in our comfortable home like a soft warm blanket. Someone would sing a verse or two of the well known hymn Eternal Father & then we would settle down to the evening of saying our pieces! We all had to take our turn. Amy used to recite a poem about a little girl who was sent to the grocers for a pound of tea at one & three a pot of raspberry jam also a dozen pegs & [26] some new laid eggs! The girl goes off to the shop & sees Lily while on her way & starts to dream about what she would do if she had a kite & by the time she gets to the shop, she has the items all mixed up!! Kathleens favourite was Lord Ullen’s Daughter, & my own, Lady Clare, Harold’s The Revenge & Terry Yacub Strouse, all about a Dutch boy. George used to act the clown, there has to be one comedian amongst us!! Mother would say to him – “You’ve missed your vocation, you should be on the stage” “Aye, I’m going on the stage on Saturday; Liverpool landing stage, selling matches!”

George would compare our acts & step in the middle of the (entertainment) especially if one of us had just recited a sad poem, he’d get up & say “Now, the next song, will be a dance, played by a lady, sitting at the corner of a round table, picking the pips out of a banana skin” & we would [27] all dissolve into laughter.

It was during one of our acting evenings, that the greatest family joke of all was enacted! Frank who married & lived in the little parlour, George, Amy, Harold, Kathleen, Terry & I were all in the kitchen & it was Harold’s turn on the “platform”. He was reciting The Revenge with his usual fervour & dramatic actions. He reached the line, Sir Richard cried in his English pride – Pausing here to give the next line, which should have been, ‘Fore God, I am no coward, to proper effect – but before he got the next words out, Frank opened the kitchen door, he had a pair of dirty overalls in his hands, & said, “Hi Ma, when’s next washing day?” Well, you can imagine the laughter, which greeted this innocent remark. The timing was perfect, Frank & Harold couldn’t have done better if they had rehearsed it!

Of course, all our evenings were not spent [28] reciting poetry, we were all readers, & the house was full of books, & quite often, four or five of us would be reading for an hour or so but, even if we were deep in our books, there was always plenty of back chat going on, comments on the story, explanations , oh’s & ah’s & shushes, but no one minded the noise.

Harold & Amy were the prizewinners & amongst the books they won at school were – Things to Come, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Little Women, a book of poems by Tennyson, Westward Ho, and many others. All were read and reread time and time again.

During the years between 1910 to 1920, the world outside our close knit family, was going through a very tough time, & I feel I must put in a word of admiration for my dear parents that the younger part of the family at any rate, didn’t’ suffer any real hardships. Two things I remember [29] which I hated though – during the war mother couldn’t get rice & she bought maize instead & gave it to us to eat. It was horrible & made Terry & I very ill. The other was having to eat bread dry, because we had no margarine, but we got used that that & apart from these two trifles, the war was just a part of living. Mother was always there to dry our tears, or warm our little bottoms as the case may be & yet she must have had an awful lot of worry on her shoulders, with Jack & Frank somewhere in France & Joe in uniform, shortages of food & all the general hazards of a country at war. Then, after the armistice a very uneasy peace. Riots in Liverpool, strikes & hunger marches, queues for the dole, & unemployment, the rule, rather than the exception. & yet through it all, mother & father, solid as a rock, feeding us all, & clothing us & giving us love, warmth & happiness.

[30] We always had a cat, & the most famous of them was Tom! He was quite a character – whenever the cat next door who was known as Tibby “had kittens”, Tom would take “take over” & mind the kittens as if he was the father, as no doubt he was but it was really funny how these two cats  behaved, I think Tom knew Tibby’s house as well as ours & vice versa.

During Tom’s life, we also acquired a parrot, which George brought home from sea. Now Polly loved to get out of her cage, & walk along the top of the fireguard, but if old Tom so much as glimpsed at her & realised what she was about to do, he would scramble up to the top of the guard himself, & plant his two front paws on the brass rail & his back ones firmly in the criss cross mesh of the guard itself & nothing would dislodge him. Polly would get half way along & find [31] the cat in the way & would let out a scream of abuse, & usually had to be put back in her cage & covered up where she would mutter under her breath for hours. Polly was a lovely bird, with green & yellow feathers, & was a great favourite with us all.

George was a real practical joker, & during one of his home leaves, aided & [abeled?] by Joe, he nailed a birds head under the table, which gently rotted away, giving out as it did so, a very unpleasant smell, mother spent a frantic week, trying to locate it. Joe had gone back to Shrewsbury, & George to sea again & it was something like three weeks before the culprits removed the remains & confessed what they had done!

I would like to make a correction here, about our eldest brother Jack, he was not wounded during the great war, but had a severe attack of Sun Stroke, whilst serving his King & country at Gollipalli. 

[32] Well, George Bless him, continued to make us laugh. We never knew what he would say or do next. When the motor-bike became fashionable, the headgear was a peakless cap. George was married & living away from home, but of course, he called to see us frequently. One day we heard such a clatter at the front door, someone was doing a good imitation of a motor-bike revving up – next thing we knew, was, George coming along the lobby, pip-pipping & burr-burring & when he came into the kitchen, he had his cap turned round, so that the peak was at the back, he was crouching down, as if on a bike, & continuing to make the sound of the engine, he tipped his hand to his cap, in way of salute to us, turned his “bike” round in the kitchen & went out again! Mother laughed until her sides ached.

Well now, being a large family, we had [33] a lot of friends, who called in, & our house was always full of chatter & laughter. The Robertsons at number three, were frequently in our place, Jack Robertson came to court Bella, Nellie Rob became engaged to Frank, Dora was Amy’s pal, & Phemie played with us younger ones, but was mostly Kathleen;s friends. Wesley, the youngest of the Robertson’s was also just one of the small [word illegible], although he would look round the kitchen door & say Is Tarry in? He never said Terry. There were three boys at number five also, but we had very little to do with them. They were nice enough lads, but George & Harold nick-named them The Ancient Britons, because their method of doing things was usually primitive.

Bill Kneale, who became Nellie’s husband also called & we all looked forward enormously to his visits. He was a sailor, very handsome, full of stories of far away places, & a great favourite of us all. One particular night, [34] when Bill called, we younger ones, will never forget! A thunderstorm broke out, while he was waiting for Nell & we were all very frightened. It was a bad storm, with torrential rain, & every kind of lightning you could think of: sheet, forked, chain, the lot. Bill started off by telling us funny stories, then, as the volume of the outside elements increased & couldn’t be ignored, he brighout the thunder storm, in to us, in the kitchen & made it a part of his story. Each flash of lightning was described & given its name, & he told us when to expect the thunder, how heavy it would be, how many miles away it was. When it was right overhead, he had us all hanging on to our seats in case the “boat” rolled & we might fall off.

Yes, Bill was wonderful that night, he was to die at sea during the second war, & I think the Citation my sister received was a very fitting epitaph, [35] “Bravery, beyond the call of duty” His boat was tornadoed, & I often wondered how he comforted & helped, before he answered the last call.

The pictures were becoming popular when I was very young & mother & dad went to the first house performance, which was from six thirty to eight thirty at least once a week & our greatest fun was to hide, when we heard them returning. The old house had plenty of hiding holes & our dear parents would join in the game by saying to each other “Well now, the children have all gone to bed”, or “Those children not in yet? I’ll give them a good spanking when they do come in”, or “Where have they all got to this time?” Then they would start the great search for us & the one who could stay hidden longest, was the winner.

Dad was a great one at giving us nicknames. Kathleen was Kitty K. R. or the Goose Girl, I don’t know the origins of Kitty K. R. but [36] The Goose Girl, was because she was born on the 22nd of December, & the dinner on Christmas day that year was a goose! Oh, I almost forgot, when dad called her Kitty K. R. he added The [Spiceball Sticker?]! I haven’t a clue about that.

Harold was coke but that was because he would sit right on top of the fire, Mother used to say, “You’ll go up the chimney in smoke one of these days”. I was called Nosey, Nellie tells me it was because I was always asking questions! But often as not, I was called Nosey or Nosey K. Buck. Now I ask you why K. Buck? Perhaps one of the family will say it means I gave a lot of old Buck, but I hope not anyway, our nicknames were only used by us, which made them a Fearon special!

The school summer holiday, was always full of activities of one kind or another. The four of us would go to the shore (we never called it the beach) & if the tide was coming in, we would make for a spot, which became known [37] as our favourite jumping steps. We would build a big castle, complete with moat of course, near the steps & jump on it from the steps & as the tide came in & surrounded the castle we were close to the promenade & able to make our own get-a-way. Then there were days when the four of us made for the country. Bidston Hill, was our goal as a rule, & the walk to it through the breck & along Bidston footpath was very pretty. Harold knew the names of every tree, bush & bird, & which kind of verry was safe to eat, & which we must leave alone, he was a mine of information! Oh & on our walk to Bidston, we had to pass the Haunted House. The stories we heard about that place I never knew how it got its reputation, but evidently, the furniture used to move about & get pushed & shoved by unseen hands. I was probably about eight or nine years old then & Terry a couple of years younger. & I can remember holding very tightly to his hand.

[38] until we were safely past. I was secretly afraid that one of those unseen hands would sneak out & steal our little brother!

Another outing was to New Brighton.

New Brighton in those days was different to what it is now, the promenade ended just beyond the Floral Pavillion & fair ground, & where the prom ended, the sandhills bean & went on for miles through Harrison Drive & on past Leasowe & Moreton to West Kirby. The sandhills were a children’s paradise & we spent many happy hours playing there. We seldom went further than the Red Noses though when we were in our [word illegible]. The Red Noses were two big rocks [pointing?] out of the sand, like hooked noses, no doubt because of their shape & red sandstone colour; they got their name. They were a good landmark & situated between New Brighton & Harrison Drive. What lucky children we were, two brothers & two sisters, all taking care [39] of each other. How glad I was to be a member of a large family. We just didn’t need any one else! It is said, that the older children, always bully the younger ones but it was never so with us & we would turn on any stranger who might say anything detrimental of any one of us.

The weather of course, wasn’t always hot & sunny during the summer holidays & on wet days we would find our amusement at home. Harold made necklaces for Kath & me out of melon seeds, which he dried & then dyed, with different coloured ink. These would become The Jewels & Kathleen & I were the rich ladies who were robbed of them, then the lads turned into detectives & found them again. We also played endless card games but strangely enough, cards were the one game which more often than not, ended in a quarrel & when quarrels broke out mother would give us a chore to do. One job we [40] we all liked, was unravelling the hand knitted socks! When the socks became too worn out to use, mother would get us to “bring them back to wool again” & she made cushions with it & very nice soft cushions they were. Oh, our favourite place for doing this job was on the floor in the lobby by the open front door. Phemie & Wesley Robertson would sometimes help with the unravelling.
Friday evening of every week of the year, holiday or no holiday, the four of us had to clean the silver! The boys had to do the knives, (it wasn’t considered a job for girls) on a board sprinkled with brick dust, I think or was it bath brick? I grow old, memory is not what it was. The spoons & forks however we definitely cleaned with brasso, & jolly nice & shiny they looked too. We took turns in putting on, because none of us like that part of the job very much, but we all enjoyed the polishing. 

[41] Thinking about spoons & forks, reminds me of another lot of “Barley Tacking”. We had one spoon which was losing its silver coating & the brass gleamed through. That one was unanimously called the brass spoon. Another was a long handled one with OXO embossed on the end, while a third was definitely made of lead. I have no idea how we came to be in possession of that one & although I have just said it was definitely lead, it could perhaps have only been the colour, because I don’t remember it being heavy. However, when the four of us came in from school for tea, it was a choice of “Barley Tack the lead spoon”. I wonder what happened to those three spoons?

I have just remembered something else we did when we were (all in) at home, we would have a cats concert! When I tell you it consisted of five or six of us, all [42] singing a different song, you’ll understand why it was so named! Mother & dad must have had nerves of steel, to put up with us, we must have made a dickens of a row. I wonder what The Ancient Britons thought about us?

There were other times of course, when we had a proper concert or sing song round the piano. Amy played & we sang, the pop songs of the day which included “Let the rest of the world go by”, “City of Laughter”, & “Jeans”, “Keep the Home Fires Burning”, “Tipperary”, “There is a Long Long Trail”, “Sands of the Desert” oh & dozens of others. Mothers favourite being “The Holy City” & my own “Pale Hands of Love”.

Talking of music reminds me of the old Hippodrome, which began life as The Irving as a tribute to that great actor. The back of the theatre came down very near to the front of Duttons house, number five Grosvenor Square. There was a high wall separating the [43] entry to it from the brewery. There must have been a separate alley way, when the brewery was still a building, but I can only just remember them knocking down the disused place, & only the outer walls & the big double gates when opened on to Borough Road remained. So that the wall to the back of the Hippodrome was exposed & it made it feels as if the Theatre was practically next door to us. I know we could hear the generators going, they had a dynamic of their own & if we were wakeful at night, we knew when it was half past ten, because the noise stopped. The queue for the Last House of the show was good, often, reached the big path & beyond as far as the big house on Borough Rd, where the Jeff Family lived. It was a great treat for me if I managed to be outside the Hippodrome when the doors were open at the end of the show. I could catch a  glimpse of the [44] artists on the stage, singing the finale to me, as a child of seven or eight, the bright lights, & gaudy costumes were like fairyland, even the doorman, in his dark blue coat, with gold braid & shining brass buttons, was someone to be looked up to. He reminds me now of a company Sergeant Major, as he used to pace up & down & bellow out “Dress circle on the left, stalls & orchestra stalls on the right!” He was known locally as old Charlie Chuck out, chiefly because his job was to keep the audience in order & chuck out any drunks who might get out of hand.

Still thinking of music, the Salvation Army had a splendid band & we were treated once a week to a recital of their own particular brand of it. They gathered in Waverly St, which was opposite the Big path, for half an hour or so, the air [45] would be filled with the sweet sound of a silver band & the harmony of deep bass voices & flute like sopranos. When I come to think of it, we had a lot of music those days. We had no radio of course, but never a week went by without a band of some kind, marching proudly along the village.

The pictures were very popular when we were young, as I have said, but of course they were not the spectacular shows, that the young people expect & get nowadays but, for all that, they were great fun. We used to go to the cinema onSaturday afternoons. Now in this particular cinema, the toilets were outside & the door leading to the Gents was on the right hand side of the screen, so that every time a boy went out, the light of day put the picture “out”, there were shouts of “shut that door”. This happened so many times during the performance, that it became a chant, [46] all the youngsters would yell at the top of their voices!

It was at the Cinema, which later became The Kings, that I remember seeing a film about soldiers & all they ever had to eat was beans! Well it wasn’t long before the audience “caught on” & among a clapping of hands & a stamping of feet came the shouts of BEANS-BEANS-BEANS- the poor pianist didn’t have a chance! – Before the start of the show though,  the pianist had a very good chance, he would play the popular songs of the day, & get us all singing, one song in particular, I have never forgotten, the words were:

Are we downhearted NO


Not while Britiania rules the waves, likely not

While we’ve a Jack upon the sea,

A Tommy on the land we needn’t fret,

It’s a long long way to Tipperary,

[47] But we’re not downhearted yet!

There was never much money for toys in our house, but we didn’t worry if we couldnt’ have the big things, except one which we went crazy for, which was a scooter. Well, mother bought us one, & I believe it cost sixpence or a shilling at the second hand shop in Desmine St. The boys had to do a couple of repair jobs on it but it wasn’t long before it was ready. We had more fun with that old scooter, than anything else, which I can remember. Up & down the jolly old big path as far as the Hippo & back sometimes two on board & sometimes solo. The four of us, Harold, Kathleen, Terry & myself shared it, there was never any argument about it. Of couse the four of us didn’t always play together. Phemie Robertson & Kathleen were friends for instance, & Liked to be on their own sometimes without the lads.

[48] They often let me stay with them though & the three of us had some good times together. Kathleen, as I said earlier, was very artistic & the paint box was her pride & joy. She would spend all her pocket money on a tube of paint or a camel hair paint brush. I well remember a set of cardboard dolls, she made for me for Christmas one year. Let me explain if I can, how she did it. First of all she collected some large sheets of card-board, which were mostly old advertisements for the Hippodrome that Mrs Brown from the sweet shop was glad to get rid of. Next she would gather all of the fashion magazines & cut out the models. These were then carefully pasted on to the cardboard, the paste having been made by Kay, from plain flour & boiling water & left to cool. The dolls were cut out again then & a tag or stand cut at the [49] bottom, which folded back & allowed the doll to stand up!

Kathleen painted the dresses & made a lot more dresses & coats from cardboard. I feel now, that if we had had the opportunity those days of further education as the young people have today, Kath could have become at least a commercial artist & may eventually have taken up dress designing. Phemie wasn’t always with Kathless, she (Kathleen, I mean) & myself found a lot of pleasure in being alone together. One happy incident which stays in my mind was an evening during the summer, Kath had found a [contract?] for the ferry boat. One couldn’t buy a weekly or monthly ticket for the boat to Liverpool & most people who worked over the water, did so, [word illegible] these tickets or contracts as they were called [because?] were cheaper than single fares. Well the address on [50] the one Kath found was Albermarle Rd, Seacombe, which was not very far away, so off we went to return the lost contract to its owner. Now we were proper little gigglers when we were together, we always saw the funny side of things at the same time. This particular evening we were in just such a mood. The girl who answered the door to our knock, gave us the first tiny giggle, which we quickly suppressed, because we had been taught to be of good manners & although the stranger was very unusual in appearance we just smiled & handed over the ticket. Then, she called out “Oh Phyllis,” & an unseen voice answered “What Wyllis” we were ready to explode! Anyway, Wyllis then came out & Phyllis said, “Here’s two wee kiddies found your contract” They were both very nice really & I think they gave us some sweet, [51] but all Kath & I kept saying on the way home was, We’re two wee kiddies as big as the skY!V We were tickled pink. Kathleen & I also played together at school during the morning & afternoon breaks & one of best games was [catchers?] with two balls, I threw a ball to Kath & at the same time she would throw one to me & we would try to make them kiss each other in mid air. There was always a “season” for games, the skipping rope season, the top & whip season, the [marbles] season, followed by hoop football & cricket, though not very much cricket was played that I can remember. Talking of seasons, reminds me of the dresses mother made for us. We always had velvet ones for Easter & white [word illegible] for Whitsun. The last velvet dress, that I remember, was a rich dark brown, trimmed with coffee coloured lace at neck & wrists & it was lovely, [52] definitely one of my favourite dresses – not like the pair of pants, which mother bought for me once! I suppose they were really very nice, good warm thick flannelette, with elastic round the legs to keep the draught out – unfortunately they were just a little bit too big for me, & the legs showed a bit beneath my dress, if I didn’t keep pulling them up. Then again, even that wouldn’t have mattered very much, except that they were bright red!

I was teased unmercifully by the family & I began to hate them & when Amy called me Nosey-red-drawers, I could have cried. Well now, one day we were going to New-Brighton, & I was wearing the Horrors. I knew we would be going on the Helter Skelter & I was terrified that people would see them as I came sliding down. There was only one thing to do – I went to the “ladies” & took them off!!

[53] We all paid for our mat at the bottom of the Helter Skelter & started to climb the corkscrew staircase, me with a mat under one arm & the offending garment under the other! I didn’t miss them until much later in the day when we were on our way home! For the life of me, I can’t remember if I got into a row or not but I know it took me years to live it down. One thing was for sure though, Mother never bought red pants for me again.

We had our laughs alright, but we had a few major frights too. One night, Kathleen & I were settling down to sleep we we heard footsteps coming up the garden ath, nothing really unusual in that, but there was something about footsteps themselves which caught our attention, & we both instinctively held our breath & listened to hear who it was, but they didn’t sound like anyone we knew. They came on without hesitation, right up to our own front door, up the lobby and straight up the stairs to stop abruptly outside our [54] bedroom door. We both shouted out “who’s there?” but got no reply. Kathleen tried to comfort me by saying “It must be Harold playing a joke on us” but we both knew it wasn’t him & we never found out who the intruder was, if there was ever any!

The next fright I recall happening to Phemie & I. Our parents & Mr & Mrs Robertson were at the pictures and the grown up part of both families were out at various places so that Phemie & Wesley spent the evening in our house with the four of us. We had had our usual games and played cards, & the time went on Phemie decided she had better go & see to the fire in her own house, about 8’o’clock & she asked me to “Come with us?” That was a catch phrase, when we were young. If we were sent a message we always asked one or other to “come with us” so we both went happily into next door. It was very dark as the lamp which used to light the big path had been taken away, along with the iron gate which at one time graced the entrance [55] to Grosvenor Square, to do their war services & as so often happens had never been replaced. The lamps in Brough Rd were too far away to offer any illumination, & so when there was no moon and the shops were closed it was quite dark. However, that did not bother me too much, after all there were two of us. Well, we got across both gardens safely & into Phemie’s house. The fire was just a dull red glow in the kitchen and we had to grope round the chairs and table. The matches were hard to find as they were not in their usual place and when we did find them & Phemie tried to light the gas we discovered there wasn’t any, & then began to search for a penny. At this point we both began to giggle and I remember saying “Bet you won’t find one”. Suddenly we both froze! I can see us now. I was sitting on the corner of the table swinging my legs, & Phemie was standing by the dresser, a lighter match in her hand looking for a penny. My legs stopped swinging, the match dropped from Phemie’s hand & went out, & we [56] listened! There was someone or something upstairs moving furniture about. At first it sounded like someone was thumping a heavy walking stick on top of the stairs, then pushing a chest across the landing. For a split second there was silence, then – crash, it sounded as if all the furniture in the four rooms upstairs was being hurled down at us. The noise stopped, rumbling away in the distance like a roll of thunder. The old house gave one last shudder & all was quiet again except for the pounding of the hearts of two very frightened little girls. We reached out for each other in the dim light of the dying fire & holding hands very slightly, we crept down the dark lobby & out of the house. It wasn’t until we were in the garden that we began to run, covering the short distance between the two houses quicker than we had ever done before. I had never been so glad to reach the comfort of our own bright & cheerful kitchen in my life. It was about half a hour later when Frank came home & went in to [57] investigate that we learned the cause of all the noise! A huge picture had fallen in the front room, which was carpetless and almost empty, and of course it echoed all over the house. It took Phemie & I more than a week to get over the shock & Frank had to take me into next door’s front room in the daylight to see the fallen picture because I kept saying “But the noise came from upstairs”.

We were quite a bit older when the next fright occurred, & it concerned Kathleen only. It must have been about 9,30 one winter evening. Kathleen & I were by ourselves in the kitchen. Amy had gone next door to see Dora, & I was soaking my feet. There was a sudden rat a tat on the front door & I looked at Kath who was reading and said “Well? I can’t go”. As she got up to answer the knock I said jokingly “Mind the Bogey man.” A minute later she was back in the kitchen as white as a sheet, Amy was behind her saying “Gosh kid I’m ever so sorry I thought you had gone to bed.” Poor Kathleen, she had close the kitchen door & in doing so had shut herself into [58] darkness. The gas lamp in the lobby was only lit on very special occasions. She had groped her way past the coats hanging on the right hand side of the lobby & bumped her way past the hall stand on the left which held more coats, umbrellas, cricket bats, hats & gloves etc, all o which were quite ordinary objects in the light of day, but much different when you can only feel them brush against you as you pass, then they can become unknown creatures, lurking in the shadows waiting to strike at you, & with Kath’s vivid imagination, and me telling her to mind the bogey man, her thought was to get to the front door and back as quickly as possible. However, just as she reached her goal and put her hand on the catch, the door of the big parlour opened and Amy came out, bumped into Kathleen & said “oh Hello.” Well she had to practically carry poor old Kathleen up the lobby & back to the kitchen again. Amy had knocked, then thought “Oh I expect they’ve gone to bed”. She then tried the front room window which was a sash style & almost at ground level. It was [59] quite easy to climb up onto the windowsill & push the bottom part of the window up, and drop down on the other side, which is exactly what Amy did, opening the parlour door just as Kathleen reached it, as the parlour door was only about a foot to the left of the front door. We all laughed about it afterwards but at the time it was a very nasty shock. 

Although we were a large family Mother had only one sister as far as I know, & Dad also one sister. Dad’s sister Alice died before I was born but I knew mother’s sister, at least I think I did. Her name was Elizabeth and we called her Aunty Lizzy. Now Auntie Lizzie lived in Sunderland and married a man called Holborn. They had a large family, Harry, Bill, Amy, Bella, George, Ethel, and I think Lizzie, but I am not too sure about that. I do know that Harry, Bill, Amy & Ethel came  to visit us. The two lads before the war. Bill was killed during one of the many attacks on the enemy. Amy and Ethel became frequent visitors & cousin Ethel actually took me back with her one summer holiday [60] I was nearly ten years old, and a long train ride was an exciting adventure. I was petted and fussed over by all my older cousins, and for a while it was roses all the way, but I began to get terribly homesick. I missed Kathleen more than anyone at bedtime, & how I longed to kiss mother goodnight & run down the big path to meet Jack coming home from work, & so before two weeks had passed my letter home was posted & I was put in charge of the Guard & back I went to the bosom of my beloved family.

It was quite different going to Auntie Jennie in Bootle. Mother always used to take us herself and two of us would stay, and two of Aunties children would return to our home with Mother. Auntie Jennie was really a cousin by marriage because her husband was our dad’s nephew! But he, Frank, was so much older than us that we called him uncle as a courtesy title, & his family were our second cousins. Their mum was Taylor & the children were Frank, Jennie, Nora, Susan & Enid & were all round the same age as our family as [61] from Amy down to Terry, Frank being the eldest & Enid the youngest.

I went to Bootle with Harold one year, and that visit was one of my happiest. It was always nice being with Harold. He was always so kind & gentle and looked after his sister, treating me like a princess. He always made me feel as if I was really important in the family & that it was his job to see that we returned home safely. We went to the pictures on Saturday afternoon, & a very bad thunderstorm broke out while we were there, and after the film was over & came out off the cinema we discovered that the main road was flooded. I was at once hoisted up on Harold’s shoulders in a fire-man’s life and carried over the road through the flood water to dry ground. In the evening when the sun came out again we sat on the steps and watched the shadows lengthen & Harold explained to me how the sun was going down and where the wind was blowing, North, South, East & West he always knew. He also explained the workings of a sundial.

[62] Although I can not recommend being really hungry at any time, food wasn’t always in abundance, & the lads, namely George & Harold who were both what one might call “growing lads” could I am sure have often eaten just a little but more than they had been given – but as usual even the shortages became something to joke about, & show which dad only the barest minimum of meat was christened “Blind Scouse”, then there was “Surprise Pudding”, you were surprised if you got any an “Perhaps Pie” Perhaps you’ll get some meat, and perhaps you won’t. Grace after meals was changed from Thank God for a good dinner to – “If thats dinner, God saved Tea.” or Thank the Lord for all we had if there’d been any more, we’d have been damn glad.” 

One thing we were, all very glad about was the fact that we had such dear & wonderful parents. Children at school would sometimes say “Oh I don’t like my dad very much”, or “I would rather have my dad than my mother” and I just couldn’t understand how anyone could possibly love one parent more than [63] the other. Our own mother & father were as one to us and dearly loved by all.

We all had our turn of child ailments like Measles, chicken-pox etc, & getting well again was always nice, especially for the younger ones, because everyone made a great deal of fuss & made one feel important, & sort of welcomed you back to the fold after your enforced isolation.

The [annual?] Gala, was a treat enjoyed. It was the only day in the year that the Central Park put up side shows, had racing competitions, & bands, & [word illegible?] & you had to pay to go in. We didn’t often have money to “get in” but I do know that we were always there to see the fireworks at the end. The King & Queen “George & Mary” all lit in beautiful colour & then the final GOOD NIGHT.

Then there was the carnival each year when the local shopkeepers & others decorated cars & horses & carts & all the usual trimmings of a procession. People on foot dressed as clown etc, rattling the collecting boxes, and of course the bands. There were always three or four 

[64] really good bands marching, & as one lot of music faded away as the procession moved on, another would take its place, & the air would be filled with the sound of it. The fire engine was last & a splendid sight to see with its gleaming brasses and bright red paint.

The Central Park, where the Gala was held was a popular place with us at any time. There was a beautiful lake in one part where Harold would fish for Tadpoles & when we had a severe winter & the lake froze, the park would stay open after dark for skating, which was great fun. Adjacent to the lake was the aviary, which held a great variety of vividly coloured birds & as usual Harold would tell us what they were and where they came from. 

There was also the Rose garden in front of the school of Art which was a riot of Colour & heavenly perfume in the Summer. As well as flower gardens, shurbs & trees of every variety there were lots of open grass spaces, the main one being near the front gates & that was the one where the band-stand was, & [65] once a week during the summer the air was filled with music & the sound of voices & laughter, & the park was crowded. But, alas, things change, & the last time I went to Central Park I found the lake dirty & [word illegible] with an island of weeds in the middle of it, and the wooden landing stage rotting away. The aviary had long since gone & that particular part of the park untidy & forlorn. However, that was a long time ago, just after the second world war, & I am hoping that its back to normal again, and that the children of today will find it as beautiful as we did. There was another park not so far from home as the Big Park. This other park was called “The Little Park”, which was next to our school & overlooking the promenade. It was really a bowling green, I can barely remember how many greens were there, I think four. The swings or recreation ground was next to the park, & during the bowling season if we were in the rec’ we could hear the grown ups clapping their teams, & we ooften left the swings to watch the bowling ourselves.

It was fun inn the rec’: swings, see-saw, [66] (which we called shadles) I wonder why? Horizontal bars, & rings. Kath was an expert on the bars and could do all kinds of acrobatics, & Harold was good on the rings. Terry & I just followed the leader.

I said early on that Amy & Harold were the prize winners but thats not strictly true. Kathleen had her share of them & one particular prize which she won was a beautiful leather backed book of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol, a story which we all read so often that we could repeat some of the scenes in it word for word. I think Peter Pan, was another of Kathleens too & even I had a couple, one called Helen’s Babies & another A Trip to the Zoo, and so if we didn;t have enough books in the house, as we grew older we would buy each other books for presents.

Harold, Kathleen & I were all at school together, Harold in the senior bys when I was in the junior mixed, & Kathleen in the senior girls, and one particular Christmas [67] we were all in our separate school plays. Now being the kind of family that we were the three of us would quickly learn our own lines & then take it in turn to hear the other recite his or her part. Consequently, we all eventually knew each others lines, as well as our own & then have a bit of fun mixing the bits of dialogue together & getting quite a mixture. That is what was so nice about being a family. Everyone of us took an interest in what the other one was doing, a real interest I mean, praise from all & sundry, when it was earner and sympathy unlimited when it was called for. You were never alone if you were being punished for being naughty (& what child wasn’t naughty sometimes) you could count on at least one of the others to stick up for you, or make excuses, & even sometimes to take the blame.

There is always a “last time” for doing things. Kathleen left school before me so, we must have had our last game of ball together in the playground of Riverside School, I had to find other girls to play with. I took me a little time to get used to being on my own [68] but I had plenty of friends & soon adapted myself to being “individual” as one of my classmates said. But other changes were coming, our beloved father was ill, mother was worried, & the entire family started to lose its sparkle. The grown ups spoke in whispers & the spontaneous jokes & laughter dried up or became subdued. I was eleven years old at the time * I remember a feeling of sub-conscious fear. Dad was ill! & one day he was taken to hospital, & for a whole long year mother struggled on alone. In that year Terry & I clung together, after all, we were the only two left at school, & that Christmas was the last time I hung my stocking up. I will never forget looking at our stockings before going to bed that Christmas Eve. They looked so lonely there hung on the brass rail under the mantelpiece. Two only ,when there used to be six. I remember thinking, we hardly need to have bothered writing our names.

It was a lonely year for Terry & I. We were very small [fry?]. Kathleen was fourteen that Christmas & started work. Harold was fifteen & had been a [69] worker for two years & had practically joined the grown ups. Amy was a wonderful help to me. Although she was six years older than me, she was sweet & kind, & would read out to Terry & I before we went to bed. Kathleen was in service at the time & I missed her terribly.  Amy tried to fill the gap. I suppose the day dad was taken to the hospital was the beginning of the end of my childhood. I had a severe illness in the following spring which kept me away from school nearly a full term, & when I did go back my name was no longer on the register, due to a misunderstanding. Mother then decided I would attend the catholic school of Our Lady & ST Joseph’s affectionately known as St Joey’s. I spent the last two years of my education here, and was very happy with my new friends.
Terry was transferred six months later & so once again we trod the same path together. A lot happened during that “Blank year”, Frank and Nelllie who had been living with us moved out to Morton, in a caravan, & left a gap in the house & with Kathleen in service it felt [70] as if we had all grown up overnight.

Strange how our memory works, one can recall incidents that happened many years ago & forget things that took place last week.

Our beloved father died in the autumn following my twelfth birthday & the sorrow & deep feeling of loss, has never been forgotten by me. The first break in a united family, others were to follow, & each one a personal loss, but somehow, dad’s passing was different. Possibly because I was so young, but mostly, I think, because it marked the end of an era, which had been full of love & rich in happiness.

We had happy days again of course, as I said earlier, the two years I spent at Our Lady Star of the Sea, St Joseph’s school were filled with laughter and good friends & the Church helped me and gave me comfort. There was a lot about it which I didn’t fully understand but I do know, it was always peaceful in the church, & one could go in at any time [71] and just sit there & be quiet & talk to God in my own childish way. I’d tell him all my troubles & felt that he understood & I’d come away with a lighter heart & a quicker step & always with a firm resolution to be a better person, & if that only lasted for a day or even less, it was worth it.

Well there is not much more to write, we settled down again after Father’s death, & his vacant chair was used by all of us, but somehow it didn’t ‘fit’ anyone else.

Frank & Nellie came back from Moreton, & lived in the little parlour again, & had a front bedroom because by now there were two grandsons, another Frank, and Jack and the wheel was turning full arch again.

The next trouble to hit us was to be the death of Bella’s husband, but that is another story of another age & concerned the Robertsons as well as us. Before I finish though I must put in a word about Mrs Robertson, known by all [word illegible] as Ma-Robbie. She was a friend of mothers long before their [72] children decided to marry, & she loved our mother (as most people who knew her did) & was a very good neighbour.

Now Ma Robbie was deaf, we used to have to shout to make her hear, so we always knew if she was anywhere about if we heard mother or anyone raising their voice, & she just loved to come in when we were all at home, & just sit & watch us. She formed a regular habit of coming in at quarter to eight in the evening & going again at eight o’clock sharp. The pattern was always the same. She would shuffle along the lobby, gibe a tiny tap on the kitchen door, walk in, look at the clock and say, “Have you got the right time?” She would then sit down on the chair near the door & beside the table, brush away a bit of the cloth as if she was moving crumbs or something, prop herself on her elbow, & there she’d stay till her fifteen minutes were up. We would carry on with what we were doing ,throwing out an occasional remark to her. 

[73] I had hoped to end on a happy note, but while I have been writing, two more of the family have gone to higher places.

Dear, kind & gentle Harold, who gave me so much love, & Kathleen, to whom this was written, and with whom I spent most of my happy childhood, and so goodbye Kathleen, goodbye Harold.

Terry is painting a picture of the old house, so there will be a permanent memorial of an era of gas lamps, lantern slides, of horses & silent films, crystal sets and candles, and of one family who lived and loved, and found a lot of joy in just belonging to each other, and of the two dear people who were that family,

Amy & Joseph Fearon.


Fearon, Norah. Nostalgia. (1964) Unpublished Memoir: Brunel University Special Collection.

2:457 KNIGHT, Norah Fearon, ‘Nostalgia’, MS, pp.73 (c. 10,000 words). BruneI University Library.

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