Take a walk in Blue Bell Woods listen to the sounds around you, of bird song and bees. Smell the flowers and the scent of Spring in the air. Every year is a new beginning and every day a blessing

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Thursday, November 6, 2014


My Maternal grandparents named their home Minerva. My Grandfather had been in the Royal Navy during WW1. While doing my family research I had found his service record. I can see the time he got off and was married. I also see where his ship was sunk. Now that leads to a story. My grandmother met my Grandfather while waiting at the train station at Tring. I suppose he was on leave probably after the sinking of his ship. Well my Nan, dreamer of dreams had dreamed of this man who was in the water, his ship had sunk and he was desperatley swimming and hoping to get picked up..........she saw him again, alive, at Tring station and so they met, talked and later married. Spooky right? well our family has a few stories like that. The picture below is Nan and Granddad with eldest child Eddie.
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In any case, their home became Minerva. My Grandmother was in service to a local family and the house was free to her as a part of her wages. My Mother and her 3 brothers lived there, there was another place they lived prior to that but not a place I knew. The family went through their youth at Minerva, and my childhood was spent there for a great deal of the time. It was not a big house really, 3 bedrooms, upstairs bath, living room, family room and kitchen. That was it. On the back they had a conservatory. A wonderful addition as far as I was concerned. I loved to play out there. It had a huge oak (bleached and scrubbed) table with a mangle where Nan did her washing, the toilet and coal barn were out there too. In the winter laundry hung to dry and in summer it was on the line outside. In the back garden was an Anderson shelter, now above ground and used as a garage of sorts. In the back of the garden, a small patch of grass and a plum tree. Beautiful purple plums. They had a vegetable garden as most people did back then and flowers too. A water barrel off the side of the conservatory and the yard was fenced. I remember climbing on the fence to try to see over it. The picture is me, chasing Tarzan (see his tail) and my Nan hanging the washing out.
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They had a black cat named Tarzan because he liked to swing on the drapes. When I was a baby my play pen was out in the conservatory. I have pictures of me and another cat named Tiny.
My Grandmother must have liked her home, she was a good housekeeper, after all she did it for a living. Trouble was they didn't like my toys all over and so one of my most beloved toys, a Mobo horse was given away. I loved that thing.
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I do remember a lot about living there. As with St Omere, after the war people stayed with family until they could get a home. Few bought houses in the 1950s in our class anyway. They waited for a council house to open up. My Mother had lived with her parents during the war and before the war my dad and her brothers all hung out together. So she and Dad married before he left for service. He was already in the Territorial army and so when the call to duty came he went into the army as a Seargent.
One night my Mother heard pebbles being thrown at the bedroom window. Her room was above the conservatory. Well she could not see anything so put on her robe to go downstairs. She met my Nan on the landing and Nan said "Something happened to Harry"...........she had a dream. Well next day a telegram came informing them that my Dad was missing believed killed. SO Mum spent the next almost two years not knowing until the Red Cross found him in a POW camp.
Well he did come home after the war having spent his time in Japan as a POW. They stayed at Minerva for a time, and I was born in 1946. We went to live with Dad's folks for a time. No idea why, although I would imagine that having a baby and being at my nans was a strain on everyone. Mums youngest brother was still at home in his teens, 14 when I was born. In any case for a time we lived at St Omere with Dad's family. That did not last, my Mother did not like my Granddad Burt and ended up leaving Dad and moving back to her mums. Eventually they got the house on Bidwell Hill and settled in and spent the rest of their married lives there.
Family playing cards in the back garden. That is me in the back.
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That was probably a long 4 years for them going back and forth before setting up their own home. The next picture is My Dad and Mum, uncle Eddie and Ray between his legs and my grandparents. Me I am probably in my mums tummy at that point.
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I digress. Minerva, I loved that house. I would have loved to own that house. The front bedroom was large and bright. I remember the street lights always shone in the room and I would watch the car lights cross the ceiling as they went by. It had a fireplace as most rooms did back then. A huge wardrobe with a large drawer at the bottom. I remember being nosy and snooping in there where my uncle Ray had magazines when he was older that was his room. I got my finger stuck in the drawer while trying to close it and almost got caught snooping. I never did that again. When he was younger he had the small room and I often shared that room with him.
The back bedroom was now my Grandparents room, and I loved to get into bed with them. Ray had the small bedroom in back when he was younger. When I stayed overnight I would sleep in there with him. I dont know who was in the other room, maybe my parents. I remember looking for my dummy (pacifier) under the bed and seeing it in the dust bunnies. Funny how it was OK back then for a little girl to sleep with her teenage Uncle or Grandfather and no one thought a thing about it because? why would they?..........In his room was a lovely old wall clock with a pendulum a sword over the clock was one that my Grandfather got during WW1.They said if was taken from the body of a German soldier and still had blood on it. Not at all sure about that. On his dresser was an old Victorian globe with a stuffed bird in it. I can see every single thing in that room, and every other room in that house.
My Grandmother had a front room. No one was allowed in there. One day my cousin Diane and me were coming down the stairs. The door to the front room was open. We snuck along the passage to get a look inside ( because we were not allowed in there), we were confronted by the most terrifying thing. A huge ape was coming towards us. We ran screaming back upstairs. Ray had put on my mums fur coat and a monkey mask and was most convincing.
At the bottom of the stairs was a window with the electric meter in a cupboard under it making a shelf. On the shelf was a statue of an angel holding a lady. I have that now in my own home.
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The front room was out of bounds because her most precious things were in there. A 3 piece suit as they called the couch and two chairs and a huge Welsh dresser where Nan had collected brass. She would polish the brass and I could sit and watch in awe. I would ask to go in and look when I was older and was allowed. I would keep my hands behind my back and not touch a thing.
The family room would have been a dining room but it was where everyone gathered. Two easy chairs by the fire and the dining table and chairs where family would sit and play cards. I would sit under the table and listen to the stories about the war and everything else they chatted about. I was quite and they would forget me. So talked freely.
Granddad had a radio by his chair, a big heavy one. I had to be silent when the football scores were on, but we would listen to the "Billy Cotton Band show", "The Archers" and if I was lucky "Listen With Mother". There was the Goon Show and other comedies that Ray loved and it was the major form of entertainment in the 195os. Ray did have a record player, the wind up kind and I loved listening to that. "The Little White Cloud That Cried", "Mule Train" and later Tommy STeele and Lonnie Donegan.
The Skiffle group was born. Granddad and Ray and a friend of Ray had a skiffle group. A box with a string was the bass, Mick Lacey could sing and had a guitar, I suppose there was a drum in there somewhere but in any case I do remember them coming to my house on Bidwell Hill for a party and being asked what I would like them to sing. I also remember Ray and Mick disappearing and coming down wearing one of mums evening dresses with balloons stuck in for boobs and butt. They were a laugh for sure.
My Granddad lost his eye in a factory accident. He worked during the 2nd war. I know his sons did too and had just got home from work on the night shift when the factory was bombed they went all the way back but found my Granddad was OK. Lots of stories I heard from under that table. My Mother hanging laundry and hearing what she thought was hail, someone coming and someone grabbing her as bullets came down from two planes fighting above. One night she was on blackout duty, making sure all windows were covered. She walked under the railway bridge and was knocked over by the blast of a bomb, fortunate she was sheltered by the bridge when another young lady was not so fortunate. I can imagine all this, the war was so close when I was born, ending in 1945 and me born next year. Well as I grew up I got sick of hearing about the war. I was naive and did not realize that their entire youth was spent and wasted during that time. So many stories about that house. I was a self centered teen.
In the end, when my Uncle Ray married he and his wife (my lovely Liz) bought the house and Nan lived there until she died. Granddad died when I was quite young. I would have to look up the dates but I remember it well. They were quite young when they died, both of them. So were my parents for that matter. They had rough lives. I know at some point Granddad would have to look for work and was away a lot during that time, the depression. They did what they had to do to get by. My Father and all but one of his brothers were away at war during the 2nd war, on Mums side the older one Eddie was in the Territorial, Norman was excused due to health I think and Ray was too young. Both Granddads were away for the first war. So many tales to tell..............maybe later.


Maureen Wyatt said...

I get quite caught up in your stories. They are fascinating!

Magic Love Crow said...

Excellent post my friend! Really enjoyed reading through it! I believe in dreams! If you really remember them, they are telling you something! I love the statue! Beautiful! Hugs ;o)