Thursday, April 02, 2015


Welcome to the Laws Family Register. 


A Child of the Twenties

A suburban childhood of the Twenties 

seen from the Ninteen Nineties

by John Robert Laws 1921-2008

Part 11.


The school was less than a quarter of a mile away. Between parallel side roads of late nineteenth century houses an oblong block held the separate buildings of the infant school, the Elementary school and the Grammar school. It was a gentle sloping site with the New River flowing south along the upper western boundary bringing drinking water to London from Hertford. The infants’ school was between the other two and shared an asphalt playground with the girls of the Elementary school. The boys of the elementary school had their play ground facing the other road, firmly separated from the girls by a high brick wall on either side of which were built the children’s loos. The Grammar school was on the downhill side of the block, separated from the rest by a foot passage which ran parallel to the High Street through all the side roads. The iron railings round the school were set in strong brick piers and gated in the same style, a line of Plane trees were well established and were as un-climbable and as sturdy as the railings themselves.
The buildings were no-nonsense and built to last. Plenty of glazed brick and most lower walls of dark colour. Classrooms were built to hold about thirty and the desks and seats all-in-one in pairs.
The first day at school sticks in memory. It was the first real contact with kids in the mass and the first contact with any authority other than parental. At that time there were no nursery schools or crèches as mothers, nor indeed, didn’t married women in general, go out to work. I started school a month or two after I was five with the worst of the winter out of the way. Mother took me and the Head mistress saw us, having established her identity she passed me over to the class teacher to absorb into the mass. The teacher kept me with her during the morning assembly then brought me into the class, found me a desk, it cannot have been very traumatic as the rest has faded away.
Our lessons as infants were the three R’s punctuated with drawing and games. The alphabet and tables were chanted in unison. We wrote and made our drawings in chalk on pint-sized blackboards which slotted into the front of the desks. Some kids were bright and some kids were dim but everyone learned; there were no options on offer. Before long we graduated to pen and ink writing in exercise books with inky fingers, scratchy pens and ink blots. Ink was still king and ball point easy scribble still twenty years ahead.
School dinners were also twenty years in the future. All kids walked home for their dinners and back for the afternoon school. School milk started however in my first year or two at school. The little third of a pint bottles turned up in the morning break and there was much bubbling noise as the last drop was sucked up through the straws.
On the other side of the road from school was the Primitive Methodist church where I went, reluctantly and intermittently, to Sunday school. Mum and Dad did not go to church but Sunday school was the one thing in those days so I went for a while though they did not insist when I opted out. All that sticks in my mind is a Harvest Festival where I had been inveigled into read a poem about a windmill. It was the only time I saw my mother in church until I got married.
When we moved into junior section of the Elementary School, the horizons of our lessons broadened to include history geography & some science. There was now an objective in front of us, the entrance exam for the Grammar schools which were themselves the first step towards better paid jobs further ahead. Classes were now divided by ability into A, B and C and school reports began to arrive, largely designed I suspect simply to prod all and sundry to greater effort. I believe the teaching must have been good though it was a bit double edged for me. The first year in Grammar school had nearly all been  done before and the need to work faded.
At the elementary school there was no sports field but we managed to have a Sports Day at a ground near Muswell Hill. How everyone got there remains a mystery but the sun shone, there were sack races, egg and spoon races and mums races and a good time was had by all. Running was never a fovorite pastime for me it was only done when unavoidable. Swimming was another matter however and we were lucky in that there was a swimming pool in the basement of the grammar school next door. Here we were permitted a Saturday morning class for a dozen or so and I achieved the great heights of a certificate to say I could swim fifty yards.   

To be continued tomorrow

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Family Events from our database for today April 2

Family Events
1729 - Death: Ann LAWES-42184, Coombe Bissett WIL (St Michaels)

1739 - Will Proved: Francis LAWS (HMS "Falmouth") -29806, HMS "Falmouth"
1786 - Baptism: Hannah LAWS-6603, Southery NFK
1786 - Baptism: Elizabeth LAWS-6602, Southery NFK
1804 - Marriage: Robert GEORGE-56470 & Mary A LAWS (Housekeeper) -56469, Westleton SFK
1804 - Marriage: Thomas DOWN-51522 and Elizabeth LAWS-51523, Harrietsham KEN
1834 - Burial: Israel LAWS-31012, Diss NFK
1841 - Birth: Henry Stephen LAWES (Retired Photographer) -59269, Stapleton GLS
1851 - Birth: Frederick LAWS (Butcher) -40139, Tynemouth NBL UK

1862 - Death: Mabel A LAWS-31729, Los Angeles CA United States
1870 - Death: Thomas Moore LAWES (Gentleman) -1373, Wimbourne Minster DOR
1871 - Census: Leah Bathsheba LAWS (Infant 1 mth) -29109, Hainford NFK
1871 - Baptism: Bernard 'Frederick' Treen LAWES (Cab Proprieter) -3392, Margate KEN UK

1875 - Birth: Jane LAWS-47321, Eldon DUR
1876 - Birth: Frank Charles LAWS-30068, Brisbane QLD AUSTRALIA
1877 - Marriage: Robert Christopher LAWS-26382 and Isabella CULLEN-84444, Newcastle upon              Tyne NBL UK
1882 - Death: Edward LAWS (Former Mariner)-9647,
1891 - Census: Muriel Evelyn Florence Murray LAWES-58763, Dover KEN UK

1891 - Death: Frances LAWES-2665, Perryville, Boyle Co, KY
1901 - Marriage: George Mayne MASON (Picture Frame Maker) -119893 and Rosina LAWS
           (Dress Maker) -6813, Hornchurch ESS UK
1901 - Birth: Doreen Edna LAWS (Servant)-45784, Portswood HAM UK
1904 - Marriage: Harry James LAWS (Architect) -8028 and Florence Emma FRANCIS-117320,                  Hackney MDX UK
1915 - Military: William James LAWS (ARMY Private 11386) -50787,
1915 - Birth: Thomas Osborne LAWES-47795, Norwich NFK UK

1917 - Birth: Athol Robinson LAWS (Australian Army) -3428, Kialla VIC
1918 - Enlistment: Ralph Albert LAWS (Locomotive Fireman / Canadian Army Private 775737)
1921 - Marriage: Arthur G LAWS-167523 and Tina Lee MIDKIFF-167524, Ohio Co KY USA
1929 - Birth: Audrey Mary LAWES-167318,
1938 - Marriage: Thomas LAWS -47582 and Winifred WILSON-47583,
1947 - Birth: Maureen Elaine LAWS-115595, Newcastle upon Tyne NBL UK
1960 - Birth: Valerie Elizabeth LAWS-115827, Whitby, North Yorkshire, England

1967 - Birth: Donald R LAWS-167326, Montgomery AL United States
1970 - Death: James Charles LAWES (Coach Driver)-53568, Tunbridge Wells KEN UK
1971 - Birth: Neil M LAWES (Carpenter) -105614, Great Yarmouth NFK UK

1978 - Death: William Bernard LAWES (Farmer) -115726, Cambridge CAM UK
2001 - Death: Margaret Joan Burton LAWS-4583, Boston LIN UK

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