Wednesday, April 08, 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 15.


There was little opportunity to wander until going to school opened up new horizons. Once the short walk to school was permitted unaccompanied and a few friends were known the range of life extended. The familiar places were visited first, the lake in Finsbury Park with its ducks, swans and boats was known already, but now more time was spent with the slides and swings than feeding the ducks. It cannot always have been summer though because the lake froze and the ducks sat back on their tails as they landed. Once or twice there were even skaters on the ice skating serenely round the island that normally gave the ducks refuge from human intruders. These short periods of snow and ice and frozen lead pipes which burst are all that early memory holds of winter. Toys and books must have pushed the cold and wet into the background. Even pea soup fogs belong to later childhood.
It seems not long till we found there were other open spaces besides Finsbury Park. Another half mile towards London was Clissold Park. Its sole claim to fame was having a smaller boating pond with canoes which children could take out on those rare occasions when enough pocket money had been saved.
The opposite direction was more rewarding. Ally Pally stands on its hill looking out over London through the haze of a coal burning suburbia. Surrounded by its few acres of green it still had its four chateauesque corners intact before Satan unleashed the telly against humanity. We could wander its empty halls and eat our sandwiches beside the pond while the sun shone. Not far from there were the woods, Queens Wood, and Highgate Woods, shady but not thicketed, a small wanderer’s delight. Apart from the occasional dog taking itself for a walk, the animals were only squirrels. The fox had not discovered the joys of urban life and the smaller rodents were not obvious.
 The acquision of roller skates which extended the range of wandering on foot from three or four miles distance, to twice that range. I was able to go off for the day with one or two other roller skating fanatics and a supply of sandwiches and lemonade and could get to such fascinating places as the River Lea and Epping Forrest. Watching the lock gates working as barges were pulled through by enormous horses on the towpath filled idle summer hours in those times when the days and the weeks were longer. What we called the River Lea was the canal of course, the remains of the river we called the Old Lea but except in times of flood it was a rather trifling stream. The canal carried the fuel for the power station at Enfield and also a lot of timber for the various timber yards along its banks. This was all brought from the then very active docks in London and the canal ran north as far as Hertford in territory I could not explore until I got a bike. The numerous miles covered on our roller skates on the abrasive stone paving wore their steel wheels smaller and smaller till at last the ball bearings escaped and hard saved pennies had to be spent inlays Street market where anything could be bought including skate wheels.
I already knew the forest from visits with my father, sometimes with the rest of the family. He knew the area well and no doubt also wandered there as a boy having lived at Tottenham. It sometimes seems that, despite memories, one was less observant as a small child. Despite natural curiosity there is a much smaller base of knowledge with which to compare things. Trees are mostly just trees and only very noticeable birds stand out from the mass, there were squawking Jays flashing away in the trees and newts and tadpoles in the ponds. There were snakes and deer there too but I never saw any deer and only once an adder. The squirrels seemed to have had it to themselves, even the rabbits that overran the countryside kept to the edge of the woodland. For wandering boys the wandering was an end, a joy in itself.

Later wandering became more organised. This started with Scout camps. First came, the Cubs one Whitsun, no further afield than Hatfield Park, then others including Gilwell, the Scout Mecca of which the most memorable item was the rather primitive swimming pool where we were allowed to swim naked, and a joy rarely available to a town dweller. We travelled to these camps in the back of a lorry and scarcely noticed the discomfort as it was different and cheap. Everything had to be cheap. The sun did not always shine and when we went to Downe in Kent our lorry got us there after dark in a pelting rainstorm in which we set up our tents on a site we could not see. After that I think I slept soundly, perhaps the ground was softer for the rain. That camp our swimming was in the river Test, it was icy, small boys must be quite mad. Swimming seems to have been the main attraction of these camps. At Hayling Island, then little built up, we swam in a sandy inlet where the temperature of the English Channel was moderated by the warm sand as the tide came in.

To be continued tomorrow

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Family Events from our database for today April 8

1681 - Marriage: Robert NEIL-43558 and Emily Esther LAWS-43557, Lambeth SRY UK

1748 - Burial: Thomas LAWES-30841, Whitsbury WIL UK
1824 - Marriage: John PURVIS-2937 and Catherine LAWES-2938, Hexham NBL UK

1827 - Baptism: Alfred Charles LAWS (Wool Comber) -4040, Norwich NFK UK

1831 - Baptism: Jane Elizabeth LAWS-31011, Diss NFK UK
1832 - Baptism: Thomas Roger LAWS (Ag Lab) -4596, Copdock SFK UK
1844 - Marriage: James LAWES-2108 and Dinah FOX-2109, Portsmouth HAM UK

1849 - Birth: James LAWS (Brickmaker) -5150, Aldeburgh SFK UK
1850 - Christen: Joseph John LAWS-55589, Shottisham SFK UK
1850 - Christen: Frederick William LAWS-55588, Shottisham SFK UK
1868 - Burial: Amelia LAWS-117316, Carisbroke IOW UK
1869 - Marriage: Charles Bennett LAWES (Sculptor) -226 and Marie Amelia Rose                            FONTAINE-227, Harpenden HRT UK
1884 - Birth: Mary Ellen LAWS-122127, Johnson, Kane Co. UT USA

1886 - Birth: Wallace Dryden G LAWS (RN F21458) (Tailor Maker) -36368, Acton MDX UK
1888 - Baptism: Hyden Mary Sophia LAWS-56176, Welney CAM
1893 - Birth: William Curl LAWES-120994, Greenwich KEN UK

1898 - Death: John (Ag Lab) LAWS-6582, Attlebridge NFK UK (St Andrew)
1910 - Birth: Claude Amos LAWS-42405, Butler TN USA
1911 - Death: Alfred LAWS (Coke Drawer / Widower) -4529, 
1916 - Enlistment: Charles LAWS (ARMY Private 60409) -111601, Norwich NFK UK
1919 - Birth: Dallas LAWS (MSgt US Air Force) -95615, 
1921 - Burial: John O LAWS (US ARMY Private) -167519, Ohio Co KY USA
1922 - Birth: Edith Winifred LAWS (Widow) -44303, 
1923 - Death: Charlotte Fanny LAWS (Widow) -9196, The Hospital, Worthing SSX
1925 - Marriage: Frederick Willian James HOWARD (Painter) -47273 and Gladys                            Margaret LAWES (Spinster & Confectioner) -47272, Margate KEN UK

1931 - Birth: Jane Kathleen LAWES (NAVY Wren 98831 HMS Ariel) -50833, Kensington                  MDX UK
1932 - Death: James Rogers LAWS (Boilermaker & Plater) -63868, 
1933 - Death: Sarah Helon LAWS-125496, 
1933 - Death: Alfred LAWS-22257, Brighton SSX UK
1933 - Miscellaneous: Arthur William LAWES-2790, 
1939 - Marriage: John LAWS (Civil Servant) -48026 and Elizabeth HARKER (Nurse)                        -43530, Kimberworth WRY
1943 - Death: Esther LAWS-40938, Los Angeles CA USA
1949 - Birth: John Franklin LAWS-48682, Hammond, Lake Co, IN USA
1951 - Burial: Wilford Derby LAWS-34174, Blanding, San Juan Co UT USA
1957 - Birth: Susan Jane LAWS (Vet Technician) -33907, Sturgis MI USA
1961 - Birth: John David Nicholas LAWS-37613, Liverpool, Queens County, Nova Scotia                CANADA
1966 - Death: Daisy LAWES-123571, Borden HAM UK
1966 - Residence: Rose LAWS-123193, Margate KEN & Death: Chartham KEN UK 
1968 - Marriage: David Thomas LAWS (Taxi Driver) -50445 and Maureen Valerie                            SAUNDERS-53879, Stocking  Farm LEI UK (St Luke)
1969 - Death: Rosemary LAWS-33902, Sturgis MI USA
1975 - Death: Murray Elliot LAWS-121408, Hollow Rock, Carroll TN USA
1992 - Birth: Weston Ray LAWS-40843, TX USA

2005 - Death: Dorethea Merle LAWS-119017, Caringbah, NSW AUSTRALIA

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