Friday, August 21, 2015

LFR 21 Aug Number 614

North Berwick, East Lothian, Scotland

Welcome to the Laws Family Register. 
A Child of the Twenties

A suburban childhood of the Twenties 

seen from the Ninteen Nineties

by my late father

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 in Lays Street market where anything could be bought including skate wheels.

I already knew Epping 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 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 August 21st

If you are interested in anyone listed here, email us with the name, date and reference number, and we will happily do a look up, you might get a whole tree! 

Family Events
1809 - Marriage: William Ryott LAWS (Farmer & Agent 226 Acres 6 men) -116914 and Sarah                    JOHNSON-116957, Ovingham, Prudhoe NBL
1813 - Marriage: William GRAY-30482 and Mary Ann LAWS-30483, Norwich NFK UK

                                                    Elm Hill, Norwich NFK UK

1814 - Birth: John Thomas  LAWES (Shepherd)-32275, Bower Chalke WIL UK

                                                   Holy Trinity at Bower Chalke WIL UK

1831 - Baptism: Thomas LAWS (Coal Miner)-7499, Newcastle upon Tyne NBL UK
1836 - Marriage: William WRIGHT-45975 and Priscilla LAWS-45971,
1842 - Birth: M L LAWS (Rev) -46568, Accomac Co VA United States
1845 - Birth: Elizabeth LAWES-1292, Cambridge CAM UK

                                                          Cambridge CAM UK

1849 - Birth: Henry LAWS-50689, St GHS MDX UK

                                             St George, Hanover Square, Pimlico MDX UK

1851 - Marriage: Charles William LAWS (Ship Broker) -118729 and Caroline Elizabeth KETT-                  118730, Stepney MDX UK
1856 - Marriage: Robert LAWS (Cabinet Maker) -34343 and Isabella CORMACK-42072,
           Old Machar ABD UK
1861 - Occupation: LAWS Thomas (Steerage Steward) -51774,
1882 - Marriage: William Lynn  LAWS (Greengrocer)-6765 and Lydia STERNES-120922,
           Leyton ESS UK
1886 - Death: Isaac LAWS (Coal Miner) -41966, Hebburn Colliery DUR
1887 - Death: Edward William LAWS (1st Mate Master Mariner)-24222, Whitechapel MDX UK
           (My Great Grand Uncle)
1897 - Birth: John Joseph LAWS-35379, Woollahara NSW AUSTRALIA
1907 - Birth: Harold Alfred LAWES-122142,
1911 - Marriage: Walter Henry LAWS-122816 and Lillian BARLOW-122817, Wentworth ONT                  CANADA
1913 - Death: Edward Bowen LAWES (Solicitor)-846, Bromley MDX UK
1922 - Burial: Arthur LAWS-36146, Aff Puddle DOR UK
1928 - Death: William LAWES-2497, Deadwater, Borden HAM
1929 - Departure: Claude Douglas LAWES (Machine Parts Salesman) -143396, Rio de Janeiro                      BRAZIL
1931 - Birth: Elmore Bennett LAWS (T Sgt US Air Force)-37938,
1935 - Death: Mary Elizabeth LAWS-42347,
1937 - Death: Christie LAWS-38623, Trefula House, St Day, CON UK
1942 - Residence: Oscar Lee LAWS (Fireman) -123728, Morganton North Carolina, United States
1942 - Enlistment: Lee LAWS (US Army Air Force Corporal) -123726, Columbus MS United States
1946 - Birth: Michael Edward LAWS-115970, Norwich NFK UK

                                                      The Cathedral, Norwich NFK UK

1951 - Birth: Douglas Parks LAWS-40317, TX United States
1956 - Birth: Barry Wilton LAWS-40379, TX United States
1961 - Birth: Glen Lee LAWS-42105, Parramatta NSW AUSTRALIA
1968 - Birth: Anthony Dwane LAWS-40509, TX United States
1971 - Marriage: James L WILSON-114967 and Frances L LAWS-114966, Reno, NV USA
1978 - Death: Victor Emmanuel LAWES-47879, Jeparit VIC AUSTRALIA
1980 - Death: Hildagarde ELLERO-LAWS-118339,
1985 - Death: Barbara LAWS-120485,
1996 - Probate: Alfred George Charles  LAWS (Radio Coms Engineer)-116027, Bristol GLS UK
1996 - Probate: Harold Burnett LAWS-120222, Newcastle upon Tyne NBL UK

1831 - Baptism: Thomas CLEGG-49727, Manchester LAN UK
1835 - Death: Charlotte STILL-57274, 
1846 - Birth: Martha Amelia GOLDSMITH-41028, Brighton SSX UK

                                                            Brighton SSX UK

1908 - Birth: Kathleen Edith SEXTON-42202, 
1916 - Birth: Norma Mary RYAN-43203, Colac VIC AUSTRALIA
1916 - Death: Robert William Laws CHAMBERS (Draftsman) -38599, Mouquet Farm, Pozieres,                  FRANCE
1927 - Birth: Helen Joy MILLER-54681, Thackerville OK United States
1933 - Death: Ann Knaggs BARNARD-5564, York County Hospital NRY UK
1942 - Residence: Oree BAKER-123727, Valdese, Burke, North Carolina, United States
1947 - Birth: Edward Rodney HUNTER-43521, Belfast ULSTER
2003 - Burial: Nancy Cecelia VAN DUREN-31029, Northern Wisconsin Vetrans Memorial                          Cemetery WI United States

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