Monday, February 29, 2016

LFR 29th February 2016 Number 800

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Family Events for today 29 February

All Leap Years
1848 - Birth: John LAWS (Coal Merchant) -91403, Chatteris CAM UK

                                                             Chatteris CAM UK

1868 - Death: William Henry LAWS-41286, Staines MDX UK

Staines MDX UK

1904 - Marriage: Charles LAWS (Gardener/Chauffeur) -4181 and Clarissa MITCHELL-51722,                  Dartford KEN UK
1908 - Birth: Kenneth Ralph LAWES (Australian Army) -32400, GLA UK
1920 - Birth: Gladys Victoria V LAWES-118692,
1920 - Birth: Oma E LAWES-37443,
1932 - Miscellaneous: Matthew LAWS (Fishmonger) -8839
1932 - Will  Dated: Edward LAWS-7760,
1936 - Death: George William Marshall LAWES-117444, Rishton LAN UK
1940 - Birth: Colin James LAWS (Lorry Driver)-44049, Romford ESS
1940 - Birth: Milton LAWS-119106,
1980 - Marriage: Ivan Roger WATKINS-54833 and Fern LAWS54831,
1980 - Death: Ida K LAWS (Unmarried) -56929, Franklin Co OH USA
1988 - Death: Dennis Leonard LAWS-117746, Norwich NFK UK

                                                  Elm Hill, Norwich NFK UK

2012 - Death: Roberta Mae LAWS-167497, London, Laurel Co. KY USA

1908 - Birth: Louina DIGNEN-124999, West Hartlepool DUR UK
1920 - Birth: Gladys May Victoria V PASK-167814, Witcham CAM UK

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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

Walton on the Naze
There was always time to wander while parents were busy, mother shopping and father at work, and every corner of that little town stays clear in my mind. 

The crumbling cliffs were ideal for climbing and sliding down the dusty gullies if a piece of wood or tin could be found to sit on. Not so good for my white shorts which would acquire ochre coloured seat. Resulting in the admonition “You be careful now”. These cliffs were gradually being eroded by the North Sea and from time to time a part of a garden or even a house would go sliding down.

The sea defences were made stronger by extension of the hefty concrete promenade towards the south which is still holding up well. A walk along the beach beyond its end soon brought one to the more exclusive resort of Frinton, with its wide green lawns along the cliff tops which was usually visited once or twice during a holiday.

The northern part of Walton was lower without cliffs. The end of the High Street came along to the Front and the road and sea wall went on past a sometimes marshy patch of land beyond which the road went into a scattered little residential area and then dying out. 

Here the cliffs had risen again at the golf course where an old brick tower stands at the highest point. This provided a pleasant evening stroll which my father and I often took as far as the Naze. Felixstowe could be seen across the water as the land on our side ran back to the muddy tidal backwaters behind the coast.

These back waters ran right up behind the town and about twenty five acres of them were cut off from the tides with a dyke and made into a large lake with boats. This was a main attraction of the town to my father and virtually every morning that was fit, he and I would have a sailing dinghy out and sail the seven seas. 

His father had been a Sea Captain and I am told that only his mother’s insistence had prevented my father going to sea as a young man. As I grew older I was allowed a dinghy to myself and although I was never to become an addict I can understand how others do so. 

Being regulars and known to the boatman. We were allowed to sail on days when the wind was too strong to risk his dinghies in the hands of strangers and these were the days when it became quite fun.

                                The attraction of boats also ruled one of our regular outings during the holiday. We always went at least once to Brightlingsea, a slightly scruffy town famous only for boat yards and shrimp teas. It has always been an ocean racing centre but was not particularly prosperous in those days, there were wonderful boats on offer, at giveaway prices. We didn’t buy one. 

We just walked in the sun and looked, ate our shrimp tea and perhaps an ice cream, then trundled back to Walton. 

At Dedham however, another regular outing we could get a rowing boat on the Stour and glide through Constable’s countryside between the pollarded willows in the soft June sunshine. This was I fear, my father’s holiday, again just he and I went boating but then we were off in the car to Flatford for a strawberry tea amongst the wasps beside the bridge. It is all still there but somehow the rural peace is not the same since everyone spouted wheels.

All the countryside was more rural as a much smaller number of townsfolk invaded it every weekend. All the corn was cut with a binder of course and stood up in stooks in the field. Until it was cut East Anglia was a mass of red poppies, more beloved by the holidaymaker than the farmer. 

Farming had been depressed for some years and old cottages were being condemned as unfit for human habitation. It is sad to think it is only the war which brought back a sort of prosperity or at least a brief understanding of the need to grow our own food which now seems to be fading away again.

The thought of the corn takes me back to another little holiday I spent in the countryside. In truth mum and dad wanted a holiday on their own and Lottie took Mary and me for a week to her parents’ cottage in Bocking which really was rural. The water came from a long handled pump outside the back door and the loo was by the wash house in the garden. 

It was late summer but any need for light was met by oil lamps and candles. Little did I know that these were the normal facilities for most of rural England, and that for many places they would stay unchanged for another thirty years. 

It was harvest time  and the horse drawn binder went round and round the field throwing out sheaves and driving the ever present rabbits into the centre until they made a run for it  and someone got rabbit pie for dinner. 

Wages were meagre. Food was important, there was rhubarb under the apple tree and more cabbages than roses in the garden. There were plums in the garden too and home-made wine in the kitchen cupboard set into the wall alongside the black kitchen range.

There were no pavements through the village. There was after all virtually no traffic A few yards along the road on the other side from the cottage a path led down to the lazy river with its carpet of water lilies raising their bright yellow flowers above the dark green leaves, A few cows grazed the meadow beside the river avoiding the buttercups and leaving their squelchy traps for the unwary walker behind them. I didn’t wonder then, what it was like there in the winter time.

Another little holiday that was different turned up when my Uncle Albert and Aunt Louise were home on leave, and was going to spend a little while in a cottage in Cornwall. Their son Frank was a little younger than me, and I was invited to come along so that we could spend some time together. 

It was the only long train journey I had taken as a small boy, about ten years old I think, although the steam trains were always rushing past the bottom of our garden at home, I was unimpressed by the train journey. 

Once it had chugged out of Paddington the countryside rushed by, very different  from travelling in the car. Leaving our smoke and smuts behind us we dashed on through green fields until we came to the red soil of Devon,  with its sheep  smeared with the colour, then into the less lush Cornwall. 

The cottage was at Crantock on the North coast but not the bleak and barren part. It was tiny and ancient, just a few stone and thatch cottages and a church, but the memory of it, is of the peace of the village and the emptiness of the beach where we were able to swipe a golf ball along without fear of hitting someone. 

My uncle was reputed to be keen on photography and certainly had an enormous quarter plate camera which no doubt was capable of taking excellent photographs must have need a pantechnicon to carry it around. 

He was the up-market brother, whereas my dad was the up-to-date brother and had a little folding roll film camera just for holiday snaps.         

To be continued tomorrow 

I am planning to make this blog a weekly affair, as the time involved on a daily affair dominates other activites
Since I retired, I've gotten so very busy I'd never find time to work the long hours I did dashing all over Europe with either Cargo, Documents or VIP's 

The content provided on this site is not guaranteed to be error free - It is always advised that you consult original records.

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