Friday, 28 September 2012

Fatherless my story as an orphan continued

Mr Thomas, a master as well as a teacher married the sister of the sanitarium – Miss Macashon.  She nursed Mr Thomas when he had a bad fall and romanced blossomed.

Miss Lennox who I have already mentioned was a tall slim music teacher.  After giving her music lessons each week, Miss Lennox would ask if Margo wanted her to play something for her.  She would always ask her to play Tchaikovsky’s concerto in B flat minor and to see her fingers running over the keys was absolutely fantastic.

One day Marjorie and Margo together with one boy were invited to take a piano exam at the home of Miss Lennox.    The only reason the boy passed was because he was the only one to notice the chair was not straight as it should be.  Another exam was taken in a large hall in Croydon, which gave Margo and the other children a certificate of music.  During the intervals of each year’s Christmas show, Marjorie and Margo would entertain the school by playing duets on the piano.

Margo also enjoyed music lessons with Mr Thomas the music teacher and was very proud to win the Charles Link Memorial prize in Form 8 on 25th June 1947.  She was given 21/- (21 shillings) and was allowed to go to the local shops and purchase something with the money.  She bought a Royal Philharmonic book and it was presented to her with the inscription on the inside cover, signed by the headmaster – Mr LCF Fairbairn.  Her name was also included on the music prize board in the dining hall in gold lettering.  All the children whose names appeared on either of the two boards for prizes won were proud.  Those two boards must be somewhere.  It is a shame they were lost when the school buildings were demolished in 1980.

After 53 years it is amazing how the girl’s names are still remembered.  Two of the girls Margo spent so many years at the orphanage with are Marjorie Bower and Nora Williams; both were bridesmaids at Margo’s wedding.  Both were married and sadly widowed, but we have kept in touch since our school days.  Other names which come into mind are Shirley Lintott, a bit bossy, Paddy Plumbridge, Enid Fry, Mary Beavan, Joan Dutton, Iris Huck, Ann Whybrow, Sheila Pilbeam and sister Ann, Margaret & Kathleen Tappin, twins, and many more – I could go on.

Nora’s mother Margo will always remember.  She would take Margo and Freddy out on visiting day if their mother was unable to, she would send them back with money, sweets etc, the same as her own four children.

The PE teacher gave the girl’s weekly exercises in their lessons as well as running around the large playground which kept the girls fit, although as young girl’s, they were not always enjoyed, but Margo, having a bad posture found many of these exercise of great help, especially when she got older and began to suffer with her back, she would find some of them relaxing.

Matron had a Black Labrador called Ben.  He was a great favourite of the girls.  One day Matron asked the girls to get rid of some pets he had.  They were all over his skin and their bodies could be seen, but the legs were inside his skin.  The girls spent many hours pulling these pets out, much to Ben’s delight not forgetting matron.  Ben never suffered with them again.

Winter Blues.
The girl’s routine didn’t vary and boredom could set in during the winter.  As already described, many girls enjoyed the snow and would be out in the cold having fun.  Margo was unable to join in the fun because of her chilblains.  A girl named Helen Williams would tap dance in the playroom and girls would want to learn. Margo being indoors all the time would be watching and learning herself.  Helen was a new girl and one day she saw Margo tapping and wanted to know how she could tap.  Explaining that she had been watching her teach some of the girls, Helen wanted to show Margo other steps and to join in the Christmas shows.  One Christmas while the girls were entertaining the school with their show, Helen was trying to think of how she and Margo could finish a routine they were going to do in the show.  Just before they were due on stage, Margo managed to master a difficult few steps and did it without a mistake in front of the school. The art of tapping is to tap your foot forward and then backward, which Margo found easy.

One day the mistress allowed some of the girls to join Helen at the local School of Dancing to watch the dancers which included Helen practise their ballet lessons.  They enjoyed the visit especially a particular dance routine the group were doing on stage in one of the local theatres.

One year the mistresses decided the girls should learn how to knit and gave them all needles and wool and taught them to knit themselves a jumper, this was very useful when Margo was married.  She would knit everything for her daughters during their school years.  Needlework was a lesson Margo did not enjoy at school and even in her adult life.  One lesson she thought she would be clever and make a tablecloth, but it ended up so small it would only fit a small table.  Darning was taught to the girls by the mistresses which also became very handy before and after one got married.

Lessons Margo did enjoy were cookery.  Cakes, Pastries and even a dinner, which the girls were allowed to take into the dining hall for their meal.  The cookery and science lessons were taken in the room on the back road.  The only problem was when the lesson was to cook a meal this would involve peeling onions which always made Margo’s eyes water, the teacher would tell her to stand outside until her eyes felt better.  However, one particular time Margo was standing outside waiting for her eyes to stop watering when the sister from the sanitarium walked past asking what naughty thing she had done to deserve standing outside.  She tried to make her understand she hadn’t been misbehaving but to no avail.

In the junior classes each morning the first lesson was for everyone to chant the times tables, followed by scripture and maths.  The lessons would begin at 0900 – 1200 after which all the girls would prepare for their meal, the whistle would be heard for them to get into line in the playroom ready to walk quietly through the corridor to the dining hall and it was at this time brothers and sisters would look out for each other.  No talking was allowed during meals, only at teatime which I have already mentioned.  Classes would return for the afternoon session ending about 1600.

Although Margo was only average with maths, it was to be her decision later to earn her living in an office in the accounts department.  She loved it so much that when she married, in between having her family, she stayed in that department for over 40 years and has since enjoyed figures.

Spelling Margo enjoyed and always felt to be of great importance, so much so she helped her daughters to learn to spell well as their school education didn’t teach the children to spell, but to recognise the word with a picture.

Holidays at Home.
One holiday at home when Margo was aged about 9 or 10, she wanted to go to the park on her own and once she proved to her mother she knew which bus to get on, she was allowed to go.  However, the bus she was on returning home turned down the wrong road and she knew she had got on the wrong bus.  She immediately got off and began to walk back up to the High Street.  A policeman walking behind caught up with her as she began to cry because she knew she didn’t have enough money for another bus.  When she explained what had happened he took her to the police station where all the police spoiled her with cakes, ice cream and cold drinks.  Needless to say when her mother arrived and took her home she was sick.

Embarrassment and Frights.
During the juniors Margo was frightened and embarrassed many times.  Very often when she would wake up during the night to see standing at the bottom of her bed three figures dressed in black.  It was always two men and one lady.  She was so petrified she would dive immediately under the bedclothes.  Those appearances occurred for many years before stopping.  The embarrassment was these happenings caused her to wet the bed.  Each morning the girls had to strip their beds, fold sheets and blankets and pile them at the end of their beds. Not a difficult thing to do, but when your sheet was wet it was a problem to deal with without anyone noticing what she had done.  The mistresses had obviously noticed the problem Margo had and a plastic sheet was therefore put under the bottom sheet.  Margo was very stressed about this and relieved when this bed-wetting stopped when she was about 11 years old.

The Return to School from the Evacuation.
The war was over.  It was June 1945 and the children returned to the orphanage from Nottingham.  Although the parting from Nottingham and the families who had looked after them had been very emotional, it was nice to get back to the orphanage and see their friends who hadn’t gone with them.  Photographs had recorded their return.  The school ruling and routine the children had to adjust to again, as the war and move to safety had interrupted all that.  The farm smells and to hear the chickens again all came back.

There were times when some of the girls would slip down to the farm hoping nobody would see them.  It was assumed that eggs, vegetables and fruit the children did have came from the farm.  Margo can remember helping the farmer who was very nice, to collect the eggs from underneath the chickens, (if anyone would have found out he would have been in trouble).  At the bottom of the driveway stood the cottage, which was the home of the farmer and his wife – Mr and Mrs Kitchen.  Sometimes the children were allowed to go down and visit them, as they were loved with affection from the girls anyway.  In 1980 when the school was demolished the cottage was kept and is used to this day as the museum.

Photo of my Mum with her mother outside the orphange on a visitors day

This is a brilliant website.  Click the link and take a look

Thursday, 6 September 2012

I've just had my first go at knitting with ruffle yarn.  I'm not sure that it was my favourite type of knitting but quite pleased with the scarf and love the colours.  Hope you like these to.

Here is the free pattern for anybody who fancies a try

A - Starbella   Size 3- 4, 4 - 6 and 8-10 - 1 ball
B - Cascade Fixation Size 3 - 4 (1 Ball) sizes 4 -6 and 8 - 10 (2 Balls)

·                      Size 8 -24" Long Circular Needles
·                     3/4" Elastic to fit waist Directions:1.                Starting with Starbella - A and 8 needles. Pick up - 114 (122-130) loops2.                With B - Knit into each loop. Join into round. Place marker cont. with B.3.                Knit 6 (7-8) rows. Drop B.4.                With A - Knit 1 row (notes: Starbella ruffles will be on the inside). Repeat step 2 and 3. 3 (4-5) times.5.                Cut A. Continue with B. Turn work so ruffles are on the outside. Knit every row until work from last A row is 2 (3-4) inches.Note: Depending on the size of your skirt you may need to use more yarn than specified for adding additional rows. You may add or subtract rows at this point to lengthen or shorten skirt.      6.  Purl one row (for fold line). Work 1 inch bind off. Finishing: Fold at fold line to inside. Sew in place to form casing. Leave an opening for elastic. Sew in ends. 

Continued? Fatherless my story as an orphan

Mr & Mrs Reville would take the four children out, but one day standing in a queue to see a show, some children in the queue were playing and Margo noticed scabs on their faces.  They accidentally brushed against Margo as they played and the next morning Margo woke covered in spots, which turned out to be impetigo, she also had nits in her hair.  It was a most embarrassing time as her hair was cut very short and with daily treatment together with the impetigo it took many weeks to clear up.  Margo was naturally unable to attend school.

Another interesting visit in Nottingham was a well-known museum (it’s name escapes me).  The museum stood high within acres of land, and one part sloped down which was used as a German prisoner of war camp.  The British soldiers would walk the prisoners around the grounds so we saw many taking their exercise.

It was a sad day when the children had to leave but it was then safe to return to the orphanage.  A happy reunion was recorded of all the children back at their home.  Sadly contact was lost over the years with Mr & Mrs Reville.

Dining Hall and Kitchen Areas

Remembering the two tall doors in the main hall, this went from the floor to the ceiling and led into the dining hall.  Completely down both sides of the dining hall stood long wooden tables with long forms either side where all the children took their meals.  The boys entered through the tall doors.  From the left of the hall the girls entered and another door down on the left the infants entered.  At the bottom of the dining hall two more doors which led into the spacious kitchen and on the right a small door, which led out to the bread room.  Above the two tall doors a balcony where the governor’s offices were situated, there were times when matron would look down on the children. If she then appeared in the dining hall everyone knew she had seen someone doing something they shouldn’t.  In the kitchen huge cooking pots stood on a very large iron stove where all meals were cooked.  Beyond in a further room the preparations were made.  The food was then transferred into large enamel trays, which were put on large trolleys at the ends of each long wooden table.  The mistress and master usually served the food, otherwise prefects who sat at the beginning of the tables helped with this chore.  Prayers were always said before and after each meal.  Mostly children were allowed to talk for the last 15 minutes of tea time half hour and sit with their brother or sister.  Joe Bristow would give this order and for reasons only known to him sometimes tea half hour was spent in silence.  Joe Bristow would read his newspaper sneekingly peering over his glasses stuck halfway down his nose, the children were quite aware of this and we all knew he was looking for somebody to misbehave.

The kitchen doors were decorated at Christmas time, made to look like a chimney where Father Christmas would enter with presents for the children donated by people locally.  A big Christmas party would be given for the children before Christmas holidays began.

Meals were very basic and not always appetising.  Leeks were always lying in water.  Porridge at breakfast was cold, eggs always hard-boiled.  Salads had creepy crawlies in and once matron made Margo eat it up, crawlies an all.  All plates had to be cleared.  Another girl who hated potatoes was given by one particular mistress a plateful to eat which she found hard to deal with.  Sundays were seed cake and cold milk or jam, bread and tea, which was not always hot.  Two dinner size plates of bread and butter were on the table and a small pot of jam, which had to go round 14 to 16 children on each table.  The crust (called a Giz by the children) was a favourite, and the boys had finger signs to bag theirs – a thumb for a giz and one or two fingers for slices, cannot remember the girls doing this.  Sometimes the children had their fruit probably from the farm, which they enjoyed, but bananas were unknown until they first appeared.  The chickens probably supplied the eggs.  The staff spent their meal times in a dining room next to the dining hall.

Children survived as others were not so lucky and all orphans were being well looked after.  As we may look back on our early days we can appreciate how lucky we were.  Many began at the orphanage as a baby, others normally as infants.  Some were happy there, others were not.  Often children are in need of a hug when feeling emotional as girls do, this was something orphans missed out on.  As the writer, I am a firm believer that your childhood days stay with you forever.

When returning from a holiday tears were always heard at bed time during the first night back, but in the mornings you just went straight back into the school routine.  Life was very strict but it didn’t do you any harm.  You learnt respect and discipline.

I have already described the girl’s side of the school, but to explain further the corridors which went round in a square.  All rooms on the right went out onto a grassed area.  Opposite the first classroom was the girl’s prefect’s room.  They had a wireless, as it was called at that time, arm chair’s, a tennis table which was used later when Margo received the bat and ball set one Christmas, and a piano which Miss Lennox the music teacher who came to the school and gave piano lessons to those who were learning to play, Margo being one who was learning.  Margo and Marjorie who was also learning would practice every evening for one hour on the piano in one of the classrooms.  At the far end of this corridor facing was the infants classroom and to the left a cloakroom, opposite the stairs which led to the dormitories and the mistresses room on the left beside the cloakroom.

Stepping back into the right corridor, on the left hand side the infant’s classroom and down on the right the infant’s playroom opposite the girl’s playroom, straight ahead were two large doors, which led out to the back road.  On the left of these doors the infant’s toilets, cloakroom and another room.  Turning right again, on the left the dry storeroom opposite another door, this also led into the infant’s room. This was the door the infant’s brothers came through every Saturday to visit.  Further down this corridor on the right the boot room where all shoes were kept and opposite the girls day washroom.  At the end of this corridor to the left was the vegetable room and doors leading to the kitchens, and turning right the infant’s entry to the dining hall and on the right the maids kitchen washroom for all the dishes.  We are now back in the main hall.

Describing the land the school stood in maybe difficult for the reader to comprehend. The cricket meadow, corm field and farm were on the other side to the driveway opposite to the farm.  The building of the school stood high on the hill and it was actually known as “The Home on the Hill”.  The farm had chickens, pigs and a farm horse. The farm also grew apples and all kinds of crops and with so many chickens there must have been a large supply of eggs.

The church stood on the girl’s playground and opposite a grassed area, which was used when the matron allowed the girls to have the croquet set out.  Walking down from this playground along a stoned path which led down to the large meadow, past the sanitarium, and stretched back towards the air raid shelter and from there a path came along the bottom of the meadow and carried on past the wooded area and right on until you came out to the local village.  Margo and her brothers would take this way out when going home for their holidays to the local train.

Many children had problems with their feet or back and Margo remembers for many weeks taking a group for treatment as well as herself, through this meadow to the clinic.  Along the path would always be many dead grass snakes, perhaps this is why Margo has always disliked them.

The long back road went completely along the back of the school building from the sanitarium, and stood high at the beginning of the meadow behind the church. The church stood on the girl’s playground. Continuing along this road, past the kitchens and ending at the boy’s side of the school.  The girl’s outside toilets were situated on this road, to the side were stone steps which led up to the orchard, where more crops were grown up there.  A wooden door at the top of the orchard led out to another part of the local village.  The other side of the steps was the girl’s classroom for cookery, science and needlework lessons.  Further along this road lay the workman’s workroom, the swimming pool, opposite the baker’s room where he baked all the bread, the back of the kitchens and the drying room.  Girl’s and boy’s were allowed alternate evenings for the use of the swimming pool.  As already mentioned the headmaster and his wife had their house above the boy’s side of the school at the far end of this road.  This back road had many other uses.  As girl’s and boy’s reached the age of noticing the opposite sex, they would secretly arrange to meet when quiet during the evenings and who they fancied would sneak along this road for a chat and a kiss, all very innocent.

Freddy, Margo’s brother had now moved up to the older boys. The duty given to him and another boy was for both to take meals along the back road for the patients at the sanitarium.   Each term others were also given this duty.

When Margo was a prefect, matron seemed to think she was the eldest girl and would give her the duty of taking a morning off from class to butter all the bread.  Many other girls’ would be given this job to do at various times.  The baker would bake all the bread in the baking room, which had a very long deep oven.  He would place the dough onto a long handled flat ladle and push the dough right back into the oven.    A lot of bread would be needed for the school on a daily basis.  The loaves would be transferred to the cutting and butter room, which led off the dining hall on the boy’s side.  The store man would put all the loaves through a large slicer, mix margarine and butter together in a stainless steel tin and it would take all morning to butter every slice.

Clubs and Events.
The girl’s would be encouraged to join the brownies, followed by the girl guides.  A lady would come from the local village and the girl’s would learn the guide code, how to do all the knots and would be given their uniform for parades.  The boy’s would go through the cubs and scouts.  Many events were enjoyed with other groups from localities outside the school.

Another event, which the children looked forward to, was when it was learned the Queen and members of the Royal family would be passing through the local railway station named after the school.  Arrangements were made for the children to be standing on the platform and as the train reached the station it slowed down enabling the children to wave to the Queen who would return her wave.  The present Queen is patron of the school and the Old Scholars Association.

Bonfire Night and the Festival.
A large bonfire and a controlled firework display would be an exciting activity following a march to the meadow on bonfire night.
Another year it was arranged for a gymkhana to join the festival and those who owned horses erected jumps etc and their horses added further entertainments which everyone enjoyed.
Festival Day.
In July of each year the school would hold a Festival Day when the Lord Mayor would visit for this occasion.  The workmen would erect a platform stage on the girl’s playground for the Lord Mayor and his aids to watch the girl’s skipping drill and the boys would do their PT exercise.  Families and friends would also visit on this day, which the children always looked forward to.

One year Margo had spent some time in the sanitarium and had recovered just before the festival day.  She was doing a skipping single during the skipping drill and couldn’t finish it because she hadn’t had enough practise, she found this very embarrassing.

Lord Mayor invited Mr Thomas, the choirmaster to bring his choir to sing to him and his guests, invited for dinner at the Mansion House on Lord Mayor’s Day.  The boy’s and girls in the choir were given a buffet meal and entertained all the guests with their singing.  The finale of the day was when the choir were given a special place, which was laid on for them all to watch the Lord Mayor’s Parade.

The dormitories for the children were all names after certain well-known people.  The girl’s two dormitories were Fry and Nightingale.  The boy’s Livingston and Wilberforce.

When the matron retired she was replaced by Mrs White (not during Margo’s time at the school) and her husband joined as a master for the boy’s.  One master namely Joe Bristow (a hard master), it was thought he was an ex sergeant in the army.  Margo didn’t like this master in any way, one reason being he was seen to bully two boy’s who were not as tall as the others, and for whatever reason he always managed to carry one or the other by his short trousers out from the dining hall, which must have been very embarrassing for them.   I doubt those memories have ever been forgotten.  It is well known that most of the boy’s had great respect for Joe Bristow.  Many stories have unfolded about this man.  I am sure the girl’s will always remember the boy’s walking in for their breakfast with Red noses. They looked like they had been running around the playground in their shorts during the winter – which actually Joe Bristow made them do.  One story which Margo’s brother Roy would mention very often – During a session when the boy’s were to take their baths.  Joe made them stand naked by their bath while the water was running, then when enough was in the bath Joe would tell them to get in and wash, one boy found his water too hot and after Joe told the boy many times to get in, he kept telling Joe the water was too hot.  However, eventually the boy picked Joe up and put him in the bath, who just got out saying “it is too hot isn’t it”.  I’m sure there are many more stories the boy’s could tell about this man.