Life and Death

It was 3/6d a visit in those days and one could always see the doctor.

Mother had a baby late in life; he was bonny to look at, but he didn’t develop as he ought to have; he didn’t talk or walk at almost two years old.  The nurses were very good to Mother during her stay in Willington Quay Maternity Hospital, and she got lots of gifts from kind people at the Chapel.

Norman developed pneumonia at about 2 years of age, so I had to stay away from school to rock his cradle.   As usual, Mother was doing the perpetual washing for which she only got 2/6d for a big basket full, all ready for the drawer.   To get back to Norman, as the works buzzer sounded 7.30 a.m. froth came from Norman’s mouth and I called Mother from the back yard and she discovered he was dead.  The people at the Chapel were again very kind and sent a wreath of daffodils, so it must have been springtime.   He was buried in a little white coffin carried by one person.

Some years later, one Saturday in mid-June 1931, Aunt Hannah came to see Mother and was shocked at the state of her health and immediately took her to see a doctor.   It was 3/6d a visit in those days and one could always see the doctor unless he was out on another case, but he was always to be found.   He told Mother to go home and go to bed and he would send an ambulance on Monday morning.   Sure enough one came from the RVI at 8.00 a.m; she was drugged with morphine till she died on July 1st 1931 with cancer of the liver.

Aunt Dorothy and Granny came, and Aunt Dorothy took the sewing machine out into the back yard and made three black dresses, one for each of the girls.   She brought the material with her, also our coats were sent to the laundry to be dyed black.   I could have cried when they came back, because mine was the most lovely coat I had ever owned; Mother bought it at Bainbridge’s sale with some of the money I had given her from my 10/- wages from Lilburns, 8/- I used to give to her.   I swore then I would never wear black again, even when it was the done thing for funerals, and I never wore black.

I had to take over the running of our house and Father never worked again.    We still got £1.7.3d as I was declared as housekeeper.   My older sister had already gone into service at Monkseaton at Mrs Lilburn’s mother’s.   I used to do the ceilings and the wallpapering; Father was lazy; I even laid some lino in the bedroom.   Granny came to live with us, and I believe she bought the lino.   She taught me to turn the heel of a sock which I was knitting for the first time.   She could direct me in many things.

I became interested in boys and used to spend evenings down the docks, near the Duke of Wellington pub.   We always went in groups, perhaps six girls and six boys.   We used to sit on a bench around a wooden hut and sing and talk.   One or two paired off, but I didn’t care for the left-overs so I got a bit fed up.

My younger sister, Violet, had left school, so I asked her to take over the running of the home and she did it very well, but she was never much of a cook, but she kept the house nice and clean.   I decided to go to London and got a card from the unemployment exchange.   I was sent a railway warrant to go and work for a Mr and Mrs Elsdon.   I was met at King’s Cross by Mrs Elsdon and a social worker.

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