Wednesday 21 January 2015

Freda's Story part two - 'My Parents'

Last week I published the first part of Freda's story 'The Early Days'.

Today I am sharing the second part where Freda tells about her parents.  Clearly Freda had a very happy home life where, although things weren't always easy, there was always plenty of love.

My Parents

My mother was born in London and was in service when she met my father who was

working in The Strand Hotel where he had joined his uncle. Mother was a lovely lady and

was called Christina Alice Mary Floyd. Her father gave her a nick name when she was

quite small, it was Chummy. He said it was because she was always chummy to everyone.

From that time on she was always called Chum by her brothers and sister, to the nieces

and nephews it was always Aunt Chum. I really think she would have answered to Alice,

but the name was never used at any time in her life. I must add it really suited her,

everyone was welcomed with open arms; her home was a haven for anyone who needed

help and her brothers and sisters loved her very much.

I consider myself very lucky to have so much love lavished on me. I do know that

sometimes I didn’t deserve it and was duly reprimanded at such times.

Mum and Dad fell on hard times in London with two children to support and dad was out

of a job. My sister Eva, who was very small, developed rickets and was in Great Ormond

Street Hospital for many weeks. They were told she would only live for a few weeks or

if lucky a few years. However she duped them and lived until she was 86. With all this


trauma coming at once, mum and dad decided to come back to Taunton. This was a big

move for Mother who, as a little girl, had been sent to Watchet to live with her uncle

Nicol but she was never happy there and never wanted to leave London after that.

I was always pleased to hear Mother tell of her time in Watchet. She told of the

time when she took her uncle’s lunch box to him. He was the driver of the old Mineral

Line train and he would let her on the footplate as far as Washford and then she would

walk back along the line. On Sunday Uncle Nicol was a Methodist Local preacher and his

wife, Mother’s Aunt Jane would take her along to the chapel. Mother had always been

deaf and used to fidget in the pew not knowing what was happening and Aunt Jane would

pinch her to make her sit still. It put poor Mother off going to church for many years.

Running errands all the time while her cousins were at home, made her feel very isolated

and she could not wait to get back to London. Now she was off to Taunton, never having

met any of father’s family. But they came and managed to get a little cottage in the Brick

Yard in South Street. Unfortunately, being deaf, conversation was very limited and she

was not accepted very well and added to that, she was a Cockney!!! The family settled

down and father found a job at McFisheries the fishmongers in the High Street, wages

10 shilling a week plus food.

 Mother was left with the 10s to pay rent, feed herself and Marjory and Eva who

were growing fast and had to be clothed too. I have heard Mother say that very often by

mid-week the money had run out but she always managed to feed the girls, but often for

herself she would have to make do with a slice of bread spread with lard and there were

times when father would keep a shilling or two for his glass of ale.

They struggled on and although Father knew nothing of the fish trade, he caught

on quickly and a year or two later McFisheries opened a shop in North Street. Father

applied for a job and as he had some experience, was offered the job of head salesman

and that resulted in a higher wage. It was then that the house in St Augustine Street

came up for rent and Mother went for it and we have lived there ever since. Furniture

could not be afforded, just the basic table and chairs. The front room (now a lounge) only

had a palm stand in the window with an aspidistra in it, so that the room looked furnished

from the outside. After about three or four years I was born.

When it was time for me to go to school Mother looked for work. Taunton was a

good town for work as there were two or three factories making shirt collars for men etc

and although mother had always been in service she managed to get a job at the Pool Wall

factory which stood at the top of High Street and made Radial shirts which were very

well known throughout the country at that time. She had to be trained never having

worked a machine in her life but soon became a ‘button holer’ and was quite good at it.

She was a good worker and she worked on piece work and became very efficient and

found friends there too. I was taken to school and then it was off to work, quite a step.

She would rush home lunch time to get our meal and then back again until she left at six.

It was a long day but from then on there was

always food on the table and gradually the house became furnished.


joeh said...

Love stories from this "tough" generation. Looking forward to Ch. 3

Unknown said...

Love that Freda's Mom was known as 'Chummy', it reminds me of Chummy from Call the Midwives!!

stephen Hayes said...

My mother (named Alice) is fond of telling hardscrabble stories about growing up in hard times. I must admit that my childhood was a time of plenty and I never went without anything I needed. Perhaps I'd have had more ambition if I'd grown up knowing want.

Sarah said...

Ch 3 next week Joe - I've had Freda's story for a couple of years and Im trying not to re-read each chapter before I publish it so that it's 'new' to me too.

It's a great nick name isn't it Holly :-)

I don't know Stephen, I think it often makes people value things far more. Freda was incredibly hard working right up until almost the end because it was the only way she knew how to be but it was rarely for her own benefit. Everything she did was for others, she was a very giving lady.