Tuesday 13 January 2015

The Legacy

Today The Lounge is being hosted by Robo and the theme is people - treasures, horrors and anyone in between.

I am also going to link this post up with Ann from 'Help!! I'm Stuck!!' for things I know this week because I know that I was very lucky to know and have Freda in my life and I'd like to share her story with as many people as possible.

Also, having just discovered the Six Little Hearts weekend linkup through Ann I'm also going to share this post there too.

This is an easy one for me (although I know a few horrors too!).  I've been wanting to tell Freda's story for a while now and this is the perfect place to start.


Many years ago when I was in my early 20's we moved into this house in which I now sit.

Myself, my young son (now big D), his father, my partner and lifelong friend, The Demon.

I remember being terrified.  The first of my friends to make such a huge commitment.  While most of them were still out clubbing, having fun, travelling, spending all their money on make up and good times here I was settling down with a child and a mortgage and I really didn't know if I was grown up enough for the job.

We moved into a house which needed lots of work doing to it (and it still does!).  We had very little in the way of furniture but what we did have was enthusiasm, hope and love.

We also had something else, something that I wasn't expecting, something that for many years was a constant source of comfort, advice, dependability and joy.

After a long morning carrying furniture and boxes, cleaning and sorting there was a knock at the door.

I opened it to find a tiny elderly lady standing on the path bearing a beautifully laid tray complete with cups, saucers, a jug of milk, a plate of biscuits and a steaming teapot.

'Welcome to our neighbourhood, my name's Freda and I live at number 13'.

I can't begin to tell you how much Freda came to mean to me.  A lady of such compassion, kindness and faith.   A lady who knew everyone and everyone loved and I was lucky enough to call her my neighbour and dear friend for many years.

There is so much I could tell you about Freda, so many happy memories and so much sadness that she isn't still here.

Freda's life was fascinating, she thought herself very ordinary but she was extraordinary in so many way.

Her story is best told in her own words and it's my privilege to share the first part of Freda's story with you:

Freda’s Book

So many people have said to me, have you ever written down your life story? No, I
have replied. What is there to write about? I have always thought of my life as normal,
uninteresting, in fact, mundane, but at last I have decided to write about my life and
times. So be it. You, who care to read it, must make up your own minds!!

Early days

I was born in St Augustine Street No. 7, (later it became 13 when the council decided
to make our side of the street odd numbers). I might add that my mother, who was
very suspicious of lucky numbers, was horrified that our number 7 had been changed to
number 13 and even went as far as to approach the council to see if it could be changed
to 11a!! But to no avail.

However, in the following months, a rep from Blue Cross matches called at number
13 and asked if Mother could produce a box of Blue Cross matches, which she readily did
and was awarded 10 shillings (50p), a lot of money in those days. She was delighted and
from that day on No 13 was a lucky house.

When I was born my Mother was aged 38 at the time. I had two sisters Marjory and Eva
who were 14 and 13 respectively and were out at work when I arrived on the scene. In
those days you left school at 13 and were thrown in right at the deep end, working full
hours every week. Eva was employed by the Somerset Manufacturing Co. owned by a Mr
Harold White. She became a very capable employee and was highly respected by her boss.
Nurses’ hats and collars were fashioned by her and she worked for the company for 60

As you can well imagine, I was thoroughly spoilt, having a doting mother and father
and two teenage sisters. My sister Eva always made my dresses, one I remember being
made of lavender material, trimmed with swansdown around the neck and sleeves, very
fetching. I still have the photo taken by Montague Cooper, a first class photographer,
wearing the said dress sitting on a country stile, very posh!

Marjory was the sister who looked after me.

Freda's 'book' is written in chapters detailing her life from the early days, through her childhood, her working life where she helped to twist and throw the twine used to make the nets for the 1966 World Cup and where she was awarded the BEM (British Empire Medal) for services to industry.  Stories of her travels with her great friend Daphne exploring  the Dolomite's, the Holy Land, Vienna and so much more. Her work and love for the Tempest Methodist Church especially her time teaching Sunday School. Freda never married but she did love and in the later chapters she talks about Bill who she describes as 'a very ordinary chap' Bill had chronic asthma, was a keen gardener and was, as Freda says, 'the love of my life'.

It's almost 4 years since Freda died.  Her house was sold by the church and extensively renovated by a builder before being sold.

Gone is the jaunty yellow paintwork, the tubs of flowers outside the door, the tinkling wind chime that swung from her greenhouse and that at times I swear I can still hear.

Replacing the original drafty sash windows are white UPVC double glazed units and the whole house has been spruced up and blends in with the others all in a row.

Living in it are a young couple.  They don't have children but they do have a small (slightly yappy) terrier.  They are nice people.  They always stop to say hello and last year they helped as we, as a community, cleared the back lanes (or ginnels as Freda would have called them) that run behind our houses and are often the recipient of garden waste and builders rubble.

I think Freda would have approved of them, I think she would have approved of the changes made to her house.  Freda didn't live in the past, she had too much to look forward to.

Freda's story is too big and too important for me to keep it to myself so I plan on sharing it one chapter at a time here on my blog so that others can read the story of my friend Freda and that will be my legacy to her.


Mike@Bit About Britain said...

That's a lovely post; and a lovely idea. Looking forward to reading more. Interesting that Freda used the expression 'ginnel' - I thought that was a northern word. In Sussex, they are called 'twittens'.

Sarah said...

I think Ginnel is a northern word Mike - I suspect the influence of Coronation St as the network of lanes that run behind our houses are commonly known as ginnels around here. There are many more chapters in Freda's book (and yet not nearly enough) I will publish one each week (remind me if I forget).

Brighton Pensioner said...

She sounds a wonderful woman and I'm looking forward to learning more about her.

joeh said...

I think almost every ones life would make a good book. Some more than others. Keep the chapters coming.

I'll bet Freda is smiling that even a Yank is interested.

stephen Hayes said...

I spotted your blog on Cranky Old Man's sidebar and decided to pay you a visit. You're much too gifted a writer to be receiving so few comments. I hope you'll visit me at Chubby Chatterbox sometime.

Me said...

It's great when you have neighbours like that. I wish we had more of them around !!
Have the best day !

Sarah said...

She was an amazing woman BP and a dear friend. I'm looking forward to sharing more of her stories and my memories of her with you.

Freda would love to know that you are enjoying her story Joe. She had a great sense of humour and loved learning about other people - I think she would have enjoyed your blog very much.

Thank you so much Stephen, most of this post is in Freda's own words and I can almost hear her reading them. I will pop over and visit very soon.

I'm incredibly lucky with my neighbours Me but Freda was a bit special, I feel very lucky to have known her,

Unknown said...

Beautiful that you blog about someone special. I'm really lucky in that I've always had amazing neighbours. At my current place, they are nice enough but everyone keeps to themselves. I look forward to reading more about Freda - be sure to let us know. Thanks for linking with The Lounge. X

Sarah said...

I will do Robo, I've mostly been very fortunate in my neighbours, not sure they feel the same about me ...

Unknown said...

A beautiful tribute to this lady - I love that Freda's Mom tried to get the number of the house changed! She sounds special. I look forwards to reading more x

Sarah said...

She sounded great didn't she? There's lots more to share along with my own memories of Freda, I'm looking forward to telling it :-) x

MammaRajSays said...

What a lovely way to remember someone so special to you xx

Caroline Raj said...

What a lovely way to remember someone so special to you xx

Sarah said...

Thank you Caroline - I'm so fortunate that Freda wrote some of her story and that i have a copy of it. x