I was about 12 when I started to learn to play the piano. I had lessons with a music teacher called Mr Caddick. I would go to his hous once a week after schoo, before I went home, for a lesson. If I went wrong on the keys he would tap my fingers. After a time, my dad couldn't afford to keep up the payments so I had to drop the lessons.
We had an American organ
at home that played beautiful music. Once when I went in Tommy Baker's shop, his brother told me he had been listening by our window to how nicely I could play. But I wasn't satisfied with the organ when my cousin Violet had a piano, so my dad went to Stantons, a shop in Owen Street, Tipton and changed the organ for a second-hand piano. The piano didn't play as well as it should, though Stantons got someone to try to repair it. I would buy sheets of music and I could play hymns. I used to like to play hymns because they were easy reading. I could play all the Christmas carols. We had many a good night when all my friends came round and I would play the piano for them.
Many years later I had a piano in the front room at Kings Road, Sedgley.
I used to play the Blue Danube Waltz.
I tried to show my sister Violet how to play but she couldn't.
My dad's parents, Granny and Grandad Lawton, lived in a little old house in Harding Street, which was the next street to ours. Grandad Lawton was a moulder at the Cannon Iron Foundries.
He was a quiet, gentle, gentleman. He always wore a hard hat
and a suit.
In 1925, when Grandad Lawton was dying, Granny Lawton asked me if I wanted to go up and see him. She said 'Come on, I'll take you to see your Grandad'. She took me up to the bedroom. I don't know if he was dying or already dead when she took me up.
After he died, Granny Lawton stayed in the little old house. After a time, when the old houses were being demolished, Granny Lawton wouldn't let them demolish hers. Part of next door was demolished, but they had to leave some of the wall because it was propping her house up.
There were no pensions in those days. Granny Ellis used to go to the overseer
to try to get a bit of parish relief.
They asked her sons to each give her some money, but there was only my dad who said he'd give her something. He couldn't afford much.
She would run errands for anybody for a copper or two. When people had a load of coal delivered and dumped in the street, Granny Ellis would take it up the side of their gardens to the shed where they kept the coal.
She was a very quiet person. It was my dad's suggestion that she come and have a cup of tea with me every afternoon. She would sit on the old wooden screen and drink her tea. The kettle of water was always on the side of the grate so it was ready to make the tea.
The Lawtons lived near each other in Coseley. My dad's oldest brother, Harry, lived next door but one to us in Yew Tree Lane. He had a big family.
Another brother, Jim, lived next door but one to Granny Lawton in Harding Street. He paid about 5 pounds for a cottage that would soon be demolished.
Another brother, Ernie, lived next door to us in a little old cottage. His wife was Aunt Esther. They had a pig sty at the side of their cottage. One year Aunt Esther was keeping cockerels in the sty and fattening them up for Christmas. One morning just before Christmas, she got up and found that someone had taken the cockerels. You could see the sty from the road and someone must have been keeping an eye on them.
My dad's older sister, Lizzie, lived near the Rainbow pub. He husband was called Richard Turner and he was a boatman on the canal.
He worked on the barges and they carried coal. They had several children. One of their daughters had a goitre in the neck. She went to the doctor who sent her to the Royal Hospital. She had an operation and died in the hospital. She would only be about 15.
My dad's younger sister, Susan, married Joseph Slater. When she was in childbirth with her first child, she was so poorly my dad took her to the Royal Hospital, but she died. The baby was called May.
Joseph Slater wouldn't have anything to do with May. Granny Lawton brought her up. I remember once when Joseph was riding his bike past Granny Lawton's house, he should to her 'Good morning ma'. She shouted 'Have you ever seen a monkey ride a bike?'
May used to play with us. She was a very quiet girl, like my sister, Violet. When May got married, she and her husband lived with Granny Ellis for a while.