Monday, December 25, 2006

When I was very young I started Sunday school Darkhouse chapel, Coseley. We had to climb a lot of stairs to the room that the little ones used. I went with my cousin Violet and a girl named Annie Elwell.

At the Sunday school anniversary I was a singer on the top platform. The choir was opposite. An elderly neighbour would give me something to wear for the anniversary - a pair of gloves or some beads. The girls were dressed all in white. I had long fair hair. My aunt Emma would comb my hair straight then curl the hair round strips of material. When the strips were taken out I would have lovely curls. Everyone used to talk about what lovely hair I had.

We had prizes for attending Sunday school. In 1918 I had a copy of the book 'Her Benny'. It was a lovely book. When my mothers was very ill I showed her my prize. I bent over her bed with the book and said 'Mom, look here'. She said 'Florry, I can't see'. She was very very ill. (note - she died during the 1918 influenza pandemic. Much more on that here. )


On my first day at school, my mom and my aunt Esther took me and my cousin Violet together to Christ Church school. The first thing I saw was a big rocking horse and I thought we were going to have a nice playtime here, but we didn't get to use the rocking horse much. That first day, the teacher gave me some coloured counters to play with.

School wasn't very nice. The teachers were very strict, even with the youngest classes. Not all the teachers had been to college. They were nearly all 'Misses'; there were no married ones. One was called Miss Cross - I thought she had got the right name. The headmistress had her house next to the school.

We were taught to write at school, but it was my dad who taught me and Charlie our copperplate handwriting. The girls had sewing and knitting lessons, though I wasn't too interested in sewing or knitting. We used bits of calico for sewing little stitches. When we learned to knit, we learned 'Needle in, wool over, pull through and slip off'.

I was always in the A class and Charl was in the B class. Our sister, Violet, was very clever. She passed the exam to go to Bilston grammar school and the teachers wanted her to go. But there was no way my dad could have afforded it. In those days, you had to pay for all the books, the uniform and all the other things you needed at grammar school, and my dad was bringing up three children without a mother.

Our school dressed up for May 24th 1919, the Empire Day after the end of the First War. Aunt Esther made dressed with red crosses on them for me and Violet to dress up as nurses. We walked with two other girls dresses as nurses at the front of the parade. The teacher dressed as Rule Britannia and sat on a high chair.

When we had a month's holiday from school in the summer, we would go off and play in the fields. We would catch butterflies and bees. I would pick the bees up with their wings and put them in a jar with some clover. I'd let them go after a bit. The fields in Coseley had buttercups and daisies. We would pick the daisies and make daisy chains and put them round our necks or heads. The fields were private. They belonged to Mr Bagnall who kept cows on them and sold the milk. Once Mr Bagnall came running after us. We ran away but he caught my sister Violet and held on to her. As soon as he had gone, we would be in the fields again.


One night in the First War, my aunt Emma was with Charlie and me at our house in Yew Tree Lane, Coseley, while my mom and dad had gone to Bilston with my aunt Esther and uncle Ern for a drink and to go to the market.

We were sitting in the house when suddenly the house shook from under us. Emma ran outside.

Our mom and dad came running from Bilston and said a Zeppelin was over us. It dropped bombs on Tipton and people were killed. We heard it was brought down before it got to the coast.



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