This past bank holiday weekend, my wife and I went to her sister’s house in Billericay. This time Aunty June came from Wolverhampton, with her two sons Andrew and Michael and their families.
June was born in 1926 making her 93, the matriarch of the family. She’s as bright as a button but a bit frail. She still has a zest for life. We were in the garden, when my wife Jan asked about her memories of her earlier years.
June recalled. “ My Mum and Dad, Freda and Albert, had seven children. Three girls, Betty, the eldest, myself and your Mother. My four brothers are now sadly gone. Times were hard between the wars but were worse after 1939. Even so, we got by. Many times Mum would have a houseful of soldiers who basically wanted some normality. Of course, we all heard the sniggering jibes, by the community, that we girls would all end up pregnant. But we were all good girls, in fact we were the only girls in the street who didn’t ‘have to get married’. She added, “ I joined the ATS. during the war and after several postings ended up in Wolverhampton as a sergeant and that is where I met Arthur.” He was her husband for almost 50 years
“I wasn’t much good in class, because as a child, I had a nasty chest infection, and as a result I was packed off to the Isle of Wight for a year which meant I didn’t get an education. I stayed in Ventnor, or around that area, I liked the Isle, because it was so countrified and quaint.”
Jan persisted. “I remember the story, when you were all sitting round the large table for tea, when Grandad, who was at one end said or shouted to Nan at the other end , “throw us a chunk of bread Freda.” She picked up a slice and flicked it down the table and to all our surprise he caught it.
“Yes I remember that,” she said smiling, it was quite surreal. “My Mum was getting quite deaf then. Do you remember, when on another occasion, I think it was when Pope John Paul died, your Nan got up from the table and went to the kitchen? She later came back with a poached egg on toast and put it in front of her son Eric! “What’s this” he said.
She replied, “Well that’s what you asked for!”
“No” he replied, “I said that The POPE’s dead, nothing to do with a poached egg!” Even the children and grandchildren laughed at that story.
Jan remembered visiting June and Arthur in Wolverhampton as a young girl. She was taken, with her Dad to the Molyneux Stadium, where Arther worked as an electrician. He gave her an old leather football. As they walked home he told her it had been kicked by Bill Wright. In a very loud voice she asked, “who’s Billy Wright” much to the surprise and chagrin of the locals as he was their idol at that time.
As the afternoon passed, the children playing happily on the lawn, I think a lot of us were thinking what a wonderful old lady. She has seen a million sights that we’ll never see and experienced a lifetime of joys and memories. I know I was thinking, as we said our good-bye’s, I don’t expect to get to her great age. But if I do, I’d be blessed to have a sharp mind like hers. Instead I said…
“Bye bye Aunty June, I hope we see you again. In ten years time!”
Jan and Mike