|Transcript Title||Ansell, Daisy (O 2000.6)|
Hertford Oral History Group
Recording no: O 2000.6
Interviewee: Daisy Ansell (DA), DOB: January 1914
Date: 4 July 2000
Venue: 23 Chelmsfield Road, Hertford
Interviewers: Peter Ruffles (PR) and Karen (trainee interviewer from Hertford Museum)
************** unclear recording
[discussion] untranscribed material
(italics) editor’s notes
[This interview started with a long more-or-less monologue from Daisy discussing mainly her furniture arrangements and how she had sold some of them on. This is omitted, and is interrupted briefly by the arrival of Karen from the Museum. It moves on to questions of how long Daisy has known Peter, and memories of her early days.]
PR: (front door bell rings)... Welcome!
Karen: Oh, you’re here!
PR: Daisy, this is Karen coming in
DA: Oh yes.
DA: Hello, sit down then, if you can. I was saying earlier, I had a settee to match that, Peter, but my friend who was looking after me at the time, ‘cause when I first come out of hospital I had the bed downstairs. And the settee was upstairs, and she knew a young man who was going to move quickly, into a flat, up Sele Farm, and he hadn’t got any furniture.
DA: and I did intend getting rid of some of the furniture, so I let him have my settee, two dining room chairs, two like this, and an armchair, but I kept one armchair, that’s the one...
PR: Yes, yeah,
DA: it’s very old, and it’s only got loose covers on, it’s not very... but I thought it would do him a turn.
PR: yes, and give you some space.
DA: yes, well, it was upstairs, you see. The grandfather lives near Sele School, he did the moving for them.
...[section detailing disposal of old furniture, here omitted]
... but I wouldn’t know him, I don’t see faces at all. But I know yours, Peter, because I’ve known Peter since you were that high. Oh yes, his Mum and Dad.. his Grandmother lived in the Villas, the one where you are, Peter.
DA: and then his parents were there with Peter and you’ve got...
PR: Tom and Sheila, yes.
DA: and I knew them all you see, because Peter was at school with my eldest nephew, Michael... weren’t you? at Grammar School.
PR: yes, well and at St. Andrews.
DA: and at St. Andrews.
PR: and he now comes to St. Andrews Church, sits up in the front row does old Michael,
DA: yes he does, and his Mother was married there. But I turned Baptist, you see when I was 17. So I went away from, but my mother didn’t mind, 'cos I knew a lot of people at the Baptist Church, and I was baptised at 17. I went through the waters, you know how they do. David Ronco was up last week to see me, you know, that’s the Minister. Do you know him?
PR: Yes, yes.
DA: They say you’ve got a nice minister at St. Andrews Church.
PR: We have, yes we have. David Ronco is very lively and...
DA: Yes he is very nice. But he always come to see me at the Golden Lunch you see, ‘cause we have the Golden Lunch at the Church once a month, and it’s the first Thursday in the month. But they’re not having it this month, they’re having another one in a Farm, but I shan’t go to that because you have to queue up for your food, and I have to have people wait on me.
PR: Yes, yes, I see,
DA: My leg won’t do it, although they all tell me not to worry. You know I had a hip... major operation on my hip, and they say when you have it, it takes a long while to. They’ve not got to see me any more, because I said I’m still walking with a frame, can’t walk without it. I try with the walking stick, I do six steps and then I have to grab hold of something. I want to go down the town shopping, you know, but I don’t think I ever will now that I’m on the wrong side of eighty. ( laughter ).
PR: Now Daisy, we’d better get going on this..
DA: ‘Cause I expect you’ve got other things to do. (to Karen) Do you work at the Museum?
(Note: The family history begins to emerge at this point.)
Karen: Not yet, I’m doing some volunteer work now.
DA: We saved them our chair when this place was modernised 20 years ago. We found it up in the attic, and my sister Nelly, you knew her - she’s been dead twenty years - but it was her high chair, and she said so. Although it had been in the attic, all that time it hadn’t got a spot of woodworm or anything in it, it was wonderful.
PR: Well, how old would Nelly be now - if she died twenty years ago, this last weekend, wasn’t it?
DA: She died in ‘81 and she was 71 then, so she would be about 90 now.
PR: And you’re not all that far behind...
DA: I was 86 in January, but I don’t like living on my own, but it’s either I’ve got to do that or go into somewhere, but I don’t want to go in anywhere. I want to stay here. And David Ronco said ‘not to worry; you’ve got more space and a toilet downstairs, Daisy. And if the worst comes to the worst you could get a bedsitter.’ He says, you stay where you’re happy You see all my memories are here...
PR, Karen: Yes,
DA: We moved into this when it was a new house.
PR: Well, I going to stop you there, because we’ve got to get this on the tape..
DA: How long have you been doing ?
PR: We’ve been doing the recordings for about ten years, I suppose, and...
DA: What do you do? Take them down to the Museum,
PR: What we want is ordinary little memories, not jokes or anything, just ordinary little memories. And then the tape goes into the Museum, someone will type out what we said, so you can read it, and you can have a copy of that.
DA: Oh !
PR: It could embarrass you, because you’ll say ‘Did I say that?’ you never say it the way you think you’re going to say it, it comes out funny. That’s when we went to Evelyn and she told us about her early life in the Green, and...
DA: I was born down there, and so was Evelyn.
PR: OK, Now I’m going to start it properly, and say what the date is and where I am. This is Peter Ruffles, and I’m recording on a not very nice July morning, 4th July 2000, at the home of Daisy, 23 Chelmsfield Road, where she’s been living since this house was built, brand new. What year was that, Daisy, when you came up here?
DA: Well, the twins was about 13, they were still at school. But I of course had left school then. I think they were about 13, and Evelyn was 77 when she died, about, just over 2 years ago, so that’ll give you an idea (indicates around 1934: transcriber). I really know her twin, who lives in Kent, I’ve got a twin to her, she’s the only sister I’ve got left now. She was 80 last year, 16th October they were born, and Simon was born 5 October, because if he’d just been born a bit later, Evelyn would have been 44, which is marvelous for a person to have a baby. She went 13 years...
PR: and Michael and Judy and then a long gap, and 44 and then Simon...
DA: She was only 22 when she got married. Michael would be 52 in June. I forget now. He’s just had a birthday.
PR: Right then. Let’s go right back then to your early memories, Daisy. You were born in the Green.
PR: and Karen doesn’t know where that is.
DA: No, it isn’t there now. Waitrose is there.
Karen: OK, yes, Waitrose is there.
DA: There was six houses down there, well, like what we lived in. They were red brick, they were very nice houses. We had three bedrooms, and three of the houses had three bedrooms, and we was one of them, and we had an old lady called Mrs Dye lived next door to us, and we used to call her Granny, because our grandparents had died. But we always called her Granny, and Mum did a lot for her, you know. She lived next door. We used to have a tap outside, in the yard as we called it . Mum made a little garden there, but there wasn’t much of a garden. Three of you had to share that tap: that was old Mrs Dye, and the person next to her the other side, and Mum. And Mum used to have to fill buckets of water when it was going to freeze tonight, the night before. We had a... what we called a tin water bucket. It was kept for just that water. And she used to fill that up, and fill all the saucepans and kettles up, case it froze, then with that saucepan of water, she used to boil it and put it over the tap to thaw it, because the old lady couldn’t do things like that.
PR: Oh, I see, Looked after the community tap. But your houses were the better ones...
DA: Oh, they were lovely ones. They were much nicer than this house, really. The bedrooms were nicer; they were a nice size. ‘Cause these bedrooms are not very big. And we only had a sitting room, and then we had a room at the back which we called a scullery, and that’s where Mother did all the washing. And we had a copper. It wasn’t a gas copper; it used... you put coal and wood under it, to light it. And we used to have a bath from that - Mum used to boil that, and we used to have a zinc bath in the sitting room and Mum had a very high screen, it was very pretty. I don’t know what happened to it. Anyway, she used to put that round us to keep the draughts off of us. And we had to have a bath in the zinc bath, in the sitting room. Never had no bathroom.
But we had a lovely larder! It was like a, well it was bigger than the hall. It was a small room. Mum used to do all the carving in there at Christmas time and she used to have a table in there, and carve. And there was a lovely big window in it! They were ever so well built houses, but your toilet was outside. You had to go out of the back door, in another door, an’ that was the toilet.
PR: What about lighting?
DA: We had no electric, an’ no gas. Every night my Mother used to trim the lamps, like to see that they were ready for when it was dark, and we used to have little tiny lamps like that upstairs. They had a little shade like that and then like a solid bottom. She used to have to put paraffin in those, and a wick, you know. She wouldn’t have candles, she thought they were dangerous, so we’d each have one of these little lamps in our bedroom. And we weren’t allowed to read in bed, because she used to say it was bad for our eyes, with a little lamp like that. But downstairs, we had a big, oh, a lovely lamp, a double burner lamp. It had two globes on it, like a big lamp. And Mum used to see that the wick was nice and straight at night, and fill it up with oil, paraffin. We used to have to go and fetch paraffin from the shop, in those days. There was a shop in Fore Street called Harveys...
PR: Whereabouts then was the shop then in Fore St.? (54 Fore Street, old numbering)
DA: Well it was somewhere on the Post Office side, over that side, but further along where I think there’s a Bank there now. It was a lovely , well they sold you know, hammers and all that sort of thing. A hardware shop. And we used to have to go there and take a can with us, and then they’d fill it up with this paraffin oil...
PR: So, were you all girls, your Mum had?
DA: No, four, and one brother. My brother died last year. He was two years in a (..??) I used to be his shadow. As he was going down to the barges. We had barges along the river in them days. A horse used to pull it along, and they used to bring malt up. There was a malting at the bottom - I dunno if it’s still there?
PR: Some of the buildings are, but there’s no maltings, not the ones you’re referring to, they’d gone. There’s some over by the Salvation Army.
DA: Oh I wondered, no, no, it’s this side it was. Well I don’t know who it belonged to. But the bargemen used to do malt for there and they used to put a sack on a chain and it used to go up through a trapdoor and go on the second floor of this place. I can’t think of the name of the place, but it was quite a nice building. And the bargemen used to let us have a ride. I used to go as far as the lock.
DA: I wouldn’t go any further, but Fred used to go to Ware, right to Ware.
PR: He lost his shadow, then.
DA: but I didn’t like going to the, er, what did I say I went as far as?
PR: the lock.
DA: well I didn’t like to go through the lock gates, because all the water went down in them days. Can you remember it Peter?
PR: I walked there the other day, as far as the lock. It still does it.
DA: Well, I didn’t like that. So as soon as it got near to the lock, I got out. There was a man there on the lock in them days, I don’t expect there is now. Is there ?
PR: Yes, yes, there’s the lock house, and he comes out each time a barge comes.
DA: And we used to love to go on the barge. The men was very nice. That’s what I think is so sad today, children can’t have the freedom that we had. I mean, in the summer time, we used to live at the Meads - you know the Meads - well they used to cut the grass, and sell it. But while it was drying, they’d let us play there and we used to play down there. We’d take a basket with some cakes in and Mum used to make a bottle - it was a glass bottle - a lemonade, but it was made with those yellow crystals, you know what I mean? You didn’t buy lemonade in a bottle like you do now. She made it with yellow crystals, this bottle of lemonade, and then she’d give us some sandwiches and some little home-made cakes and that and we’d put them in a basket and there’d be about six of us, always used to go together. You probably don’t remember Nellie Payne, she lived along there, well, you know (Tiny?) it was her youngest sister, the one that was my age. We. - and Teresa Horrock - and then there was one or two boys - Tom Ely - do you remember Tom? He died about two years ago, he was down Bircherley Court. He always used to come for walks with us girls, and then there was another, Bob Barber, he used to come.
PR: And were you all living in the Green somewhere?
DA: They all lived round there, yes. Tom Ely lived round the corner place, where there were two houses there . And the Hydes used to live next door.
PR: Do you remember, Daisy, how your Mother and Father came to be there? Did they... do you know what their life was before.
DA: My Mother and Father were both Hertfordshire people. My Father was born in Hoddesdon and my Mother was born in Hertford. Her mother used to live along the riverside; you know where Waitrose is, there was four very nice cottages there. That’s where my Mother lived as a girl...
PR: Oh, gosh, yes. What was her maiden name, then?
PR: So they met somewhere in Hertford, I suppose...
DA: They knew each other when they were schoolchildren. But they didn’t get on. My Father’s Mother died, quite young, it’s a distressing times (...???) she wasn’t all that old. But my Father used to do lots of jobs for her. Mum used to tease him as she went by, because he’d be scrubbing the step, or something like that. ‘Cos standing by the side of the road. I don’t remember it of course, but I’ve heard Mother say they weren’t the best of friends, but they were. They had to pay for a house about three months before they got married, because in them days, houses were always difficult to get. And they lived up at - well Ruby Watts (Ruby Henry on HOHG recording) will tell you the name of the place - but up that yard there was about four cottages along there, and it was funny, they had a....
PR: Was that up in Railway Street ?
DA: Yes, it was, off of Railway Street. ‘Cos Ruby Watts - it’s Henry now, - her parents lived in a place on the front and up this alleyway , like a wide passageway, that was one of them houses my Mother lived in first of all, and she used to have to go to Eltham (Elsie’s?) steps to the wash place. They had a separate wash place, ‘cos it was only a two bed, two up and two down.
PR: What you’re saying is ever so useful. People will lose all that.
DA: Oh, I can see those houses now, yes, I’ve got a good memory.
PR: So what, take me to them, Daisy. You come along...
DA: Can you remember Fieldings? There was a shop, and it had a little butcher’s shop next to it, then there was a yard that was to do with - sort of painting and that, so it was near there... where the houses must have been.
PR: We’re in Railway Street, coming along from the Covered Market corner, you know the Duncombe, and then there’s Dye’s...
DA: Dye’s was there then , yes.
PR: Was where your Mum and Dad started on that same side?
DA: Yes, by the passageway. There was about four, lovely little brick houses. They were only two up and two down, I’ve heard Mum say. My Mother ('s first child) was born there, it was her first child, and then Mother and Father got this one down in the Green, 17 the Green, we lived. So we lived in the Green, really...
PR: How would they have got it? I mean would they find the landlord, and then. There wasn’t any council then.
DA: It was a Mr. ... goodness knows... he used to come and collect the rent every week.
PR: You just had to find out where somewhere was empty and then.
DA: yes, we heard it was going to be empty and then.
PR: not like going on the Council list.
DA: It was a nice house, we liked it.
PR: Was there any trouble from the neighbours and things? Ruby talked about fights in Railway Street and things like that.
DA: Oh, there was one lady, she used to drink a lot, and she used to come to our house on a Saturday night, so my Mother. ‘Cos you never locked doors in them days, but we had a door with a latch, and she’d put the latch out, because this lady would keep knocking, ‘Can I come in’ when she was the worse for drink. And My Mother sent us off to bed. We always used to go to bed at seven o’clock. Never allowed to stay out, we were. Doesn’t matter if it was summer; my Mother used to say ‘you go to bed, you’re resting your legs.
PR: So she was quite strict with you, your Mother.
DA: Oh, my Mother was firm, but she never actually hit us, she used to... We had a very high mantelpiece over the... we had what they called a kitchener in our sitting room; you didn’t have anything to cook by, gas, or that in them days, - on one side of it, it had a tap that you could put some water in the top, and then it got warm when the fire was alight and then the other side there was this oven, and Mum used to cook with that. But she always had kettles on the top, you know, to make a cup of tea, and that for people.
PR: and that would be winter and summer, presumably.
DA: oh yes, had to have that all the year round. But we used to like that; and we had ours in Vy Hill (?) when we first came, liked it much better but they wouldn’t let us keep it when they altered to gas. We tried to keep it, because we liked it. But it’s a good thing now, because I couldn’t look after it, could I.
PR: What would you have. There was no garden there; there weren’t allotments in those days.
DA: No we only had a very small garden out the back; my Mother made it with just little flowers in, and we had some chickens in a shed. And my brother had what they called some fan-tailed pigeons, yes, Mum used to let him have those, and they used to stay in the top of the shed, that the chickens was in. We didn’t have a dog in them days, we only had a cat. My Mother wouldn’t have a dog ‘cos of the road, we were right on the road, our house. It only had a little pavement about that wide in the front. And then you used to get the traffic down there.
PR: Where would you have got the food for a big family like that then?
DA: Oh my Mother was a wonderful cook, loved cooking.
PR: and would you have gone to the market to buy food, or shops?
DA: well, we... You know John’s the Butchers? My Mother always went there, always went to the same butchers.
PR: That was Wally’s then.
DA: Yes, in them days. First of all my Mother used to go to the butchers that was further along, but when Wally’s set up, he said to my Mother, he said I’m leaving here, because they wanted me to sign a paper to say how many years before he’d ever go anywhere else, and he wouldn’t do it, so he set up on his own. And my Mother went with him, one of his first customers. And when the girls got married, they used to go there as well. And then he retired because he wasn’t in very good health, well that was the son. That wasn’t the father, the father was very nice.
PR: What about veg, and...
DA: Oh, we used to get all our groceries at... my Mother only went to Greeves (no 4 Railway Street); that used to be on the corner. You know where there used to be a jeweler’s shop, opposite Gravesons, well just over the road there. That used to be Greeves and he used to sell everything, ground. ‘Cos my Mother used to make coffee in a jug, I’ve got it out the shed now, it’s like an earthen, a stone one. It’s got a spout with little holes in so it strained it and she used to make the coffee in that. Used to get best coffee. Always used to go to Mr Greeves. He was very deaf. Do you remember him?
PR: Yes, with a great hearing aid with wires coming out of his...
DA: Yes, he was very deaf. But he loved Michael; he used to say to Maisie, ‘I love to see that boy coming into the shop, he sits still, he’s no trouble at all’. All the other mothers let them touch this and touch that. ‘Cos you see they used to have biscuits on show and that in them days, didn't they - quite different to what it is now. But I can remember it all, an’ he used to cut the bacon on a machine, how many rashers you wanted; we used to get our bacon there. He was a nice man, if you was polite and did what you was told, we never had any bother with him, but he could be nasty if the children didn’t behave. He’d just as soon tell 'em to go out, you know do away with us. Well, my mother used to have a little red notebook - do you remember - about so big - and she used to write all her groceries down, and I remember she always had four pounds of sugar and two pounds lasted us ages and ages - oh! it was amazing.
PR: Was that a weekly order, then?
DA: yes, that was a weekly order. I’d always know the first thing was four pound of sugar on the top. And what I was going to say was I used to go to All Saints School, well the White Hart was there in them days
PR: It’s still there -
DA: there used to be another building in the middle there
PR: where the fountain is now
DA: yes, well they always used to mend the handles on my pram - my doll’s pram - 'cos it had china handles on it and sometimes I used to undo the screw and drop it, and they’d mend it for me. That was Quelch & Brown’s, can you remember?
PR: I remember them in Fore St. (Quelch & Brown first at 2 Railway Street then later at Fore Street).
DA: they had a shop there before they went to Cross Street (?)
PR: are we making sense?
Karen: Yes, perfectly
DA: Can you understand me? I forgot I was talking. I must be careful what I say! Well, I used to take this notebook on my way to school and drop it into Mr Green (Greeves? There was a Mr Green at 7 Railway Street), and then he used to get the order up, and he used to have a little boy, after school hours and he used to take the orders to Mum, what she put in that book. I expect she went in during the day and paid it. I remember she used to give him a couple of coppers. I can tell you one of them - you know the butchers up the top where we always went to, Wally’s, well the son there. He said to Teresa (?) and I one day “I remember your Mum giving me tuppence or thruppence for bringing the groceries down” so he must’ve been one of the little boys then. He said I always used to come up to Coppins, that great big
PR: Well, it became Ilotts, didn’t it, on the corner of Market St.
DA: yes it used to be a fruit shop, used to go up there and get some apples and that with the money. Yes he told us that one day in the shop - else we wouldn’t have known. We didn’t know who the boys were, just helped Mum... just tuppence or thruppence, course that’s a lot of money then. I only used to have thruppence a week pocket money. And I used to go to the cinema, matinees on a Saturday afternoon.
PR: Which one did you go to
DA: The County...
PR: the posh one
DA: Yes I remember they’d have a serial, and we’d be excited to go the next week, a lot of us went together, never alone. But we had to earn our money; used to do Saturday jobs for my Mum for that thruppence. She was very firm, wouldn’t have any nonsense. I used to polish all the chairs for her in them days. Saturday, jobs in the morning, and then in the afternoon, I used to go to the cinema. They had a serial on there once I remember an’ it was called the ‘Green Arrow’, and this man used to shoot big arrows. We said ‘I wonder who he’ll kill this week’, we used to get quite excited about this drama, you see, it was a serial. It was very attractive then...
PR: Which way did you go to school, then Daisy?
DA: Oh it used to go past the White Hart and by Shire Hall, and across the road...
PR: and up Church street, and through the churchyard...
DA: yes up Church St., of course it’s all altered now, isn’t it. You used to go past the English Gentleman. Can you remember English Gentleman? (Another name for Salisbury Tap? – no. 4, Church Street).
PR: Yes, she was the verger there, at the back of the church
DA: She used to make puf’n’puff (?) for us children
Karen: Where was the school?
DA: Well, there was a little one at the bottom near All Saints Church, and that had a little house near it, that one of the teachers lived in, and that was her mixed school with boys and girls together, ‘till we got a certain age, then we went to the next school, which is called now I think Abel Smith School.
PR: it used to be All Saints.
DA: I’ve got a photo somewhere there, of me taken outside, with my violin, ‘cause I learnt the violin when I was there. That’s about the only photo I have got. All Saints School, we called it. And my brother went to the Cowpers School, where you see all those Queen’s something houses, aren’t there. It was further along... do you know where we’re talking about?
Karen: Well, not exactly
DA: You go right, past All Saints, oh of course it wouldn’t be there now would it Peter? Would it?
PR: Yes, I think it would
DA: Well, after the big hill we had to go over the ditch, that still there?
PR: no I think they’ve filled that in
DA: It’s nearly the churchyard, really. Up the hill that was All Saints girls school and further along another passageway, you used to go to the Cowpers School, where my brother went.
PR: That used to be a twitchell, but it’s now a road.
DA: yes, the outskirts of it used to be a big house, Brays or someone like that used to live in them
PR: Were they happy days for you then, Daisy?
DA: Oh yes, I loved school. I loved sports. I was sports captain the last year I was at school. But I left school at 14, they did in those days, unless you went to Grammar but I didn’t sit for the Grammar, my mother wouldn’t let me because she couldn’t afford my uniform, but they wanted me to.
PR: What did you do in your sports, Daisy? There was a playground, or did you go to Hartham or...
DA: No there used to be a big field up, near school, there was a rectory (it’s still there? oh), well before the rectory there used to be a great big field, and we used to do hurdle-jumping, I used to like that. And my sister Irene was a very good runner. She used to run down at Whitsun Fete, they used to have a Fete then
PR: Yes, Whit Monday Sports on Hartham
DA: She won a little watch, I’ve got it upstairs now, and a medal; don’t know what happened to the medal. But she was a very good runner.
PR: But her twin...
DA: Pardon, oh, the swimming pool was an open one, wasn’t it, old-fashioned one. We used to go there once a week, Mondays was my day, and if it was wet my mother wouldn’t let me go, if it was cold and wet. Well of course it was cold water, just river water. Oh yes the tadpoles used to come in, and little fish from out the river...
PR: were those sticklebacks?
DA: there was only like a little, a plank, like a bridge, you could get across, do you remember that Peter?
PR: no, I’ve seen pictures of it...
DA: well, that was at the side of the swimming pool and you could go over there, and the river run underneath.
PR: This is a wonderful story, Daisy, you’re saying just the right...
DA: Am I?
PR: Yes, no-one else has told us these things, lovely!
DA: And we used to go down the Meads and cross over to Hartham, yes, you could then. There was an ever so deep part of water, don’t know if that’s still there, it used to rush from the left side of it, but I suppose everything’s different now, because even when I went in the Castle some weeks ago, my friend took me there, and oh! it’s terrible isn’t it, it needs cleaning out. You see they used to clean the rivers nice in the old days. Hertford is not as nice as when I was a little girl, I don’t think. Lots of things have spoilt it
Karen: Daisy, when you first started work, what did you do?
DA: Oh I just used to take two little girls backwards and forwards to school...
Karen: and this was after you finished with school?
DA: yes, two of them. And while they were at school I used to wash up, and do a bit of polishing, and the borders of the floor where... they never had carpets like they have now. And I only got five shillings a week, heh, heh, heh. I wasn’t there very long...
PR: Where was that, were they the Ware Road side of the town?
DA: No, they were Halfords, they lived over Halfords cycle shop, do you remember in Fore Street. They lived over, he was the manager of the shop, and his brother worked for him - you’d probably know Mr Stanbridge who was in West St., well he was the brother to the manager, but they didn’t get on very well, and he set up a shop there, didn’t he. He and his wife lived along the Ware Rd opposite Addiss’s
PR: Now I’ve got a picture, I think I may have given you a copy of when they were pulling down the Ebenezer Chapel, and you and Nellie
DA: were walking to meet Evelyn...
PR: and I’ve got the rear view of you,
DA: and Evelyn used to live in St. Andrews St. in them days. That’s where she first lived with Reg’s sister. Do you remember Pateman’s the milk shop, just up there and there was two big houses. Chris (?) died, but... They were old-fashioned, they were three storeys, but no back door, and no garden. That was her first home. And we were going down there to meet her, she used to wait at the bottom.
PR: Well, I’ve been telling people wrongly, because I’ve been saying that’s Nelly, and that’s David, and one’s going off to Woolworths and the other’s going off to Water Hall dairy
DA: No, no we were all going shopping together.
PR: Both you and Nellie worked later in shop work.
DA: No I worked in shop work but Nellie never did. She was always in a factory, worked in a biscuit factory in Tamworth Road. (Gilbertson & Page).
PR: Where did you work then, which shop?
DA: I was at Water Hall Dairies for just over 8 yrs when it was near the war memorial.
(TAPE - END OF SIDE ONE)
They had a lot of ledgers at Water Hall Dairy and you had to look up people’s accounts and that, and I couldn’t see them. I had my first operation on my eye in 1969.
PR: Did your mother’s eyes go at the end of her life?
DA: Yes, when my father was ill, she had a stroke, a very slight one and it went behind the right eye. But my father always had wonderful sight. His eyes were grey like Evelyn’s, but mine are the colour of my mother’s, brown.
PR: But you’re the only one that’s had vision problems.
DA: As bad as I’ve got it. They all wore glasses, even my brother, at the last. He wore them, and my sister in Kent does. But she wears the kind that, you know, has that little bit at the bottom. When she first had glasses, she only had them to rest her eyes, she hadn’t got bad sight, but she now wears, oh she’s got really smart ones, they’ve got lovely little chinese (?) ones that you use by (?)
PR: So the last thing really we ought to say is , we’ll wear you out, we’ve been going nearly an hour,
DA: Have we really? That’s gone, hasn’t it, me talking and all. I think it’s being on my own that makes me like that. That’s what I excuse myself as.
PR: Let’s just talk for a minute or two about coming up here and what it was like, you and the new estate
DA: All the people come up here from where we were, see, ‘cos that was demolished down there, wasn’t it? There was Mrs Parsley, living at her daughter’s, now she used to live down Bircherley Green, do you remember?
PR: I don’t remember her being up here
DA: She was old, you know, well she’s next door, and Daphne, you know Daphne Paton, she was her granddaughter. That side we had Mr/Mrs Mc. what was their name, he used to sweep the roads, the husband. The lady was Mrs Bunyan’s sister, they lived next door, so we were really amongst people we knew, Mrs Clark, she used to live down the Green, (do you remember George Clark?) well, Mrs Clark lived in one of the houses I told you about, six of them, she lived in one of the two bedroom ones, further down. There was George, and she had a daughter, but the daughter died quite young.
PR: Did you all work together, it must have been like a building site when you first arrived? I mean, the gardens wouldn’t have been...
DA: Ooh yes, it was in a dreadful state. My father found ever such a lot of... legs of the bath, buried, up the garden they were. And we never could make out why that was, and it was only when the house was modernised, we found all the baths had got one leg off of it, in the corner. They must've took them off when they put them in.
PR: and so they dumped them in your garden
DA: yes Dad had a terrible lot of 'em. My father loved gardening, we had a beautiful garden in them days. We had all vegetables out the back then. He used to grow everything, carrots,
PR: Was Mount Road there? it wasn't there at the start, was it?
DA: No, when we first moved up here, they weren't there, it was all fields. That's how we come to lose our pussy, we was very sad. We bought the cat up here, and Mum buttered its feet, 'cos they used to in them days - you used to put butter on their paws and then they reckoned they never go away. She didn't at first, he didn't rather, he was ever so good, Cargo, we used to call 'im, ever so good at first, and we had him ever such a long while, and then we suddenly lost him. Well the twins was still at school then, or working then, I don't know. Anyway they went off with Mum, to go all along the hedges to try and find him - 'cos you see, you know those houses... um... Thieves Lane, they weren't there then, were they, they were all fields. So you see, Mum thought he might have got lost, or hurt or something, and be under one of the hedges, so they went all round them big fields, in the hedges to try and find him, but they never did find him. And the only thing my mother kept saying, "I bet that wretched 'keeper shot him" - 'cos they used to have 'keepers in them days, up at Panshanger. And you see, he was a hunter
PR: You see, he wouldn't be good news for the pheasants
DA: and if they was to see a cat, they'd shoot them. So that's what my Mum used to say happened to him. We never did see him any more, but Mum wouldn't have any more. Said no - she didn't know the going of it, if she'd known its end, that's alright. We always had a dog after that
PR: yes, I remember your dog...
DA: but my father used to have them in a kennel, they used to have a kennel outside. He believed in dogs being in a kennel. Thought it was good for them, healthier. So he used to have a good kennel. In fact, it's not so many years ago I got - you know George Darton - I got him to break it up, he said whoever made this kennel, they didn't intend it to ever be broken up - he had an awful job to break it. But Nelly and I we always had the dog indoors, and my mother did, but my Dad was a laugh, he reckoned it was healthier for them; they used to have an old army blanket, as we called it, like a grey blanket, in the bottom of their kennel, and it was on bricks, he never used to let it be on the ground, because of the damp.
PR: So this row along here, you were all friends together. Was that most of the estate?
DA: I knew everybody along here when we first moved up here, but I don't know many people now. A lot of people have bought other houses, and gone. That's what I always say, that's why I'm so lonely now, because my friends are gone, died, you see, the ones that I had time with, we used to go for a walk every day, with the dog. So now I've got nobody.
PR: You're tucked away up here,
DA: yes very lonely it is. But I won't give my home up.
PR: No, better not. What about Ruby, I know she's a lot older than you?
DA: I can remember her parents, 'cos they came up here, really.
PR: They lived near the ring, didn't they, on the roundabout
DA: No, they lived where Ruby lived
PR: Oh, did they?
DA: Tyler her name was, Mr and Mrs Tyler. They lived in the same house as Ruby, lived with them. (?Tyler was Ruby Henry’s mother’s maiden name?)
PR: Do you remember her from the 'Green' days, do you remember the Fish and Chip shop?
DA: Oh yes,
PR: I think they were a bit rough, weren't they
DA: Well there was a lovely one opposite, where Pearce's is now, on the opposite side of the road, Anstey's (? Is this White City, a fish & chip shop, on Green Street/Railway Street corner, opp. Pearce’s/Wren’s), they were very nice, nice white overalls and all that, and then there was quite a nice one along, called Dobsons (47-53 Railway Street), wasn't it. Do you remember that? I've heard my mother say that, years ago, there was ever such a lot of Public Houses along Railway Street.
PR: But Ruby was always a bit of a rough diamond, wasn't she? She said she was.
DA: Well, I didn't know her very well. Can you remember the Millses? They had a second-hand shop next to the Duncombe. We were very friendly with them, we used to go to their parties. They had ever such a big house over the top, ever such a big room it was, and ideal for parties. We used to go there. Went to Dot's 21st birthday party.
PR: and the Dyes were always on the main street as well
DA: yes, they were where them three houses are, you know where Joan is, her Mum lived there, and then there was another Dye next door, and another... Can you remember Catherine? course, she lived up your way, well she used to live in that middle one, when she was at school. We used to go to Sunday School together. I used to call for her, and we used to go together.
PR: Which Sunday School were you going to then? Because Ruby used to talk about the Salvation Army, and Dixons.
DA: Dixons, that was, when we were children. My mother used to take us to Dixons, it was more like a Chapel, and they used to have all great sort of pictures around, that had verses on them, you know. Yes, I remember it well.
PR: Ruby says that she wanted the Salvation Army, and they'd go with a tambourine, and she started playing it, but then when the Dixons came she didn't like it, and didn't want to go there any more.
DA: Well, she'd remember further back than me, wouldn't she?
PR: Yes, because she's 99.
DA: Did you have her talk to you?
DA: Yes, I bet she was interesting!
PR: Yes, she gave us a few stories. She used to talk about how rough Railway Street was when she was working in her chip shop.
DA: Did she work ?
PR: Yes she worked in her Mum and Dad's chip shop
DA: Is that the sort of shop they had. They had it next to Worlers (?) (could this be Warners, which was there later?) the little fruit shop, didn't they. I told you they were at the bottom of that row, I couldn't remember what it was. I thought it was a fruit shop,
PR: She met her husband George when she was 16. He was in the army, in the barracks in London Road, and he came in there, and that's how they met.
DA: He was a nice man. I didn't know Ruby an awful lot. she's got one daughter, hasn't she
PR: yes, Renee, in the Folly
DA: You see, with Nelly and I, my sister being ill for a long while, we kept ourselves here, more or less very private. Because over 20 years she was ill.
PR: Well, what else have we got to say - I think we've probably exhausted ourselves!
DA: But, I can remember my mother said she went out of the building with the pub in it, it used to be awful, I've heard my mother say that, but of course I don't remember that, because they cleaned it out a bit by the time I was. Any case, I was never allowed out on the streets, my mother was very firm about that. She wouldn't let us go out in the evening. And when I was older, we was up here. The twins were about thirteen when we moved up here.
PR: Was Reg, her brother - was he a local boy?
DA: Yes, they lived up that house where his sister lived, when he was a boy.
PR: Yes, by Pentlands. (?)
DA: His father died fairly young I think, and Reg was spoilt, because he was the youngest of them. They were a fairly big family. He was my age, you know, he was older than me.
PR: And would they have met.
DA: yes, often used to go to his Mum, and have the evening with them, they used to go to the parents' home.
PR: and in the end she became the housewife of that home
DA: yes, she got on very well with Reg's Mum. Reg's Mum was nice. I've got a photo. Look, can't you remember? I've got a photo of her at Evelyn's wedding. I've got them all upstairs. I told Michael to take them, because he wants one of his mother, when she's 21. All my big photos are upstairs, all in a drawer. I said to him, why don't you take them now, he said 'No, I'll have them when.'
PR: When you're ready to part with them
DA: then he'll sort them out in his album. I said to him, 'If you like that one, you take it now, Michael', but he said 'No'. Her and Ann-Marie they both had their photo taken when they were 21, and they both had a dark dress on. I forget what it was now, what it was like. Anyway, they went up - did they call it Sneesby, do you remember that? anyway, it was a special Photographer, up along the Ware Road.
PR: Right, well, we'd better unplug you, and...
DA: but I don't remember about the rough days, unfortunately. But there's one thing I remember was, one night... when it was November, you know, the fifth, in the middle of our Green there was this piece of space. The boys all went and broke a fence from around the... er, Creaseys, they used to live in a big house there, and it went over the river, and they broke wood off that. There was quite a stink about that, I can remember that. But on the whole they were nice days, we used to go primrosing when it was primrose time, and bluebelling - bluebells we used to get at Panshanger, but we used to go to Tewin to get our primroses, they've built all on the ground now, big posh houses.
PR: How'd you used to get there, then?
DA: We used to walk, we'd walk everywhere. We used to walk to Bayford to go blackberrying, we used to go up the Bayford Hill, and there was a big wood up there, and it was lovely. That was the best place for blackberries. Oh, we had our special places, but as I say, we never went on our own, there was always about six or eight of us, together.
PR: Were there any places in the town that you would have avoided, dodgy places, nasty people up yards or anything, you didn't want to meet
DA: I suppose we weren't allowed up these places, or after dark. My mother was very strict about that. But my sister used to go to the dances. They used to have what they called a Firemen's Ball in the Shire Hall in them days. Nellie used to get a special dress for it, she used to love dancing. And do you remember the Hart family?
PR: The Water Lane ones, top of ?
DA: No, there was George Hart, he used to be something at the Shire Hall, don't know whether they call it a caretaker, him and his wife, so Nellie used to see him, we used to be so friendly with the Harts, and she used to get a special ticket to go to the Firemen's Ball, ha, ha, ha ! and that was a posh affair. I can remember when - did they call him Pemberton Billing got, he was the Labour Candidate, wasn't he
PR: He was an Independent
DA: oh was it Independent, anyway, I remember Mum took us all round to the Shire Hall, we had to go there when it was announced, and cheering, yes, Ha, ha, ha! I remember that!
PR: She was on his side, then,
DA: Oh yes, yes, he was very popular. But I can't remember him, even. But I can remember her getting us round and saying we must go round and tell him we're pleased he got in. Yes, ha, ha, ha! so we all had to see him.
PR: A very colourful character, he was, fast cars and things...
DA: Oh, was he? I didn't know him, but I can remember Mum taking us all and 'you must come and say three cheers for him'. Yes, ha, ha, ha! they used to do things like that then. Now things come and go, you don't even know when it's voting, do you? Do you know, they never sent me a (license??) to vote last time, you know, so you can vote by post...
PR: Didn't you?
DA: No, but you got in just the same, though, didn't you! Yes, well, I only vote for people I know, I don't vote for whatever Party they are. I like to know if they're good and useful.
PR: Yes, quite a lot of people do that, It's good for Local Government, yes.
DA: Do you think you'll put up any more?
PR: I doubt it, I've done 25 years
DA: Yes, you've done a long time, haven't you, you've done a lot of work in the town and Michael, he's your age, and I don't think he ever done anything - he was never sporting, but Simon's just the opposite, isn't he.
PR: Yes, Simon is. But I've been lucky, though, but being a teacher, I've had more time, like holiday time. It's hard work, but if you're working like other people have to, weekends, you can't get the time for it.
DA: Yes, you see, Michael works on a Saturday.
PR: There we go! Right, then, we'll pack up our little show, and - thank you very much!
DA: I'd forgotten I was doing this, I was just talking to you as a...
PR: You'll have to have a little rest now, and sleep before your afternoon
DA: I suppose I'll have to have my forty winks, but I don't want to. I want to be awake; he told me he'll give me a ring before he comes. My, it's nearly 12 isn't it. I have my meals on wheels, - that's why I didn't want you to come in today, Peter - Monday and Tuesday, and Friday. But Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday I do my own.
PR: You were just doing a bit of liver when I came up on Sunday
DA: Yes, but that was very unusual, though, I usually have a nice chump chop with all the trimmings, parsnips and potatoes cooked around it, and carrots and cabbage on top.
PR: You do that yourself?
DA: Oh yes, I'm not helpless! I like cooking. I done some cakes the other week; I rang George up and said would you like some of my cakes, George - oh dear, I mustn't have all this on there,... I said would you like half a dozen nice little cakes, because he done my shopping for five years, but he can't do it now.
PR: George Darton, who's blind, all his life
DA: he used to do my shopping, him and his wife, and bring it up, and always when I baked some cakes, I used to give him half a dozen of them.
PR: he's not so good now, is he?
DA: for him to have in the afternoon. So I rang him up about a fortnight ago, when I made some, (tho') I never made any last week, I've got to feel like it, 'cause (.. ?) I have to wheel all the flour and the sugar onto me scales, and wheel it back again, it's quite a chore to make cakes. But I do make them occasionally,
PR: George has stopped walking, hasn't he?
DA: yes, he's not at all good. He had to give up in the end. I felt to myself, well, I don't want him to think I didn't appreciate him, 'cause I did, so I give him a little for doing it. But if I had anything nice, I'd give him it; I always appreciated him. It's one of those things, though, isn't it. We all get old, and now I'm good for nothing, ha,ha, I'm useless ha, ha, ha. I just look after myself, that's all I'm doing.
PR: Now Daisy, there is... I'll leave a couple of papers with you, no hurry. When someone comes that can help you fill them in - Judy'll do it. One says that you don't mind us using this, t