The story, page four, 2:00 pm, April 1934.
First Sgt Reynolds and then the Doctor left, having made sure the family were being looked after—a neighbour, Mrs Phillips was a St John’s Ambulance Nurse—together with her neighbour also called Phillips and of course Mrs Salmon, were busy doing what they could.
“I can remember, the day after, the house was full of ladies’ doing everything from washing and ironing to cleaning the whole house, they were tripping over themselves.
“Our Granddad came over, he was a broken man, he had now lost three sons aged between 19 and 35, in the space of ten years.”
In the days following, there was an immediate coming together of the neighbours, and even some people who lived just outside of the council houses, toys and treats for the children and even food.
The workers at his factory, the Airscrew, collected money and food parcels for their mate, and this money together with the help from the kind neighbours, helped the family to survive for a few weeks.
Although there was no Social Security as we know it today, there was a sort of ‘poor aid’, this was organised by the Church, local shops, doctors and businesses and meted out by some of the fine ladies of the town.
They would decide, that before any money was passed on, an inspection of the homes and finances of the family would be carried out—a sort of unofficial means test.
The only ‘finances’ to be counted was the money that had been collected for Ethel, but this was all taken into account.
The other operation, these very well-meaning ladies would carry out, was to see if there was anything of value, that a family like this would not need.
Charlie was from a reasonably well-off family, the home had some nice furniture, paintings, china and glass, which had all been passed down to him.
Plus, some furniture that he, as a skilled carpenter, had made himself, he was also a clock repairer in his spare time, and had some refurbished clocks ready for sale.
He was a very industrious man and by his hard work, he had made the home quite comfortable.
All rich pickings for the ‘means test’ ladies, some nice items here for sale, before any of the poor aid could be given.
The home was ransacked, there is no other word for it, all that was left of anything valuable was a glass panelled china cabinet and a medicine chest, both made by himself, even the clocks that he had repaired and were ready for sale were taken and sold.
The money that this raised was pitiful, it lasted less than a couple of weeks, the family home now looked like a shell.
The next hurdle Ethel had to clear was the authorities, they had a duty to make sure this family of six young children could survive with a lone parent, it seemed impossible.
Mrs. Salmon, now took control, a rota was put in place to look after the younger children, and for the older children to be looked after when they returned from school, the idea was to show, that as a community this family could survive.
The man from the council decided to give Mrs Salmon’s plan a trial, anything would be better than placing the children in different children’s homes around the country.
Iris said with a little smile.
‘I think she gave him no choice, he was glad to let her have her way, she was twice as big as he was.”