The day after.

Tuesday, the day after what would be the most tragic day that the families who lived in this little group of houses, will remember for years to come.

These are mostly people, who live in council houses for similar reasons. They are mainly large families, such as Ethel and her six children. But there are others families of just two or three children, with a man working in what could be called a community job, such as a dust-man or street sweeper. These are unskilled jobs that were poorly paid, but important just the same, so the rents were reasonable, and controlled.

Despite, or maybe because of this variety of neighbours—all just about getting by on their meagre wages—there has always been, what could be called a kinship. After all quite a few were related by marriage or were actual relatives.

In such a community, there would always be a person, who would come forward, not so much as a leader, but as some-one everyone trusted.

 A person like Mrs Salmon: it may have been her large size, or for the fact she lived in the middle of the three streets: Pyrcroft and Lasswade Roads, and Cowley Avenue. Whatever it was, no-one would think of challenging her, she always seemed to have the answer to any problem. 

Iris, continues her story, she has been very tearful as it all comes back to her, she has probably not spoken about that day for years. Now, still so fresh in her mind, every moment remembered, such as the next morning at breakfast.

“Deirdre, was utterly heart-broken, she was always the special one,. At breakfast she talked about the feeling she had yesterday, she kept saying”.

“I just knew there was something wrong with Dad, he looked very sad and tired”. 

  The porridge that morning was hardly touched, everyone was so quiet, with just a burst of sobbing from one, then all the family.

Much of the day followed this pattern, a happy home destroyed in an instant, things could never be the same again.

Once again, the neighbours were at the door.

“Do you want anything up the shops, Ethel”.

Mrs Wade, who was her very good friend—they were both midwives, and had helped deliver each other’s children. Mrs Wade was Donald’s God-mother. She was there at the door, with a bowl of eggs—she always had a few eggs for us.

Mrs Salmon came round with the two boys, they were still unaware of what had happened, but wondered why all the tears. She fell into the chair as she always did, the children giggled as she nearly fell out of it, the castors were broken and the chair was very wobbly, the only laugh that would be had today.

  Money was now a very serious problem, the family savings, small as they were, had already been spent to keep the family fed, no work for the last few weeks meant no wages.

Mrs Mant, brought in a few shillings that she and her neighbours had collected. This was to be repeated by some people from the other side of Chertsey, who hardly knew the family, but just needed to share what little they had. This was not a wealthy town, but most people knew what poverty was.

  The ‘Airscrew’ company, and his workmates gave the family money for several weeks, Local shops and business’s, when they heard of the story, were also very supportive. 

Miss Chase, the sister of the owner of ‘Chase of Chertsey’, a horticultural firm, with premises a few hundred yards away, in ‘The Grange’.  kept our larder stocked up for over a year, and gave the children rides in her Rolls Royce Shooting Brake, and generally treated us as a good cause, probably thinking of us as ‘The Deserving Poor’ as distinct from a feckless family.

Author: madeinchertsey

Born in 1932, this is a collection of stories of my childhood growing up in Chertsey, and some stories of my later life.

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