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Friday, 13 October 2017

Dad's Bureau: A Wedding Present for Life - Sepia Saturday

A little girl in a pretty dress is the focus of this week's Sepia Saturday prompt.  But  I have chosen to highlight the desk she is sitting at.   For it immediately brought back memories of my father, sitting at his bureau - a wedding present from my mother in 1938.  It remained with them through all their many house moves. 

This is not a great quality photograph (taken off a slide) 
but it is the only one I have of Dad at his bureau, c.1961. 

I can date this photograph to around 1961, as it was in our new home in Edinburgh,   shortly after we moved there from the north of England,  My aunt (Dad's sister in law)  died of lung cancer.  Dad, who had been a regular smoker for over 20 years,  immediately stopped smoking and never touched a cigarette again.   

Dad - John P. Weston (1912-2003) was born in Bilston, Staffordshir,  in the Enlish Midlands,  the third child of Albert Ernert Weston and Mary Barbara Matthews.   The family moved to Broseley, near Ironbridge in Shropshire.  Dad was always very proud to have grown up in this  historical centre of England's Industrial Revoutio. 

 River Severn flowing between Broseley and Ironbridge
Photograph by my brother Chris Weston
 The famous 100 feet span of the Ironbridge, linking Broseley  and Ironbridge, completed in 1779.   My grandfather Albert Ernest Weston had a 35 minute walk (one way), crossing the bridge to Coalbrookdale where he worked in the Power House.  Photograph by my brother Chris Weston.

Dad's work in sales eventually took him to Blackpool, Lancashire where he met my mother and they married 18th April 1938. 

The bureau wedding present  became an important part of the furniture.  Dad  had left school at 14  years old to work in a local grocer's shop.   Like many of his generation, he continued his education in a "self taught" manner.  He also  had an interest in journalism and it was a familiar sight to see him seated at the small typewriter on his bureau.  He was either ploughing through the paperwork of his job (now a commercial traveller)  or keeping in touch with his mother, sister and brothers  by letter. 
Wherever  we lived, Dad threw himself into the local community - he was a people person, a "joiner" and  an organizer of fetes and festivities in the church and village - so out came the typewriter again for "to do " lists and press releases.   

In later life Dad was a regular contributor of  letters to local newspapers - my mother was not too happy about this,  as he could get,  in return,  political brickbats from people of divergent views.   He also prepared talks on a variety of topics  to present  to local societies and I have the originals of his typed scripts. 

Dad often talked about his boyhood and also of  his war-time  experiences and I am afraid it did provoke the reaction “Not the war again, Dad”. We also used to joke about him being in the Intelligence Branch.  It was only later that we came to realise what a life-defining period it was and  I persuaded him to write (type) his memoirs.   
 A page from Dad's typing of his early life

I am so pleased I have these now, as they, with the correspondence between my parents (discovered after their deaths),   formed the basis of two narratives I have written  based on Dad's memories.

My parents - a photograph taken 1965 on the day of my graduation.

Dad and I, taken 1965, shortly before I left to work in the USA for a year. 


Mum and Dad  with the telegram from the Queen to mark their 60th wedding anniversary in  1998.  Sadly my mother died shortly afterwards.  

But Dad's bureau remained a potent symbol of  their marriage and the family life they created for my brother and myself and I have Dad's memories recorded on his little typewriter.  He would have loved blogging!  


Sepia Saturday gives an opportunity for genealogy bloggers  
to share their family history and memories through photographs

Click HERE to find what memories  were evoked this week 
by other Sepia Saturday bloggers.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

In the Depths of Winter: Sepia Saturday

An urban scene, with lingering,  dirty, slushy snow on the pavements, is this week's Sepia Saturday prompt.  I turned to tales of snowy winters. 

 This is the nearest photograph I have to the prompt picture - a grey urban scene (taken in colour, though you might not think so) in Mount Vernon Street, Boston, Mass.  where I was working in 1965-66.  

Cameras for my family,  were just for summer use,  so I have no snow photographs of my own childhood or that of my parents - or even earlier.  

But my parents' memories of the Big Freeze of 1947 remained powerful and that year  has gone down in history as one of the worst winters experienced in  Britain.  According to Met.  Office records,  snow fell every day somewhere in the UK for a run of 55 days, with the temperature  on most days barely exceeded freezing,  causing hardship in both living conditioms and in industry and farming.  

My 1947 photographs here are taken from the collection of my local heritage group Auld Earlston

 This is the main A68 route carrying traffic from Newcastle to Edinburgh
through the central Scottish Borders. 

 Earlston Market Square.

Digging out the train at Earlston Station.  

This was less than two years since the end of the war, and for Britain it was a true age of austerity with food and fuel shortages, power cuts,  and rationing still in place.  Like most people,  our home had no such thing as central heating,  so we had to huddle around the one fire in the living room - the only room with heating. Frost appeared on the inside of the bedroom windows.  We kept the inner person warm with my mother's simple, hearty comfort food - roast meat on a Sunday, cottage pie on a Monday, sausages and mash, corned beef hash,  and steamed puddings, such as spotted dick with custard  or golden syrup sauce, and rice pudding (ugh!),

Getting a cold, meant my chest being rubbed with Vick and a hot drink of lemon and honey - my mother's medicinal remedy for everything.  It must have been a worrying time for her, trying to keep us warm, as my baby brother was only a few months old. 


1963 was another  notoriously bad winter.   We were living in Edinburgh and I recall my mother being concerned at the non-arrival of my father from a business trip to London (long before the days of mobile phones and instant communication).  He was stranded overnight on a train stuck in the Border hills, with an engine sent to rescue it also trapped. 

Below photographs of Earlston in 1963

The Market Square. 

Station Road 

Further north on Soutra Hill on the main road to Edinburgh, a lone car trundles through the walls of snow cleared from  the road.  


Then came all the talk of global warming, with mild and wet winters (umbrellas the essential accessory) and the near decimation of the Scottish sking industry. 

2001 was a blip with some of  the worst snow for years, and Hawick in the hilly Scottish Borders,  where we then lived  was cut off for three days and I could not get to work, with no buses running outside the town.  With rucksacks on their backs, people were going down to the supermarket with their  children's sledges to load them up and drag the shopping back home.   It was a time  to resort to creative  cookery from what was in my store cupboard and for the first occasion  in  years, I had time to make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.   

The River Teviot frozen at Hawick

The road down the hill from our house - impassable for cars. 

Snow when it first falls ca be a wonderful magical experience transforming the landscape.  But when it changes to an icy, slippery danger, I prefer not to venture outside,  and when it ends up as grey, messy, slush on pavements,  it is a depressing, wet experience trying to negotiate pavemnts and cross roads 

So let's end on a picturesque note of a photograph taken in 2012 - back to the row of trees on the main A68 road  in Earlston, where my first 1947 picture was taken.


Sepia Saturday gives an opportunity for genealogy bloggers  
to share their family history and memories through photographs. 

Click HERE to read other bloggers bad weather experiences.

Friday, 29 September 2017

In Control: Sepia Saturday

A daunting image faces us with this week's prompt with a myriad of dials, levers, buttons, - in other words an aeroplane control panel.

I have an ideal match with this image of my brother,  who in the 1980's had a part share in a light aircraft and secured his pilot's licence. 


 The control panel of my granddaughter's toy supermarket till fascinates her - with its buttons, slot for swiping payment card, zapper for swiping bar codes, and a little microphone for calling for help - great fun for pretend play!  


As for dials, who remembers the black, heavy old fashioned telephone. where you  dialed the number?  

Antiques, Vintage, Phone, Telephone 
Image - Pixabay

And what about that symbol of Britain - the red public telephone boxes ? 

British, Telephone, Red, Box, Booth
  Image - Pixabay

I have vague memories of the old system where you put your money in, (one or two pennies), dialed the number, pressed buttoned A to get connected and pressed button B to get your money back  if the connection failed  -  always worth pressing this to see if someone had forgotten to pick up their refund coins. The operator would cut in to tell you when your money was running out, or impatient people knocked on the window if you were too long on the phone. 

A family heirloom of sorts - a favourite toy of my daughter and, after a sojourn in the loft,  now of my granddaughter - the pull along Fischer Price Telephone .  It still gives pleasure, though it has lost the paper with the numbers below the dials. 


Sepia Saturday gives an opportunity for genealogy bloggers  
to share their family history and memories through photographs.


Click HERE to read other bloggers thoughts on control.  

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Windows on Show: Sepia Saturday

 A gray day picture of a small child looking out of a window is this week's Sepia Saturday prompt photograph.

I am snap-happy when it comes to photographing windows on holiday, so here I am adding  a  splash of colour that takes me back to many happy times. 

A magnificent frontage to a town centre building  in Traustein in Bavaria, Germany.

 An example of the "malerei" - the artisitc painted walls
 to be seen in Bavaria and Austria. 

 In Warsaw, a town house  with decorated walls - open windows here, 
but no one looking out.

 An unusual corner window in the spa town of Bad Reichenhall in Bavaria. 

A more rustic  look,  yet still so homely and attractive .

It is not just abroad you will find colourful window boxes
Just three miles from my home in the Scottish Borders is this hotel in Melrose.
First impressions do count!  


As for someone peeping out through a  window, I had to turn to pictures of my little granddaughter. 
Not a window, but  looking through the glass door.

First trip on a tram - and looking out of the window.at Beamish Open Air Museum in County Durham -  one of our favourite day trip destinations.

And finally  - a photograph I have shown before, but it immediately came to mind when I saw this prompt, so  I had to show it again.  

Sepia Saturday gives an opportunity for genealogy bloggers 
                                to share their family history through photographs

 Click HERE to read what other bloggers have seen through the window.


Thursday, 7 September 2017

Hats off to Boys and Girls! SepIs Saturday

This week's prompt shows two small children playing happily on a makeshift bike.   I have hardly any photographs showing toys, so instead I have opted to shout: 

"Hats off to Boys and Girls"


Wearing a very fancy decorated hat, here with her father  is Florence Adelaide Mason (1898-1965),   my grandfather's cousin.  I have to thank my American third cousin, Bonny (Florence's granddaughter) who discovered my blog and made contact with this and many other  family photographs.  I was delighted to discover this American connection, as up until then,  my family seemed ot be very firmly based iln Lancashire, England.

Florence was the youngest of 11 children of John Mason and Alice Rawcliffe - sister of my my great grandmother Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe.   John emigrated to the USA in 1887, followed a year later by Alice, travelling with six children under 13 years old and "two pieces of baggage".  Five more children were born in Brooklyn, New York, with three not surviving  infancy.  The family moved later  across the river to New Jersey.  


 My mother, Kathleen Danson, not too happy in this big brimmed hat, c.1911 

Kathleen, standing playing at dressing up, perhaps,  with her sister Edith. c.1913

Someone has been busy knitting this chunky outfit for little Annette King, my husband's second cousin.  She is all wrapped up in this outfit, set off by a bonnet,   reminiscent of a cloche hat style with the pom-pom on the side.  c.1920's . 

 Two photographs of a similar  period, c.early 1920's.  From the collection of my great aunt Jennie, and I guess they are probably children of her friends.  

My aunt  Peggy Danson , a bridesmaid at a wedding in a Dutcvh style hat, which seemed in fashion in the late 1920. 
Like mother, like daughter - myself  in  my sun hat here, c.1950, looking very like my mother in a similar hat in the photograph above. 


And not forgetting boys in hats:

Joseph Prince Oldham, (1855-1917) my cousin's great grandfather

My uncle Fred Weston, c.1908.  He is all dressed up - but for what occasion?  I would love to have known.  In the 1911 census, the Weston family were living at Lunt Gardens, Bilston, Wolverhampton in the industrial English Midlands.  The road name  of Gardens seems to have been a misnomer, because the local sewerage works were also there.

A serious looking George Danson, my great uncle, wearing a flat cap, c. 1904.  Ten years later George, the youngest of eight brothers,  was killed at the Battle of  the Somme. 

My husband's brother  in the cap that was very popular for boys 1930-1950's. I remember my brother wearing this style,featuring the school badge,  as part of his school uniform,


And finally - my daughter, wrapped up in her fur coat and matching bonnet for a ride on her first birthday present, forever known just as "Donkey" - January   1974.


Sepia Saturday gives bloggers an opportunity to share 
their family history and memories through photographs.

Click  HERE to see tales from other Sepia Saturday  bloggers.