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Sunday, 1 April 2018

52 Ancestors - Wk 14: My Maiden Aunt Edith (1907-1995)

I think of my Aunt Edith (1907-1995) as one of a line of "Feisty Danson Females", amongst them  my Great Grandmother Maria   and her daughter, my Great Aunt Jennie. Edith married  for the first time at the age of 73,  but to all intent and purposes of my childhood, she was my “maiden aunt”, and my godmother,  who played a key role in my life.  She was also a teacher, traveller, craftswoman -  and a great talker.

Edith was born 2nd September 1907, followed  just a year and a week  later by my mother, Kathleen, born on 8th September 1908, daughters of William and Alice Danson of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.   They remained very close as sisters  and most of  the photographs I have of Aunt Edith show her almost always with my mother. 

Edith (left) and Kathleen
Kathleen and Edith (right)
Aunt Edith was fond of regaling me with stories of the family and her life in teaching.  She was the only one of the family  to win a scholarship to Fleetwood Grammar School, riding the four miles on her bike in all weathers.  She became a teacher at Burn Naze School in Thornton Clevelys (a poor area of town in the 1920's and 30's)  and had a keen memory for past pupils (particularly black sheep)  and humorous incidents such as excuse notes, written  for absences.  

I have my blog and Facebook to thank for a wonderful update on my Aunt Edith (Danson) . Ex pupils at the school set up a Facebook page on Burn Naze School Past,  ahead of the centenary of the school in 2014 and in a google search found my blog and got in touch. I was delighted to read comments from former pupils of "Miss Danson". who was remembered with fondnes:
"Miss Danson was my first teacher and was a lovely lady.

Just read Miss Danson's history and pictures - very interesting and I always thught she was a wodnerful teacher with lots of patience and undesrsstnaind. 

I started Infants in 1963 and Miss Danson was my first teacher.   

What a lovely  tribute to a wodnerful teacher - my first teacher at Burn Naze School in 1956.
Fantastic tribute and pictures - just as I remember her.?
Amongst learning our tables, reading and writing etc. who remembers knitting class with Miss Danson, making a sackcloth needle word case using blanket stitch,   with Miss Hampshire, pounds, shillings and pence and "real" writing with Mrs.  Bullough,  paper mache monsters with Mr Brown and  making hand puppets with Mr Blair".
Edith on the right with her class on a school trip.
Edith  must have been great to know in her 20's, with tales of the young men she went dancing with in Blackpool.    
Kathleen & Edith
Like her sister, Edith was talented in painting, embroidery and dressmaking, loved dancing, music, reading and baking - though there were some apocryphal cooking moments,  when my uncle (her brother) stirred a rice pudding, thinking it was very thin - she had forgotten to put in the rice!  Another time she was proud of a tart  with a golden pastry crust and  blackcurrants from the garden - until we took a mouthful - she had forgotten to add sugar to the fruit.  "Scatty" was often a term used to describe Aunt Edith,  as her mind was on so many things at once. 

My first visit to Scotland was joining Aunt Edith on a coach trip - a reward for me passing the 11+ for grammar school.   I was stirred by the sight and sound of the bagpipes at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, gazed over the battlements at Stirling Castle across  to the site of the Battle if Bannockburn in 1314, and was captivated by my first island trip to the Isle of Arran. I returned home singing "Scotland the Brave" and wrote a story about a fictional island, complete with map drawn with my coloured pencils.   Six years later Scotland became my home. 

Edith  kept home for her widowed father and brother for much of her life and travelled widely, even to Russia in Iron Curtain days, bringing back gifts  to add to my collection of costume dolls.

In line with her spirit of adventure,  she  married for the first time in 1981 at the aged of 73. a widower friend of my parents. Following the death of her husband, she returned to Poulton and continued to live in the family home with her brother until her death in   1995 aged 88.  

Aunt Edith (in blue) with her husband George, my mother Kathleen and brother Harry.
You can tell from these photographs that Aunt Edith was someone who enjoyed herself.   She took on the role of my godmother with great gusto and with my mother left me with a wonderful  legacy on how to get the most out of life, plus  many fond memories of a feisty woman. 
A Painting by my Aunt Edith
Copyright © 2018 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

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