Mum. Dad and Tricia
At the start of 1960, mum and dad had been married for three and a half years. They had one child, my sister Tricia (Patricia) who was around eighteen months old. Mum was expecting her second child, due on May 30 1960.
In fact, I was born on 4 June 1960 at the house where we lived at the time, 41 Diamond Avenue. Mum started having labour pains at 4.30am and I was born at 2pm. She was attended by Nurse Sheppard and Dr Rutter. Mum described the second stage as hard and noted that this was “no wonder” given that I weighed 10¼ lbs (4.64kg).
Although dad went to work in the morning, he was present at the birth. This was not the case when Tricia was born in 1958. I don’t know if mum and dad had changed their views on this or if it was just that I was born in the afternoon and Tricia in the morning. In 1960, it was still unusual for a father to be present at his child’s birth but that has changed markedly over time.
Mum noted bathing me a week later on the 11th presumably for the first time.
Preparations for My Birth
As was the case when Tricia was born, mum had made various preparations for my birth. For example, in February 1960, she noted buying some material to make clothes for me. It seems my parents already had a pram, from when Tricia was a baby. However, grandma went into Nottingham with Auntie Bertha and bought a new cover for this a few days after I was born. Also that month, mum bought Tricia a chair for the pram from Brays. In July 1960, mum bought me a cot. Then, in November 1960, mum bought me a blue eiderdown for the cot.
Friends and Family Members Come to See the New Baby
Various friends and family members came to visit me after I had been born. These included Edna Bust; Mary and Derrick Leach; Hilary Newall, who lived next door but one to us in Diamond Avenue; John Smith; Cyril and Minnie; Basil, Hilda and Simon; Barbara and Ron Rowe; and Jack and Eileen Fawthrop. Mum referred to John Smith as Uncle Jack. He was the widower of Olive, grandad’s sister.
Visits to Family and Friends
On 18 June 1960, when I was two weeks old, we went to grandma and grandad’s for the first time. As when Tricia was born, we also visited various friends and family members, presumably to allow them to see the new baby. These visits included Cyril and Minnie; Barbara and Ron Rowe; Auntie Bertha; Jim and Renie; Mary and Derrick; Marilyn and Dorothy.
During the early sixties, various people babysitted for us, including grandma and grandad; our next-door neighbours Mr and Mrs Keeble and their daughter Angela; Joyce Smith; Betty Colver; Mrs Thurston and Vera Frost.
Arrangements were made for my christening on 10 July 1960 at 4.15pm with Mary and Derrick Leach acting as my godparents. However, this was cancelled as mum was unwell with a breast infection and high temperature.
Nevertheless, on 8 October 1960, mum bought me a christening “dress”. I was christened on 30 October 1960 at Trinity Methodist Church in Kirkby in Ashfield. This was noted in grandad’s diary and on my baptism certificate. However, at this time, the Bourne chapel and the chapel in Diamond Avenue were operating together as Trinity Methodist Church. According to mum’s papers, I was baptised at Bourne. This is confirmed by my baby book which says I was baptised at Trinity Methodist Church in Lowmoor Road (not Diamond Avenue).
I was christened by Rev Derrick Leach and, apparently I “cried all the while Derrick had him but was good when Mary & I had him”. After my christening, some relatives came for tea, including Auntie Bertha, Jim and Renie.
Among mum’s papers was a pocket New Testament. This was a christening gift from Mary and Derrick Leach to me. However, it appears that they gave it to me some time after the christening as it is dated 1 January 1961. This corresponds to our second visit back to Kirkby after we moved to Norwich. The earlier visit in October 1960, when I was christened, was our first, see Chapter 81.
The Adventurous Duckling
Among mum’s papers, I found quite a battered copy of a book called “The Adventurous Duckling”. It is clearly a children’s book. Also, from the torn pages and scribble, it seems that it was much read! However, I don’t recall it so it is possible it belonged to one of my siblings. Mum clearly kept it and there have been some attempts to repair torn pages.
I tried to find out more about the book. It seems it was printed in Germany and that the text was written by Ludmilla Herzenstein with illustrations by Ingeborg Meyer-Rey. From the little I have found out online, it was published in 1950 or 1957 and is widely available in German as “Das Neugierige Entlein”. However, I struggled to find another English version.
Mum had baby books for all of us – but I passed the ones for my siblings to them or their families when mum died.
Mum noted that I first smiled at her on 9 July when I was just over one month old.
Holding a Rattle
I held my rattle for the first time on 18 August 1960 when I was just over two months old.
On 28 August, mum noted that she bathed me in the “big bath”.
On 18 November 1960, mum noted that I had got my first tooth and, on the 21st, my second.
Sleeping Through the Night
I first slept through the night on 3 December 1960, just before I was six months old.
I waved “tata” to dad when he left for choir practice on 27 January 1961.
In March 1961, mum noted that we went to Cromer as a family and that “P really enjoyed herself so did Roger”. There were other similar trips, e.g. to Sheringham and Cromer in June 1961 and to Lowestoft in July 1961, and mum noted that I “really enjoyed the water”.
In May 1961, mum and dad bought us a paddling pool. This was for our joint birthdays, I think. Mum noted that I really enjoyed going in that.
At the end of May 1961, just before I turned one, mum noted that I stood up in my cot.
On 19 June 1961, I apparently pointed at a dog and said “Wo Wo”.
By that point, I appear to have been doing some walking as, on the 22nd, we went to Mousehold Heath and mum noted I walked a long way holding hands with her and dad. Mum noted that I stood up by myself for the first time on 28 July 1961. By October 1961, mum noted that “Roger walking quite nicely now”.
In January 1962, I used the potty for the first time!
No More Naps
In March 1962, in an attempt to stop me waking so early, mum stopped giving me a morning sleep.
Initially, I was breast fed. However, mum supplemented my feeds when she had the breast infection. At the end of August 1960, that is just before I turned three months old, mum noted that she fed me some “Robsoup”. That same year, by November 1960, I was having jam sandwiches for my tea and was eating them in the car seat chair. At this time, I was also eating Heinz Junior Foods. Mum stopped breastfeeding me when I was six months old.
My First Birthday
For my first birthday, grandma and grandad bought me a walking frame. Mum noted that I received 28 cards and lots of presents. We spent the day in Kirkby but returned to Norwich that evening. Just after my birthday, mum bought a “special spoon” with my birthday money. I am not exactly sure what this was.
I don’t know whether mum and dad used any family planning methods after I was born, or at any time. I don’t think it is the sort of thing mum would have discussed openly even in her diaries. However, there was one relevant entry, in September 1960, mum noted going into Norwich and buying a diaphragm for 12/6 and cream for six shillings. I am not sure if she used this or, if so, for how long.
Anyway, in October 1961, mum discovered that she was pregnant again. In March 1962, mum bought a mattress for the pram and carry cot.
My Brother Alan is Born
Mum had labour pains all day on 12 June 1962. My brother, Alan, was born at 1am on the 13th. Mum was attended by Nurse Brown and Dr English although mum noted that the doctor didn’t do anything! Mum noted that she got on better than before as she knew what was happening and why. As when I was born, dad was there for the birth. Alan weighed 9¾ lbs (4.23kg).
Friends and Family Members Visit
Various friends and family members came to visit Alan after he was born. These included our next-door neighbours, Mr and Mrs Keeble, their daughter Angela and their French au pair, Sylvie. Other visitors included Betty Colver.
Alan’s first recorded trip out was to Lowestoft on 23 June when he was ten days old.
Visiting Friends and Relatives
Alan was taken to see various friends and relatives, particularly on a trip to Kirkby at the beginning of August 1962. People visited included Mary and Derrick Leach; Jim and Renie; Barbara and Ron Rowe; and Auntie Bertha.
Mum noted that Alan first smiled at her on 15 July 1962 when he was just over one month old.
In November 1962, mum noted that we had some fireworks and that Alan enjoyed them.
I am not entirely sure how mum was feeding Alan but I think she was breastfeeding. At the end of July 1962, she saw Dr Rutter about feeding Alan, presumably because of concerns over breastfeeding, but she decided to carry on as he seemed more settled. However, in early August, because of concerns over weight gain, Dr Rutter advised mum to gradually switch him over to bottle feeding. By early August, so when Alan was less than two months old, he was already being given some solids, including Farex and Robsoup.
Farex now seems to be a rice-based cereal. The listed ingredients are Ground Rice (97%), Sunflower Oil, Vitamin C, Antioxidant (Herb Extract), Mineral (Iron), Traces of Milk, Wheat and Soy. But, according to the “Farex Guide to Weaning” from 1952, it was a mix of wheat, oat and rye flour.
Alan was christened in Kirkby on 5 August 1962 at Trinity Methodist Church. I am not sure if this was at Bourne chapel or at Diamond Avenue. At this point, the churches had merged under the name of Trinity but both buildings were used for a while. However, at this point, Bourne had been closed for some time so it seems more likely that Alan was baptised in the Diamond Avenue chapel. However, there is a note among mum’s papers which states that Tricia, Alan and I were all baptised at Bourne by Derrick Leach. But, this is not completely the case as Tricia was baptised by Rev Howells before Derrick Leach was a Minister in Kirkby.
As in my case, Rev Derrick Leach officiated at Alan’s christening and Derrick and Mary were his godparents too.
Mum had formal photos taken of the three of us at the beginning of December 1963 when Alan was eighteen months old. On this occasion, they had to be re-taken twice!
Right at the end of this period, in December 1964, mum thought she was pregnant again. However, it is not clear this was welcome news as two days before Christmas she wrote “felt depressed all day about having another baby”. On Christmas Eve, she saw Dr English. She noted “only 5 weeks but wonder about the tablets I am taking they are OK he thinks. Felt better.” It does not seem that she told anyone about the pregnancy. On 29 December, she noted that she tried to tell grandma but she did not as she felt it was not the right time.