A Diphtheria Scare
There were a number of significant illnesses which affected the family during this period. In August 1961, I was extremely unwell. I had a very high temperature (105oF; 40.6oC). The doctors had a real concern that I might have diphtheria despite having been vaccinated. The concern was so great that Dr Rutter took throat and lip swabs. He also gave me anti-diphtheria serum. I was also seen by a specialist paediatrician, Dr Quintin. However, the tests confirmed that it was not diphtheria. So, the assumption was made that it was a viral infection from which I gradually recovered.
Diphtheria is a highly contagious, and potentially fatal, bacterial infection which affects the nose, throat and skin. It has largely been eliminated in countries with high vaccination rates.
In the UK, prior to the introduction of vaccination in 1942, there were around 60,000 cases of diphtheria per year with around 4,000 deaths. In 2018, there were 21 diphtheria notifications in England.
In addition, there were a lot of other illnesses during this period affecting the immediate family and others.
Coughs and Colds
Many were either unspecified, rather vaguely described or relatively minor coughs and colds. There were a lot of coughs and colds with often multiple episodes in a year. Once one family member got them, they tended to spread to the others. This was not perhaps that unusual but makes me think how poor our respiratory hygiene was before COVID-19! During the period of various lockdowns and other measures for COVID, neither Jo nor I had a cough or cold.
However, a number of specific or more major illnesses were mentioned during this period. In July 1960, mum had a breast infection which was treated with antibiotics.
This infection was severe enough to result in the postponement of my christening. Dr Rutter was surprised that mum had got this infection following a home confinement and he thought she might have picked up the infection during a brief period of hospitalisation before I was born.
During this period, dad suffered from migraine. He had attacks in December 1960, September 1961, May 1962 (twice) and June 1964, During one of the attacks in May 1962, the doctor was called and he gave him an injection. I have a vague memory of dad having severe headaches but, in my mind at least, they were associated with particularly severe rows between my parents.
A number of family members had asthma including grandma, me, Alan and possibly Tricia.
Grandma and Asthma
In February 1961, when grandma had a cold, mum also noted that she had asthma. In March 1961, grandad referred to her having an attack of asma (sic).
Me and Asthma
Mum first referred to me wheezing in September 1961. In February 1963, Alan had “another” wheeze and, in April and August that year, I did. In November 1963, mum took me to see Dr Rutter and he referred me for a chest X-ray which I had on the 14th, although the date for this is given as December in Dr Welch’s letter. On the 16th, mum took me to see Dr English who referred me to a hospital specialist. On the 19th, I saw a Dr Couch at West Norwich Hospital and he referred me to Jenny Lind for exercises. He also tested me for TB and, after a few days, this came back negative. I had to attend Jenny Lind twice per week for “tipping” on a Tuesday and a Thursday.
Alan and Asthma
In November 1963, Alan had a wheeze and in December 1963 he had a “squeak”. Alan was wheezy again in February 1964. Although the diaries do not specifically refer to asthma in relation to either me or Alan, I recall us both having asthma as children. From memory, his was worse than mine. I also have vague memories of going to hospital for various forms of physiotherapy – being tipped upside down and then having your chest “beaten”! However, I am not sure how long that went on for. I think mum may have also done this type of physio with us at home. For many years, I thought I had grown out of childhood asthma but it has recurred in the last few years and I now use my inhaler regularly morning and night to keep it at bay.
Did Tricia Have Asthma?
In February 1962, Tricia was sick on the way to Kirkby and mum took her to see the doctor who said she had “asthma a bit”. However, that appears to be the only reference to Tricia having asthma and I do not recall her having this when we were children.
Grandad suffered from gout which occurred in bouts, e.g. in March 1962 and in February, July and September 1964.
While the term angina was not specifically used, grandad did note that he was unable to ride a bike because of getting chest pain. I also recall him having chest pain on exercise and having to then put a tablet under his tongue.
Arthur Booth’s Hernia
In November 1962, grandad’s next-door neighbour, Arthur Booth, had a hernia operation at King’s Mill Hospital.
In May 1963, I got measles, closely followed by Tricia and Alan. On 2 May, mum and dad should have hosted a Hellesdon Sunday School teacher’s meeting but it was held at chapel because Rev Clough did not want to come to our house because of me having measles. It also meant Tricia’s operation on her toes was delayed because of concerns that she might develop measles which she did, over her fifth birthday.
Alan is Restless and Not Gaining Weight
From as early as July 1962, mum had concerns about Alan being restless all day and not gaining weight. However, it is fair to say that she had similar concerns on an off about Tricia’s weight gain despite her growth being on or slightly above the zero z-score for girls during the first five years of her life. I think mum also worried about my weight but for different reasons!
Mum saw Dr Money and, the following day, Dr Rutter phoned and advised mum to try a test weigh. Essentially, this means weighing a child before and after a feed to see how much milk they had taken. However, there are concerns about the accuracy and clinical use of this approach. Nevertheless, based on this, they concluded that Alan was only taking 2ozs from each feed and he should be gradually switched to bottle feeding. Things then stabilised and Alan gained weight well.
Starting on Solids
From March 1963, when Alan was nine months old, mum was concerned that he was either not gaining or was losing weight and that, some days, he cried all day. She took him to see the GP several times and he was treated for various things including an ear infection and constipation. In May 1963, Alan had measles, after Tricia and I had had it. Following that, mum was concerned that he would not walk. He continued to only gain weight slowly and he started being sick most days. Mum continued to take Alan to the GP who prescribed various medicines including Junior Disprin. One of the doctors she saw told her not to worry and another told her they thought it was due to teething.
Finally, on 6 August 1963, one of the GPs decided that they would refer Alan to see a paediatrician. On the 12th, Alan was weighed. He weighed 20lbs 10ozs (9.36kg) as compared to 22lbs 4ozs (10.09kg) in April. According to mum, he had lost almost two pounds (0.9kg) in a month. On the 13th, he saw Dr Oliver at the Jenny Lind Children’s Hospital and was kept in.
A Month in Hospital
Alan was in hospital for a month with mum and dad taking it in turns to visit. Tricia and I were able to visit him at least once although we were only allowed to see him through a window. He started on a gluten-free diet on 2 September and rapidly improved.
In December 1963, mum recorded Alan’s weight as 26lbs 12ozs (12.13kg) but in February 1964, she recorded it as only 24lbs 3ozs (10.97kg). She commented that he had lost 9ozs (0.26kg). I wonder if she mis-recorded his weight. He had had a cough and a bout of sickness and diarrhoea (that affected everyone except me!) so he could have lost weight but not almost three pounds (1.36kg), surely? Perhaps his weight in February was 26lbs 3 ozs?
Although the diaries do not mention the term Coeliac disease, this is the condition with which Alan was diagnosed. For as long as I can remember, Alan had the condition and was on a gluten-free diet. I recall him getting bread and flour on prescription. Also, I recall the bread being really horrible but mum compensated for this by making him cakes which we also got to eat! I think almost all the cakes mum baked when we were children were gluten-free.
Coeliac disease has been recognised since ancient times and the need for diet management was recognised since the end of the 19th century. However, the link to wheat was not made until the 1940s when a Dutch paediatrician observed that children with the condition improved when bread was in short supply and worsened when it became more available. The link to gluten was made in 1952 and villous atrophy was identified in 1954.
More Learned Since
So, at the time Alan was diagnosed a considerable amount was known about Coeliac disease including how to manage it effectively with a gluten-free diet. However, much was not known.
The Interlaken Criteria
The Interlaken criteria were only introduced in 1969. These required three steps for diagnosis – structurally abnormal jejunal mucosa when taking a diet containing gluten, clear improvement of villous structure when taking a gluten free diet and deterioration of the mucosa during gluten challenge. I don’t know how many of these steps were followed in Alan’s case either at this stage or later. But, I do recall mum being a strong advocate of these steps needing to be followed to have a definite Coeliac diagnosis.
Blood tests for Coeliac disease only became available subsequently and it was much later that diagnosis based on blood test only became possible..
Jejunal biopsies (pre-endoscopy) required swallowing a suction capsule. Essentially, this involved swallowing a capsule attached to a tube. Once an X-ray confirmed it was in position, suction was applied and the capsule was pulled out through the mouth.
Long Period of Hospitalisation
What is perhaps striking about Alan’s illness and diagnosis is that it took a long time for the GP to refer him to the hospital. Once he was there, he spent a month as an in-patient without either of his parents staying with him. While this was the norm then, it seems pretty barbaric now!
I recall when I was a medical student in the late 70s/80s seeing a film about the separation anxiety experienced by children when kept in hospital without their parents. I think it may have been the film “A Two Year Old Goes to Hospital”. According to an article on the Great Ormond Street website, siblings were allowed to visit from 1962 and unrestricted parental visiting hours were introduced from 1968.
Other Understandings of Symptoms of Coeliac Disease
I also recall being told that previously the symptoms of Coeliac disease had been attributed to parental anxiety, poor feeding practices or neglect so admitting children to hospital without their parents allowed those causes to be ruled out. I am not sure if these reasons contributed at all to the amount of time Alan spent in hospital. But, it is clear he did not improve in hospital until he started the gluten-free diet and then his improvement was rapid and dramatic.
During this period, family members suffered a number of injuries.
Mum Fell While Pregnant
In February 1960, when mum was five months pregnant she “tumbled all my length in kitchen in morning”. She saw Dr Rutter a few days later and he advised her that she needed a rest.
Grandad Fell From a Stool
In August that year, while grandad was dusting over the front door, the stool he was standing on slipped and he fell badly bruising his right leg. He considered that he was lucky not to have broken it.
In June 1961, I fell on two consecutive days! The first time, I cut my head and the second time I cut my tongue. On that occasion, mum took me to see Dr English and he advised to feed me “slops”.
I Fell Out of my Cot
In April 1962, I fell out of my cot but was considered “OK”. That night, mum put me to sleep in Tricia’s room.
Grandma Hurt Her Wrist
In August 1962, grandma fell and hurt her wrist and was unable to drive. She saw Dr Durance who sent her to Mansfield Hospital (see Chapter 50) for an X-ray. Initially, she was told that her wrist was not broken but badly sprained. However, six days later, she was called in and was told she had broken a bone in her wrist, presumably her scaphoid. Scaphoid fractures can be difficult to see on initial X-ray.
In this case, it appears that the doctor looking at the X-ray initially did not think there was a fracture but this was presumably picked up later by a radiologist’s review. Three days later, she was told that she was able to drive. Although she did go to her hospital appointment in Mansfield by bus, she drove grandad to get his hair cut earlier the same morning! She was discharged from hospital follow-up on 19 September.
Grandad Cut His Finger
In October 1962, grandad cut a finger on his right hand with his planing machine. He had Dr Farquharson to see him.
Tricia Fell and Cut Her Head
In October1963, Tricia fell and cut her head. Mum took her to the Jenny Lind Hospital but it did not need stitching.
Tricia Sprained Her Foot
In February 1964, Tricia sprained her foot.
I Fell Out of My Pushchair
Perhaps the most dramatic incident occurred in August 1962 when I fell out of my pushchair. Dad took me to see Dr Robertson in the afternoon. The following day, my right eye was completely closed and, the day after that, mum noted that I had “two lovely black eyes”.
During 1960, when mum was pregnant with me, she was diagnosed with anaemia and was given iron tablets. Two days before I was born, Dr Rutter was concerned that the cord was lying in front of my head. So, she was taken to King’s Mill Hospital (see Chapter 50). But, she was discharged the next day and I was born at home.
Dr Rutter visited mum several times in the days after I was born and a nurse came in every day for the first two weeks. There were different nurses – Nurse Sheppard, Nurse Coneely and Nurse Brown.
In Norwich, when mum was pregnant with Alan, mum attended antenatal/relaxation classes. In the ten days running up to Alan’s birth, mum had some swelling of her ankles and her blood pressure seemed to be raised whenever it was taken by the nurses but not when checked by Dr English. Once Alan was born, Dr English visited mum several times and a nurse came every day for the first two weeks. gain, there were different nurses Nurse Barwood and (presumably a different) Nurse Brown. On the 19th, Nurse Brown visited twice, the second time to hear a record by Grantly Dick-Read on natural childbirth. A home help also came in the mornings over the first ten days. There were two different home helps – Mrs Hamblin and Mrs Andrews.
Issues With Tricia’s Feet
Over 1960 and 1961, mum took Tricia to see the GP in both Kirkby and Norwich with concerns about her legs and knees. I am not sure what the problem was. In October 1961, Dr English told mum that Tricia’s legs were OK but that she might have to go to hospital to see about her toes. From memory, I think Tricia may have had an issue with overlapping toes.
She was first seen at the hospital in 1961 and, in May 1963, when she was five, they decided to operate. The operation was initially delayed because I had measles and there were concerns that Tricia would get it which she did. She finally had her operation on 10 June 1963. Then, she had her stitches out on the 20th and was able to wear shoes. After that, she continued to be seen periodically at the hospital until at least October 1964.
Mum’s Mental Health
During this period, there are some diary entries which raise concerns for me about mum’s mental health. This is difficult to assess not least because issues relating to mental health are not addressed explicitly in either diary, particularly grandad’s.
How Grandad Referred to Mental Illness
At the most, grandad only referred to such issues very tangentially. For example, in November 1963, grandad noted that he had received a letter from Reg Edwards saying that Mr March, one of his tenants from Victoria Road, had been admitted to Saxondale Hospital, which was a mental hospital.
On another occasion, in June 1961, when grandma was unwell, the doctor told grandad that he thought it was due to “nerves”. I assume this refers to some form of mental illness. I am not aware that grandma suffered from any form of mental illness but it is quite possible that she did given that such things were not openly discussed, certainly not with a child.
Blurred Boundaries Between “Normal” and “Abnormal“
In addition, the boundaries between “normal” and “abnormal” are pretty difficult to delineate. For example, mum refers to homesickness after moving to Norwich and difficulty in sleeping but might these things be expected in someone who has just moved over a hundred miles with two small children? She was also worried by one of the doctors when Alan lost weight in February 1964 but again might such anxiety be normal particularly given how ill Alan had been?
Mum Depended a Lot on Grandma
Mum seemed to depend quite heavily on grandma and missed the closeness of that support once we had moved to Norwich. In January 1961, after Tricia had been unwell for a few days, mum phoned grandma and asked her to come. However, grandma said no and that she would only come if mum really needed her.
Grandma and grandad did come in February 1961 because both mum and dad were ill with colds/flu. They stayed two weeks but both got sick themselves. Grandma was quite unwell following this for a prolonged period of about six weeks.
Two days after they had returned home, grandad phoned mum to say that grandma was ill in bed. Mum wrote to her saying that she should come to us for a “rest”. I cannot really understand what mum was thinking here! Grandma had got ill when she came to visit us and I can’t imagine she got much rest when she was with us with two young children in the house. Indeed, I would have thought she would have got more rest at home! Was mum trying to manipulate her to come back? Whatever the motivation, needless to say, grandma did not come!
Throughout much of this period, mum was taking sleeping tablets. She noted receiving sleeping tablets in January 1961, March 1962, November 1962 and March 1963. In November 1962, she noticed that they were causing day-time drowsiness and making her feel “queer”. She saw the doctor and he changed her tablets to “weaker” ones.
I don’t know what the tablets were but, at that time, the main medicines used for sleeping were barbiturates and then benzodiazepines. It is possible that if she was being given benzodiazepines this was also to help with levels of anxiety.
In addition to being given sleeping tablets by the doctor, she was also given them by the dentist when she had her last eight teeth removed. I thought this was odd but apparently it is not that uncommon for dentists to give anxious patients sleeping tablets.
In August 1962, when dad had a cold and nose bleeds, he was given a sleeping tablet which made him “merry”.
On 7 December 1964, mum noted being depressed at night. On the 11th, she noted seeing Dr English who advised her to continue with the tablets but to take three per day not four. I wonder if these were for anxiety/depression.
On the 23rd, mum noted that she was depressed about having another baby. While this could have meant that she wanted another baby and was depressed about not having one, it seems more likely that she thought she was pregnant and was depressed about that. It does seem that both she and Dr English thought she was pregnant. However, being depressed about this does not really tie in with her later actions in adopting a child but it seems likely to me that mum’s feelings and emotions went up and down a lot and may have changed significantly between the end of 1964 and early 1965.
Mum took us regularly to the clinic to be weighed and for immunisations. In January 1960, there were some concerns that Tricia had lost weight (see Chapter 71). She was one year eight months. Mum was advised not to let her sleep for more than an hour during the day. I am not quite sure of the link between daytime sleep and weight gain. It is fairly clear from Tricia’s growth chart that her weight gain was pretty normal throughout this period.
While there were concerns about not gaining or losing weight in the case of Tricia and especially Alan, there was the opposite concern in my case. In November 1960, when I was five months old, I weighed 22lbs 6ozs (10.15kg) and had gained one pound in two weeks. The health visitor suggested that I should go into my own room and at night they should let me cry and not feed me. In July 1962, both Tricia and I weighed 36lbs 8ozs (16.56kg) despite her being two years older than me.
As well as being weighed, we had our immunisations at the clinic.
I received three initial doses of the triple immunisation (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus at three, four and five months and a booster at 18 months. This was in late 1960 which slightly preceded the national roll out of tetanus immunisation in 1961.
At six months I was vaccinated against smallpox.
I received three doses of polio immunisation by injection of inactivated poliomyelitis vaccine (IPV) at eight, nine and 16 months.
In August 1960, when I received my first triple injection, and Tricia was just over two years old, she received a booster. It seems this may have been a triple vaccine for diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus. However, I am not sure Tricia had had tetanus vaccine earlier and mum referred to her getting her second tetanus injection in December 1961 when she was 3½. She had a booster triple injection in October 1962 when she was 4½.
Alan received similar vaccinations to me except, at seven and nine months, he received oral polio vaccine.
Dad Forgot to Pick Us Up After Our Immunisations
Mum recorded a couple of issues relating to my polio immunisation. In March 1961, mum took me for my second polio jab after tea. Dad was supposed to pick us up but he forgot and only remembered when he got home and we were not there! He came back to find us but we had already left! The same thing happened again in October 1961 when mum took me for my third polio injection in the afternoon.
Grandma Had Problems With Her Eyes
During this period, grandma had significant problems with her eyes which resulted in her no longer being able to drive. The issue was first raised by her optician Mr Wilmot of Davison’s.
In November 1960 She Was Told There Was No Problem
In November 1960, grandma had been to see a Dr Goldsmith in Nottingham about her eyes but was told that there was nothing to worry about.
But, in May 1963, She Was Advised Not To Drive
However, in May 1963, when she saw her optician, Mr Wilmot of Davison’s, he advised her that she should not be driving.
I don’t have details of this opticians. According to the Carnival magazine from 1953, there was an F C Davison on Victoria Road and Kingsway, a dispensing chemist. They also had an advert in the 1969 directory although by this time they no longer seemed to have the Victoria Road address and they are also listed in that Directory’s ophthalmic list (p63). Did they also supply and mend glasses? It seems likely that they did as, in “Kirkby & District from Old Photographs” (p71),Frank Ashley, Sylvia Sinfield and Gerald Lee identify one of the businesses in a photograph of Station Street as F C Davison and they refer to it as an opticians. Apparently, the founder’s first name might have been Francis.
Dr Fraser Confirms That Grandma Should Not Drive For Two Months
In June 1963, mum took grandma to see a Dr Fraser in Nottingham and he advised her not to drive for the next two months. In August 1963, she saw Dr Fraser privately and he told her she would not be able to drive again. However, in February 1964, he told her that she would be able to drive again in the summer time.
I am not sure what the problem was but perhaps macular degeneration from which mum later suffered. During my childhood, I do not recall grandma making a big deal about her eyesight but I do recall that neither grandma nor grandad drove and they did not own a car.
During this period, grandma got new glasses in November 1960 from Davisons of Station Street for £4 5 0, and she ordered new glasses again in February 1964. In March 1964, mum and grandad went to get new pebbles for grandma’s glasses. Mum collected them the same day and the cost was £3. The next day, grandma went to get her glasses adjusted.
Mum and Dad Wore Glasses
Mum and dad both had some issues with their vision which required them to wear glasses. As far back as I can recall, dad always wore glasses. I think mum started wearing glasses all the time much later. The first mention in the diaries of mum having glasses is in February 1961, Mum had a bad headache and was advised by Dr English to have her eyes tested. She did, at Coe’s in London Street, and picked up new glasses the next week.
The family had ongoing problems with their teeth with numerous fillings and extractions. In December 1961, at the age of 27, mum had her last eight teeth out and from that time onwards she had a full set of dentures. She already had some dentures before that. In August 1961, she had her top teeth repaired by Whites of Station Street at a cost of 20 shillings.
Mum’s doctor during this period was Dr Rutter in Kirkby and Dr English in Norwich.
In Kirkby, Dr Rutter appears to be remembered quite fondly.
Dr English is mentioned with others on the Norwich Remembers Facebook group. Grandad also went to see Dr English when they moved to Norwich. On 18 January 1964, grandad noted going to see Dr English about his tablets.
Other Doctors in Norwich
Mum also mentioned other doctors in Norwich including Dr Bennett, Dr Brittain, Dr Green, Dr Money, Dr Olney, Dr Robertson, Dr Rutter and Dr Watkins.
When we moved to Hellesdon, we originally changed doctors from Dr English to Dr Olney. However, in January 1961, mum had Dr Olney to see Tricia and she commented that he was not very nice and mum wished they hadn’t changed. As a result, dad changed us back to Dr English.
While it is odd that we had a doctor by this name in Kirkby and in Norwich, I assume they were different doctors. They had different initials.
Other Doctors in Kirkby
Initially, I was not entirely sure of the spelling as grandad had various alternatives! Grandad appears to have been on quite friendly terms with Dr Farquharson. For example, in January 1960, he took grandad in his car to see his new surgery in Kingsley Street. I don’t think there is a surgery there currently. I have only found a few mentions of it on the Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group.
In September 1963, Dr Farquharson called to say he was going back to Scotland in December as he was taking a partnership in a practice in Inverness. On 2 October, Dr Farquharson called and gave grandad a letter to give to his new doctor in Norwich.
Dr K McCombie
Apparently her name was Kathleen and she was the niece of the earlier Dr McCombie.
Helping with Transport to Medical Appointments
During this period, mum and grandma especially helped various people with transport to and from hospitals.
In February 1960, grandma took Mrs Shipman, who lived next-door-but-one to them, to Mansfield Hospital (see Chapter 50). Grandma and Auntie Bertha picked her up later the same day with her husband Bill Shipman.
Mrs Deakin’s Sister
In April that year, on Good Friday, mum picked up Mrs Deakin’s sister from a hospital in Nottingham. On Easter Monday, grandma took her back to the hospital for 6.30pm. I think her name was probably Lucy Cliff. I wonder if she had been released for the Easter weekend? Might this have been from a mental hospital and this explains why mum did not name it?
In September 1960, grandma went to Arnold to collect Ken Hodges to bring him to see the specialist who was treating his father.
Mrs John Lamb
In January 1961, grandma picked up Mrs John Lamb from King’s Mill Hospital (see Chapter 50). Grandad was not happy that she did not give grandma anything for doing this!
Nevertheless, in June 1962, grandma picked John Lamb up from Mansfield Hospital.
Mr Langford and His Wife
In May 1961, grandma took Mr Langford and his wife to Mansfield Hospital and, in June 1961, grandma took Mr Langford to outpatients at Mansfield Hospital.
Arthur and Florrie Booth
Also, in June, grandma and their next-door neighbour, Florrie Booth, took Arthur Booth to the Eye Hospital in Nottingham (see Chapter 65). That same month, grandma also took Florrie to King’s Mill Hospital for a hearing aid adaptor. Later that month, grandma was not well enough to pick up Arthur from the hospital so “Walter” did it instead. I am not sure which Walter this was as there was more than one but I think this might be Walter Maltby.
However, about a week after that, grandma was well enough to take Florrie and Arthur Booth into Nottingham so that Arthur could go to the Eye Hospital. In May 1962, grandma took Florrie Booth to Pinxton to see her cousin who was unwell. In November 1962, grandma took Arthur and Florrie to King’s Mill Hospital for Arthur to have a hernia operation which he had the next day. After about a week, grandma and Florrie went to pick him up from hospital.
In May 1962, grandma took Ron Rowe to the Forest Hospital in Mansfield. This may have been a fever hospital although there is now an independent mental hospital by that name on Southwell Road. I have a vague recollection of dad mentioning that Ron Rowe had suffered from mental illness but I am not sure of this.The following day, grandma took Barbara and Sharon to visit him in hospital. On 26 June, grandma took Barbara in the car to pick Ron up from Mansfield (Southwell Road) hospital.
Vera and Martin Frost
In September 1963, mum took Vera and Martin Frost to Jenny Lind hospital twice.
Doreen and Robert Amies
In October 1963, mum took Doreen Amies and her son Robert to the Jenny Lind hospital twice. Doreen was Treasurer of the Young Wives group at chapel.
In January 1962, grandad visited his friend Walter Maltby and found him in bed with “fibrositis”. He visited the next day. The doctor had been and had told Walter that it was sciatica. Grandad visited him several times over the next few days and weeks.
In February 1962, Walter went to Hucknall clinic, perhaps the orthopaedic clinic and was fitted with a plaster jacket. At the end of that month, Walter told grandad that the doctor had told him that he had a slipped disc. Throughout March, grandad continued to visit Walter and he gradually improved. At the end of March, he had the plaster jacket removed and told grandad he was going back to work.
In May 1961, grandma took their former next-door neighbour, Annie Holmes, to Ratcher Hill Hospital, which was also known as Ransom’s Sanatorium, see Chapter 50. She picked her up the following day. In July, Annie was worse. Grandma phoned for the doctor and Dr Durance came. As a result, Annie was taken back to Ransom Hospital.
In November, the woman who lived above Annie’s flat came for grandma as Annie was very ill. She got worse and, on the 16th, she was taken back to Ransom Hospital and died the next day just before midnight.
On the 19th, Mabel, Alf, Frank and Doll came from Northampton to discuss Annie’s funeral. While I was not sure initially who they were, it turns out that Frank Aldridge and Mabel Letts were Annie’s younger brother and sister. On the 20th, grandma went to see about Annie’s affairs, such as insurances and, the next day, she, Florrie Booth and Olive Shermer went to get Annie’s flat ready for the funeral.
Annie’s funeral was held on 22 November and she was buried with her husband Tom. On 3 December 1961, a funeral service for Annie was held “at the Full Gospel”.
Kirkby Community Church
For a description of two other tin chapels, see Chapter 20 of Gerald Lee’s book Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Yesterday Remembered.
The pastor of this chapel, Rev Pinchbeck, made an audio recording of mum and dad’s wedding in 1956 (see Chapters 62 and 64) so that grandad, who was unable to attend because of ill-health could listen to it. I presume that Annie had attended this chapel. Grandad noted that Annie’s furniture was stored in a vestry at this chapel after her death.
Mum and grandad recorded quite a number of other deaths during this period. On 15 July 1961, grandma’s brother Bert died at 1.10pm aged only 57. Grandma and grandad were with us at the time and his wife Doris phoned them there with the news. When Doris phoned, mum was in Nottingham for Shirley Sadler’s wedding. On the 19th, mum and grandma went to Hastings for the funeral.
They left Norwich at 4.25am for a funeral which started at 2.15pm. Mum noted who else attended including Auntie Bertha, Ray and Winnie, Bert and Edie, and Jim and Renie. Others mentioned included Bill, Ellen and the Miles family but I am not sure who they were. In May 1952, mum had noted that when Bert and Doris came for tea, Mr and Mrs Miles came too, so presumably they were close friends.
On 11 January 1963, grandad’s long-time friend, and I think Minnie’s brother, Albert Robinson died watching television. According to grandad, he was 62 but according to FreeBMD he was 68. On the 16th, grandma and grandad went to his funeral at the crematorium.
On 27 April 1963, Ethel, grandad’s sister-in-law and his brother Len’s widow, died. Minnie told grandma, Eva and Florrie Booth of her death when they visited on the 29th. From FreeBMD, her death was registered in Basford so presumably she lived relatively locally but she is not mentioned in grandad’s diary from 1935. She was 79.
There were a number of other, more distant, relatives who died during this period. On 26 February 1960, Fred Davey/Uncle Fred died suddenly in Doncaster at 1am. Mum went with grandma to Doncaster for the funeral on 29th.
Initially, I struggled to work out who this was or find any details of his death because the entry in grandad’s diary looks like “Fred Davis”. On FreeBMD, I could find no Davis or Davies who died in Doncaster in Q1 1960. I recalled some family connection with Doncaster, for example, in April 1950, mum had been due to attend her second cousin’s, Freda’s, wedding in Doncaster but had been unable to attend because of a problem with her Uncle Ray’s car (see Chapter 47).
I looked at the Cirket family tree and found that Freda’s parents were called Annie and Fred DAVEY. Annie was the daughter of Samuel Cirket, the brother of grandad’s father. I was then able to find details of Fred Davey’s death on FreeBMD aged 68. Reviewing grandad’s diary, it is possible that the entry says “Fred Davie”. This means that while mum referred to him as “uncle” he was in fact married to mum’s first cousin once removed.
On 18 May 1963, Fred’s widow Annie also died. According to FreeBMD, she was 69. On the 21st, grandma and Auntie Bertha attended her funeral.
Lois Rose nee Cirket
On 5 November 1963, grandad received a letter from Auntie Dolly saying that her mother, Lois, had died the previous Sunday (3rd). From FreeBMD, she was Lois Rose and was 92. Grandma went by bus to Bedford for the funeral on the 6th.
On 19 March 1961, Mrs Shipman died and Bill phoned to tell grandma and grandad. The Shipmans previously lived at 100 Welbeck Street. From Free BMD, I think this might be Florence Shipman who died aged 70 in Belper.
Cyril and Tom Smith
During this period, grandad’s brother-in-law, John Smith lost two brothers, Cyril in November 1961 and Thomas (Tom) in January 1964. From FreeBMD, Cyril was 66 when he died. He was cremated in Mansfield. From FreeBMD, Tom was 83 when he died. He was also cremated in Mansfield.
On 4 February 1962, Ray phoned from Bedford to say that Bertha had died. Grandma went in person to tell Auntie Bertha, Jim and Renie. On the 8th, grandma, Auntie Bertha, Jim and Renie all attended Bertha’s funeral in Bedford.
Initially, I was not entirely sure who this was. From April 1958, she appeared a number of times, sometimes with someone called Dawn and often with Jim, Renie and Auntie Bertha. It turns out that she was Bertha Curtis. She married in 1938 and her maiden name was Berwick. Bertha Berwick was born in Bedford in 1914 and her mother’s maiden name was Annie Bowler, who was Aunt Bertha’s niece.
During July 1961, mum and dad were making a will and dad went to see a solicitor, Nigel Raywood. However, on 1 August 1961, mum noted that they had heard that he had shot and killed himself. He was 31. Mum’s main concern appears to have been their wills so dad went to see Nigel Raywood’s partner to check the wills and found two or three mistakes.
The diaries noted a number of other deaths during this period. On 11 May 1960, mum noted that dad had to be in charge of young people playing table tennis at Diamond Avenue as John Lamb was unable to go because of the funeral of his father, Tom Lamb, aged 77.
Arthur Booth’s Sister
On 17 March 1961, grandma took Arthur Booth to Bentinck Pit for his wages. He and Mrs Booth were going to Nottingham for his sister’s funeral.
Mrs Deakin’s Sister
On 1 November 1961, Mrs Deakin’s sister Lucy died.
On 21 January 1962, grandma went to visit Joe Deakin as he was very ill. He died the following day aged 77. He was cremated on 25 January in Mansfield. Grandma and grandad’s brother-in-law, John Smith, attended. On the 28th, a funeral service was held at Trinity. Grandma and Florrie Booth attended. I assume he must have worked in the ambulance service as an Ambulance Memorial Service was held at Trinity on 4 March 1962.
Dick Clover’s Mother
On 12 May 1962, Dick Clover’s mother Leah died aged 85. She had died in hospital in Mansfield. On the 18th, grandma took Dick ten shillings to buy some flowers for his mother as grandma and grandad had not known of her death in time to send flowers for the funeral.
Mrs Marshall’s Mother
On 6 December 1962, grandma went to Trinity Methodist Church for the funeral of Mrs Marshall’s mother, Pearl’s grandmother. I have not managed to find details of her.
On 5 July 1961, James (Jim) Dobbs died aged 63 in Nottingham.
On 16 October 1961, grandma and Minnie went to the funeral of Annie Clegg at Nottingham Road Methodist Church in Mansfield. I am not sure who this was but, according to FreeBMD, she was 55 when she died. In August 1959, when grandma went to Mansfield Hospital to see Irene Hill, she also saw Annie Clegg there.
On 8 April 1962, Willis Cresswell died aged 60. He was cremated in Mansfield on the 11th.
On 15 October 1962, grandma and Florrie Booth went to the funeral of Mrs Phil (Mary J) Newcombe who had died aged 84. On 21 October 1962,
Mr George Withey had died during the night aged 62. On the 24th mum and dad went to Mr Withey’s funeral at Mile Cross Methodist Church.
On 25 September 1963, grandma and Florrie Booth attended the funeral of Mrs Caroline Fleet who had died at the age of 82. Her only previous mention in the diaries was in May 1960 when dad took her a recording of the Sunday School Anniversary.
Mansfield and District Crematorium
In May 1960, mum, grandma, grandad and Tricia went to look round Mansfield and District Crematorium which opened on the 18th and was open to the public from 19th to 31st. Grandad considered it very up-to-date and interesting.
Wilford Hill Book of Remembrance
On 22 September 1960, grandma took Auntie Bertha, Jim and Renie to Wilford Hill to see Uncle Frank’s name in their book of remembrance. This was on the first anniversary of his death.
Another Crematorium Visit
In July 1962, grandma took Mrs Deakin and Beaty Rogers to the crematorium and then to tea at Auntie Bertha’s.