Wright Family Album

Doris' Memories - Birmingham 1923-1925

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Our year spent there was not a particularly happy one. The owner of our semi-detached rented house lived next door and mother found him a difficult landlord. I cant remember the details of why that was.

I was sent to a little day school nearby called ‘Miss Treglone's'. Betty joined me there later. It was large enough to have a netball team; also to send some of us to a 'scarf' dance at Birmingham Town Hall on one occasion. Hugh and Barbara were too young at first to go to school.
When Betty came home from hospital she and I shared a bedroom and we used to make up lovely stories between us at night when we lay in bed. On Sunday afternoons we were sent up to our bedroom to learn our catechism. After learning the first paragraph we rolled up lengths of paper and lit them at the gas fire and tried to smoke. All the lighting in the house was by gas. Little special mantles, very delicate objects, were hung under the jets on the wall and they always seemed to be getting broken and had to be replaced.

When cousin Eileen came to us for the holidays she and I shared a bed and she used to sing all the songs she had learnt at the Nursery at St Michael's. I got the impression that she was very happy there. That was probably because, as parents did in those days, she had been left there all alone at a very young age, three, and had therefore become something of a teachers' pet. Her parents, Auntie Gracie and Uncle Alfred, looked after us for a short time one holiday. Uncle Alfred was an Irishman and full of fun and amusing stories.

Mummy took a lot of trouble over my hair during that period. Strips of tape were dampened and my hair curled up with them at night into small spirals so that the next morning my hair fell down into ringlets. I enjoyed playing with them with my fingers. Thank goodness I had grown out of the button boots I had had to wear at Derby; also the Sunday starched white fancy pinafore which had to be kept spotlessly clean - not do duty as a pinafore at all!

We had an older girl who came in every day as a maid/mother's help. She taught us all the popular songs of the day: 'Have you ever seen a straight banana?' and 'Oh! Horsey, Keep your tail up. Keep the sun out of my eyes'. One of her duties was to take us for walks. These were very dull affairs - in dreary parks, along formal paths, with no trees to climb. We disliked them very much.

Out for a stroll

One of our occupations was helping the 'poor heathen' by tearing up old sheets into bandage-sized strips and rolling them up tightly by means of a special hand-operated frame clamped to the table. I can’t imagine where mummy got the old sheets from. Ours couldn't have worn out so soon. We certainly made many, many bandages.

Birmingham was an exciting place to be at Christmas. The trams were decked with rows of lights and the large stores were just like fairy land. One in particular, I remember, which had its toy department bathed in pale blue light to imitate an underwater world of mermaids, colourful fish, shells and seaweed.

We were taken on the occasional outing. One was to Malvern where the great aunts lived and we had a lovely walk on the Malvern Hills. Another was to the Lickey Hills for a picnic. That was good too but the flies were troublesome.

Malvern Hills - AMW with Doris, Hugh and Barbara

Most exciting of all was a whole week at Criccieth in a Guest House. What amazement when the train went backwards out of one of the stations yet still got to its destination. Unfortunately it was an extremely wet week. Hugh found an old saucepan in the grass on one of the hills nearby and, with a stick, made a mixture in it of black slugs and blackberries. Ugh! A CSSM Mission was being run at the time on the beach by a well-known evangelist called Mr. Pope. Mummy won the slow bicycle race on Sports Day. Mr Pope was helped by theological students in training. One of them, John Carpenter, became very friendly with our family. He was at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, so that when we moved to Shudy Camps, fifteen miles away, he used to cycle over and visit us and eventually became David's godfather.

CSSM at Criccieth - an object service by Hudson Pope (1), feeding each other treacle (2), and 'the bros' in 1924 (3)
1.   2.   3.

Kind friends of our parents used to give us parties: the Miss Kingdons who lived at Selly Oak; another lady whose name I have forgotten gave us a wonderful Christmas Day party.

It was while we lived in Birmingham that Gordon's sleepy sickness illness first became apparent. On Sundays we were made to sit round the table and paint Bible texts and he would fall asleep in the middle of it. We were told that he had picked up the infection as a small boy in Africa but it was only when he was about 12 that it began to affect him. It was very sad because Mr. Summerhayes, the head master at Limpsfield, said he had been such a bright boy until then.

Basil's memories

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