31 March 2017

31st March 1948: the gasman cometh

31 Wed. Cold, cloudy, threatening, rain, very boisterous SW wind. Got the groceries and fish. Paid the gasman to have a ring fitted in front bedroom. The three children called, Gwennie & Laurie are getting on with the birthday card. Put some comic pictures and rhymes in Laurie’s book.

Be careful, Miss French

Another card from Southwell SW London, to Miss T French (Cissie) c/0 Mrs Amor, 8 Newberry Gardens, Weymouth. 'Dear Miss French. Hope you are havig a grand timne, but don't copy this young lady's action too often.... Be good and do be careful. Kuind Regards etc, Ru !' (or Rub?)

30 March 2017

30th March 1948: Bang!

30 Tues. Rather mild, mostly cloudy; the wind is now SW. Donald wanted me to pump up his balloon with my bike pump – it burst! Gwennie came to paint her birthday card and made a start. Laurie also came. Out to fish shop and to buy a paper. Planted a row of aquilegia seedlings: gave some to Mrs. Akroyd who called: she had an accident but is getting better.

29 March 2017

1910 hat

'With love, from Molly,' postmarked Southend, Aug 9, 1910. To Miss Coching, 1a Clifton Park Ave, Raynes Park, Wimbledon.

29th March 1948: Easter Monday - "domestic duties"

29 Easter Monday. Rather cold, bitter E wind, very dull, but the wind veered late in day to SW which brought a few light showers. Did not go out. Mrs. Matson and Mrs. Brown came to tea. Not much of a day. There is no holiday for me as I have to do my domestic duties just the same. Wrote a three stanza poem to be written on a birthday card Gwennie and Laurie are going to paint for their mother

28 March 2017

28th March 1948: Easter Day - an afternoon sightseeing... in the churchyard!

28 Sun. Easter Day. Mild, fine, bright sunny day with much less wind, almost pleasant. Alb, Lily, Anthony and Kenneth came to dinner and tea. In afternoon we all went to see Dad’s and Mum’s grave which looks very fine: the daffodils are gorgeous and the narcissus are nearly out.

Lily= sister-in-law
Kenneth=their lodger

27 March 2017

Eyles the grocers, and 'lights' for the cat

Our reader 'Greyfox' discovered this blog of Fred's diaries very recently, in March 2017, and has already read through the diaries to the present date. Greyfox has offered numerous snippets of information, which we've added to individual entries. Here are two more, on names and on cats' food, often mentioned by Fred. Greyfox writes...

There are several mentions of Eyles, the grocers. I have looked on the 1939 Register & found a George Eyles (grocer & provision dealer) living with his wife Alice (Post Office clerk & domestic duties) at 421 Kingston Road. This became Wimbedon Chase Post Office but has now closed.

Cat food: lights were lungs. I can well remember the disgusting smell when they were being boiled for the family cat in the 1950s & 60s. Once boiled they were grey & solid – like a very firm rubber. Fred paid 6d a pound for them, equivalent to about £1.05 now.

27th March 1948: two hours queuing at shops

27 Sat. Very cool; a devastating E wind made an outdoor occasion most uncomfortable, but the sky was blue and cloudless all day. Did much shopping including a long wait in the butchers queue also at the greengrocers and fish shop: it took me two hours to get meat, fish, oranges and pay for newspapers and buy sweets.
Another card to Ciss from A Thompson at the office. Postmarked Stockwell, 13 Aug 1909, to the same Weymouth address as last year, c/o Mrs Amor, 8 Newberry Gardens. She apologises for not writing before, she has been so driving busy she has had her bed moved to the office. She enquires if Tommie is treating Ciss to plenty of what is on the front of the card.

25 March 2017

26th March 1948: photographing the grave

26 Good Friday. White morning frost. Mild, fine day; the sun shining from a cloudless sky all day but the raging E wind completely spoilt it. To Merton Churchyard to photograph the grave. Developed it at night – a good result but I over-developed the negative making it too dense.

25th March 1948: hot cross buns

25 Thur. Sharp white morning frost. Rather mild day, sunny, blue skies but a nasty E wind. Gwennie called with her doll; she made a three cornered head scarf for the doll while she was here. To butchers & fish shop in morning. The baker brought some hot cross buns. To Merton in afternoon, also bought M.Q. developer and acid-hypo at Boots in Wimbledon.

25 Ju*1908

June or July? To Ciss at her holiday board, 8 Newberry Gardens, Dorset. From the office. She'd missed their annual outing, to Herne Bay. This was from Alice Thomson. And 'X Tommie' is marked on the front.

24 March 2017

24 Mar 1948: photo plates and safelight

24 Wed. White frost but becoming milder, fine sunny day. Got the groceries. Also some cotton and darning wools for Ciss. Also a camel-hair brush and eraser. To Wimbledon: bought 1 doz Kodak Panchromatic Plates 3¼ x 4¼ @ 6/10d. Made improvised green safelight. The children called.

23 March 2017

About 1908, again

'Dear Cissy, Wishing you a maney happy returnes of your Birthday/fame Ivy' (Typed as written.)

23 Mar 1948: start of a birthday card...

23 Tues. Sharp white frost, very cool day but much hazy sunshine; cold again at night. Donald called in morning. Gwennie & Margaret later. Bought fish in Morden; posted letter to Rev. Chas. Staden. Gwennie started painting a birthday card for her mother.

22 March 2017

22 Mar 1948: cut and prune

22 Mon. Becoming rather mild, fine sunny day but a nasty N wind. Donald called in morning Bought fish and a paper; Oh and a new cycle lamp battery. Gwennie and Margaret called. Cut old wood out of sweet briar Lady Penzance. Finished pruning the roses but I may have to cut them back harder subsequently. Aunt Liza called.

21 March 2017

About 1908

Unstanped and unaddressed card, so delivered by hand. Copied here as written: 'Dear Cissy, Wishing you a maney happy Returnes of your Birthday, From Harold'  The same spelling mistakes appear in the same handwriting, but with a different name at the foot, on another romantic card... see 23rd March. 

21 Mar 1948: blossoming

21 Sun. Very cool, dull, rough chilly wind. The plum blossoms are out. Forsythia, Cydonia are splendid. Short cycle ride in evening but it is not nice out of doors. Finished letter to Chas. Staden.

20 March 2017

Cats, dogs and working animals in WWII

A reader who has just discovered Uncle Fred's diaries has contributed this interesting information  about pets and working animals during the war. Thank you 'Greyfox'.
I've found this re cat registration. 

" cats could be issued with a NARPAC collar and registration disc that ensured their return if they were found straying during, or after, a blitz or blackout. The disc read: "Finder Please Report This Number To Nearest National Animal Guard". The National Air Raid Precautions Animals Committee was established to ensure the well-being of domestic and working animal under war conditions, a national register was set up and registered animals were issued with a NARPAC numbered disc attached to a collar as identification. The NARPAC Animal Service were responsible for working animals (e.g. horses) while the NARPAC Animal Guard were predominantly women who were responsible for the welfare and registration of domestic pets covering a few streets in their local area."

From . There is also an image of the registration card.

20 Mar 1948

20 Sat. Mild, dull, but a chilly wind. Gwennie called in morning. To Merton in afternoon; bought fish, a tonic at Boots for Ciss and two roots of blue primrose. Planted the latter on the rockery with doubtful aid from Gwennie. Made up the remaining garden path with ashes: Played Sebastopol with Gwennie & Laurie: I won. Mrs Alderton and her sister called, gave them some tea. The sister Katie will rent the upstairs bedroom after Easter.

19 March 2017

1090 comic card to Ciss

Sent from Hastings, posymarked 5.45pm Aug 28, 1909. To Fred's sister, Miss French, 66 Chestnut Road, Raynes Park, Surrey. ' glad I have not been sea sick yet. Is this what you did at Weymouth, when you was looking for Tommie. From A Howsa' (Shawsa?)

19 Mar 1948

19 Fri. Rather cold, dull, windy, Ciss birthday. Got the usual shopping also a cake for Ciss birthday. Finished the long line of polyanthus and had some over to give to Mrs. Child: took them. To see Mr. Conley who is ill and will go into hospital tomorrow. To see Dad’s and Mum’s grave. Some of the daffodils are out, the crocuses are and in a week it will be at its best when the Croesus narcissus are in bloom. Played dominoes with Ciss; she won.

18 March 2017

18 Mar 1948

18 Thur. Chilly, dull morning becoming mild and sunny by afternoon. To butchers and fish shop. Dug up some perennials, divided and replanted, taking some to Mrs. Child: she was not at home but left them at her doorstep. Planted out a long row of polyanthus but shall have to finish the job tomorrow.

17 March 2017

1927 comic card to Fred's brother, Alb

"Don't forget the cane and bow - From an admirer," wrote the sender in pencil in 1927
to Mr A French, c/oT E Peake Esq, 44 Crag Path, Aldburgh.

17 Mar 1948

17 Wed. Rather mild, dull. Got the groceries etc. locally. Lightly pruned the roses. Cut the lawn for the first time this year. The scillas and mauve crocuses on the rockery look nice. Gwennie, Donald and little Margaret called. Bought a sheet of thin white card as Gwennie wants to paint a birthday card for her mother.

16 March 2017

16th March 1948: Webb's Wonderful lettuce

16 Tues. Rather chilly, heavy clouds, boisterous SW wind. Bought Bath buns, liver sausage and fish locally in morning. Sowed cress seed in a box. Sowed more onion seed in the garden also Webb’s Wonderful lettuce. Rain at night.

15 March 2017

15th March 1948: pay the undertaker for grave cleaning

15 Mon. Rather chilly, dull except for some hazy sunshine mid-day; nasty cold wind. Went to Mr. Knox the undertaker to pay for cleaning the kerbs, bases and cross and the new inscription on Dad’s and Mum’s grave. Bought cats meat at Merton and fish locally. To pay Slate Club in evening.

1909, to Fred's sister... 11, Newbury Gardens, Weymouth, where she was on holiday on 14-15 August 1909. 'Dear Tree. How's this, I hope you are not quite so shy as this at any rate I hope you are never in such a predicament as this. Glad you are having fine weather, cheer up you only have another week to go. Grace.'

14 March 2017

14th March 1948: daffodils are... nearly out, around grave

14 Sun. The day started with a slight frost but by noon it became very mild, while the sun shone from a cloudless sky all day. The usual children called. To Merton Churchyard to see Dad’s & Mum’s grave. It has been re-placed, cleaned and the new inscription for Dad engraved. The mauve crocuses are full out and the daffodils are nearly so and look very nice: the stone looks quite new again.

13 March 2017

13th March 1948: Summer Time begins

13 Sat. Rather mild, some hazy sunshine but dull, misty, chilly later. With Laurie, Donald, Leonard Conley and Clifford Gover to Wimbledon Common to fly the small spar and the large model with the new 41½ ins span wing. The spar performed admirably but there was rather too much wind for the large one as it has a much longer range and would soon have drifted right away. Must try again under more favourable conditions but the new wing has a great deal of lift and would fly at a great height if fully wound: it is too good for the Common. Summer time begins.

Another 2nd birthday card to nephew Anthony...

12 March 2017

12th March 1948: new houses replacing those bombed

12 Fri. Fine, mild, sunny day. There was a fresh breeze, but a lovely day. Got all the usual Fri. morning shopping locally. Paid a visit and took some Methodist Recorders to Mrs Child who has now left Chatsworth Avenue and is living in a brand new house in Carlton Park Avenue. It is one of a row built on the site of a number of houses destroyed by a doodle-bug. I liked the house very much and is of course up-to-date. Bought cats meat and aeroplane elastic at Merton in afternoon. Dug over a bit of the garden and weeded a side-path. Made up a skin of 3/16 rubber – five strands for a motor for the spar model

11 March 2017

11th March 1948: stewed figs and custard – scrumptious

11 Thur. Mild, fine sunny day but not as warm as yesterday. Made up further end of centre path. Bought liver at butchers, took Donald with me. Met Mrs. Hicks she has just moved into a new flat in Bushey Road. She showed me the garden she has just planted and wants me to prune the roses when they make a start. Doped the new wing and covered the central bay with emerald tissue – looks marvellous and expect it to fly grandly. Stewed figs and made custard for tea – scrumptious.

To the nephew on his 2nd birthday

10 March 2017

10th March 1948: would you believe it – date, figs and currants!

10 Wed. Mild, fine bright, sunny day but the E wind was a little chill. Got the groceries including – would you believe it – date, figs and currants. To Morton to buy a red currant and a black currant bush, both for Aunt Liza. Planted them in Aunt Liza’s garden on a good bed of hop manure; they should do well. Dug over my own gooseberry bed, digging up mint & bellbine which clogged the roots and dug in hop manure. Finished covering new wing also water-tightened it – looks promising.

9 March 2017

9th March 1948: a bloody nose... and that darn phone

9 Tues. Becoming rather warm, lovely general sunshine all day. To Mutual Stores to get cups, saucers & plates for Lily but they had sold out. Tried to get her on the phone but you can never get through to their number. Cycled to Ruxley and Chessington to see if I could buy gooseberry bushes but failed; I enjoyed the ride however as the sunshine was lovely and flowering trees have commenced the spring display. Donald called; he slipped on the shiny lino flat on his nose which spurted blood. Had to carry him home yelling. He came later with Gwennie and Laurie and was all right again. Did more covering of the new wing with white tissue.

Jones was a maiden name...

Sent to Fred's bother & sister-in-law 19.5.1964. Jones was Lily's maiden name...

8 March 2017

8th March 1948: skipping record... Fred prefers playing with planes

8 Mon. Rather mild, dull; little wind, but getting cooler. Donald called twice in morning. To Wimbledon along rail-path in afternoon. Had my sight tested at Wenban’s for a pair of reading glasses: was very interested in the optical process. Bought a writing pad and a packet of envelopes at the post office, cost 1-9d. Gwennie came to tell me she had broken her skipping record which now stands at 67: I suppose she thinks I am interested. Started covering the 41½ ins. wing.

7 March 2017

Sent for a first birthday

Sent to your editor, Fred's nephew, on my 1st birthday! Well, I still like toast!

7th March 1946: cycling on Sunday... in windy Wimbledon

7 Sun. Rather mild, fine sunny morning, dull afternoon with a stiff chilly breeze springing up. Cycled round Wimbledon Common in afternoon, but glad to get back on account of the cold wind. The prunus and almond trees are in bloom also forsythia is nearly out. The crocuses and scillas in the garden are coming into bloom also the polyanthus.

6 March 2017

6th March 1948: to Wenban's for sight testing

6 Sat. Very cold, dull, becoming rather mild & sunny by afternoon but a thick, smoky fog soon blotted out the sun. Gwennie called with the ration book and later with Margaret in her pram. To Wimbledon along rail-path which is being concreted; saw Pacific loco. “Yeovil”. Went to make an appointment at Wenban’s* to get my sight tested. Cousin Maud called: she had to get home to Streatham in the fog.

*Note: Mr A T Wenban, a retired optician living in Eastbourne, died on 9th Feb 1948. ('London Gazette'.) He had previously lived and/or practised at 36, The Broadway, Wimbledon. The Museum of Wimbledon has sports medals donated by the same person.

5 March 2017

5th March 1948: what did Katie do?

5 Fri. Very cold, only 4 degrees above freezing, very dull – a good thing the E wind was of only moderate strength. Did a lot of shopping locally, also bought three cups and saucers as a birthday present to Lily: the cost 2/3 for a cup and saucer. Mrs Alderton and her sister Katie came to see the front bedroom with a view to taking it for Katie. They live near Alb & Lily at Tolworth and it is hard to find a lodging these days. We do not want a lodger but she cannot get a place elsewhere. Laurie brought some cardboard models he made at school.

Note: Mrs Alderton probably lived at 94 Largewood Avenue, Tolworth, Surbiton, Surrey. (Pre-dating postcodes.) She was possibly Austrian originally, from Vienna. 

It's that pug again... sent from St Ives... 1949

4 March 2017

4th March 1948: the plant doctor

4 Thur. Cold, dull, E wind a little stronger again. Bought sausage meat and pepper at Johnsons. Fawn darning wool at Jenefer’s. Bought fish at shop where Mrs Philpot serves. Ask her about Winifred Ewens, her sister. She was taken in an ambulance to hospital yesterday for an operation. Met Dear Gladys; it is a delight to meet someone with a lovely disposition who does not grouse or run down other people. Sowed “All the Year Round” lettuce seed, and “James Keeping” onion. Dug up the “Juliet” rose I planted in 1916, cut off the tap roots which had gone deep into cold sour clay. Re-planted on a nice bed of hop manure and a sprinkling of ‘Clamp’ (?) fertilizer near the top. This bush grows a lot of straggly shoots and has not produced a good bloom for many years: it has not bloomed for two years. I suspected what had happened and remedied it to-day. And now we shall see what difference it has made. I increased torque cancellation on the small spar aero.

3 March 2017

3rd March 1948: mattresses returned - much thicker now

3 Wed. Cold, dull, becoming less cold; foggy at night. Got the groceries also fish also sundries at the oil shop. Met Arthur Swift – the third day running. Two mattresses returned from Surrey Bedding Co. after re-making – much thicker now. Dug over a rose bed also prepared a border for sowing onion and lettuce. Fitted new ball to lavatory cistern.

A kiss

To Fred's nephew on his fifth birthday from next-door-but-three,
from the elderly and formidable, in the child's eyes, Brewer sisters of 104 Largewood Ave, Tolworth

'Bonzo' published by Valentine & Sons Ltd. - 4245.

2 March 2017

2nd March 1948: Carters mixed “Gleam” nasturtiums

2 Tues. Rather cold, dull, a little more wind. Bought fish, hop manure, sulphate of potash and lentils also U2 torch batteries and a packet of Carters mixed “Gleam” nasturtiums: glad to see these on the market again. The three children called; when they went home Donald shut the front door while I was outside and shut me out. I had to go through Norris’ and get on their coal bunker and drop over the fence. Wrote letter to Uncle Tom & Aunt Nellie.

Note: many excellent photos posted by the son of pgotographer at 'Carters Tested Seeds' with its grand and glorious headquarters building, looking like an echo of Empire, in Raynes Park. This is a link.

And the catalogue, left, is from The University of Reading's The Museum of English Rural Life. See this link for a short history of the company.

1 March 2017

1899 school attendance

June 1899. The card awarded to Fred's younger brother for good school attendance.

1st Mar 1948: re-making matresses

March 1948

1 Mon. Rather mild, dull and cloudy, not much wind. Bought fish and ‘Marchon’ firelighters locally. Met Arthur Swift. The landlord brought a replacement part for the lavatory cistern which I fitted. The Water Board inspector had complained about the overflow leaking. The Surrey Bedding Co. took away three mattresses for re-making. Divided up and planted out four more rhubarb roots. Gwennie and Margaret called. Aunt Nellie sent me a cake and a sausage roll.