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Life with My Mother: A Nostalgic Look at Life in the 20th Century and Growing Up during World War Two

Updated on September 25, 2015
Mum as a baby - she was always very small.
Mum as a baby - she was always very small.

Mum weighed less than a bag of sugar at birth

When my grandma gave birth to mum, back in 1928, she was told her new-born baby was so tiny that her chances of survival were slim.

Mum weighed less than 2lb - lighter than a bag of sugar!

However, mum was 85 last birthday, so the doctor's prediction was thankfully incorrect. She was a little fighter - a trait which has remained with her throughout her life.

She is less than 5ft tall, but what she lacks in stature, she makes up for in courage, heart and personality.

Mum was born and brought up in Leeds, in the heart of Yorkshire in the UK, one of two children, having a younger brother, Kenneth.

My grandparents, Frank and Ivy Trigg, were hard-working people living on a housing estate when mum and my uncle Ken were kids.

Grandad trained to make furniture and then started his own business - Trigg and Oldfield, of Ossett - with his friend, Albert Oldfield.

Grandma also worked, in shops, as a seamstress and later on in a munitions factory during the Second World War.

My grandad, Frank Trigg, with mum as a baby.
My grandad, Frank Trigg, with mum as a baby.

Mum protected her little brother from harm

Mum was a little tough nut as a kid.

I recalled her telling me how she always looked after her little brother, including when he was targeted by the school bully.

We read such a lot about cyber-bullying these days and verbal attacks online, due, of course, to the internet.

But during my mum and Ken's childhood, in the 1930s, the school bully was more likely to target the younger children and steal their pocket money or chocolate bars.

This was the case with Ken, who was quite a small child, as my mum was.

Mum and her little brother, my uncle Ken, as children in Yorkshire in the early 1930s.
Mum and her little brother, my uncle Ken, as children in Yorkshire in the early 1930s.

Apparently, one of the older boys at their junior school was bullying Ken and threatened to beat him up after school. He was only small and was afraid.

When he told mum, she was furious and laid in wait for the bully after school. As the bigger boy chased Ken through the school corridors, mum ran behind her little brother, who was very young.

Then, as the bully caught them up, mum stopped suddenly, span round, squared up to him, clenched her fist and punched him in the face as hard as she could.

The bully, a large youth, dropped to the floor, almost knocked clean out. He was laughed at by the other kids for getting beaten up by a girl. He didn't pick on Ken again and his bullying activities were curtailed.

Mum admitted afterwards she hit him so hard that her knuckles were bruised and swollen afterwards and she could hardly bend her fingers. But she didn't care, because the bullying had stopped.

I would imagine today, mum would have ended up in trouble herself for violence at school and might have been suspended. But in those days, there were no repercussions and the other kids were patting her on the back for having stood up to the bully, who had made a lot of pupils' lives a misery.

Mum fended off a would-be attacker

Incidentally, on another occasion a few years later, when mum was in her early teens, she recalled being cat-called by a gang of drunken young men as she walked home after dark one evening.

They were very inebriated and making lewd comments to her.

She felt scared when one of them started following her through the streets, his footsteps echoing ever-closer behind her. She was terrified he was going to attack her.

Remembering my grandma's advice - to "kick him where it hurts if ever you're attacked" - mum did just that, spinning round suddenly and lashing out with a well-aimed kick just as the man fell into step right behind her.

He immediately fell to the floor, groaning and rolling about in agony, while mum ran off as fast as her legs could carry her.

Years later, she said she wondered if his intentions had just been innocent and he was merely going to ask her for a date, But she didn't wish to take the risk and didn't wait around to find out.

A close-knit family

Grandma had a younger sister, Madge, who married Bill Brown and had three children, Sandra, Shirley and Paul. They were a little younger than mum and Ken. All the kids would hang out together and mum looked after the little ones.

I love looking back at the family albums, as there are many pictures of them playing together in the streets, mum carrying Shirley round.

Shirley was a tiny baby and looked like a little doll in mum's arms.

Grandma's younger sister, Madge, enjoying relaxing on the seafront during a holiday.
Grandma's younger sister, Madge, enjoying relaxing on the seafront during a holiday.

In those days, before the internet, the Xbox, the PS4, the iPhone and all the other modern playthings, kids didn't even have television to watch.

They played a lot outdoors, on their bicycles or in the park, or looking after younger relatives and neighbours' children.

The family spent more time together enjoying group activities. There seemed to be more community spirit, from what mum has told me.

Mum with her brother Ken and their baby cousin, Shirley.
Mum with her brother Ken and their baby cousin, Shirley.

She remembers children being genuinely afraid, when they did something wrong, if an adult threatened them with "telling a policeman". They would immediately refrain from being naughty!

This is totally unlike today, when a lot of kids have no fear of authority, know they can get away with most things and tell the police, "I'll sue you for assault if you touch me!"

Mum as a child (holding her baby cousin, Shirley Brown) with her little brother Ken on the left and a neighbour's son on the right. They were playing in the street where they grew up in Leeds, Yorkshire.
Mum as a child (holding her baby cousin, Shirley Brown) with her little brother Ken on the left and a neighbour's son on the right. They were playing in the street where they grew up in Leeds, Yorkshire.

Mum always had a pet dog

One of mum's memories is of her dog, Peggy, a crossbreed. My grandma had Peggy for many years. She was a much-loved family pet, a medium-sized dog and a "57 varieties" mongrel, as mum would say!

Mum recalled Peggy was a prolific rat-catcher and would sometimes bring her "trophy" home, to everyone's horror.

She also remembered how Peggy once escaped out of the garden and came back pregnant. In those days, it wasn't as common to get your dog spayed or neutered - you just kept them in when they were in season! But this approach was unsuccessful with Peggy and she had a large litter of pups.

When they were old enough, they were re-homed with friends and neighbours.

Peggy lived a very long life - in fact, she was still going strong when mum was in her early 20s.

After this, mum recalled how grandma got a large, giddy golden retriever. However, the dog was not made for town life and was continually jumping the fence and escaping. She had bags of energy.

Eventually, she was rehomed to a family who had a farm, where she could run to her heart's content and live the energetic outdoor life she craved. Although it was a wrench to see her go, mum and grandma realized she would be much happier on a farm.

Mum and Kenneth as bridesmaid and pageboy at a family wedding.
Mum and Kenneth as bridesmaid and pageboy at a family wedding.

Happy days before World War Two

During the 1930s, when mum and Ken were kids, they lived a happy life. The family was not well off, but had everything they needed. Grandad's furniture-making business went from strength to strength.

In fact, he ran the business until he was in his early 70s when he finally retired.

Mum recalled how, when the television series 'Emmerdale' was first launched in 1972, grandad and his partner, Albert Oldfield, kitted out the old Woolpack Inn pub on the set, a very prestigious job!

Family weddings in the 1930s were a big occasion and a chance for everyone to get together. This was before the days when owning a car (or jumping on a plane) made it easy to see each other on a regular basis.

One of my favourite photos of mum and uncle Ken as children was when they were bridesmaid and pageboy at a wedding. It was grandad's sister's wedding and mum looked resplendent in her long dress and floral headband.

Mum and Ken as bridesmaid and pageboy at grandad's sister's wedding in the 1930s.
Mum and Ken as bridesmaid and pageboy at grandad's sister's wedding in the 1930s.

I am lucky in that I have a lot of photos of mum and the rest of my family in bygone days.

Many of them were taken by family members, but occasionally, they had 'staged' photographs taken at a local photographer's studio, when the kids put on their best clothes and posed for the camera.

In those days, it was before the days of 'instamatic' cameras and long before digital photography! Some of the very old photos were on glass slides (which we had converted into photographs many years later) while the negatives which followed these had to be painstakingly developed and printed. There was no dropping the film off at Boots the chemist and collecting the prints a couple of days later!

Mum as a child in a staged photograph at a studio.
Mum as a child in a staged photograph at a studio.

Mum had her hair in a classic "bob" hairstyle which was popular in the 1930s.

Oddly enough, she has returned to this hairstyle today, after all manner of styles in between!

Life during World War Two

When the Second World War broke out in 1939, mum was only 11 years old and Kenneth a couple of years younger.

Grandad was in the RAF and was stationed overseas for much of the duration. I know he was in Iraq for some of the war, as he sent several photos home, which mum has kept for all these years.

My grandad Frank Trigg (front row, seated, fourth from right) when he was in the RAF during World War Two.
My grandad Frank Trigg (front row, seated, fourth from right) when he was in the RAF during World War Two.

He was stationed in Ashur, according to the captions on his photos.

Although he never spoke about these times to me, I know, from reading about events many years later, that RAF Habbaniya (originally RAF Dhibban) was on the banks of the Euphrates near Lake Habbaniyah. It was operational from October 1936 until the 31st May 1959.

Back home in Leeds, Grandma had always worked, but mum recalled how she went to work in the munitions factory at this time to help the war effort.

Unlike inner-city children (such as my dad in London, for example) mum and Ken weren't evacuated, although they did have an air raid shelter at the bottom of the garden.

If the air raid siren went off, the family was supposed to go to the shelter for safety, often having to stay in there all night. However, grandma would get so scared, she couldn't leave the house on one occasion, even though the rest of the family were warning her the "bombs were dropping".

Thankfully, they were not bombed and the whole family, including grandad, survived the war unscathed.

Mum has spoken of how weddings during the war often saw the bride's gown being made of parachute fabric because materials were in short supply due to the austerities of the war effort. It was a period of 'make do and mend' and ration books.

Grandad, on the left, with one of his pals while deployed to Ashur, Iraq, with the RAF during the Second World War.
Grandad, on the left, with one of his pals while deployed to Ashur, Iraq, with the RAF during the Second World War.

Mum met the Queen as part of the war effort

Mum had left school at the age of 14 (as was common in those days) and started work in an office.

I think the war probably made young people grow up faster too.

In her teens, mum was a member of her local Young Women's Christian Association.

At the age of 15, in 1943, she enjoyed one of her proudest moments when she was chosen as representative of the local YWCA to embark on a trip to London to meet the Queen.

Each YWCA had been raising money to donate to the war effort and one representative from each region was chosen to go to London to hand over the purse in person to the Queen. Mum was thrilled to be the representative from her group.

Because of heightened security due to the war, the event was top secret and could be given no prior publicity at all, or it could have risked the safety of the royal family and the other participants.

Mum was sent a letter advising of the venue, date and time of the presentation. She was told she must not discuss it with anyone or it could cause a dangerous breach of security.

She obeyed orders and was very excited about her trip, although I imagine it was a little nerve-wracking for grandma with her daughter going to London, an area which had been hit hard by the bombings.

Mum aged 15, pictured in London, where she met the Queen to hand over a purse of money from the YWCA to aid the war effort.
Mum aged 15, pictured in London, where she met the Queen to hand over a purse of money from the YWCA to aid the war effort.

Grandma made mum a coat for her special trip

Mum wanted to look her best to meet royalty, but as mentioned before, these were austere times, with clothing coupons and rationing.

Luckily, grandma was a talented seamstress and managed to furnish a smart, belted overcoat for mum to wear. Her black shoes were polished up and mum set her hair on curling pins to style it in the fashion of the day. This was before she ever had a perm and she would put setting lotion on her hair at night, curl it using simple hair grips and then comb and tease it out in the morning so it looked as if it was very curly.

Mum recalled how her boss was amazed when he saw her with her hair curled one day and said to her, "I didn't realise you had so much hair, Miss Trigg!"

Mum was very pretty and always looked well presented what ever she wore.

Her trip to London was thrilling for a teenager, as she had not been before and it was a massive event to meet the Queen during the war.

She was looked after from start to finish, taught how to curtsey when she met royalty and enjoyed a social event afterwards, meeting YWCA youngsters from other regions and also various highly-ranked civil servants and 'society' people who were organizing and attending the event.

Mum's picture was in the newspapers, which was a thrill in itself - although she did say afterwards that the quotes attributed to her had been completely fabricated! However, they were nothing too outrageous, merely stating how much she had enjoyed the event. Maybe because it was wartime and there was a cloak of secrecy on everything, she wasn't allowed to say too much.

But she was certainly a local celebrity for some time to come after her brush with royalty.

Dancing the jitterbug: A popular dance when mum was a teenager. Mum recalled her pal Myra was able to 'throw' mum in the air effortlessly and they would dance all night.
Dancing the jitterbug: A popular dance when mum was a teenager. Mum recalled her pal Myra was able to 'throw' mum in the air effortlessly and they would dance all night.

Mum's lifelong friendship begins

Around this time, mum became good friends with a young lady of a similar age, Myra, from her home town. The two of them were soon inseparable and did everything together.

One of their favourite pastimes was dancing the jitterbug at the youth club. They were great dancers and practised a lot.

Mum loved dancing - a passion that continued into her 60s - and in her teens, she was 'thrown about' by Myra, as she described it, who was sturdier than mum and took the male role when dancing. They didn't bother much with boyfriends and were very choosy, never letting a man buy them a drink or 'leading anyone on'.

Mum said they went out literally to just dance all night and that was all they cared about.

Mum and Myra had many happy times during their teenage years and had some giggles.

After the war, Myra married a young man called Ken Hind and they went to live in the USA, so mum lost her best pal, but was happy for her.

Mum and Myra have kept in touch to this day through letters, telephone calls and email, exchanging news and photographs for more than 60 years.

They met up again in the 1990s, when Myra and one of her daughters, Durinda, came to the UK for a long holiday and to catch up with old friends and family members.

Mum and Myra were like a couple of teenagers again when they met - hard to believe they had not seen each other for more than 40 years! The years just melted away and they looked at old photos, reminisced and giggled well into the night.

Mum, pictured on the right, met her friend Myra again in the 1990s. They had not seen each other for more than 40 years, but laughed and giggled like it was yesterday.
Mum, pictured on the right, met her friend Myra again in the 1990s. They had not seen each other for more than 40 years, but laughed and giggled like it was yesterday.

Mum and Myra keep in touch via email today and try to speak on the phone twice a year, on mum's birthday and at Christmas.

Myra and Ken have often tried to persuade mum to jump on a plane and go for a holiday with them, but she has never done so.

I think years ago, when young enough to go, mum was too nervous to fly, never having been on a plane. Now, with the passing of time, it is unlikely she will pluck up the courage to fly to America, which is a shame.

Myra had even tried to 'bribe' mum to go by saying she and Ken would pay her flight if she would just get on the plane! But it was all to no avail.

Mum was courted by a local young man

When mum was 16, she met a local young man called Willie Ellis and the pair began courting.

Mum said it was all very innocent in those days. They went dancing, enjoyed days out and spent time together.

Mum recalled it was all about romance and very different from today's more casual dating scene.

They met each other's families and mum believed they were getting serious, although there had been no proposal.

However, there was heartbreak ahead when Willie's mother felt the two young people were getting involved too quickly, especially since he had joined the Army and was being deployed with the troops.

The courtship came to an abrupt end when Willie explained all this and mum didn't know if she would ever see him again. She was very upset, as he had been her first love.

Celebrations as World War Two ended

Mum tried to put her personal heartbreak behind her when the war in Europe ended in May 1945, which signaled national celebrations across the UK. The momentous occasion is still celebrated every year on 8th May.

Street parties took place across the country and mum said there was a huge party in her street, when everyone celebrated an end to the hostilities and subsequently an end of rationing and the austere lifestyle experienced by all.

Many of the troops were coming home, although it was to be three more months before the event subsequently called VJ Day - Victory over Japan - took place on 15th August 1945, mum's birthday.

Celebrating VE Day, the whole street came out to party. Everyone brought out their dining tables and chipped in by providing what ever food they could and fizzy pop for the kids. It was a massive celebration and the community spirit of the era shone through.

All the neighbours had supported each other during the struggles of wartime Britain and now they could all celebrate together and feel happy to have survived, while at the same time remembering loved ones who had sadly lost their lives.

Street party to celebrate victory in Europe in May 1945. Mum is pictured holding a neighbour's toddler and standing next to her brother, Kenneth (circled in the photo, to the left of the centre at the back).
Street party to celebrate victory in Europe in May 1945. Mum is pictured holding a neighbour's toddler and standing next to her brother, Kenneth (circled in the photo, to the left of the centre at the back).

Mum received a proposal of marriage

Following the upsetting end of her courtship with Willie Ellis, mum had no intention of meeting another man.

However, with her best friend Myra courting by this time, it wasn't long before mum was wooed by another young local man, Derek, who was very persistent, despite mum's reluctance to get involved.

He proposed to mum quite quickly. I think the war - and never knowing if you would see your loved one again when they were on the frontline fighting - had changed people's mentality and made things happen more quickly.

Mum was happy with Derek and when he asked her to marry him, she said yes. Myra was to marry Ken and they already had plans to live in America.

I know 17 or 18 seems very young today to consider marriage, but mum had left school at 14 and had been working in an office since then. The young people had also grown up fast during the war. So mum was very much a young woman and knew her own mind.

Mum, aged 20, proudly shows off her new-born son, Eric, my brother.
Mum, aged 20, proudly shows off her new-born son, Eric, my brother.

A shock in store after mum's engagement

The engagement was announced and plans for the wedding were forging ahead when out of the blue, mum received an unexpected visitor in the shape of her former suitor, Willie.

He had returned from the war a changed man and had realised he shouldn't have heeded his mother's remarks on being too young to settle down. He knew mum was the woman for him and he had brought an engagement ring when he met her.

He admitted he had made a mistake in ending their courtship and asked her to marry him!

However, by this time, already engaged to Derek, mum turned down his proposal and he walked away distraught. They were never to see each other again.

It sounds like something from a romantic novel, but it happened to my mum.

Subsequently, mum and Derek were married and moved in with Derek's mother, as they could not afford their own house at that time.

Their son Eric - my big brother - was born when mum was 20 years old and a cuter baby would never be seen, with his light blonde hair and blue eyes. Mum had given up her office job and became a full-time mum, which she enjoyed.

He was a much-loved baby, with doting grandparents and a large extended family. As a toddler, he would play with my mum's cousins, Shirley, Sandra and Paul.

They were still kids and younger than mum, being the offspring of grandma's younger sister, Madge. In fact, Eric and Paul became great friends, as they were a similar age and grew up together.

A family photo from around 1949: On the right is my brother Eric as a toddler, with my mum's cousins Shirley (standing at the back); Sandra (sitting on the bench) and Paul (standing at the front). The other two were neighbours' children.
A family photo from around 1949: On the right is my brother Eric as a toddler, with my mum's cousins Shirley (standing at the back); Sandra (sitting on the bench) and Paul (standing at the front). The other two were neighbours' children.

Mum recalled that grandma and grandad were the first family on their street to get a television set in the 1950s. It is hard to imagine life without television today.

However, just over half a century ago, hardly anyone had one. People would listen to the radio to hear the news and listen to music, plays and dramas.

Grandad had bought their television set in time for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953. In those days, there were only black and white sets available and only the BBC broadcast a service - again, this is hard to imagine when one thinks of the hundreds of channels available today!

The Coronation was a momentous occasion and all the other families in the street piled into grandma and grandad's living room to gather round the television and watch the royal spectacle!

The Queen and Prince Philip on the occasion of the Coronation in 1953.
The Queen and Prince Philip on the occasion of the Coronation in 1953.

Mum said all the women thought Prince Philip was very dashing and good-looking in those days and the Queen very beautiful.

The living room was packed as everyone - adults and children alike - brought in their own chairs to sit and watch the coronation. It must have been like a trip to the cinema for most of them, who had never seen a television before.

This was the first major Royal occasion after the Second World War, which was still a recent memory to most people, having only ended eight years earlier. Mum recalled what a lavish occasion it was and how everyone enjoyed their day.

But storm clouds were unfortunately gathering which were to prompt a big upheaval in mum's life.

Her marriage to Derek was not working out and they divorced, with mum returning with Eric, who was still a toddler, to live with her mother and father.

Going it alone: Mum with my brother when he was a toddler.
Going it alone: Mum with my brother when he was a toddler.

Mum moved to a new town

After remaining in Leeds for some time, the family decided to completely uproot and start a new life by the seaside.

They "upped sticks" and moved to Blackpool, where grandma was going to try her hand at running a bed and breakfast establishment and becoming a seaside landlady.

It was a fresh start for everyone. It was the 1950s, when holidays by the sea were booming and very popular among families from inland towns. It was before the days of cheap flights abroad for holidays in the sun - and for many people, a week in Blackpool was the highlight of their year.

Grandma was an excellent cook and was friendly, down-to-earth and hard-working. So running a guest-house seemed an ideal choice. Mum was to help her but was also going to go back to work, with grandma looking after Eric when mum found a secretarial job again.

Grandad was not giving up his furniture business, which he had been steadily building up since he was a young man in his early 20s, so his life from that moment involved a great deal of commuting.

At a similar time, grandma's sister and brother-in-law, Madge and Bill, were moving to Lancashire with their three children, so some of the family was not too far away.

Mum as a young woman, posing outside grandma's B&B, The Erica.
Mum as a young woman, posing outside grandma's B&B, The Erica.

Running the B&B was hard work

Grandma had called her B&B 'The Erica', in honour of my brother Eric.

Mum has often spoken about how it was very hard work running a guest-house, particularly at the height of the summer season, when it was fully booked.

It was located about five minutes' walk from the beach and was always booked up in the summer. Full English breakfasts were cooked for all the guests and many of them returned year after year and became personal friends to my grandma.

Mum and grandma would get up at the crack of dawn to start the day's chores and preparing breakfasts and it was often late at night before they could get to bed.

When all the guest rooms were booked up, they would often give up their own rooms to extra guests, as they couldn't afford to turn custom away. When this happened, mum and grandma would have makeshift beds for themselves in the dining room!

Romance blossomed again for mum

Since her divorce, mum had not been interested in another man at all and had no plans to marry again.

She was happy as she was and romance didn't figure in her life.

Mum gained office employment again quite quickly and was a typist and wages clerk.

However, out of the blue, while working as a wages clerk in her late 20s, she was romanced by a young man, Richard Evans, who worked in the factory, where she paid out the wages every week. He would often ask her for a date, but she wasn't interested in a relationship and kept turning him down.

But he was very persistent and he seemed such a friendly and pleasant young man that eventually, mum agreed to go on a date with him.

In those days, mum loved ballroom dancing. She was never one for going to pubs and drinking, but they used to go ballroom dancing and have fun and romance blossomed.

Mum and dad in their late 20s, when they were courting.
Mum and dad in their late 20s, when they were courting.

Mum and dad were married on 9th November 1957 at Blackpool Congregational Church. It was a very large gathering, dad being one of 13 brothers and sisters!

All mum's relatives from Yorkshire also converged on the historic church, with a reception being held at The Cliffs Hotel on Blackpool promenade afterwards.

Mum and her proud father on her wedding day.
Mum and her proud father on her wedding day.

Another sign of the times was when mum and dad were organizing their wedding - because mum was a divorcee, their local church would not let her marry there!

When you think of how couples today can marry virtually anywhere - it doesn't even have to be in a church - and there are also female ministers and same-sex weddings, it is hard to imagine the rigidity of the church in the 1950s.

Mum resplendent in her wedding dress with her bridesmaids.
Mum resplendent in her wedding dress with her bridesmaids.
Mum and dad, 1957
Mum and dad, 1957
Mum and dad with their bridesmaids and groomsmen in 1957
Mum and dad with their bridesmaids and groomsmen in 1957

Mum and dad were lucky enough to have a photographer who also took some colour photographs. This was quite rare in those days, when most photographs were black and white.

We have some beautiful pictures of mum in her wedding dress with her bridesmaids outside the church.

Mum still remembers her wedding day like it was yesterday and recalls what a joyous occasion it was.

Their honeymoon was in London (dad's birthplace) and an occasion mum always recalls with great happiness.

However, she will never forget her terror at feeding the pigeons in Trafalgar Square. Initially, there did not seem to be many as she began throwing down bird seed from a bag they had purchased. But within seconds, hundreds of pigeons began swooping round them, landing on mum's head and shoulders and resembling a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds!

Dad thought it hilarious as he had known what to expect, but mum was petrified!

Mum and dad's wedding day: The happy couple are pictured with mum's parents, grandma Ivy and grandad Frank Trigg.
Mum and dad's wedding day: The happy couple are pictured with mum's parents, grandma Ivy and grandad Frank Trigg.
The wedding guests wave off mum and dad as they embark on their honeymoon. Dad's older sister Olive is in the white hat; next to her their sister Josie and in front my brother Eric.
The wedding guests wave off mum and dad as they embark on their honeymoon. Dad's older sister Olive is in the white hat; next to her their sister Josie and in front my brother Eric.
My brother on his swing in the back garden of grandma's B&B
My brother on his swing in the back garden of grandma's B&B

This was a very happy time for mum and all the family.

They had all settled well into the local community, with my brother Eric attending Revoe Junior School and doing very well.

Grandma's guesthouse was next to the local park and only five minutes from the beach, so there were plenty of places to play.

My brother had a sandyacht and a kart and appears in many old photos tinkering about with them in the garden of the guest house.

This was still an era before all the modern toys, mobile phones and gaming consoles and in terms of playing, kids still enjoyed the same activities as mum had in her youth - playing outdoors and plenty of healthy and energetic pastimes!

He also had a swing in the garden of the guesthouse.

I expect many of today's youths would find it hard to imagine not having all their modern electronic devices - no internet, no Facebook, no email - but everyone managed just fine!

Mum and my brother Eric in the back yard of grandma's guesthouse in the late 1950s. My brother was getting his kart ready to use on the beach.
Mum and my brother Eric in the back yard of grandma's guesthouse in the late 1950s. My brother was getting his kart ready to use on the beach.
My brother sandyachting on Blackpool beach in the late 1950s
My brother sandyachting on Blackpool beach in the late 1950s

Mum and Grandma Trigg - and also my dad's mum, Grandma Evans - were members of the Tyldesley Ward women's group and at this time enjoyed many social events.

This photo (below) shows them about to embark on a coach trip with friends from the group.

I guess it must have been school holidays, as my brother is pictured with them too! The photograph appeared in the local newspaper.

Mum, Grandma Evans, Grandma Trigg and my brother Eric pictured on a trip with the Tyldesley Ward women's group in the late 1950s. Grandma Trigg had written their names on the photo, which appeared in the local newspaper.
Mum, Grandma Evans, Grandma Trigg and my brother Eric pictured on a trip with the Tyldesley Ward women's group in the late 1950s. Grandma Trigg had written their names on the photo, which appeared in the local newspaper.
Mum, dad and my brother Eric in the early 1960s
Mum, dad and my brother Eric in the early 1960s
Family day out: Grandad, mum and my brother Eric
Family day out: Grandad, mum and my brother Eric

Mum and dad bought their first house

The 1960s saw mum and dad buy their first house, on Rectory Road, which is where I grew up.

It wasn't a modern house and needed much work to bring it up-to-date. It didn't have central heating when they first bought it and instead, there was a real coal fire in every room, including the bedrooms.

There was an outside toilet and next to the kitchen a pantry for storing cold foods, as it had been built before the days when everyone had a refrigerator. Luckily, dad was great at DIY and the house was knocked into shape over time and modernized.

Only one coal fire was left and that was in the main lounge. They had central heating installed and an old anthracite boiler. The coal man used to deliver in his wagon about once a fortnight, bringing coal for the fire and anthracite for the boiler.

Whereas modern gas boilers are relatively small and are usually wall-mounted, the boiler in those days was huge - about the size of a small refrigerator - and was free-standing in the kitchen. When dad got up for work, he would stoke it up and add fresh anthracite - which was slow-burning - and was kept in a coal shed outside. There was one container for the coal and another for the anthracite.

The back garden had a lawn and flower borders and the front garden a small lawn. Dad covered this in crazy paving instead and created flower borders, with a bench in the middle so they could sit out comfortably in the summer. He also made much of the furniture after learning woodwork and joinery at night classes.

My birth disrupted life as mum knew it

Mum fell pregnant with me in the 1960s.

At this time, she was still helping grandma out with the B&B, as well as having her own house.

One story she told me amazed me - the guesthouse needed decorating and mum recalled climbing up a ladder when she was nine months' pregnant to paint the ceiling of the dining room with a roller-brush and tray of paint!

Mum never treated pregnancy as an 'illness' and carried on with her normal activities right up to giving birth to both my brother and me.

Unfortunately, I was a rather difficult child - as I have documented in other Hubs - as I was very "highly-strung" (as mum described it) and was terribly "clingy". I think I had an over-active imagination and was prone to nightmares and mum used to have to read to me for hours till I nodded off to sleep!

I am pretty sure I totally took over her life for quite some time and she never had a moment's peace.

By this time, my brother was in his teens and already gaining his independence. But I don't think he was ever as much trouble as I was, even when he was a baby!

Mum with me as a baby
Mum with me as a baby

Apparently, I was terrified of women with white hair and used to scream blue murder when I was out in my pram if any elderly ladies bent over to peer in at me.

I also used to scream at mum's Auntie Madge, whose hair was very fair; also at dad's sister my Auntie Ivy (who had bleached blonde hair) and at my Grandma Evans, who was very elderly when I was born.

I think mum must have had the patience of a saint.

My christening day, with mum, dad and my brother Eric, outside our house
My christening day, with mum, dad and my brother Eric, outside our house

This decade was a very happy time for mum too - she and dad now had a lovely house and were very proud of my brother, who had successfully gained a place at the prestigious all boys' grammar school, which was a huge achievement.

They enjoyed going out to dances (ballroom dancing) and in particular enjoyed my dad's work's dinner and dance, when there was always a lovely meal and a live band.

Grandma Trigg was a big help with childcare and looked after me quite often.

Mum and dad on a night out in the 1960s
Mum and dad on a night out in the 1960s

The family remained close knit

All dad's family lived locally and mum's side of the family didn't live too far away, with her Auntie Madge and Uncle Bill in Altrincham, Cheshire, so they were able to visit each other quite easily.

Mum's younger brother, Ken, had married his sweetheart, Anne, by this time and they had a young son, Martin. They still lived in Yorkshire, but came over to Blackpool for holidays and of course stayed at grandma's B&B.

Mum recalled her sister-in-law, Anne, was a very vibrant, pretty and vivacious young woman, who was always wearing the fashions of the day. In fact, it was Anne who persuaded mum to first perm her hair, with a Toni home perm.

Mum had always relied on setting her hair in pins or rollers until this time. But during a holiday in Blackpool, Anne, who permed her own hair, persuaded mum to have hers done too. Mum said she was very nervous, as this was all new to her. But Anne did a lovely job and mum was delighted with the results - no more rollers!

Pictured on Blackpool beach are mum on the left; her sister-in-law Anne in the centre and her brother Ken on the right, with their baby son Martin in the pram and their cute puppy. Ken and Anne were on holiday in Blackpool.
Pictured on Blackpool beach are mum on the left; her sister-in-law Anne in the centre and her brother Ken on the right, with their baby son Martin in the pram and their cute puppy. Ken and Anne were on holiday in Blackpool.

Ken and Anne emigrated to Canada with their young family when I was a child and it was many years before mum was to see her brother again.

Family holidays to Butlin's

It was a tradition for our family to go to Butlin's holiday camp in Pwllheli, Wales, both when my brother was young and later on when I was a kid.

We would go for one or two weeks every summer and it really was like the television show, Hi De Hi. There were always lots of organised events and competitions for all the family and for the kids, while our day started with the 'siren' booming out over the loud-speakers and calling us to the restaurant at 8am for breakfast!

Usually, we took Sharon (the daughter of mum's cousin Shirley) with us on holiday and we had a brilliant time. Sharon and I were roughly the same age and always had a giggle together.

There was a funfair, swimming pool, lots of play areas, the amusement arcades, family shows and the nearby beach. Mum and dad always ensured us kids had the best time of our life.

Mum takes me paddling while on holiday at Butllin's in Pwllheli, Wales
Mum takes me paddling while on holiday at Butllin's in Pwllheli, Wales

Those family holidays are something I will never forget and I will always have a soft spot for Butlin's, as we went there every year, until I was about 12 years old.

Into the 1970s with a new job for mum...

As the 1960s drew to a close, grandma eventually retired from running the B&B and came to live with us. I have written elsewhere on The Hub about life with my grandma, who was a big help to mum when I was a kid, babysitting me while mum and dad were at work.

My big brother did very well at school. He successfully passed his A-Levels at the boys' grammar school and went on to university to study becoming a civil engineer, which was to be his career for life. Mum and dad were always very proud of him.

Mum was working full-time again by this time. She actually worked all her life, from the age of 14 to 65, with only short breaks when Eric and I were born. Even when between office jobs, she was working at the B&B.

It was in the early '70s that I recall her getting a job in the office of Ashton Candy Co, a rock factory in Blackpool, where she worked throughout the decade. She was typist, telephonist and wages clerk. She was much loved by the bosses, who realized what a 'whizz' she was. She also got on great with the factory staff and with her fellow office workers.

She even became a friendly ear for two of the young, 16-year-old typists, who used to tell her all their woes and said she understood them better than their own parents! Mum always provided moral support and advice for anyone who needed it.

I remember in those days, it was the era of platform shoes, short skirts and very 'big' hair. Mum followed the fashions. She was in her mid-40s, but still looked much younger. She would go to work in platform sandals, with her hair in a huge, gravity-defying, curled style. She had to wear an overall due to being in a food production environment and she had a lilac, mini overall, which she wore over her skirt and blouse.

Mum would go to the hairdresser's every Saturday to maintain her elaborate hairstyle. She went to a little local place, Wendy Lou's, round the corner from our house, which was run by the proprietor, Wendy, and her assistant Susan. She used to sleep with a chiffon scarf over her hair and just 'tease' it into place every morning.

I recall one Saturday, mum came back from the hairdresser's complaining of a headache and the cause turned out to be a rogue hairpin in the centre of her bun, which was sticking straight in her head. She was peeved when she had to dismantle her hair-do by Saturday night because it was causing her such a bad headache!

Mum in the 1970s (pictured with my dog, Mitzie, in the front garden. Mum worked in the office of a rock factory and had a gravity-defying hairstyle and wore the platform shoes of the era.
Mum in the 1970s (pictured with my dog, Mitzie, in the front garden. Mum worked in the office of a rock factory and had a gravity-defying hairstyle and wore the platform shoes of the era.
Mum in the'70s taking a breather after work. She is standing in our front garden enjoying the early evening sunshine.
Mum in the'70s taking a breather after work. She is standing in our front garden enjoying the early evening sunshine.
Rock rollers at Ashton Candy Co in the 1970s, when mum worked there, pictured with the official Biggest Stick of Rock in the World, which they made. Mum was friends with Yvonne (second left).
Rock rollers at Ashton Candy Co in the 1970s, when mum worked there, pictured with the official Biggest Stick of Rock in the World, which they made. Mum was friends with Yvonne (second left). | Source
Making the sticks of rock at Ashton Candy Co, where my mum worked in the 1970s
Making the sticks of rock at Ashton Candy Co, where my mum worked in the 1970s | Source

Sometimes, during the school holidays, when I was still at junior school, mum would take me to work if grandma wasn't able to babysit me.

I don't suppose employers would appreciate having a little girl sitting round the office, playing on the expensive computer equipment, today! But in the '70s, mum's boss was quite happy for me to sit at the desk, typing on the (then very modern and valuable) electric typewriter.

Mum also had me hand-writing the names on wage packets for the staff, so she was weeks ahead. This was normally a job she or the office junior did. It was before the days of monthly BACS payments of salaries direct to the bank. In those days, everyone was paid once a week and the payment was in cash in a sealed brown envelope. I must have written employees' names on literally thousands of envelopes in the early '70s! I don't think mum would have had to write one for about six months!

This was before the days of computers and the most modern office equipment consisted of the electric typewriters and the Telex machine. This was a network of tele-printers, similar to a telephone network, for the purposes of sending text-based messages. The message would be prepared off-line, using "paper-tape". All common Telex machines incorporated a five-hole paper-tape punch and reader. Once the paper-tape had been prepared, the message could be transmitted in minimum time.

It all sounds very long-winded now and so old-fashioned when you think of modern office operations, with their instant email, conference calling and the internet. But in those days, the Telex machine was in wide use.

In fact, it was thanks to mum that I learned the office skills that were later to get me a job, as while at Ashton Candy as a child, I also learned to touch-type while practicing on the electric typewriter. Mum taught me many other office skills and also had me typing simple letters for her.

Today, I don't think this would be allowed either by employers! But in those days, it was much more relaxed and as long as the work got done, mum's bosses weren't bothered that I was in the office all day. It was a family company and had a different atmosphere from the big corporate businesses of today.

Me in the '70s trying to reach the pedals on mum's bike
Me in the '70s trying to reach the pedals on mum's bike

Mum used to cycle everywhere

I recall mum had a bicycle and used it to travel to work. If I was going with her, she would sit me on the back and pedal like lighting through the streets and up the alleys - often uphill and it was a steep slope, but she was fit as a fiddle and easily able to carry both of us.

One day, she had an accident - I wasn't with her at the time, but a thoughtless motorist stopped his car and didn't check his wing mirror before opening the door to get out. He opened it with full force into the road just as mum was cycling past. Her bicycle ran into it at full pelt and poor mum came flying off and literally somersaulted through the air, ending up being catapulted over his car door and landing heavily in the road.

Thankfully, she was not badly injured, just winded. In today's climate, the car driver would probably have found himself sued for compensation! But it wasn't like that in the '70s and mum just got up, brushed herself down and carried on for home.

Mum used to take me to school some days on her bicycle too. I used to try riding it myself - it was an old-fashioned "shopper" bike - but my feet didn't even touch the pedals!

Mum leaving our house for work in the '70s.
Mum leaving our house for work in the '70s.

Mum was sad when the rock factory closed down

While working at Ashton Candy Co, mum made some good friends, most of whom worked in the factory. She really enjoyed working there and was upset when the company eventually closed down.

She kept in touch with quite a few of her former workmates and met up with them again for many years afterwards.

But never one to be idle, she found a fresh job in the office at Thomas Motors, a car sales company, based at the Oxford in Blackpool, where she worked for many years.

Me when I was a punk - mum always accepted me what ever I looked like and never judged my friends by their outward appearance, preferring to get to know the person inside.
Me when I was a punk - mum always accepted me what ever I looked like and never judged my friends by their outward appearance, preferring to get to know the person inside.

Mum had a brilliant attitude to parenting

By this time, I was at secondary school and had become a bit of a rebel. I had some wild haircuts and got into punk music.

I can honestly say that what ever I did, mum (and dad too) never raised an eyebrow, even when I came home with my hair shaved off at the sides one day and when I had my nose pierced. This sounds very tame now when you consider the piercings people have, but when I was in my teens, it was something that was stared at in the street.

I brought home all my friends and mum and dad always welcomed them with open arms, no matter how they looked. We all wore a lot of black clothes, studs and spikes and had backcombed hair and lots of makeup (the boys too).

It was just fashion at the time and to their credit, mum and dad never judged a book by its cover and got to know my friends personally. They allowed friends to stay overnight or for the weekend and mum realized they were all very nice people underneath the sometimes frightening exterior.

It would have been so easy for mum to say, "You're not going out like that!" or stop me having friends round. But she was very open-minded (probably way ahead of her time) and as long as everyone was polite and well-mannered, she accepted everyone, no matter how outrageous they looked.

When I first started going out to see live bands, I was 15 or 16. Mum allowed me to go, but on the understanding that dad picked me up afterwards if it was a late night. How lucky I was to have such great parents!

Mum and dad in the early 1980s: I never fully appreciated, at the time, what great parents I had.
Mum and dad in the early 1980s: I never fully appreciated, at the time, what great parents I had.

I don't think I fully appreciated how lucky I was until many years later. In fact, I recall feeling cross that dad was ordered by mum to pick me up, as of course, I felt I was "grown up" and wanted to be independent!

Sometimes I wish I could go back and do it all again, but with the knowledge and experience I have now - I would certainly behave differently!

But I'm sure everyone must have thought this from time to time.

I also became a vegetarian in my teens. I think going past an abattoir on my way to technical college each day finally triggered me to stop eating meat and seeing all the sheep in the field on a morning, only to be gone when I went past at teatime, made me think.

This was before the days when every supermarket stocked many pre-packed vegetarian meals to just pop in the microwave. I started out just eating lots of vegetables. But mum looked into it and found some powder mixes to make vegeburgers.

I recall she bought them and spent a long time making them through 'trial and error' (as they had to be mixed with water) till she got the consistency just right, as she was determined I was going to eat properly!

Mum with Grandad Trigg in the 1970s - his death left a massive void in our lives
Mum with Grandad Trigg in the 1970s - his death left a massive void in our lives

A difficult time when my grandad died

I was at the local technical college and studying for my A-Levels when my Grandad Trigg died.

Of course, it was a devastating time for everyone, particularly mum. She had always doted on her father and it left a massive void in her life.

I had been feeling very sad about his health prior to his death, as I used to see how many tablets he was taking (he had heart problems and later stomach cancer) and I sometimes cried in secret after hearing him talk about his illness. He was very matter-of-fact and never felt sorry for himself. But I used to see him put about 17 tablets a day into his pill dispenser so he would remember which ones he had taken and it started to get me down.

After his death, I started feeling worse. At the time, I was suffering from clinical depression, although this was undiagnosed at that time and I just couldn't understand why all I wanted to do was sit in and cry all the time. This also manifested itself in mild agoraphobia and it became increasingly difficult for me to get to college for my classes as I became irrationally scared to go out.

I tried to keep it hidden and didn't tell my parents how I was feeling. I didn't understand it myself and mum had enough to deal with herself. I didn't want to admit how bad I felt.

My bad nerves also resulted in my suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a common enough condition today, worsened by stress. But back then, I had no idea why I would get agonizing stomach cramps and end up doubled up in pain, sometimes for a whole afternoon.

Then I started having panic attacks too. I didn't know what they were and just thought I was slowly going mad. I kept all this hidden for many months.

One day, I just cracked and ended up in floods of tears, telling mum, through my sobs, how bad I had been feeling.

Mum was absolutely wonderful and saved my sanity. She had me up to the doctor's right away and he diagnosed depression and IBS, putting me on various tablets to try and make me well. We also went to a herbal shop and the owner made up an aromatherapy oil for me, called Spiritual Oil, which really helped me.

Where mum excelled was in making me do things, even when I didn't feel like it, to try and help me get back to normal. She would literally make me go out, saying I had to conquer my fears, even if it was just a bus ride to the seafront for a walk on the pier. She would go on the bus with me and walk on the promenade alongside me, before escorting me home.

Gradually, I began to recover, although this completely messed up my A-Level studies and I passed only one of the three - English. I had missed too many classes in my other topics (law and sociology) to catch up.

It took two years for me to feel I had recovered - even then, I had bad days - but throughout all this, mum was my rock and without her, I think I would have just curled up into a little ball and never got out of bed.

Mum's good friend, Beryl Slater, whom she met while working at Thomas Motors in the 1980s
Mum's good friend, Beryl Slater, whom she met while working at Thomas Motors in the 1980s
Mum in the mid-1980s, when she first became friends with Beryl - a friendship that was to last more than 20 years
Mum in the mid-1980s, when she first became friends with Beryl - a friendship that was to last more than 20 years

Mum also supported her friend through illness

Mum has always been a caring person - and one of her friends said mum had actually saved her life when she was seriously ill.

While working at Thomas Motors in the 1980s, mum became friends with one of the other office workers, Beryl Slater, who was about ten years her senior. Beryl was a widow and had no children, her only family being nieces and nephews who lived many miles away in the south of England.

After mum left Thomas Motors (when she started a new job in the office at Warburton's Bakery) she remained in touch with Beryl and their friendship lasted more than 20 years.

At first, they would talk a lot on the phone, but soon, Beryl was invited to our house for Sunday dinner, or would be invited out for a meal with mum, dad and me. She would often come to our house for a cup of tea and sandwiches with mum. It became tradition every Sunday, for many years, that Beryl would spend the day with us.

But sadly, as she grew older, Beryl developed a number of health issues, one of which required an operation. She was quite seriously ill afterwards and in hospital for weeks.

Mum made a point of visiting her every day, knowing Beryl had no family round here to keep her spirits up. It was a long haul to recovery, but eventually, Beryl turned the corner and was finally released from hospital.

Afterwards, she admitted she had felt so weak and depressed after her surgery - and was in so much pain - she believed she would have just laid down and died had mum not kept going to the hospital, night after night, to jolly her along and lift her flagging spirits.

Mum in the 1980s, leaving for work in the office of Warburton's Bakery.
Mum in the 1980s, leaving for work in the office of Warburton's Bakery.
Dad in the 1980s, relaxing in our back garden. He was always very laid back and calm compared to mum.
Dad in the 1980s, relaxing in our back garden. He was always very laid back and calm compared to mum.

Mum's final job before retirement

During the '80s, mum worked at Warburton's Bakery, in the office, where she was greatly valued by the boss and kept in touch with him too for many years after she retired.

By this time, my brother had successfully finished university and was working as a fully qualified civil engineer, responsible for much of Lancashire's motorways network and an expert in his field.

Mum would say, "Your brother built this!" when we were driving out of town on the M55. She was very proud.

He had his own house and we would go over and visit him there, although mum always got nervous on the journey, as it involved driving over Shard Bridge (an old toll bridge in Over Wyre) and when she saw the water below, she worried we would somehow end up in it!

Dad used to laugh at mum's irrational fears. He was the total opposite - very laid back, easy going and not one to worry about a thing. He was the perfect foil for mum's rather panicky nature, looking back.

He kept her grounded and if she started worrying about some small thing, dad would always say, "For goodness' sake, Evans ... you're being ridiculous!"

He always called her "Evans" - it was like his pet name for her.

I had got over my rebellious teenage phase and was working in an office in the late '80s, Daintee Confectionery. The training mum had given me in touch-typing and office procedures, as a kid, had enabled me to take up secretarial employment.

Mum's office was on a small industrial estate about ten minutes from our house and I would sometimes pick her up from work in dad's car. He had a Ford Cortina estate at this time.

Mum continued to work at Warburton's until she retired, at the age of 65, in 1993.

She had worked her entire life, from the age of 14 and had never once been dependent on the state, having always been self-supporting - something of which she was very proud.

Mum and her younger brother, Ken, when he visited the UK from Canada in the 1980s and stayed with us. Sadly, this was the last time they ever saw each other.
Mum and her younger brother, Ken, when he visited the UK from Canada in the 1980s and stayed with us. Sadly, this was the last time they ever saw each other.
Mum's sister-in-law, Ken's wife Anne Trigg, in later years, living in Canada.
Mum's sister-in-law, Ken's wife Anne Trigg, in later years, living in Canada.

Mum was briefly reunited with her brother

One of the high points of the '80s was when mum's younger brother, Ken, took a holiday in the UK. He had not been back since he and his wife Anne and their young children emigrated to Canada many years earlier.

He came to stay with us for a couple of weeks and it was a happy reunion for mum and grandma.

Ken was always a brilliant, self-taught pianist and would play some lively songs for us in the evenings. They were songs from their youth (piano-based blues) or "boogie-woogie", as mum called it.

One of my fondest memories of Uncle Ken was what a great cook he was - he made us a dish which he called "goop"! It was pasta with a tomato puree sauce, tinned tomatoes, chopped peppers, onions, mince beef (or in my case a vegetarian substitute) and just about any vegetables you chose to use.

We always ate well, but mum and grandma always cooked traditional English fare and I had never had pasta in a rich sauce before, so I really enjoyed it. In fact, it is about the only thing I can cook fresh today!

Uncle Ken's visit was over all too quickly and unfortunately, that was to be the last time he and mum would see each other, as tragically, he died following a long illness before they ever met up again.

I kept in touch with my Auntie Anne Trigg, mum's sister-in-law, through email and Facebook, for many years until her recent death and I am now in touch (again through Facebook) with my cousins, Lesley and Phil, in Canada.

In fact, mum wrote down some of her happy memories of her sister-in-law when the family was preparing a celebration of Anne's life after she passed away and it rekindled a lot of nostalgic memories for my mum.

My brother Eric with our mum in the 1990s
My brother Eric with our mum in the 1990s

The 1990s - a decade of joy but also heartbreak

As we entered the 1990s, mum was reaching retirement age. Dad was working at British Aerospace as a fitter in the aircraft hangars, where he remained until his retirement.

My brother had gone to work overseas on a number of major engineering projects and mum would keep in touch with him via fax, so she could send him letters that he would receive instantly. He came home a couple of times a year, always at Christmas. But she always worried about him, wherever he was in the world. She would say, "I don't care how old he is - he'll always be my son and I'll always worry."

I had decided on a career change and had finally gone to university (after messing up my A-Levels due to depression) to take the National Council for the Training of Journalists course, which I passed. I was also awarded the Student of the Year Award for my hard work. I was thrilled.

Finally, I was trying to shake off my "black sheep of the family" image (as this was how I felt) and doing something that fulfilled my potential. I got my first job in journalism in 1990 at a local newspaper. I was so happy to give mum and dad a cause to be proud of me at last.

My brother had always worked hard after doing well at school and was never any bother to mum and dad. But it had been a long, uphill, rocky road for me to finally make a career for myself. I wouldn't have done it had it not been for mum and dad continually supporting my decisions.

Dad (pictured on the right) celebrating his birthday with two of his brothers at a surprise party.
Dad (pictured on the right) celebrating his birthday with two of his brothers at a surprise party.

I had rented a flat by this time and moved out of the family home. I felt I needed to be more independent at my age!

But I was to move back in with my parents again some time later, not only because I had "neighbours from hell", but also because my flat was broken into and I never felt comfortable there again!

Mum and dad let me move home again with no objections and we soon settled back into a routine, until such time as I was able to move out and get my own house.

So the decade got off to a good start - we were all in employment, happy and healthy.

In the early '90s, dad's twin brother Leonard had flown over from Australia (he had emigrated many years earlier) to be at a surprise birthday party for him and dad!

The family had hired Blackpool Cricket Club for the event. All branches of the family from all over the UK attended and it was a wonderful event. It was a great surprise for dad, who had not seen Leonard for many years. I have no idea how mum managed to keep it a secret. We were all so excited!

However, in mid-1992, Grandma Trigg, who was 84 years old by this time, fell ill. She had lived with us since I was little and had always been sprightly and never ill, although had suffered a little from arthritis in later years.

Mum and grandma (pictured on mum's wedding day in 1957) had lived under the same roof for 99 per cent of mum's life and were very close.
Mum and grandma (pictured on mum's wedding day in 1957) had lived under the same roof for 99 per cent of mum's life and were very close.

Grandma's death left a huge void in our lives

However, grandma suffered a fall in her bedroom one night and never really fully recovered. She did not break any limbs, but I recall her health gradually declined after this.

Mum nursed her at home for a few months and converted the lounge into a downstairs bedroom for grandma. It made me realise what a strong person emotionally mum was at this time. She did everything for grandma.

I used to get upset after spending time with grandma while she was ill, as she was so changed from the quick-witted, straight-talking and sprightly person I had known all my life. I used to leave her room and go in solitude to another room and weep.

But mum just carried on and looked after her well - until unfortunately, grandma had to go in hospital eventually when her health worsened and she passed away soon afterwards.

We were all devastated, particularly mum. Grandma had been mum's rock all her life and apart from when she ran the guest house and mum and dad first married, they had always lived under the same roof and never been apart. So her loss left a gaping hole in mum's life.

Mum always called her "mam", a Yorkshire term for mother. I can still recall when grandma was alive and I was a kid, when she and mum would be talking and mum would often say, "Isn't it, mam?" or, "Didn't we, mam?" when chatting about day-to-day life or past events.

Mum sweeping my brother's garden (1990s) - the brush was much bigger than she was!
Mum sweeping my brother's garden (1990s) - the brush was much bigger than she was!

Support from family and friends after our bereavement

Life went on - although never felt the same again, I have to say - and mum kept herself busy to try and keep calm and not get depressed.

I had never known life without grandma and the house seemed empty without her.

Following my grandma's death, we all pulled together to help us get through this horrible time.

I recall my brother was working overseas in the 1990s on a major civil engineering project and dad, mum and I had offered to keep an eye on his house while he was abroad.

We used to go over every couple of weeks, when dad would mow the lawn, mum would clean the house and I would help out a little, but normally I ended up just walking my little dog, Susie, round the lanes, as she always went with us.

It became like a day out, with mum packing sandwiches and pop to take with us. On the way home, we would always stop at a car boot sale which took place in a nearby field every Sunday.

Mum has never been a big fan of car boot sales, but dad and I loved them, so mum was happy to sit in the car for half an hour, watching the world go by, while dad and I went for a wander, invariably coming back with lots of stuff we didn't need!

Dad and mum tending my brother's garden in the 1990s
Dad and mum tending my brother's garden in the 1990s
Dad mowing my brother's lawn in the 1990s
Dad mowing my brother's lawn in the 1990s

Mum, dad and I also made a point of getting together for a sit-down dinner every Sunday, so we had something to look forward to. Some weeks, mum would cook at home and others we would dine out.

In those days, many places provided a three-course menu for a set price on a Sunday, so it didn't cost the earth. We always took Beryl with us too.

We would alternate between a number of restaurants - those I recall as being our favourites were Ferraris at Great Eccleston, The Smithy at Little Eccleston and Springfield House in Pilling. I remember mum loved her desserts ... and if Beryl or I couldn't eat ours after over-indulging on the starter and main course, mum would eat them!

They came as part of the set menu and mum would giggle as she said it was a "shame to let them go to waste"!

Pictured from left: Mum's pal Beryl, mum and dad in the scenic gardens of Springfield House in Pilling, where we would dine out on a Sunday in the '90s
Pictured from left: Mum's pal Beryl, mum and dad in the scenic gardens of Springfield House in Pilling, where we would dine out on a Sunday in the '90s

One day, both Beryl and I were too full to eat our desserts, which I think were sticky toffee pudding and another dessert with custard, such as treacle sponge. Mum had already eaten a chocolate gateaux, but also managed to polish off our puddings too!

We had a system whereby we rotated the full and empty dishes round the table, so we each had a dish in front of us and other diners wouldn't know mum had eaten three desserts!

It makes me giggle now to think of it!

It's amazing mum didn't put weight on! But she was always very active too.

Beryl, me and mum in the grounds of Springfield House, Pilling, a regular haunt where we dined out in the 1990s
Beryl, me and mum in the grounds of Springfield House, Pilling, a regular haunt where we dined out in the 1990s
Mum and dad in their 'Sunday best' in the '90s, outside our house
Mum and dad in their 'Sunday best' in the '90s, outside our house

Mum used to say how relaxing she found it strolling through the restaurants' scenic grounds after we had dined, in particular at Springfield House in Pilling, Over Wyre, as it had beautiful, flower-filled gardens and was very tranquil.

After we had dined at one of our other regular eateries, Ferraris, we would have a stroll round the adjacent shops in the main street in Great Eccleston.

Although few of them were open, mum and Beryl enjoyed "window shopping" and the stroll also walked our dinner off!

We only went walking in summer, of course. Sometimes in winter, it would be too cold to linger and we would dart from the car straight into the restaurant as quickly as possible!

In the winter in The Smithy in Little Eccleston, there would always be a real coal fire glowing in the fireplace when we arrived, which was lovely.

After dining out on a Sunday, Beryl would always come back to our house for coffee. I recall she and mum would sit in the lounge talking for hours and "putting the world to rights".

Dad would normally retire to the dining room to watch television and have a nap in his armchair.

However, he would make a cup of tea from time to time - my mum's favourite beverage for all her adult life!

I think tea and biscuits keeps mum going sometimes!

Then, in the evening, dad would give Beryl a lift home and we would do it all again the following Sunday.

I recall we did this for several years during the 1990s and I have some very happy memories of these times.

I recall thinking too that it was a shame my brother was overseas, as I know he would have shared in our enjoyment of the Sunday ritual, had he been able to do so.

Cheers! Mum and Beryl enjoy a cup of tea in the '90s at our dining table
Cheers! Mum and Beryl enjoy a cup of tea in the '90s at our dining table

Mum became a grandma

One of the highlights of the 1990s was my brother's wedding to his sweetheart, Liza, followed by the birth of their eldest daughter, Becky.

Mum was thrilled to become a grandma and when they came to stay at Christmas - when Becky was still a tiny baby - mum and dad were very much the proud grandparents.

I recall mum offered to babysit on New Year's Eve to give Eric and Liza a rare night out. Becky was a good baby and didn't cry much, but at one point, she woke up and couldn't settle again, so mum took her out of her cot and sat on the settee with the baby in her arms.

Once Becky fell asleep again, mum daren't move in case it disturbed her, so she sat on the settee in the same spot for about four hours, even though her arms went in pins and needles! She remained there until Eric and Liza came home!

That's mum all over - she always puts everyone else's needs above her own.

My brother Eric, my sister-in-law Liza and my niece Becky when she was a tiny baby, sitting in the kitchen of the house where we grew up, with our dad in the background.
My brother Eric, my sister-in-law Liza and my niece Becky when she was a tiny baby, sitting in the kitchen of the house where we grew up, with our dad in the background.

I know mum enjoyed having a child in the house again, especially at Christmas.

She missed them all when they returned overseas to Eric's job and our life was very quiet again.

Trips to the theatre became mum's social life

In the mid-1990s, I had started a new job at another local newspaper and was lucky enough to become entertainments correspondent, which meant I was given free review tickets for all of the shows at our local theatres.

Mum in the late 1990s, washing the dishes while she was dog-sitting for me at my house while I was at work.
Mum in the late 1990s, washing the dishes while she was dog-sitting for me at my house while I was at work.
Mum with my rescue dog, Buster (summer 1999).
Mum with my rescue dog, Buster (summer 1999).

These included tickets for the amateur productions, which were often very good, and also for the professional touring productions at theatres such as The Grand and the Winter Gardens.

I was always given at least two free tickets (sometimes more) in return for reviewing the show in the newspaper.

So mum and dad - and sometimes Beryl too - were able to enjoy nights out at some of the top shows. Mum preferred the plays, ballets and dramas, while dad enjoyed the musicals more, so we enjoyed quite a good social life at that time.

I had bought a house in the late '90s and I had a rescue dog, Buster, so mum would come and 'dog-sit' for me while I was at work.

When I arrived home, I would find she had washed all the dishes and tidied up for me, as my grandma used to do for mum when I was a kid.

She was a massive help to me and I couldn't have had my dog without her, as he was from the RSPCA and they would not have let me adopt him had he not had a family member with him while I was at work.

Dad had retired from his job at British Aerospace by that time and was a keen gardener, so he would also come to my house and made my garden look stunning.

A decade which ended in heartbreak

The summer of 1999 saw my dear dad's 70th birthday on July 17th.

Mum and dad at dad's surprise 70th birthday party.
Mum and dad at dad's surprise 70th birthday party.
Mum and dad on their 42nd wedding anniversary in November 1999.
Mum and dad on their 42nd wedding anniversary in November 1999.

We held a surprise party for him at The Coach House Restaurant in Blackpool, when dad thought it was just our usual Sunday meal (dad, mum, me and Beryl) but in fact, mum had spent months arranging a massive gathering of all his family, including relatives from London whom he had not seen for years.

I have written in more detail about this in another Hub on my father. It was a wonderful occasion and very emotional for my dad when he walked into the restaurant and saw his brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews, nieces and friends. This was followed by everyone coming back to our house, where mum prepared a buffet tea and the party continued.

It was a lovely day and one which I will never forget. Mum was the perfect hostess and dad was amazed we had managed to keep it secret from him for all that time.

As summer turned to autumn, dad was continuing to do his gardening - which he loved - and was looking forward to bringing in the new millennium.

But tragedy struck when he died, very suddenly, of a heart attack on November 11th. He had suffered from angina for about two years, but was considered to be at no risk of a heart attack, so his death came as a great shock just a few days after he and mum had celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary.

Suddenly, instead of organising Christmas and looking forward to the year 2000, we were organising his funeral.

I don't think mum has ever really recovered from losing my dad and the next few weeks, following his funeral, remain a blur to me.

Eric, Liza and Becky had of course come home from overseas as soon as they heard the tragic news and it kept mum going that Christmas having Becky staying with her, as she was a toddler then and full of the wonder of Christmas.

Putting on a brave face (Christmas 1999) after my dad's death in November: Me, mum, my sister-in-law Liza, brother Eric and niece Becky
Putting on a brave face (Christmas 1999) after my dad's death in November: Me, mum, my sister-in-law Liza, brother Eric and niece Becky

After dad's death, mum could no longer bear to stay in the house they had shared for 42 years - too painful and too full of memories - and she moved into a flat.

She was still proud and independent and would not live with either of her children, although we both helped her as much as we could to get through this difficult time.

Mum, Beryl and I tried to continue the tradition of going out for Sunday dinner, with me driving to the restaurant each week. We had some nice times, but it was never quite the same without dad. By this time, Beryl was very elderly and quite frail and after she fell at home a few times - on one occasion breaking her arm badly - eventually she moved to London, into a nursing home, to be nearer her family.

Mum and I no longer went out every Sunday after this, although we did go for the occasional meal to local cafes. But I don't think our heart was in it any more to go to the restaurants where we had spent so many happy times with dad for almost a decade.

Mum in the flat she moved into following my dad's death
Mum in the flat she moved into following my dad's death

My brother was still working abroad at this time and mum and I continued to go to his house to keep an eye on it and maintain it in his absence.

Mum would pack us some sandwiches and pop, as she always had done. She would dust and mop, while I tackled the garden. I was not as talented a gardener as dad had been and I just did the basics, such as mowing the lawn.

It was a very long haul - two years - until mum reached anything like normality again after dad passed away.

We have continued to go out for meals on special occasions, such as Mother's Day and mum's birthday.

Me and mum on Mother's Day 2004.
Me and mum on Mother's Day 2004.

Mum enjoys spending time with her family

The 21st century sees mum (now aged 85 at time of writing) enjoying spending time with her family.

She has visited and stayed with Eric and Liza - now living about 15 minutes' drive away - regularly.

Mum (Christmas 2010)
Mum (Christmas 2010)

The birth of their second daughter, Sarah, a bright, bubbly and chatty little girl, has kept mum on her toes, while Becky has matured into a beautiful, talented and intelligent teenager.

Liza cooks some lovely meals for mum, who has also spent every Christmas since dad's death with Eric and the family and always has a lovely time.

She is very family-oriented and enjoys baby-sitting for Sarah.

Mum still worries about me and Eric and says we will always be her kids, regardless of how old we are. She says, "It's what mums do!"

She is wonderful for her age and I marvel at how far she walks and how she treks about, using her free bus pass, all over the place, doing her shopping, attending routine medical appointments and occasionally visiting family.

Only recently, she took a long tram ride down the seafront to visit her niece Tonia (dad's sister's daughter) who has a little girl herself.

Incidentally, she is offered lifts in the car, but refuses, preferring to go under her own steam where possible and saying, "You're not wasting petrol when I've got my free bus pass!"

When, sadly, many elderly people are housebound, mum is still very active and finds other people of a similar age, in the local shops or on the buses, are friendly and chatty and they "put the world to rights".

A happy family gathering (Easter 2014): Me, mum, Eric, Sarah and Becky enjoying a lovely meal cooked by my sister-in-law, Liza.
A happy family gathering (Easter 2014): Me, mum, Eric, Sarah and Becky enjoying a lovely meal cooked by my sister-in-law, Liza.

Mum has moved into sheltered housing in recent years, so she can still retain her independence while having a degree of care should she need it. She is still very independent and despite suffering a chest infection last year, which almost turned to pneumonia, she battled back to health and after three months stuck indoors, she began going out alone again.

She is now using public transport every day again (which she didn't think she would ever do) and does all her own shopping. In fact, she often surprises me by unexpectedly doing shopping for me, catching the bus to my house to bring me little treats, such as a crispy loaf, a pot of special coleslaw or some biscuits.

Mum says keeping active and never giving in to ailments and age-related aches and pains is the secret to remaining fit into old age. In fact, she is much fitter and more active than many of the younger people who reside on her sheltered housing complex.

The family is so important to mum, who is pictured with my sister-in-law Liza, me and my brother Eric on Easter Sunday, 2014.
The family is so important to mum, who is pictured with my sister-in-law Liza, me and my brother Eric on Easter Sunday, 2014.

I hope you have enjoyed reading the story of mum's life so far as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

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    • Glenis Rix profile image

      Glenis Rix 11 months ago from UK

      Enjoyed reading this memoir, especially the pre-War years. Congratulations on a mammoth hub! You have lots of great pics - those from the sixties and seventies sent me on a trip down memory lane. I well remember my mother's weekly trip to the hairdressers and the pin curls.

    • K L Evans profile image
      Author

      Karen Evans 18 months ago from Lancashire, England

      Thank you, rdsparrowriter , for your complimentary comments. I'm pleased you enjoyed my Hub. Mum was 87 last birthday and still pottering around, doing her own thing! Very best wishes to you too!

    • rdsparrowriter profile image

      rdsparrowriter 20 months ago

      Hi your mom is a very brave persevering lady. I enjoyed reading her life events and your descriptions. Wishing you and your family a very blessed happy 2016!

    • K L Evans profile image
      Author

      Karen Evans 2 years ago from Lancashire, England

      Thank you! My mum is certainly great for her age and still gets out and about on her own, as she likes to retain her independence even now. I have many more tales to write - it's just finding the time that is the problem at the moment!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      I love the stories of those who persevered through the hard times. Your mum was a fine and brave lady. She looks lovely still. Thanks for sharing from your past such great traditions and history.

    • K L Evans profile image
      Author

      Karen Evans 3 years ago from Lancashire, England

      Thank you all for your lovely comments! My mum will be 86 in August and still getting out and about, doing much of her own shopping. She is marvelous for her age. I am so pleased you enjoyed my Hub so much.

    • LeslieAdrienne profile image

      Leslie A. Shields 3 years ago from Georgia

      My Mom is 86 and handling things on her own... What a blessing!

    • LadyFiddler profile image

      Joanna Chandler 3 years ago from On planet Earth

      This was one mighty fine hub, thanks for sharing your family story/history with us and for all those great pics from way back then.

      Very very nice :)

    • RachaelOhalloran profile image

      Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

      K L Evans, I loved this story as much as your grandma's story which I just got done reading. I like nostalgic pieces and if they are packed with photos, it makes them all the more interesting, drawing the reader into the story. Voted up and shared.

    • K L Evans profile image
      Author

      Karen Evans 3 years ago from Lancashire, England

      Thank you! Yes, mum is very sprightly for her age and is fitter than many people 15 years her junior.

    • Ali Stephen profile image

      Ali Stephen 3 years ago from Blackpool

      Your mum looks great for 85! Fascinating story!