John was born on 8 August 1945. The war was over but times were still hard. The family lived in a large house in Pampisford Road, Croydon, which had been divided into separate dwellings, John had appendicitis when he was 2 years old and was taken to hospital for emergency surgery. Parents were not allowed to visit their children in hospital for fear of upsetting them! It would take John time to get over the loss of confidence caused by this enforced separation.
Carol was born on 4 December 1946. As a second baby she was born at home in the flat at Pampisford Road, in line with normal practice. It was not the thing in those days to talk about pregnancy and John was taken aback by this intrusion into his life. He slipped in beside his mother and refused to move for a few days. John Snr was fascinated by his daughter's tiny feet and nicknamed her Toots.
Robert was born on 2 July 1948. At the time of his birth the family were still living in Pampisford Road where Rachael would normally park Robert's pram on the in-out drive to sleep in the fresh air. Milk at that time was delivered by horse drawn cart, on one particular day when Rachael decided not to put the pram on the drive, the milkman’s horse ran amok and stampeded through where the pram normally stood. Robert excelled at school and was the first one of the family to go to university He studied Food Technology at Weybridge a satellite of Reading University.
Christine was born on 23 November 1950. By this the family had moved to a 3-bedroomed end of terrace house in Cranbrook Road, Thornton Heath. When Christine was very small she contracted pneumonia and for a few weeks slept in a deep drawer to keep her away from draughts.
Early journeys were by steam train. The train stopped at Crewe to take on more water and fuel and to change crews. John used to get off the train to get tea and sandwiches. Rachael would stay on the train with the children. After about 15 minutes Rachael would start to get anxious that John would miss the train and would then get off to look for him. The children sat stunned into terrified silence!
Some of John's compensation for his accident was used to purchase a vehicle to transport the family around. It was a commercial van adapted with rear windows, a footwell and bench-seat in the back. We were one of only 4 families in Cranbrook Road to have a car. Rachael had rediscovered her wings! The van would be packed up with the army bell tent on the roof. On the way up to Scotland we called in at Warrington to see Marjie seen her with her daughter, Heather, and brother-in-law Ron.
We called in on John's Uncle Andrew who lived with his family in Wall in Cumbria, so named because Hadrian's Wall ran through it. Andrew's daughters seen here with the family and cousin David who joined us on this trip North.
We called in on Margaret. She had recently moved from the run down croft that she lived in after her marriage. She had been given a council house in Morar. Somehow we all managed to fit in. In addition to our family were Margaret's baby son, John, her adopted children Alan and Cathie, Her cousin Jimmy and his pal from the RAF.
(pictured above on the right with Rachael's sister Margaret) was one of the Grant sisters - Rachael's aunt. She lived in Church Street, Old Croydon. She was a widow and childless but lived with her husband's 2 brothers, Don and Sandy. Don was blind and had guide dogs.
Julie was a much loved dog with a taste for TCP (a disinfectant). At night people used to soak their false teeth in TCP, One morning when Madge came down looking for her false teeth there they were in Julie's mouth where she had licked the TCP from around them.
As children we frequently visited/stayed with Aunty Madge. She had a front parlour with a piano where we could "play" away with no-one telling us to keep quiet. Her bed was so high you had to climb up into it from the floor and then you sank into feathered comfort. You were lulled to sleep by the loud ticking of the pendulum clock on the dresser. In the morning you got tea and biscuits in bed.
No stay with Aunty Madge was complete without a trip to Kennards, one of 3 department stores in Croydon. Grants was very much upper range, Allders was middle range where Rachael would shop, but Kennards was great. It had donkey rides and a small zoo upstairs with monkeys and exotic birds.
Robert's first year at Selhurst Grammar School was spent not in the main school pictured above but in the Annexe in the Old Town. He went to Aunty Madge's for lunch every day and became rather portly with daily helpings of pudding with custard with a sprinkling of sugar to build a young boy. Just as Rachael began to get worried he suddenly shot up in height to be taller than his father or his brother.
Aunty Madge was a very correct lady and we always minded our manners when we were with her. She was also a very generous hostess and in the Highland style whenever you visited you got tea and cake which was kept in the larder behind the dining room table. On a particular day when Robert and Christine visited she bent over in the larder and passed wind audibly. Her visitors were desperately trying not to laugh as this would have been totally inappropriate.