Doris (Doll) Eileen Evans
- Born: 10 Jan 1915, Bargoed, Caerphilly, Wales UK
- Marriage (1): William (Razza) (Bill) Stevens in 1935
- Died: 20 Sep 2002, Keynsham, Gloucestershire England at age 87
Amanda Gregory notes:
My late grandmother Doris Stevens nee Evans left some written memories of growing up in Wales with her Evans family/Gosney step-family. They have just been found among family papers that were sorted out recently when my mother moved house.
Doris' Story: or the Years Between
In the early 1900's Mrs Elizabeth Gosney was left a widow with five little children [her first husband Luther "Thomas" Gosney is believed to have deserted her sometime after 1901, he died in Surrey in the 1940's having had no connection with his family in that time, the family being informed "he died in the war"] There were four boys (Sidney H Gosney born 1892; Arthur Gosney born 1895; Walter F Gosney born 1896; William Harry Gosney born 1899) and one girl (Amy Irena Gosney born 1901)
It was hard to keep a family together in those days. There was little "social help". Family ties were stronger then and very soon Mrs Gosney received a letter from her sister (Annie Everett nee Hinwood) in Wales inviting her to bring her family to Wales and share their little cottage [1901 census Luther "Thomas" Gosney and Elizabeth Gosney were living as a family next door to the Evans family. Sister Annie Everett also lived with her husband and family in the same street, Bright Street, Risca]. The four boys and their mother stayed at the sister's home but the little girl went to live with a neighbour, a Mrs Evans (Naomi). Mrs Evans' family had grown up and left home so she was happy to look after the little girl.
Elizabeth Gosney had always been a thrifty, hardworking woman and soon she became known for her cleverness with sewing. An outgrown dress could be unpicked, the material washed and pressed and with her skill made into a pretty dress for a smaller sister. Likewise many a small boy had a "new" pair of short trousers made from a torn pair of long ones. This handiwork bought her a little money to feed and clothe her children but most importantly to keep them together.
Later this little family became Doris' step-brothers and sister as you will see from the following pages.
One day, while Elizabeth Gosney was enjoying a cup of tea with Mrs Evans (Naomi), young Mr Evans (Trevor) came home to visit his "Mam". He was a bachelor and had had to seek work in a neighbouring town where the colliery was still in production.
Soon he and Elizabeth Gosney were "walking out" together (Walking out is an old-fashioned term for courting or "going steady"!) They married [not legally married until September 1908] and started life together in a little cottage on a mountainside. The family were together once more.
Trevor and Elizabeth Evans
A year later a baby boy (Ivor) was born [August 1903] but at the age of six months he contracted pneumonia and died. Mr Trevor Evans made a tiny coffin and carried it down the mountainside for the sad service at the church.
Shortly afterwards Trevor Evans and Elizabeth Evans and family moved to Hengoed and lived in a small terraced house. Here five more children were born. Two baby girls arrived with two years between them [ Ellen Naomi Evans 1905 and Violet Nora Evans 1908]. Two boys followed more quickly [ Glendon Trevor Evans 1910 and Dannie Lloyd Evans 1911] and last but by no means least, baby Doris was born (10th January 1915)
Trevor Evans worked at a colliery situated at the top of a mountain. He had a long, hard walk before he could start his day's work. Mining coal was not always regular work but to start with it was quite good. That is, as far as a small regular wage goes.
The work itself was dirty, hard and dangerous. The miners descended underground in a cage (a kind of lift). They then walked or crawled to the digging area. Using pick-axes, they broke the coal from the mine walls, then shovelled it into the waiting trucks. These were pulled by pit-ponies to the foot of the lift. These ponies lived most of their lives underground.
The trucks were loaded into the lift and hauled to the surface. Here the coal had to be sorted and graded. The coal for wholesale distribution was loaded into railway trucks which were attached to the narrow gauge railway engines. These took the coal to the nearest main-line station. It was then reloaded into goods wagons attached to the huge steam train engines to be taken all over the British Isles.
When one seam of coal was used up, a new area had to be opened. This was done by blasting a way with dynamite. These men were highly skilled but accidents did happen. Words cannot describe the scene at the pit-head when these occurred.
Each month when the free allocation of coal was delivered to Doris' home, Mam and all the children had to stack and pack it into the brick built coal shed that was just inside the back garden gate. As you will see this coal was a real necessity in the miner's household.
Their Home in Ystrad Mynach
When Doris was one year old the family moved to Ystrad Mynach [6 Griffiths Street]. Though the house was nearer to the colliery, Trevor Evans still had that long walk to the top of the mountain and the equally long walk home at the end of his shift. "Shift" was the term used to denote the miner's hours of work. There were three eight hour shifts to cover in the twenty four hours of the day and night.
The little house in Ystrad Mynach was quite modern for this period. Gas and water were piped into the house. The kitchen/living room and the small front parlour had gas lighting. Mam had bought a free-standing gas ring which was fitted by officials of the gas board. This provided a quicker method of boiling the kettle for that ever welcome cup of tea. Even so there was always a kettle boiling on top of the fire grate. This fire grate was the source of all cooking done in the household and the means of keeping the family warm at all times. There was a fireplace in the parlour but this was rarely used.
The kitchen grate was made of black iron and it was kept polished EVERY day with a kind of polish called blacklead.
As the children grew older many household tasks were delegated to them and the polishing of this fire grate was one of them. Before going to school each morning there were "jobs" to be done. One of the boys or girls would be blackleading and polishing the kitchen grate.
The fire burnt out overnight but the ashes would still be hot. These were carefully removed and place outside to cool off. Later they would be sifted to collect coal pieces that were still burnable. Iron bars were fitted at the front of the fire to keep it in place. To prevent hot ashes spilling out at the foot of the fire a small solid iron screen was placed. This was removed in the morning to rake out the hot ashes. A small area of concrete provided the floor of the fireplace. This was kept snow white by means of a white chalky substance rubbed over it (Another job for the children). To finish the picture of the centre piece of the home an elaborate brass fender was placed in front of it. As soon as the children were old enough to wield the Brasso and the polishing cloth here was another task for them. No chance of Satan finding "idle hands" in the Evans' household.
To one side of the fire was an oven. It looked like an enclosed box with a thick iron door. Somehow the heat from the fire circulated around the oven to heat the inside area. Mam knew just how much fuel was needed to give the correct temperature for whatever she was cooking. Bread, cakes or the Sunday roast, all requiring their individual heat. All this had to be done without the aid of thermometers or thermostats.
All the water for washing day and the family baths had to be heated in a copper. This was a brick built surround with a large cast iron basin enclosed in the centre. A wooden lid was placed on top while the water was being heated. A small fire grate was built underneath the copper with a small passage leading to a chimney providing the necessary outlet for the smoke of the fire. This fire was almost always burning to deal with all the family washing and the baths the men needed when they returned from their shift at the coalface. There was no pit-head baths in the coalmines in the 1920s and 1930s.
When Dad or the boys came home from the mine they were covered from head to toes in coal dust. Mam had the copper boiling and she would fill a large tin bath with hot water from the copper, then cool it with water from the kitchen tap. The bather would strip to the waist and leaning over the bath would scrub his top half. Then any children who were in the kitchen would be sent out while the miner stripped right out and sat in the bath to complete his cleaning.
Who emptied the bath? Mam or one of the younger children I expect. The bath was the large tin one Mam did the family wash in.
Coal dust showered from the miners clothes as we shower talcum powder today. Whenever the miners working clothes were hung so a shower of coal dust scattered if they were touched. Mam got very tired of this continuing shower of coal dust in the home so she invented a new kind of arm-chair. She obtained a large wooden barrel, cut the top off to make a lid. Then she made another cut about halfway down the barrel then took this cut to the front of the barrel. This made a kind of hollow armchair. She covered the lid she had made with some material and placed this over the hollow. This made quite a presentable armchair. When Dad or the boys came home they could put their coal dusty clothes in the hollow, replace the lid and the coal dust was contained.
The kitchen was the hub of family life. It was the dining room, the laundry, the bathroom and the place where they learned from their Mam many ways of making comfort from simple things. It was the only room where the fire was always kept burning so you can see how necessary was the miner's allocation of free coal.
There was a small parlour at the front of the house but this was kept spick and span and only used on special occasions, like when the vicar called. A small passage led from the front door to the kitchen and scrubbing this every day was another job for Doris or one of her brothers. It had to be finished before school time. You dare not be late for school in those days because it meant you had the cane.
The little house contained three bedrooms, one quite small and two slightly larger. One of the bigger ones was shared by Doris' two sisters. Mam and Dad and little Doris shared the other. The two boys slept in the tiny room. The bedroom floors were well scrubbed boards. To make these comfortable Mam, aided by the children, made warm rag rugs. Mam collected old clothes which were beyond repair or renovation. These she washed, then showed the children how to cut these into strips of equal lengths and about an inch or so in width ready to be threaded through the mesh of a hessian sack. These sacks could be brought for a few pence from the grocer or greengrocer. Mam unpicked these to make an oblong shape, then gave them a good wash. Taking a large hook, like an oversize crotchet hook, she threaded the prepared strip of rags through the mesh of the sack until she had lines of loops. When the sack was completely covered with material she hemmed the four sides and there was a warm rug ready to put cold feet on when you jumped out of bed.
To keep them all warm and cosy in their beds Mam and the children made blankets from old knitted garments. These were washed and carefully unpicked, the wool wound into balls ready to be knitted or crocheted into squares. These were joined together to make lovely warm blankets.
To make the beds pretty as well as warm Mam would show the children how to help to make patchwork quilts. She showed them how to cut various shapes from pieces of cardboard, then cut pieces of material round the shapes. Then with her sewing machine she joined all these together to make pretty bedspreads. There was very little money in those days but Mam, with her thrift and ingenuity, made their little home a warm and cosy place.
The front of the house was separated from the public pathway by a tiny garden and a brick built wall. Every morning the front steps and window ledges were washed to try and keep the ever present coal dust at bay.
Mam and Dad were quite proud of the little garden at the back of the house. It was divided into two halves by a cinder path with an edging of house bricks standing cornerwise. These prevented the garden soil spreading over the path. On one side Dad grew a fine selection of vegetables, a welcome part of their meals. Mam had the other side for her flower garden. One year Mam noticed she had some "special dahlias" blooming. These had straight petals instead of the usual curved ones. She was very excited as she thought she had discovered a new type of dahlia, until one of her sons confessed. He had cut the edges off the flower buds with his penknife. I bet he got a spanking for that! Mam would not think that was funny.
The little town of Yystrad Mynach was a thriving community while the coal mines were busy. Most of the small shops were family owned. This meant that all the family helped to keep it stocked and the customers served. Dried fruit, currants, raisins and sultanas were delivered in large sacks. The fruit had to be cleaned then weighed into the required weights. Each fruit had a different coloured bag and woe betide anyone who got the colours wrong. Sugar was also delivered in large sacks and this was usually weighed up and put into strong blue paper bags. Butter came in large blocks and the grocer or his wife smacked this into the required weights by two wooden "spades". Added to all this was the delivery service. Customers took their orders to the shop where the items were gathered up and packed into strong brown paper parcels. One of the grocer's children would put the parcels into a basket which was fitted over the front wheel of a heavy bicycle. The bicycle was known as a Tradesman's bicycle.
(Church & Vicarage)
If the shop was more prosperous, a pony and trap would be used as a delivery vehicle thus using less effort than pedalling or pushing a heavy bicycle. When placing an order the previous bill was paid.
Along with the grocer there was a greengrocer, a family butcher and nearly always a fish shop. There was a local bakery where the baker made all of his own bread and cakes to sell. At Christmas time he used his large ovens to bake the townspeople's chicken or goodly piece of pork. At a price of course.
There was a very smart dress shop named "The London House". Here ladies could purchase the latest fashions from London. A good many Mams and their daughters soon learned to make their own clothes. Materials, trimmings and sewing cotton could be bought from the draper's shop.
Alongside the various public houses stood a very smart hotel called "The Beech Tree". There was a pawn shop. Do I hear you ask "What is a pawn shop?" When you had no money to pay the rent or an urgent bill you could take something of value to this shop, it could be your pocket watch, your fox fur or even your wedding ring. The owner of the shop would take your goods and lend you some money. He then gave you a ticket and when you returned the money he had lent you he would return your goods. However if you had not returned the money in the allotted time he would sell your goods to get his money back.
In 1933 there was great excitement in the town. A new style of shop was to be opened. It was one of the new Co-Operative stores. The Duke and Duchess of York were to be present on this great occassion. (They later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth)
There were, of course, many religious denominations in the town. Church of England, Baptists, Methodists and a Salvation Army. Sundays in the 1930's were regarded as a day of rest and worshp. No games were played. Clothes known as "Sunday best" were worn then put away until next Sunday. Almost all the children went to Sunday school at the church of their parents' choice. Families went for sedate walks. It was a quiet family day.
There was a cinema but of course this remained closed on Sundays. It was a great source of pleasure to Doris' older brothers and sisters through the week. They would go to the pictures with their girlfriends or boyfriends and sit and gaze at their favourite stars on the screen. Saturday matinee for the children was a noisy, happy time. Very often it was difficult to get the few pence needed for the ticket. More especially for Doris and her brothers because Mam said they must not take money for running errands for their neighbours. Doing helpful things like fetching a bit of shopping should be done without the expectation of reward. When they did go to the pictures on Saturdays Doris and her brothers were at the front of the queue to be first in the cinema!
So with the mountains as their country background and the social life of a small town Doris and her brothers and sisters grew up to see the best of both worlds.
Doris starts school
In 1919 Elizabeth Evans received a message asking her to visit two of her sons from her first marriage. They had both been seriously wounded right at the end of the First World War. They were now patients in Denby [sic] hospital. Trevor and Elizabeth Evans left Ystrad Mynach one evening quite expecting to return before Monday morning. Doris' two older sisters [Ellen and Nora] were left in charge of the little family. Ellen was nearly fourteen and Nora was two years younger. Saturday was spent as usual. There were Saturday chores to be done and of course lots of playtime, but it was bedtime as usual even with Mam and Dad away.
Sunday was spent as usual too, with Sunday clothes to be worn and Sunday school to be attended. No playing, but some pleasant walks to fill the day. But it was now Monday morning and still no Mam and Dad. The older children were no problem, school must be attended, the only excuse for absence was infectious illness. Little Doris was only four years old, what could her sisters do? The only answer was she must come to school with them. She trotted off quite happily, out through the back gate, across the field path, under the railway bridge and into the school playground. Boys and girls played in separate playgrounds and the boys lessons were taught in the upper rooms of the school buildings. A school bell was rung, a teacher took little Doris into the classroom, asked her name and where she lived, but not her age. So at four years old Doris' schooldays had begun!
Doris' first five years at school were certainly not "the happiest days of her life"! She was constantly in trouble for leaving her desk and walking up to the blackboard. In vain she tried to tell the teacher that she could see nothing on the blackboard when she was seated at her desk. It was just a blank space. Many a smack did she receive. It was "Teacher rules" and smacks with teacher's ruler proved it. Doris did excellent work at drawing, painting and needlework, all things she could see close to her eyes. No-one ever realised she could see nothing at a distance. When she was nine years old her teacher said to her: "Right Doris, the doctor is at school today and you will see him. If he says there is nothing wrong with your eyes then you will receive a good smacking." Doris did not get smacked. The doctor said she needed spectacles immediately. With her spectacles Doris could now see what was written on the blackboard. She never quite caught up with all she had missed in those first five years but her life became more interesting from then on.
School playtimes were spent as all children's are with skipping, chasing games and all kinds of ball games but more adventurous pastimes took place in the school holidays.
Incidents of childhood
One summer's day Doris and her two nieces, one only a year older than herself (Minnie Gosney) and the other six months younger (Cissie Gosney), went off to play in the mountains which stood behind their homes. As they were only around ten years old I don't think they were supposed to be there. The three little girls were playing on the large rocks when one of them said she knew of a cave in the rocks and wouldn't it be fun to explore it. Rather reluctantly Doris went along with the plan. The little girls jumped down into the cave, then realised too late they could not reach the place they had jumped from. How would they get out? Just imagine the panic! At last one of them spotted a hole at one side of the cave. Looking out they saw the rockside which went straight down like a precipice, with just a tiny ledge to jump across to, to reach safety. To get out of the cave they had to jump across the gap onto the tiny ledge, with nothing but a holly bush to cling to. If it did not hold them they would fall right down the precipice. The two older girls managed to reach the ledge but the younger was too frightened to try. Doris had to return to the cave and try and encourage the younger one to jump. To this day Doris doesn't know how they reached safety. A man appeared on the mountain far below them waving and signalling, but the girls were so scared and thought he could be a "bad man". The three little girls never told their parents what had happened. They knew that if they did they would get a spanking. They thought they had been punished enough.
Doris' mother was not only a clever and thrifty woman, she was also a very caring lady. To this end she organised a "once a year day" at the nearby seaside town. Any of the families who wanted to join in gave Mam a few pennies a week which she saved for the train fare. She then made all the arrangements for the "special" train which would carry them all to the seaside.
A crowd gathered on the platform on the moring of the big day. Mams and Dads loaded with shopping bags carrying the food and drink. There would be jam sandwiches, fish or meat paste sandwiches, homemade cakes. Drinks would be homemade lemonade or ginger beer.
At last the train steamed in. On they rushed, some children carrying real buckets and spades. Others carrying odd shaped pieces of wood to use as spades and old empty tins for buckets. When the train stopped at Barry Island station they crowded out onto the platform, then there was a mad rush for the beach. All day long wonderful sandcastles and fantastic forts were built. How quickly the day passed, paddling and swimming and exploring rock pools in search of crabs. Time to go home. Tired, crumpled and grubby they boarded the train for home, ready to begin saving for next year's day at the seaside.
Another annual event in Doris' childhood was the blueberry ("wimberry") picnic. These are small sweet berries, something like sloe berries. They grow on low bushes up in the mountains.On the day chosen for the picnic several families gathered together. Men and boys not on the shift at the coalmine carried kettles and food up the mountain. The Mams and children carried all kinds of containers to put the fruit in. The place chosen for the picnic was always close to a mountain stream. Arriving at the chosen spot, the men immediately set about finding wood to make the bonfire on which to boil the kettles. The water from the mountain stream made a lovely cup of tea.
The Mams organised the children as to where to pick the fruit. One year Doris' Mam offered a halfpenny to one of her children who were the first to fill his or her container. Within minutes one of the boys returned with a full jar of fruit. When Mam emptied it she found the middle filled with leaves, and fruit only around the edges where it could be seen. Mam chased him all over the mountain and gave him a spanking. Then she said, "That will teach you not to cheat."
For the next few days after the picnic the air around the roads where the picnickers lived was filled with the smell of baking blueberry pies and jam making.
When Doris was about eleven years old her mother bought a ladies bicycle for a small sum of money. The intention was that Doris would learn to ride it, then cycle into the nearby town of Bargoed. There were more shops there including one of the new Woolworth's stores.
One of Doris' brothers was given sixpence to teach Doris to ride. Sixpence was a small fortune in those days. Doris' brother did not want to teach her to ride, he wanted to play football with his friends, so he gave Doris the sixpence and left her to teach herself. With many a tumble Doris succeeded in riding the bike.
Now she could ride there were more errands for her to do. Mam and the neighbours would give her a list of purchases required, very often from the new Woolworth's store. When these stores first opened their slogan was "nothing over sixpence". But here was the trick. A pair of plimsolls cost one shilling, each shoe costing sixpence. Plimsolls were the forerunners of today's trainers. Usually the girls wore white ones, the boys black. That was the only colour choice.
Bargoed boasted an excellent drapers shop. Here good quality cotton material could be bought at sixpence and three farthings a yard. All of this sounds very inexpensive until you remember that a mans wages for a hard weeks work at the coalmine was often £2 or less.
Doris had a basket fitted to the front of her bicycle to carry the purchases home and don't forget Mam frowned on even a cake or sweet being offered as a reward for her shopping expeditions. A round journey of eight miles cycling for her at eleven years old.
At fourteen years old girls and boys were considered old enough to work for their living. Doris' two older sisters (Ellen and Nora) found work "in service". This was the term used to describe work as a servant to people with enough money to afford someone to do the hard tasks in their homes. The girls worked long hours. They only had one free day off a week, sometimes only half a day. The wages were small because the employer counted food and lodgings as part of their wages.
The work was hard, these were the days before electric cleaners and washing machines. The family washing was done as Doris' Mam had always done hers. A copper filled with cold water, a fire lit underneath to bring the water to the boil. The hot water was bailed out into the large tin baths used for the wash. Once all the clothes had been scrubbed and rubbed they were put to one side while the baths were emptied and clean cold water was put in for rinsing. The white wash was put into half a copper of cold water, the fire stoked up and the washing boiled in the copper. Very often after this boil the white clothes were rinsed in blue water. This was obtained by squeezing a small bag containing a light blue dye. Heaven help the servant girl who put too much blue into the bath and the clothes came out really blue!
Stair carpets and sitting room carpets were brushed with a stiff hand brush, then the dust and dirt was picked up in a dustpan, a special shaped kind of shovel. The rest of the floors were either bare board to be scrubbed or linoleum to be polished.
The servant girls were given one week of unpaid holiday a year. Doris looked forward to this holiday when one or both of her sisters would come home to Mam and dad for their holiday.
One of Doris' sisters was very artistic (Ellen "Nell") and painted lovely pictures. While she was at home on her one week's unpaid holiday one summer her Mam gave her permission to sit in the parlour to paint. Little Doris, then about nine or ten asked to go and join her, she wanted to do some painting. So Ellen told her to find a piece of brown paper the groceries had been wrapped in and she would find her some paints. Ellen said Doris would only be allowed to stay if she was quiet!
Unbeknown to Doris her sister had kept the picture Doris had painted that day and when Ellen died years later her daughter found that picture. Recovering it caused a great deal of emotional memories for Doris. On seeing the picture a neighbour [in Rutland Avenue, High Wycombe] suggested Doris made a wool tapestry picture of it. The wool picture might outlast the paper one and could be passed down in Doris' family as a memento of Doris at home in Wales in the 1920's and 1930's.
Another treasure Doris has is a wall plaque or decorated plate.This was also made by Ellen. Doris still remembers being asked by Ellen to collect pretty looking pebbles, stones and shells, along with pieces of special looking bits of broken glass and crockery. All sorts of oddments were collected, then Ellen sorted them and arranged them to make this decorative plate. On the plate was a military gentleman taken from a broken "peace" mug of the 1914-18 war, a small china figure from a broken ash tray and many other interesting things .Doris' sister found an old tin lid, covered it with some kind of plaster or cement, then pressed their collections firmly in place to make a pattern. This was allowed to carefully dry out and there you had this pretty wall plaque.
Doris starts work
All too soon it was time for Doris to leave school and look for work. Parents could not afford to keep young people at home on a miner's small wage. In those days for teenagers it was "no work, no money!"
Doris was only thirteen years old, having started school at four years old and not five. But she had spent the required number of years in education at school so out she must go into the world of work.
A farmer's wife living at a farm high up in the mountains [Blaenau Farm near Trecastle, Breconshire] required help. Doris and Mam made the journey to meet her. Doris was given a room to sleep in, her food and a very small wage. Sunday was her day off. In return she had to help the farmer's wife with all her many chores. One of Doris' first memories is having to learn to skin and clean a rabbit. It had been shot by the farmer to eke out food supplies. She still remembers cleaning it in the little mountain stream.
Doris was responsible for fetching water from a well or mountain stream further down the mountain. She carried two buckets attached to a yoke which fitted across her shoulders.
As well as helping to prepare food for the farmers at hay-making time or sheep shearing, she had to carry it across the mountainside to wherever they were working. At these special times all the neighbouring farmers got together to help each other. They moved from farm to farm until all the work was done. Each farmer's wife and her servant prepared and cooked the food for all the farmers working on their farms. Doris learned how to make huge pies, puddings and how to cure sides of bacon, how to make butter and cheese. High up in the mountains you had to do it all yourself. There was no slipping out to the village shop!
A travelling salesman carried goods to the outlying mountain farms. Sometimes he loaded these on to a small cart drawn by a pony. Sometimes he hung two large bags over the back of his horse. He would carry things like needles, cotton and all sorts of other things which were only available in the town or village shop down in the valley. In return for the goods the farmer's wife required, they worked out a barter system of payment. In return for her goods she might give a freashly killed chicken or some eggs or a piece of bacon.
There was nowhere for Doris to go on her Sunday's off except to the Welsh speaking chapel along the mountain path. Returning to the farm one Sunday she heard a strange noise in the hedge nearby. She dropped her umbrella and ran back to the farm. Next day the postman called with the mail. He had an umbrella in his hand. It was Doris' umbrella. She told him of the strange noise she had heard in the hedge and how frightened she had been. The postman told her what had happened. The farmer had placed some corrugated iron sheets in the hedge to prevent the sheep from straying. The wind had caught the iron and rattled it, making that awful noise. Doris was relieved as it had been very scary.
Doris' two young cousins were working at farms in the area and occasionally they would be able to meet. Very soon Doris' two cousins grew tired of the lonely farm life and managed to find work "in service" in London.
I have described earlier about life "in service" and how the carpets and floors were cleaned and the family washing done. I did not mention that the ironing was done by heavy flat irons. These were shaped something like our modern electric ones but they had to be heated either on top of the fire grate or on a gas ring. To take up the heat, you held the bar handle at the top with a padded iron holder. Before you could use the iron the base had to be cleaned either by rubbing it on fine sandpaper or rubbing on a clean piece of cloth. Just imagine ironing all the frilly blouses and long skirts of this time!
Doris' cousins now established at work in London, found work for Doris at the home of a Jewish family. Doris was now about sixteen years old. Doris worked hard and well. Mam had trained her daughters in the art of home or housekeeping. On her free half day Doris would sometimes be able to meet her cousins and they would go to the cinema or the nearest dance hall.
One day Doris' employer said to her "For every cup, plate or dish that is chipped I shall stop money from your wages". Doris was furious. She knew she was not responsible for all the chipped crockery and this person was going to take money from her already small wage. On her next day off she collected all the chipped crockery, put it in her bag and cycled to High Wycombe where one of her brothers was living and working. When he heard her story he was very angry and said "I will find you a job in this area and you can stay with us." So Doris gave in her notice and came to live in High Wycombe.
Doris' brother had found her a job in a laundry in Beaconsfield. To reach this town, Doris had to cycle five miles in all weathers. But she had a wage packet and was independent.
The sad news of her mother's death [in 1933] reached her. She and her brother waited for a coach to take them back to Wales for the funeral. A kindly policeman stopped the coach and though all the seats were taken, the coach driver, on hearing their sad story allowed them on the coach. Doris travelled the long journey to Wales seated on her suitcase. Her brother sat on the coach step. Not exactly first class travel. After the funeral Doris thought it her "duty" to stay and look after her father and another brother. It soon became clear that there was not enough money to feed another person in the house. To get back to High Wycombe Doris had to get on her bicycle and ride back. A very long ride back for such a young girl on her own.
Her laundry job had been filled so she looked for work in the furniture factories in the town. She was given a job at Hugo's factory in Jubilee Road. She was taught French polishing. This was a very skilled job involving many hours of hard work and the very strong smell of the polish used. It is a specialised way of bringing a high gloss to whatever piece of furniture is to be done. Dining room tables, chairs, occasional tables and sideboards came under Doris' skilled hands. A coat of polish is applied to the surface of the chosen piece of furniture, this is then rubbed down with sandpaper and another coat of polish applied. This action is repeated many times until the final gloss is achieved.
Doris enjoyed her work at the factory until one day she developed a rash which was diagnosed as dermatitis. This conditon was caused by an ingredient in the polish. Doris could no longer work in the polishing shop but was given work in another part of the factory. It was while working here that she met the man she was to marry. She and this young man "kept company" (another term for courting) for a number of years. In those days you had to save hard to buy furniture for your home.
Doris and William (Razzer) Stevens married in May 1935. The couple's friends who worked with the happy couple gave them a beautifully polished side table for a wedding present. It was one Doris had polished while working as a polisher. Now in 1993 Doris still has that table, lovingly cared for all those years.
There was a housing shortage in the 1930's so Doris and her husband shared his mother's little terrace house until a baby girl [Dilys] arrived on the scene. Then Doris and her husband and baby girl were allocated one of the new council houses in Rutland Avenue in 1936. Here they lived happily for many years
The War years
When Doris' little girl Dilys was five years old, the Second World War began. William joined the Royal Air Force. Doris had to do "war work". Everyone who was able had to help support the fighting forces by making the weapons they needed. Doris worked in a local factory [Pullins] polishing the lens used in gunsights. Doris' sister Ellen (Nell) who lived nearby, looked after Dilys until her mother came home in the evenings.
Six months after the outbreak of war William came home on his first leave. It was a long time since Dilys had seen him and at first she was rather shy of this man in uniform. That shyness soon passed and she was happy with her Daddy. It was very difficult for the children growing up with these sudden partings and equally sudden reunions
One evening when Doris was home from work, a tired looking woman knocked at the door. When Doris answered it, the woman asked if she had a room to spare to enable her and her little girl to get away from the bombing in London. So Doris shared her home throughout the war years [Mrs Sefton and Phyllis?]
The long war years went by and when "D" Day came, William was stationed on the white cliffs of Dover. Did we in Britain realise how close Hitler had been ? On a clear day you can see the coast of France from these cliffs.
Six months after the war ended William was "demobbed" and released from service in the R.A.F. Now Dilys was eleven years old. Doris and her daughter have many good memories of those years after the war.
Noted events in her life were:
• source. & Michael & Amanda Gregory who is her grandchild
• connection. Michael & Amanda Gregory 's connection to me is as follows:
Amanda Smith (1959) married Michael Gregory
Her father was Peter Smith (1931) who married Dilys Stevens (1935)
Her father was William Stevens (c1915) who married Doris Evans (1915)
Her father was Trevor Evans who married Elizabeth Hinwood (1873) who married Luther Gosney (1866)
They had Sidney Gosney (1892) who married Eleanor Kedwood (1897) but she also married Daniel Richards (1898) & they had David Richards (1925)
He had Linda Richards (1951) who married Adrian Preslands (1948)
His father was James Preslands (1913)
His father was Arthur Preslands (1884) who married Annie Reeves (1890)
Her father was William Reeves (1866)
His father was Ephraim Reeves (1843) & he also had Elizabeth Reeves (1859) who married John Kilcommons (1859)
They had James Kilcommons (1887) who married May Davis (1895)
Her father was Thomas Davis (1868)
His father was George Davis (1846)
His father was Thomas Davies (c1805) and he also had Joseph Davies (1852)
He had G. A. Davies (1894)
He had Colin Davies (1925)
He had little old me - Robyn Bray (nee Davies) (1950)
Doris married William (Razza) (Bill) Stevens in 1935. (William (Razza) (Bill) Stevens was born circa 1915.)