This morning I received an envelope from an old friend containing photographs taken at least 55 years ago. She had found them when she cleared her Mother’s flat, after she passed away. I showed them to my Grandson, he thought that they were pictures of his Mother.
I did not recognize myself immediately. I did not remember the ‘evening’ dress I was wearing either. It looked very modern, not my usual style. The picture shows a group of people of mixed ages, sitting around a table at a ‘ Dance’, or some similar event. Everyone in the picture is wearing ‘evening’ dress. All look as if they are enjoying themselves, lots of bottles of beer, plus one large bottle of wine on the table. Soft drinks must have been provided, because I did not touch any alcohol until a lot later in life, even then, very little. I am sitting happily on my husband’s knee. We look so young and carefree, oblivious of all the ‘ups and downs’ to come in the future.
The second picture shows me dancing ‘The Gay Gordons, a Scottish reel. It is the best photograph that I have ever seen of myself. I am laughing, obviously having fun dancing with a friend’s father.
I think that looking at the rest of the company in the photograph, this must have been a fund raising event for the St Vincent de Paul charity in Haverfordwest, organized by the wonderful Father Paul Satori, whose work became the inspiration for the local cancer Foundation, set up in his memory..
The photograph appears to be taken either at the church hall, or a school dining room.. There are metal and canvas chairs set around the table.
My grandfather was a Church of Wales Vicar, while I spent 6 years at a Catholic school.. As a result, I supported both churches. My lifelong friend Rowina, and her husband John Dillon are also in this photograph. I know that they were lifelong Catholics. This is the only picture of them together that I have ever had, I am so pleased to have it.
Rowina was one of my greatest friends. We first met when I returned from my first term at boarding school aged 6. During my time away, Rowina had come to live with my family to help my Mother cope with providing meals for all the men working on our farm, normally eight workers, plus four family. Rowina was a lovely young girl with beautiful blonde hair and a strong cheerful personality.
At that time, there was no electricity or ‘Mains’ water. There were no ‘fridges, no electric light, no washing machines and no handy kitchen appliances, everything cooked on a solid fuel stove, by the light of paraffin lamps at night.
Rowina told me years later that her first sight of me was of a tiny little girl with very skinny legs getting out of the car, wearing an extremely large brown school hat. We soon became the best of friends.
Rowina was the most amazing cook. My Father thought that she was the best cook in the world. Her Victoria sponges had no equal.
She helped my Mother until she got married to a handsome Irish man called John Dillon. The couple found a pretty cottage nearby, and in the fullness of time had 3 lovely children, Pat, Jean and Michael.
When they were teenagers, both girls helped me in various little schemes to make a little extra money, farming was not doing too well at this time. First of all, I had a little Market stall in the local town. Every Saturday, Jean helped me cook thousands of Welsh cakes, yeast buns, cakes and pies, all to order. We did not make our fortune, but it was a good experience for both of us.
Our next Enterprise was to have a ‘Dog clipping’, business, no fortune there either. Just lots of hassle trying to beautify pet poodles whose coats had gotten into a solid mat of wool. After this, Jean trained to be a top class hairdresser who looked after my hair for many years. Jean later married Maurice and moved to Southhampton. Pat married Conrad and lived in Fishguard. Rowina and John settled down in Haverfordwest very near to where I lived at the time, we stayed close until I moved to France.
Rowina and I helped each other through two tragic events. I lost a baby boy, Robert at nine months old, a’Cot death’, while Rowina lost her grown up son Michael in freak accident. Terrible times which we helped each other through.
Other pictures in the envelope I could recall. Jean, the sender of the photos, sitting in a wheelbarrow cuddling my two year old daughter. They are quite recognisable 55 years later.Thank you very much for taking the trouble to send these photos to .me. They remind of all the good times we shared all those years ago. I am now going into my kitchen to try and make a Victoria Sponge in memory of Rowina. I know that it will not be as good. She had the Magic touch. .