I have seen many groups taken a hundred years ago which are still bright and clear. He had also acquired a burnishing machine - two metal rollers like a small mangle with one of the rollers having a gas jet inside which fitted with a tube to the household gas supply. This machine was always used on the kitchen table. My memories of dad go back to around 1908 when he was fairly well established and would be daily turning over his printing frames up the garden, shading them from the summer sun and monopolising the kitchen sink washing his prints. I have a memory of falling down the stairs at that house when I was quite young.
|My eldest sister, Azubah Elizabeth, was educated at the Stourbridge school known as "The Tech" which was on the top floor of the library building in Stourbridge and she eventually became a teacher, starting first at the Orchard Lane Infants School. I was sent there at the age of three, progressing through all of the classes there until I was eight years old, when a small party of us (boys) in 1911 marched up the street to "The Big Boys' school". Early memories of the infants school are lost in time but one or two stand out. First, when we came out at playtime a boy came and took me to "The piss uss" as he called it, at the bottom of the playground. Another playtime memory is of the bigger boys playing football and woe betide toddlers like me getting in the way and being knocked down. I also have memories of games in the playground where the teachers lined us up against the walls on either side as sheep and wolves and a poem was read out - "The wolves gone down to Derbyshire and won't be back for many a year, Hurrah, Hurrah" and we all had to run to escape being caught. When I returned home I told them we had a new game today and recited the poem. They all laughed at me, "New game!" they said; I was crestfallen and cried.||
Zu (2nd from right) at Orchard Lane
In the morning playtime we had to line up and march into school in twos and a small girl called Cissie always held hands with me as we marched in. This, of course, was noticed by my sister Zu and to my utter shame she (being catlike) told them at home that Cissie was my sweetheart. This sister, being the eldest of the family, was always bitchy and bossy and I suffered from her throughout my whole life. The one who loved me most was Gertrude Elsie who used to take me to school in my early years. I remember one playtime she came to the playground wall and brought me a birthday present (a penknife) which delighted me very much. I lost it a few days later and found another boy with it and promptly took it from him, but not for long. His big brother was soon on to me making me give it up - "Its he'son". Instead of telling the teacher I can remember sobbing for hours at the loss of it.
Memory becomes sharper of the final class at that Infant school. Our teacher was a Miss Cutler and every morning the Register would be marked. Red for present and a black mark for being late. Then she would say a prayer before teaching began. I can remember the day my usual deskmate, "Centre" Cartwright, did not appear. He had moved to the Grammar School at Stourbridge (paid, of course, as all gentlemen's sons were). Although my dad had paid for all my sisters to attend the Stourbridge Technical school he never got round to sending me to the Grammar School. There were scholarships but in my young days there were only two ways to get to that school. One had to have a wealthy father or be good at mathematics and I fitted neither of these qualifications.
I had one awful day at school in this top class. The inkwell case of Miss Cutler was rather awkwardly placed on the table and in walking past it I caught it with my arm and on the floor it went, red and blue ink splashing everywhere. I was near to tears and in deep disgrace. The teacher made me clear up the mess as best I could and I had to take the wooden case which held the inks and scrub them thoroughly with a brush at the washing sinks. I can recall even now the awful low feeling which I had as a result of this accident.
Another occasion during a scripture lesson comes back to me when we were being instructed in the "Thou shalt not" lessons. Seven and eight year old children were naturally wanting to learn and apply their minds to what was being taught and several asked what committing adultery meant, only to be fobbed off with some quite meaningless explanation by the embarrassed teacher.
Another remembered occasion was the day Miss Cutler spoke in very grave tones about the terrible sinking of the Titanic and the tragedy of it was greatly impressed on our young minds. Miss Cutler, Minnie I believe was her Christian name, was at that school for the whole of her teaching life, retiring in 1960. The staff had bought her a retirement present of a large armchair and one of her friends, a local scoutmaster whom I knew well, asked if he could borrow my firm's van to take the chair to Mamble in Worcestershire where she was going to live. Until I went to collect this chair, I was quite unaware and astonished that she was still at the school. I got her to take me into the same classroom where she had taught up to the time of her retirement, just to refresh my memory of the Titanic story. I thought how small the desks seemed to be to my fifty six years old eyes and felt deeply moved by this small incident which served to mark the passage of time.
Then came the last day when I was moved to the boys' school further up the road and was put into the first classroom where Mr. Bridges,(the head) had his desk. My early recollections of him were that he was a bearded and vicious looking man which was later proven by a cruel and somewhat wicked caning which he gave to a pupil in front of the whole class a year or two later.
Although my time at this school was seventy years ago I can still remember the faces and names of some of the teachers. The class next to Mr. Bridges was run by a Mrs. Thomas, a friend of my sister Azubah. Janet, she used to call her. The next two classes were managed by a pupil teacher and a Mr. Tom Cotterel. Next one up was in the charge of Mr. Bert Sidaway, son of the local ironmonger, but this class had to be closed when he was called up to fight in the 1914 war. The top class was looked after by a Mr. Walter Green who kept a cycle shop and was also a well known local cricketer. In this class was the rope which rang the school bell for five minutes in the morning and afternoon before school started.
There was also a large room for Board meetings upstairs and in a large space under the stairs stood an enormous gas meter about six feet square which must have served the whole of the Orchard Lane schools. Mr. Green was a good teacher (nicknamed "Daddy" Green) and I must have been in his class for two years. It used to be said that often when he had set out some written or drawing work he would lift up the lid of his desk, where he was not visible to the class. On the pretence of reading a book behind it he would doze off or catnap, unobserved by the class.
||At this school when I was about
six (1910) my father moved from the house in Vicarage Road to a house in the
High Street opposite the church and next door to the Perks family (Johnny
Perks) who owned a manufactory in Church Street, Lye and also the house we
moved into. He seemed annoyed when my dad erected his studio in the rear
garden and when he was building his darkroom at the back. Old John Perks
looked over the wall and asked if dad was putting up a pig sty ? "No" said
dad, "only my dark room".
It was like most of the houses of those years quite primitive with the old fashioned two seater privvies at the top of the garden. This was to the great disadvantage of people walking on the High Street footpaths when the night soil men were carting away the great smelly heaps which had been tipped from wheelbarrows into the street.
The studio built here was rebuilt and enlarged from the one at Vicarage Road and some new backgrounds were painted and very much used. Every Sunday numbers of people would come to "have their photo took" which annoyed the Minister from the Congregational Chapel manse which overlooked our house. and he, The Rev.Whittingham, told his daughter Margaret to tell my father that her father said that my father was a miserable sinner for working on a Sunday. Dad had a showcase on the wall in the High Street with photographs in it which no doubt used to bring in customers. Dad had an electric bell fitted to the front door which would also ring in his studio when mother was out shopping or whatever.
There was a front room with an enormous gas chandelier with three lamps upon it which could be raised or lowered by pulling a chain. The room behind this one was the main living room where all our meals were eaten and where dad would bolt his burnishing machine to the table and connect it to the gas after removing the glass and mantle. On one side of this room was a piano which was much used as two of my sisters could play. Azubah being a very good player would often perform at home parties with friends and young men. I can still hear in retrospect some of the items - "Husbands & Wives" was bawled out in great measure and "The Count of Luxemburg" was a great favourite. I used to pretend it was a hurdy gurdy and would turn an imaginary handle at the side. The hurdy gurdy was a familiar object coming to the High Street about twice a week playing popular tunes.
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Copyright © A.H.Pardoe and W.D.Pardoe 1991