It was about this time that I always used to be telling Clarence about Handel's Messiah as one of the fellows where I worked was always singing snatches from it. Eventually, after starting out first with "And the Glory" he got the choir singing and practising most of the principal choral and solo parts over the years.

We formed a glee party. Clarence, Charlie, Harold amd myself, singing around at parties. "Comrades in Arms", "Sweet and Low", and the usual hackneyed part songs of those days in 1925. Much of the winter and spring were busy times at work, overtime until 8 o'clock in the evening. Every Easter Monday we used to walk to the Clent Hills pairing off - Clarence and self, Kathleen and Nora, Percy and Maggie, Harold and Lilly Wall and Clarry (Mac) Smith, Kenny Bills and other unpaired couples. This was done every Easter for some years, as were other church events. Stainer's Crucifixion, special Easter Sunday and Good Friday services and Processions of Witness around the streets. Also very special in those days were the Watch Night services at Christmas and New Year's Eve when the church would be almost full for the midnight service.

Throughout 1925 rehearsals went on preparing for the performance of "The Dream" which was to be held in the Town Hall, Stourbridge, in the Autumn.

As near as my memory allows, sixty years later, these were the characters in the cast:

   Oberon  Nora Pearson
   Titania  Anne Brettell
   Dometrius  Gladys Underwood
   Lysander  Kathleen Chance
   Hermia  Katie Jackson
     Lilly Lench
   Bottom  Tilly Mills
  Pease Blossom  
   Mustard Seed  
   Puck  Dorothy Chance
     Hilda Underwood
     Maggie Chance
   Child  Mollie Underwood


Mrs Herald took her girls for a week's holiday to Ashperton (hop picking country) near Hereford, with sleeping facilities and no visitors or boy friemds invited. But the Cramptons (Nora's aunt and uncle), Howard, Cecil, Clarence and myself went there on the Bank Holidaty Tuesday with Erdwick Bellamy in his T model Ford. It was a great day's outing and Erdwick amused the party with some of his monologues at which he was rather good. Mrs H and Nora's Ma were not at all pleased when we all turned up (in time for tea).

The Sunday School outing was to Stourport by train on this 1925 occasion and tea was held in a large tea room in the High Street. Clarence and Harold went boating on the Severn with Lilly Wall and Ida. I took some snaps of them on the Severn and also of Nora and myself with the camera which I had bought Nora for her birthday. It was a warm and pleasant day and much time was spent on walking and lolling about the river banks. These were the days when one had to work on Saturday mornings and what a rush it was to get from Smethwick, washed and cleaned up, for the 2.15 train. So many couples got together as a result of their connections with the Parish Church. This was the year when Harold and Lilly, and Elsie and Len, got together and these partnerships have lasted, like Nora and I, for nearly sixty years. In the same manner connections with Arley did the same for many couples - Mary and Reg, Clifford and Ruby, Clarence and Iris, George and Hilda, Ralph and Jorna, Joan and Phil as I remember them, although for some reason which I cannot remember neither Elsie and Len who were at Arley in the early years or Anne Brettell came down to our bungalow during our years of occupation.

In the summer of that year I still used to mix with the evening lads and lassies on the vicarage lawn and make sarcastic remarks at the tennis players.

The performance of "The Dream" in the town hall ran for three nights and played to good audiences raising £120. Jack Cook worked the large spotlight on one side and I worked the one opposite. Erdwick was in charge of the lighting and Clarence provided the music commencing by way of an overture with one of the movements from Schubert's Unfinished Symphony. This went down very well as did the ballet music and the singing. The money raised was to help purchase a new piano for the projected church hall but the Parochial Church Council pinched it and paid it into the assistant clergy fund, to the dismay of Mrs Herald who had worked so hard for it.

In the November of 1925 work got slack and I was laid off. Although sister Floss's husband said he could find me a job at H.Hope I was determined to start in business on my own account in the disused half of my dad's studio (to the dismay of all the family) which was ideal for the purpose. Gone were the wartime years when dad would be taking nearly a hundred sets of postcards each week and business was now falling away. I started with savings of just a few pounds but a firm determination to succeed. I spent two weeks preparing drawings and designs for leaded lights to take with me on my travels, first calling on builders and decorators, and anywhere a new house was being built. Although I was considered to be a great fool by everyone, Nora did considerably back me up by believing in me and saying she knew I could do it and later was to give me great help in keeping my books, at which she was an expert.

I first called at Stourbridge and called on Hugh Folkes and then Stanley Griffiths, both of them established architects. I walked up to Amblecote and then up King William Street where I saw a builders and decorators sign with the name of Round. The owner was not in but his wife said I could make a fanlight for over the front door - that was my very first job. From there I walked up to Blackheath and then up Long Lane where I called on a builder named Wright who gave me a job to put some lights in his landing window. Then I walked back home and must have been on my legs for over twelve miles, tired out. I was glad to have made some progress and obtained two orders, although one of them had to be made with "Antique Glass".

Some of Bill's designs

This was no problem for, when at the firm of Evans, I was often sent to the works of W.E.Chance at Oldbury to fetch parcels of glass. They were quite willing to sell me several pieces and some scraps, which they gave me. I walked with this to Langley station and took the train for Lye, very satisfied with myself having established a contact to buy the special kind of coloured glass known in the stained glass business by the name of "Antique". Then Stanley Griffiths found me some work at Greatrex hairdressing premises and his own offices and so gradually I was able to make a start in the business. What really got me going was an order from Tooby the builder who was building a large number of council houses each with a leaded front door panel. Altogether I made about two hundred of these panels. In the Spring of this year I opened an account.

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Copyright © A.H.Pardoe and W.D.Pardoe 1991