Yesterdays child

Please remember that it starts over 90 years ago when there were no child allowances and one had to pay to see a doctor, plus pay if in hospital.
I hope you enjoy your trip back in time and I wont be offended if you decide it does fit in with the other catagories.

My Early Childhood.

I was born in Dagenham in 1930. My family had moved there after the general strike in hopes of finding work. To say that we were poor would be putting it mildly.

I developed bronchial pneumonia at the age of six months which in turn affected my eyesight and because my parents were too poor to pay for doctors fees I was put in a Sisters of Mercy care home.

These Sisters of Mercy were not so merciful I have to say. My mother was a Catholic but my father was C of E and my mother let me go in good faith to this care home.

While in the care of this home I was mentally and physically abused by these so-called Sisters of Mercy.

I can remember from the age of four having to scrub a floor, which I could not see properly because I had a patch over my good eye. I was trying to see through one that was nearly blind and I was beaten across the back with a broom handle because I had missed some water that I had not wiped up.Or being rapped across the head or whatever part of the body was closest to hand for no apparent reason.

I remember one day being behind a nun who was particularly vicious towards the children. She possessed a very nasty streak in her and unfortunately I was following her in through a very heavy door which she deliberately let go of just as I put my hand on the wall to help myself up the step. The door swung to quickly and split my thumbnail in two.

I was told that if I cried I would be put in the broom cupboard all night. My thumb was wrapped in a cloth that was sodden with blood in no time, the cloth was changed the next morning but I had to make do all day until the evening to have it changed.

That thumbnail has never grown properly because it splits in two as soon as it gets to a decent length. I have also been locked in a broom cupboard for four hours at a time for some minor misdemeanour.

One visiting day I stood peering out of the big iron gates waiting for someone to come and visit me. I spotted my mother with a brown paper parcel under her arm. When we got into the dormitory she unwrapped it to reveal a beautiful china doll all dressed in pink satin.

I was ecstatic because it looked and reminded me of a princess from a story that at some time in my life someone had told me about. I nursed the doll and did not want to put it down, just in case it disappeared from my sight, what bit I had.

My joy was short lived because as soon as my mother went the Sister came and took the doll off me and put it on a high shelf.

A little girl called Molly Mason was SO enamoured with the doll’s satin shoes she climbed up on a chair to feel the silkiness of them. Unfortunately she must have lost her balance and as she fell she grabbed at the shelf and caught the doll’s foot. This resulted in the doll toppling on to the floor and smashing into smithereens.

I felt SO angry with her for doing that to my lovely doll but it soon turned to being very sorry for her when the Sister came in after hearing the noise and marching her out to evidently spend some time in the cupboard or a beating.

So many cruelties dealt out for no reason at all -under the cloak of religion.

When I had turned 6 years of age I was being sent home on a one week every month basis to get used to my family who I had never lived with.

It was on one of these weeks that my grandmother had died.

I did NOT know my maternal grandmother so at the time I was not unduly bothered about it because at six years of age everything was new and unfamiliar to me. Also with looking at everything through a bad eye because my good one was still covered up, it was taking some doing.

Therefore I was extremely nervous when my mother said, “I will take you to see your grandmother. She never hurt you when alive and she wont hurt you now she is dead” This statement to me even at the age I was seemed stupid because I could never remember ever seeing my grandmother.

Grandmother was lying upstairs after neighbours had been in and washed her and put her things right.

By that I found out many years later that every orifice had been plugged to stop leakage.

I could only assume that my sister and two brothers had been to see her already because I was being led up the stairs, very reluctantly on my part, by my mother.

As the bedroom door swung open I could discern, through my bad eye as we got nearer a big shape on a brass knobbed double bed.

My bad eye was working overtime trying to take all this in. As I was led closer I could see a massive woman with a scarf tied round her jaws and pennies on her eyes. Her arms were folded across her chest.

To meet my grandmother like this was a nightmare. I kept hoping I would wake up.

My mother said “Just touch her on the arm and say ‘Night Night God Bless’ before she goes to Jesus.”

Even at that tender age I could not see him liking a massive woman with her jaws tied up and with pennies on her eyes. I knew I didn’t.

As I reluctantly did as my mother told me my grandmother’s arm shot from her chest and flopped over on to mine.

As her stone cold fingers rested on my arm I had a strong urge to fill my bloomers.

I learnt afterwards the air had come out of her body which caused the reflex movement.

I made a beeline for the door.

As I fell down the stairs and met my breath halfway down I could hear my mother saying “Oh Sweet Mother of Mercy she has passed her gift on to my baby.”

I wasn’t aware that she had passed anything on to me only the fact that I had to get to a lavatory as soon as possible.

I found out some time later that my grandmother was an original Gypsy. When she married my grandfather she was more or less cast off from her clan or whatever they were called.

Anyway I was brought out again from the home to attend the funeral. My mother had bought me a new black and white gingham dress and new black patent shoes for the funeral.

My grandmother had a laundaulette pulled by four black horses all sporting black feathered plumes. A laundaulette by the way is a glass four- wheeled carriage that carried the hearse after which the family followed on foot.

We all solemnly followed on behind with our heads bent, to the cemetery.

When we got back for the family gathering I was told I had been a good little girl for keeping my eyes down on the ground while following the coffin and I was given a penny. I WAS RICH. I had never had a penny in my life and I was going to buy the moon with it.

What I never owned up to was the fact that I had NEVER had a new pair of shiny shoes in my life before and I was SO proud of them I was keeping my head bent very low to see how they shone in the daylight.

Nothing to do with being reverent.

It was while the wake was in action that I was picking up bits of conversation ( which was confirmed in later years) that my great grandmother had been the last of the her line of gypsies and when she died her vardo ( gypsy caravan ) was burnt with all her lovely stuff in it as was their custom.

This event is firmly embedded in my mind and to top it all I still have the bill for the funeral, which in 1936 cost just £12.

Funeral bill shown for my grandmother’s funeral that my own mother risked her life for by going into the unsafe first house we had bombed to see if she could save anything…
She did manage to save a few old documents and photos but many are barely discernable with the bomb damage plus rain that fell.


Nicely wrote true words there i am looking forward to the next chapter thanks


What an amazing story and your awful life when so young. Looking forward to your next chapter!

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Enjoyed reading your first chapter, although was very sad.
I had lived near Nazareth House in Bexhill on Sea, that particular Branch as there are many all run by Nuns for young children needing a safe home to reside in… was out of the blue all over the Local newspapers, what the papers had written about was the shocking abuse of these children on a daily basis…
I have not posted any of the abuse just the first signs of…
but there are links within the story.
What is alarming though it happened in many of there Branches around the country…not just the Bexhill on Sea one


An amazing start to your life Maywalk, looking forward to your next instalment.

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It is heartbreaking to read your story. How can so called Christians behave in such a cruel and brutal way? And to innocents that they should be caring for.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of your journey now :slightly_smiling_face:


Thank you for sharing your story. It is a rather tragic start. I’m looking forward to reading about the more happier times in your life.


Oh May its heartbreaking to read . I’ve heard horror stories about these nuns I know to be true. Unbelievable cruelty .

Thankyou for writing the beginning of your story :two_hearts:


Oh May, that poor little girl, I hope the years that followed were kinder.

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This incident happened when I had been living back home with my family for about six months. It would be early 1938 the year before WW2 started.

My brother who was four years older than me and at the age of 12 had the responsibility of looking after me and making sure that I came to no harm.

Unfortunately he resented the fact that he had to look after a GIRL of all things and was afraid of being called a cissy by his mates.

He would very often get his home-made roller skates on and make me run at the side of him. I think he wanted to tire me out so that he could dump me in the house and leave me.

He sounded dreadful, but deep down I think he did care for me because he would NOT let anyone say anything about me or bully me.

He could bully me but no one else could. LOGICAL in his mind ???

One Saturday morning he asked my mother if he could go to the tuppenny rush because Flash Gordon was on.

The tuppenny rush was the kid’s cinema session on Saturday mornings. It was tuppence to get in.

I was fascinated by this bloke called Flash Gordon. I had heard a lot about him from my brothers mates but I had never seen him albeit from a nearly blind eye.

My mother told –Johnny- my brother that if he went he could take me but to look after me. He was not overly excited about this idea but consented to it so that he could get to see the episode of Flash Gordon and the Spider Woman.

I was rather excited at this prospect myself and I could not wait to meet Flash Gordon. I thought he was real. LOL

After being shoved and pushed to get in the flea house door as the kids kept calling the Grand Cinema we finally got in and I was overawed with the size of this big place.

It was quite dim in there but with straining my eye I could make out massive lights above the seats that had what looked like candles in the upturned shades.

Remember that my good eye was still covered up and the one I had to use was NOT a good one and I was trying to take in this vast building.

My brother took me right down to the front row of seats and said NOT to move or he would bash my brains in. He loved me really I think.

I had no intentions of moving anywhere because it had been explained to me that a big screen would come up on which I could see the famous Flash Gordon.

Johnny had said that he would be a few rows back with his mates and for me NOT to move and when it was time to go home he would come for me. I took him at his word and settled down to see this bloke they kept on about.

Suddenly the lights were being dimmed and a big cheer went up from the children who started stamping their feet and chanting ‘Gordon’ ‘Gordon’.

All very bewildering to me, but exciting nevertheless. I too decided to start chanting Gordon’s name.

I was enthralled with seeing this blonde haired Adonis called Flash Gordon but was rather scared of the Spider Woman and her long nails. I cowered down into the seat and it wasn’t long before all the excitement had been too much for me before I fell off into a deep sleep.

When I woke up it was pitch dark. Not a sound to be heard and I was in that cinema all on my own. I had slept through the stampede evidently of the children as they all charged out. It was eerie but at the same time I was used to the darkness with being put in a broom cupboard if I had committed a small misdemeanour in the home so I just pretended that was where I was instead of a massive place that kept creaking.

My brother had completely forgotten all about me in his excitement of discussing how Flash got away from Spider Woman. I MISSED IT with falling to sleep.

Suddenly the heavy doors flew open and my mother was marching down the aisles holding my brother by the ear. The janitor and another person holding oil lamps calling my name followed her.

That was the end of ever going to the tuppeny rush again.

As I grew older I realised that I WAS quite a burden to a 12 year old lad and I DON’T honestly think he left me there on purpose because he had been a great brother over the years although we never saw each other all that often.

Funnily enough Johnny became the Second-in –Command of the traffic Division in the Metropolitan Police.

When he died his funeral was escorted by police cyclists although he had been retired for some time from the force.

It was very moving.

Photo below of Johnny but he was around 17 by then and had been at work for nearly three years. It was taken at the Midland Station in Loughborough in early 1942 when he had was with my mother and myself seeing my eldest brother Bill off who was in the RAF and was being to be sent out to Burma with his squadron. Funnily enough I can still remember Bill’s service number

Johnny was called up in 1943 and finished up in North Africa.



Hello Maywalk

It’s so sad to hear of your young life, was it a Catholic run children’s home?

Thanks Logan.

When the book was first published I had many folks coming forward saying that they too had been illtreated by these black hearted vixens.
I am lucky that I am still here to relate it with all my ruddy medical complaints, including a pacemaker. :wink:


Chapter 3 …THE BIKE

This incident/accident happened on a Sunday afternoon in the July in 1939. As you can see from the date that it was a couple of months before WW2 broke out.
We lived in a rented terraced house in South East London. We were not very well off and every halfpenny had to be accounted for.
It was a hot humid day with rain coming down in buckets full.
Our front door was wide open to let what breeze there was come through.
The house had a long passageway that had the front room ( this was out of bounds to the children and we were only allowed in when visitors came ) leading off halfway down, the kitchen was next and the scullery was at the end of this long passage way.
My father was in his favourite position sitting on the stairs with his rolled up cigarette dangling from his fingers. My 16 year old sister Amy was reading a book in the kitchen my younger brother Johnny ( the one that forgot about me in the tuppenny rush cinema) was upstairs.
My mother was in the front room brushing her beautiful knee length flaxen coloured hair. Her hair was my father’s pride and joy.
Meanwhile, Billy my 18 year old eldest brother had his bike turned upside down in the passageway doing something to the chain.
I sat playing with a tea-set that my eldest brother had bought for me the week I was born out of his meagre pocket money which at that time I was told cost 3d from East Lane Sunday Market. I was turned 7 years of age by the time I first played with that tea-set because of being in the home.
I was 9 years of age when this incident/accident happened.
I can remember when looking out of the front door and watching the rain falling down SO heavily it reminded me of dancing men. DON’T ask me why I thought that because I have no idea.
Meanwhile my brother had set the wheels of his bike going at a great speed. I would imagine that he was testing it to see if the chain and the brakes were working properly.
My mother after finishing braiding her hair and putting it up like two ear phones each side of her face walked out of the front room and my brother said “Can you stop the wheels for me please Mum?” Instead of getting something to stop the wheels with, she put her hand there.
The top of her finger flew through the air right past where my Dad sat on the stairs.
He in fright dropped his cigarette down his shirt and mayhem broke loose.
Mother ran to get the top of her finger that had landed two steps past Dad’s head which she firmly plonked back on as she ran into the scullery to run the water over it and Dad finally got the cigarette that was singeing his hairy chest.
My Gawd what a to-do.
Mum got a newly washed sheet to put round her hand where she had stuck the top part of her finger back on while telling Amy my sister to get her coat and to go with her to the doctors surgery. Amy went with my mother and Mum’s finger was stitched back on but it was always crooked after that.
The next day my mother came in with an Eton cropped hairstyle. I could not get used to her with short hair like that and I wondered what my father would say when he got home from work.
I did not have to be on pins for long because he went ballistic when he saw her.
My mother finally got through to him that she HAD to get the money for the doctor for stitching her finger on and she sold her tresses to do it.
She got 15s for her hair. That is 75 pence in today’s currency. Out of which she had to pay the doctor 7s/6d for stitching her finger back on plus aspirins to ease the pain.
There was NO NHS in those far off days and each visit to the doctor cost 5s.
It was lucky that the doctor lived on the premises but it was still a 20 minute walk for my mother to get to his place. How she did it I will never know.
She was not very big in height, in fact she was less than 5 foot tall but she had the strength of an ox and the temper that could get the better of her when she got riled. My father bore the scars.
I never got on with my mother but I had deep admiration for her courage both in this incident and others that happened over the years.
I felt embarrassed by her many times but looking back I realise how many folk loved her, even if I couldn’t.

Incidentally my tea-set was wrapped up very well during the war and although it suffered minor damage to the tea-pot spout and a cracked saucer it is now sitting in pride of place in my daughter-in-laws unit.
Its ironic to think a 75 year old tea-set survived the horrors of WW2.

Photo below of the teaset which is now 91 years old.
My d-i-l now has it displayed in her glass cabinet and the photo was taken on my 80th birthday.

MY next chapter deals with the horrors of war if anyone wants me to continue.



Please, please do continue Maywalk.

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And me too!

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This is fascinating :slight_smile:

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You have an amazing memory

I’m loving this

I DID have an amazing memory Susan because I had written everything down by the time I was 80 but I started with seizures then and after two years I finished up being diagnosed with late life Epilepsy plus having a pacemaker fitted.
Unfortunately now some of the pages are missing out of my memory book and I am only thankful that I had written down many tales that have happened during my lifetime.
I just hope I am not boring folks with the tales still remember well.


Boring you are not!!

Absolutely not boring, Maywalk…I love people’s life stories! :smiley: