Saturday, 4 October 2008


As a break from my story, I thought I'd give a little insight into another family happening that was very frightening, and gives testament to what a wonderful brave and strong man our Dad was. I hope you find it interesting, it is all absolutely true!

It was Mum and Dad’s wedding anniversary. Billy was still a baby and Mummy was preparing a surprise anniversary dinner for Daddy when he got home from work. There was a chicken roasting in the oven, together with all the trimmings, and I had been sent to the local Express Dairy to buy some huge, chocolate cream buns, which were Daddy’s absolute favourites. All was ready and waiting for his knock on the front door. I was so excited, as I had been allowed to stay up and share the meal. Billy, of course, had been put to bed hours before, and Douglas, being five years younger than me, had also gone to bed.
There was a loud knock on the front door and I started to leap up and down with excitement. I don’t remember clearly what happened next, except that a policeman came into our house.
My Dad had been involved in an accident, He was very seriously hurt and not expected to survive the night. I can’t recall the complete order of things, but Mum went to the hospital of course, and I think Dougie and I must have gone back to Granny and Grandad Leach’s house for the night. I don’t recall where Billie went. I can still smell the leather of the taxi interior that took Granny Leach, Doug and me to Granny and Grandad’s house in Stockwell and Mummy to the German Hospital in Dalston where my Father, we were told, was dying. Granny Leach, always a harbinger of gloom and doom, asked my mother if ‘she had anything black for the funeral’. Looking back, it’s a wonder that Mummy didn’t hit her!
Apparently, Dad had been asked to work a little later than usual. He’d agreed to do this but only on condition that the firm’s lorry driver gave him a lift home, as it was his anniversary and Mum was waiting. He didn’t know it then, but the odds were stacked against him the moment he agreed to work late, because the passenger door of the lorry didn’t close properly. On the way home, the lorry took a corner a little too fast. The door flew open and my Father fell out, under the wheels of the lorry.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, they were travelling along a road that was in the process of being tarred and re-gravelled. As my father fell beneath the lorry (it was an eight wheeler) he remembered the technique that he had seen my ‘Uncle Sampson’ perform on stage, during part of his act where he lay down on the stage and allowed a lorry to be driven over his body. Daddy later told me that he ‘rolled with the wheels’ (whatever that meant) just as he had watched Sampson do, and it appeared to have saved Daddy’s life. His injuries were horrific. He suffered a fractured skull and a broken pelvis, his spine was broken in three places and his stomach split open, causing his intestines to spill out and become pitted with tar and gravel. It was not surprising that the doctors had told my mother he would not live through that night. But they didn’t know my dad! He was as stubborn as an ox all his life, and there was no way he was going to leave his ‘Lollipops’ and children at thirty-two years of age.

They said he wouldn't live, but he did. They said he'd never walk again, but he did. Such was the stuff my Dad was made of. He bribed an orderly to turn a 'blind eye' while he endeavoured to get out of bed, stand on his feet, and walk. He was encased in a plaster jacket from his neck down to his thighs and, having pulled himself on to his legs, he took two steps and then passed out. The orderly probably passed out too, but Dad has taken his first step on a long, long journey back to recovery.

To be cont..... (If you want me to)


weechuff said...

That is horrific. Poor dad. Just because of a faulty door, he suffered for the rest of his life.

Babs (Beetle) said...

Dad would be expected to sue the company now days! He would have been quite wealthy from it. Instead he had to struggle to keep food in the bellies of all of us for so many years!

granny grimble said...

I wasn't sure just how much detail all of my siblings knew about this. There's more to come if you want me to continue.
As I was writing it, I kept thinking about how different it would have all been now-a-days. I don't remember any mention ever of legal action. In those days only rich people could afford it I suppose. He was a wonderful man wasn't he, our Dad.

Lynne Chapman said...

I have always remembered you telling me about how Grandad 'rolled with the wheels' like Samson. It is truly extraordinary that he survived.

You're right too about how different it would be now. Although it will still be just the same in so many parts of the world.

GoldAnne said...

oh leeta how dreadful,!!! what an incredible man he was,such terrible injuries,How very brave he was,
Of course we want you to continue thankyou
love anne xxx

weechuff said...

Yes, of course we want to hear more:0)

Anne said...

What an absolutely terrible thing to happen....and what a brave man. As you are all saying he would have been given compensation in today's world - sadly he had to struggle - always in pain as I remember. And it must have been so difficult for your mum. Of course we all want to read the WHOLE story!!

Croom said...

Oh Leeta, poor Mum and Dad. We tend to forget that you were a little girl and probably very aware of what was happening so poor, poor you.

You are now our only real link to our family history and I am so pleased you are enlightening us to all these events.

Of course we all know of Daddies accident and the terrible results for the rest of his life but the story was only told to us in broken snippets from Mum when we asked.

Please continue with it and many more ‘little gems’ for us. Tinax