Monday, 9 February 2009


My new husband was very good about having my little sisters to stay with us. He understood that we were a very close family and how much I missed them all, so now and then Tina (Croom) would come to stay for the weekend. She loved being with us and seemed to be the one that missed me most. Mum told me how Tina, who was seven years old, cried and cried after our wedding. She suddenly realised that I wasn’t coming back home on my return from holiday in Eastbourne!
Sandie (Weechuff) was a very resilient nine year old and, as long as she could don a pair of football boots and coax the boys to let her kick a ball around with them, was happy. Babs (Beetle) aged five was a bit clingy and wouldn’t stay away from Mum at all.
Gillian, who was still very young, once asked if she could stay with us. Which she did. Next morning she asked to have toast for breakfast and, when it was set before her, refused to eat it. I told her that if she didn’t eat her toast she would have to go back home to Mummy and Daddy. She was so stubborn. As much as she wanted to stay with us, she said: ‘take me home’ then: ‘I don’t care.’ We couldn’t let her win, so we took her back to Mum.
One time, when we went to Clacton on holiday, we asked Sandie if she would like to come along with us. We had a chalet with a spare bedroom, and Arthur liked Sandie as she was very ‘grown-up’ and sensible. We all had a lovely time and repeated the experience a couple of years later on. We took Tina on a similar holiday as well.
In those days anyone was welcome to stay the night. Believe it or not, we once decided that Flossie the family dog was feeling left out and would like to spend the weekend with us. We walked her from Oakfield Road in Hornsey to Islington late one Friday evening. She spent the whole of the night walking up and down, up and down, her claws tap-tap-tapping on the linoleum and driving us mad. We returned her to her natural habitat as soon as possible the following morning and never repeated that experience again.
We didn’t have any thoughts about starting a family. I’d spent so many years my of my childhood and my teens washing, dressing, changing and feeding babies and toddlers, that I felt I’d already had a family and, in any case, there was always a toddler ready and willing to come and stay with us if we felt that need.
Married life was a wonderful life, we were doing whatever we wanted and were so happy to be in each other’s company, we didn’t need anyone else. Mum was always tossing out little remarks about grandchildren and other people’s babies, but we refused to be drawn on the subject, and continued home and marriage building, oblivious to all but ourselves.
Arthur bought me a reconditioned, Singer, treadle sewing machine, which was my absolute pride and joy. I set to and from then on made most of my own clothes. The girls at the office were commenting on the dresses, skirts, and coats that I was making, and it wasn’t long before I received requests to make skirts for them too. Money was always in short supply in our household, so I was happy to do it. I used to charge between ten shillings and twelve and sixpence (50p and 62 1/2p) to make a skirt. They supplied their own material and I designed and made up the skirts to their measurements.
My best friend Doreen, who worked with me, was cashier in the showroom. She announced the date for her wedding, and asked me if I would make her wedding dress and hat. She wasn’t having a white wedding, and fancied a pale lavender outfit. It was a bit of a responsibility as I always designed my own garments and never, ever used paper patterns. I did a few sketches and Doreen picked her design. We went together to choose the material, and then I was on my own! I didn’t even make my own paper patterns. I just kept the rough shape of each piece in my head and ripped into the cloth! When it was my cloth it didn’t matter if it all went wrong, but someone’s wedding dress was a different matter.
The whole outfit looked really good when it was finished, and Doreen and her new husband were thrilled with it.

To be contd…


Croom said...

Oh what a very interesting blog Leeta. I can remember waiting with eager excitement along with all my sisters for ‘the wedding’ Not for one moment did I think you would be moving out for good. How could you, you were our second Mum and mums do not leave their children. I can still remember the shock when I was told the next night that you were not coming back to sleep any more! Can you blame a girl for crying…and crying.

Have you a photo of your friends wedding and her dress? I would love to see it. I would like to publicly thank my big sis for all the love you gave us all when we were little pain in the butt toddlers.


weechuff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
weechuff said...

What a lovely blog Leeta. I had no idea you were so clever at dressmaking. I know you made some dresses for the Country and Western club,but I thought you just decided to have a go. And without a pattern as well!!

granny grimble said...


Yes I do have a photo somewhere and I have searched through all my albums and can't find it. If I come across it I will post it.
Thank you for those nice comments X

I started dressmaking when I was about 14. Don't forget I made my own wedding and going away dresses. I also made all my own dresses etc. until we moved to Enfield, and Lynne's till she went to The Latymer School.

Beetle said...

I think you will find that it was you that I was clingy with, and I was distraught that you were not coming home again :O) That is one of those incidents that is imprinted on my memory.

Swubird said...


Your story really took me back to my younger years. I remember so well when anyone was welcome to spend the night with us. We were all young, and friends came over all the time. I don't think we ever had a bad experience, it was all fun.

There was one experience, though, when my folks came to visit. My wife and I weren't dressed, and when we heard the knock on the door, I yelled "coming," and my folks thought I said "come in," so they caught us red-handed. It was embarrassing, but as time went by we all had a good laugh.

Your life sounds wonderful.

Happy trails.

granny grimble said...

I think you may be right! Perhaps you all felt deprived when I left.


How embarrassing Swubird1 But think how embarrassing it would have been if things had been reversed and you had been the one walking in :0)!

Jay said...

I have always admired people who could cut patterns, but you seem to have taken it a step further! I can sew from a pattern, but even making small alterations is difficult for me. I am obviously an assembler rather than a creator.

It's interesting for me to read your stories about your sisters, because I'm the youngest in the family. I do remember feeling very upset when my brothers got married and left home though. As Tina found, the excitement carries you along, but then you suddenly realise that they aren't ever coming back home. I felt really lonely being the only one left.

granny grimble said...

Thank you for visiting, I hope you are feeling a little better.
It's not only the younger members of the family that feel bad. I, as the bride, had very mixed feelings too. It felt very strange 'visiting' my parents and siblings. I no longer felt I belonged there, and had to ring the bell to be let in. I missed my Mum and Dad and all the siblings too. But life was very exciting!

Sandi McBride said...

I love reading about your life.

granny grimble said...

How kind of you to say so. Please call agai soon.It always surprises me that my ordinary life manages to stir up such interest :0)