Wasted Treasures

Stony Lane was one of my favourite places; it seemed to have lovely flowers and blackberries late. I didn’t go there on my own as far as I remember, but seemed to often be there with Dad, Maurice or the gang. One day I was out with Dad, and for once picked some magnificent buttercups along the lane and lagged behind. When we turned into Scholes Lane, I ran very fast to catch him and show my flowers, but unfortunately fell and really hurt my knees as the road had recently had big chippings spread. I always had a blackish mark on my right knee as a result, and I howled and howled. The thing that caused my heartbreak however was the sight of the smashed golden petals, smeared over the sharp granite chips.






Waiting for Dad

If I went out at the front of our house, I could see my Dad walking up the lane, coming from work, just where the shop and the tip were: so it was a very regular part of my day to stand beside a wall gazing down the lane to catch the first glimpse, and then run off to meet him. I liked it best when he wore his big gabardine Mac, with pockets that went right thorough, and I would go right inside it, and hold his hands in the pockets, walking home almost without being able to see where I was going. There was always a smell of sweet pipe-tobacco around him. He would buy a small amount each week, which had to be broken up and rubbed into shreds, on a piece of newspaper. I think that was a Saturday special treat. My Dad worked on Saturday mornings always, and in those days had one week off in summer to go on holiday. I always wanted my Dad to come home, I felt much happier then.


Frank Townsend Born 17 January 1899

Kept inside this wallet of his, are documents relating to Franks Service in World War 1 as a private in the 13 Durham Light Infantry. He enlisted at when he was 18 Halifax, on 28 March 1917, and was stationed at Boulogne in Northern France where the nearby hospital at Etaples was bombed on the night of 19 May 1918, until, after two years, 110 days, injuries led to his discharge from service.

I have added some links in the sidebar to websites related to the Durham Light Infantry, and the hospital at Etaples.

Frank’s Wallet

Postcard of Hospital at Etaples, no message

The Hospital at Etaples, after it had been bombed by German aircraft, on the night of 18/19 May 1918. The script below reads”The large red cross painted on the rofs, to warn aircraft of the nature of the buildings may be noted.” This is interesting, because, during my internet searches for information about his raid, I found a transcript of what seemed to be a hearing in which an official was accused of not having displayed the red cross on the roofs.

Postcard from Etaples showing ‘Les Matelottes a la Procession’

Back of Postcard dated January 5 1919, which reads “Dear Mother, I am keeping in the best of health, Here is another one, some Paris Fashions. Hope you are all keeping well. Will write later, love to all Frank.

Christmas Card form the Workers of the Walton Hut 1918

The card is dated 10 January 1919, and reads – Dear Mother, I am keeping in the best of health, and we are at present having decent weather. Have had a letter from Charlie, and he seems to be perking up fine. I think at the speed they are at present demobilising, that I shall soon be home. Love to all, Frank.

Franks Discharge Certificate

The Errand

Opposite the level, flowery patch of tip was a small shop which sold sweets and groceries – probably other things that didn’t register with me. When I had reached the age of four I was allowed to go there on errands and one time I was side-tracked on to the flowery tip before going to the shop, and lost my money. My errand was usually for a family bag of sweets, and a quarter pound of blackcurrant bon-bons which were blackcurrant ‘fussels’, I know not why. I hunted all over for the money, then went home and brought my Dad, it being a Saturday afternoon, but we failed to find the coin. I don’t remember whether we bought sweets after that, or sadly went home without, as money was really short and maybe there wasn’t another shilling.

Early Lessons never forgotten

Perhaps the boys tricked me at times, I don’t know – but on the whole they were very nice to me. They certainly encouraged the tomboy in me, and I was told that one mustn’t cry ever – if you hurt yourself you should laugh and hide the pain. Since I was three at the time, it surprises me that I simply accepted this and acted on it, and have always so far taken pain in silence- funny if the reason I have done so for 60 years is because my brother told me that was the right thing to do. He could have taught me to curse at pain instead and that would have made my life and me different. Such small bits of guidance can prove to be absorbed so deeply. Another thing I learned very young was that it’s not very clever to lose your temper – I had been playing all afternoon and was probably just about tired of it all, when the last straw reared its ugly head. I was playing with one of my favorite things, a set of thick cardboard squares, with round holes cut out in patterns, into which I placed little clay silvery painted balls to make pretty, geometric designs. Unfortunately, it was frustrating me in some way and I just got so cross with it that I flung the little balls about the room. My Dad came in from work while I was miserably crawling here and there trying to gather up my precious game, and he naturally came to help me, reaching into far corners and moving furniture – if I had lost any pieces I would be unable to complete the designs and was feeling rather desperate. Dad was calming me down all the time and I trusted that it would all be all right because he was on my side, but before we finished he pointed out that such dismay and effort to put things right were likely to result if one really gave in to temper. I thought I’d like to avoid such things in future. I thought my Dad would like me to do so. I knew that was the way he behaved and I very much wanted to be just the same.

Me and my Dad with Maurice at the beach