« Big Boy And Little Boy | Main | Chapter 3 »

The Day Before Yesterday: 4 - Two Painful Memories

...I sat down on a rug in front of the fire and proceeded to do this. I tugged at a stubborn little sock, trying to get each toe in the right place. I tugged too hard and my foot shot out in front of me and caught the teapot, that in turn fell onto the hearth, spilling its contents over one of my feet. I can still feel this pain of that moment...

Gladys Schofield recalls childhood disasters.

The next thing I will mention was not one of my memories. I was told my brother John spent most of his first twelve months annoyed with life and let his feelings be known, but after that period he turned out to be the most amusing, funny child. He could make everyone laugh and remained that way for the rest of his life.

It's funny how some memories remain while others just drift away. The painful ones always stay and that is just what my next one did, as it may not have happened if my baby brother had not caused my mother to have so many sleepless nights.

Dad always got up first, lighting the fire to warm the room before going to work. Mum had fallen asleep at last and not wanting to waken her, Dad said to Harold and Dorothy, "You can manage to get yourselves ready for school can't you?"

This wasn't a problem as they were twelve and thirteen at the time. One made a pot of tea and stood it on a ledge underneath the oven, while the other made the porridge.

I, of course, had wakened with the others although I was barely four and it was still a novelty putting my socks and shoes on. I sat down on a rug in front of the fire and proceeded to do this. I tugged at a stubborn little sock, trying to get each toe in the right place. I tugged too hard and my foot shot out in front of me and caught the teapot, that in turn fell onto the hearth, spilling its contents over one of my feet. I can still feel this pain of that moment.

My screams brought Mum downstairs quickly but not soon enough to stop me getting a badly scalded foot. She called the doctor, which was a slow job at the best of times. The telephone was not around much, certainly not in our district.

He arrived eventually and said my foot would be poisoned with the tea and I would have to have it scraped to the bone. My mum looked at him horrified and said, "You can't do that, she will be lame," but the doctor insisted this was the only way.

"I don't agree," Mum said, "leave her to me. I will take care of her myself."

"Then you can take the blame," the doctor said. "My method is the only way."

I know I spent weeks sitting in a baby's highchair, and it seemed ages before I could stand again.

Whatever Mum used, it slowly healed. I had a scar of course, as I have today, but I am not lame. And we changed doctors after that. I am forever grateful to my mother for making this stand. I know things have changed and we now have plastic surgery as treatment for burns and scalds.

I was glad when I was of age to go to school, having spent many lonely months waiting for this opportunity with only a baby brother for company. Although he wasn't quite two, he was already getting into mischief.

Dorothy accompanied me for a while. Her friends looked quite grown up. I was quite proud of the fact that I didn't cry though everything seemed so strange to me. It seemed such a long way, I thought we were never going to get there. We walked up one of those ginnels I spoke of earlier, and from there the school came into sight.

I was lucky to start school in summer, just a few weeks before the long holidays. There weren't any school dinners. We all went home for that. Mum always had a hot meal waiting for us on arrival. We got about one and a half hours break for dinner before the afternoon lessons began again.

The weeks went so quickly. It was no time at all before the cooler weather was here. We would often get wet travelling to school. Our cloakroom had steam-pipes running around outside. A long ladder hung from two brackets, about two feet from the floor.

One day we were all warming ourselves half sitting, half standing against the pipes waiting for the bell to ring to summons us to our morning classes. Whether one bracket was loose I do not know, but with a thump one end of the ladder fell down onto my foot - no not the scalded one, the other.

Am I going to be lame after all?, I thought, sobbing.

The senior girls gathered around in consternation and managed to raise the ladder enough to ease my foot out. It was very painful as they took me to the head mistress's office.

The head mistress was a buxom lady and must have been sixty. She had a jolly face, though I couldn't see why she was this way. They were not allowed to marry at that time. The law must have been changed about 1930 as one teacher changed her name from Miss to Mrs about that time. Miss Holdsworth must have been very dedicated to forego marriage and a family. In fact they all must have been.

Anyway to get back to my predicament, she scooped me up into her lap with soothing gestures to hush my sobs. She didn't have much room in that department. Her bosom prevented me from sitting up as she bent to remove my shoe and sock. She examined my pink little foot and after a while straightened up and declared, "Not broken, just bruised," and with a hug returned me to my sister.

After a few weeks of easing in at school, the new intakes spent part of their time having a good time in the playroom. This was a large room, equipped with all manner of toys. A double swing hung from a rafter across the ceiling like two little chairs. You sat back-to-back, and a piece of wood locked into place to keep you safe once you sat down. Play afternoon was Friday afternoon but new arrivals could play for a while if things got a little bewildering for them.

There was no pre-school education so it was hard for some children to adjust. In the playroom a large dolls' house stood in all its splendour, fully equipped with all the furnishings. This had been made by some of the senior boys, who after the age of seven moved from the infants department at this school to a school for boys further down the road. My brother Harold was one of the boys that joined in this effort. I spent many happy hours playing with it.

Categories

Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.