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The Day Before Yesterday: 32 – The Celebrity

Gladys Schofield tells of her special “starring’’ role on the day of the firm’s trip to Blackpool.

To read earlier chapters of Gladys’s story please click on The Day Before Yesterday in the menu on this page.

There was excitement in the weaving shed. We were going to get a trip to Blackpool, all expenses paid by the owner, Sir Emmanuel Hoyle. He had reached his seventieth birthday and everyone could celebrate with him. It would take three trains to dispatch everyone, they left from different stations in the suburbs and must have taken a lot of arranging.

It was September 1936. I was sixteen. To travel with my friends, I had to spend the night at Betty's home. We arranged to all meet outside Greenhead Park and then travel together to the main station. This all went to plan. We walked across the park and through the town gates. The early morning air was getting quite cool. It's a good job I was wearing my new oatmeal coloured coat and brown beret.

We reached the station, the platform was crowded already. It seemed as though everyone had decided to take this train. On reaching the edge of this group of people, we got a better view of what all the commotion was about. Reporters were everywhere, and the 'Big Man' himself was here in the midst of it. He had come to see us off.

Our little group stood together watching all this as the reporters and cameramen had a field day. Then a voice said, "Which one of you young ladies will wish Sir Emmanuel many happy returns?" Could this man be addressing us? We were all for taking one step back.

"You can do it, go on Gladys," said Betty giving me a little push. All eyes were on me now, so I stepped up to the Big Man and took his outstretched hand and wished him many happy returns and thanked him for his kindness in giving us this trip.

He in turn said, "We will celebrate every birthday from now on."
Breakfast was ready as soon as we got on to the train. Such a choice. We had bacon and eggs, tomatoes, fruit juice. We had worked up an appetite and had never seen such a spread before. We finished with coffee (white of course).

On our return journey we had dinner the same way. We had a great day in the sunshine. It was so exciting. It was quite late when I caught my bus home.

I couldn't understand why everyone seemed to be smiling and staring at me. Had I changed so much since this morning? It was not until I got home that I understood why I had attracted so much attention. I had completely forgotten my early morning fame. There I was on the front page of our newspaper shaking hands with Sir Emmanuel. I didn't know where to put myself.

But Dad was proud of me and said it was an honour, so I sheepishly went to work next morning to more smiles and greetings. I received a very large copy of the photograph free, as they said I was a celebrity. Everyone else had to pay.

The park I mentioned seemed to be the centre of attraction at weekends and holidays. Not many could afford a holiday away. They could spend a whole day in the park with the family. I often went with my friends. A boating lake and paddling pool seemed to be the main attractions for families. The children could get donkey rides just like the seaside. An aviary and greenhouses were very interesting.

Some of the younger set used this as a meeting place, parading in their Sunday best, hoping to create an impression with the opposite sex. Picnics were enjoyed on the grassy verges near the flower beds. As the years went by, they seemed to get more fussy and tiny signs would appear saying, "Please keep off the Grass".

One day during our holidays as my friends and I spent a day there, Marion said, "Why don't we all save up and go away on holiday next year. We could go to Blackpool for a whole week.”

We all agreed to talk to our parents about this. Marion didn't have a mother. She died when she was quite young. Her father had cared for her, with the help of his sister. She was more independent than the rest of us, saying she would make all the necessary inquiries and costs.

I waited until she had all the facts before I put it to Mum. I knew I would have to save most of the money myself. Marion had estimated we would need five pounds each to cover travel, boarding house and spending money. I had done my figures and reckoned if I saved half my pocket money I could save three pounds.

I approached Mum and said, "Could I have a holiday next year if I save most of it myself?" Of course Mum wanted to know the whole story. My brother Harold was listening to this conversation, and Mum said, "If you can save three pounds, I will give you one more pound."

"But I can't save any more, Mum," I pleaded.

At this point my brother interrupted by saying, "I will give you another pound, Glad, if you manage to save the three." So that was settled.

Unbeknown at this time Beaty and Betty's parents had refused to allow their daughters to go, so only Marion and I began to save for a whole year.

I had set myself a very hard target but was determined to reach my object and really deprived myself of some of the little luxuries I had got so used to since having money of my own. Mum bought all my clothes so I didn't go short that way and soon became used to managing with about half of the money I had before. Marion's money was guaranteed as her dad would see she was alright and apart from my thriftiness, life went on as usual.

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