Memories of Miriam Alma Moyle
(nee Martin) 1909 - 2000
My father was one of three children born to William and Ada Martin. He had a sister, Edith Mary, who married Henry Pascoe in 1898 and a younger brother, William, who emigrated to the United States of America in 1907 at the age of 19. On my father's side, I had three first cousins - Aunt Edie had two daughters, Ada and Irene and Uncle Willie had one son, Anson. I never met or knew anything about Anson because our families lost contact in the 1920s. Ada married Dinnis Medland in 1924 and lived in Bude for most of her life until she died in 1993. Irene married Melville Nicholls of Trelan in 1929 and is still living at Trelan . I was a bridesmaid at both of their weddings.
My mother's family lived in St.Keverne village in a thatched house in Trelyn Lane, now called Coombe Cottage but in those days called Begonia Cottage. My mother was the next youngest child of William John and Mary Jane Nicholls (nee Tripcony). There were eight children altogether but I only knew her sister, Auntie Gladys, and her brother, Uncle Richard. Four of her brothers died before I was born and her sister, Auntie Lylie, lived at Voguebeloth in Illogan with Uncle John Downing but she died in 1918 at the age of 41. My grandmother Nicholls died in January 1917 and I remember her funeral. Grandma Martin took me up into one of Tregoning fields from which we had a good view of the churchyard; she was buried in the Nicholls family grave
On my mother's side, I had four first cousins, the children of Uncle Richard - Ruby, who died aged 13 in 1919 following heart trouble as a result of rheumatic fever, and three boys, Rex, Dickie and Hannibal. Rex died in 1976 and Dickie in 1975 but Hannibal is living at Newtown, St.Martin.
The Martin family lived at Tregoning until 1924. It was a lovely farm house with five bedrooms, a huge landing and two staircases. The back stairs came down into the kitchen and was canvas covered but the front stairs came down into the sitting room and was carpeted and only used by visiting friends. In the big kitchen was a Cornish range or slab which had to be black leaded and the brass polished every week. The oven had to be taken out about once a month for cleaning out. This was a large contraption, covered in soot, soot flying everywhere. Then a "wad" of straw would be put into the pit left by the removal of the oven and a match put to it. Up she'd go with sparks flying up the chimney and smoke billowing everywhere outside. After this marathon event, all the ornaments on the mantelpiece had to be washed.
We had, in addition to the kitchen, a sitting room, a parlour ! and a music room. In this room my father, who was the bandmaster at St.Keverne, would hold practice for the young members of the band , so on a couple of night in the week I would go to bed with a musical accompaniment. Every Sunday evening Auntie Edie came down and, while the grown ups chatted, Irene and I would play around the house. One favourite game involved the leather sofa with its head piece. I would sit on this and Irene would pull me by my legs and I would shoot off the end of the sofa. Then we would change places and this fun continued until we got too rowdy, when Grandpa Martin would tell us off in no uncertain terms. "Stop that noise you two".
I always had plenty to entertain me at Tregoning. My father put a see - saw in the mowhay and a swing in a tree in the Long field. There was a large pond at the bottom of the lane where the village boys came to sail their boats or to catch eels. I would join them and all went well until one of them said or did something to annoy me. Then I would order them off my property and they would scarper up Well Lane. Bossy in those days !!!
One of the highlights at Tregoning was threshing time. The evening before threshing day, the engine would be pulled by four horses into the mowhay and slowly manoeuvred into place. Irene and I would stand on the hedge to watch this event. On threshing day itself, I was allowed a day off school - perhaps this is why I remember it so well.
After school, other village children would rush down the lane and come to Tregoning. On one occasion, Edgar Norrish, the local policeman's son, was by some means or another cheeky to me but I was the boss on threshing day. I was not taking any cheek, policeman's son or not, so I grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and shoved his head in the barrel of oily water which was kept for use with the engine. Edgar went up Well Lane screeching all the way. See, bossy again !!!
Around my bedroom window was a pear tree and, each night in the pear season when I went to bed, I could pick a pear. The William pears were stored for the winter when we would have them stewed. There was a very big orchard, full of apple trees, with a lovely river at the bottom which flowed into the pond.
Mentioning the river and the pond reminds me of a story when I was at St.Keverne school. My school friends were Enid Matthews who lived at Chenale, Marjorie Wearne whose parents kept the Three Tuns and Queenie Coad who lived at Treleague House, just above Tregoning fields.
I usually walked home with Queenie after school and, sometimes, we would beg a cigarette from either Donald Uren, Edward Rogers or Willie Renfree. We would smoke these on the way down Well Lane and then wash our mouths out in the river to get rid of the smell on our breath. This continued until someone told us that Maria Sawyer, who lived at Laddenvean, used to empty her slop bucket in the river. This finished the smoking escapade!!
Many of the days in the summer holidays were spent at Chenale with Enid. We would walk to the beach at Godrevy across the three fields from the farm and, sometimes, I would stay overnight. It was wonderful to sleep in a four poster bed with all the drapes attached. I cannot remember the year but there was a wreck at Godrevy and Enid and I decided that we would like to go aboard and have a good look around. This we duly did but never for one moment did we think that anyone would see us. However, we forgot that Mr.Tettemburn would be on the look out from his bungalow high up on the cliff top at Manacle Point. He had seen movement on board the vessel and assumed that someone was up to no good. We were caught and got a strong telling off. Enid and I shared digs together when we went to Helston Grammar School but more of those days later.
I can recall having been told by my mother of an incident which happened when I was about two or three years old. It was at the time of the two day chapel Christmas Bazaar with which Grandma Martin was heavily involved. It was decided that, rather than taking me home to Tregoning, I should stay overnight with Auntie Gladys and Grandmother Nicholls at Begonia Cottage. All went well to start off with - I went to bed, good as gold, at the appropriate time, for I was " a good child, could put her anywhere". At about 3 a.m. I woke up quite refreshed from several hours of sleep and demanded to be taken to "Doning". Everything available was put into action to pacify me and induce further sleep but I would have none of it. I wanted "Doning". Auntie Gladys pushed me in the pram to Tregoning where my mother was not happy to be rudely awakened at such an hour. I don't think that my father complained though - throughout my life, I could not do any wrong in his opinion. Many was the time that he caught me doing something that I should not be doing and I'd say " I suppose that you will tell Mummie". To which he would reply, "I shall the next time" but the next time never came.
I remember very clearly my days at school, first at St.Keverne and then in Helston. On my very first day in the Infant class, Carina Rickard, who now lives at Ponsongath, took me to school. Looking back, some of my days in the Infants were not always happy memories. I remember the day that my father was called to Bodmin for a medical examination to see if he were fit enough to be called up into the British army. I spent most of the day in class with my head on my hands, crying, because I did not want my dad going off to war. When asked by Miss Boaden the reason for this crying, I replied that I had got earache. Although he passed A1, my father was not called up because of his farm duties and because of Grandpa Martin's age.
On another occasion I wanted to go to the toilet, so, following the usual procedure, I raised my hand but Miss Boaden took no notice whatsoever. By this time I was getting desperate so, in addition to the raised hand, I started to make "sssss" noises to attract her attention. Only to hear her say "Will the person makimg the traction engine noises please sit down ?", which was the last thing I wanted to do.
Our teacher in the middle school was Lewis Hayden from Porthallow and, sometimes, on his journey to school through the fields, including Tregoning Long field, our paths would cross. If caught, I would be nabbed to carry his lunch basket into Mrs.Kelly's house in the village; she was his cousin and he ate his lunch there. I tried to avoid him at all costs!! Mr.Hayden was best remembered for his pointer, a six inch long stick with a pointed end, and he had a terrible habit of digging you in the ribs with it. While in his class, on one occasion, I was reading my Sunbeam comic in the private reading lesson when Willie Renfree snatched Sunbeam from my hand and in doing so tore a piece out. Quick as a flash I grabbed his hand and bit it but ,just as quickly, Lew Tink's pointer came into operation.
When we reached standard six, our teacher was the Headmaster, Mr. Tom Whale. We had a great deal of respect for him but he told me, many times, that his life was made all the harder by his three terrors - Marjorie Wearne, Enid Matthews and Miriam Martin. We would get into trouble for talking to or listening to the boys in the row behind us ( Donald Uren, Edward Rogers and Willie Renfree usually) and Mr.Whale would shout and throw the chalky duster at us. More often than not, this flying object would hit my glasses and I would get the full benefit of the chalk.
Before I relate some of the many stories about school days in Helston, there are two tales about my early days which I remember particularly, one very sad and one exciting. After school, I would regularly walk home with Queenie Coad and we often went to each other's house to play. Her home, Treleague House, was at the top of the hill going out of Laddenvean towards Porthallow and we could get there across the fields from Tregoning. Her mother, Annie Coad, was a cousin of my mother's. However, things changed at Treleague in January 1921 for Queenie's father, Dick Coad, who was suffering from depression, murdered her mother and then drowned himself in the water tank by the garage. After that episode, I felt uneasy when Queenie suggested that we go and play in the garage because I could always visualise Dick Coad in the tank. This incident really upset my father because the Coad's were our friends and nearest neighbours. Sadly, too, Queenie was later killed in a car accident while crossing Goss Moor on the A30 in 1939.
The other story involves Grandma Martin . Although the rest of the family went to St.Keverne Parish church where my father and grandfather were bellringers, Grandma always went to the Methodist chapel and was one of the convenors for the bazaar tea. She did this job for years, along with Mrs.Ellen Semmens from Tregellast. The chapel bazaar was a two day event - Boxing day and the day after - and money needed to be collected to go towards the cost of the tea. This usually took place in early November and had to be done in the evenings when the farm work was completed. This was exciting for I would go with Grandma on her round of visiting. We would set off with a candle lantern and on the first evening would go to Porthoustock and Rosenithon, followed by the outlying farms on the second evening.
Sunday was a very busy day in our house. I always spent my Sundays with Grandfather Nicholls and Auntie Gladys and in the afternoon, after Sunday School, read the Sunday Companion and the Christian Herald. I went to morning and afternoon Sunday School and to two church services, morning and evening. Auntie Gladys played the church organ and both my parents and I sang in the church choir, as did Uncle Richard from Laddenvean. Mum and I were sopranos and my father a tenor. We were members of the Parish Church until 1922 and then, after a disagreement with Parson Norris, together with three other families (including the Moyle - Exelby clan) left the church and changed over to the Methodist chapel. Daddy and I were soon invited to join the choir by Mr.Stuart Rule and I now look back over a 74 year connection with the chapel.
At the Methodist Sunday School my teachers were Mrs.Mabel Rule and Miss Katie Giles while Mrs.Bessie Sowell was responsible for organising the annual prize giving concerts. She was a lovely lady and loved by all the youngsters. We practised in the "Ark" for such things as "The Mistletoe Bough " and "Jack and the Beanstalk"; I was one of the soloists and Irene the accompanist. In the chapel choir my father regularly sang the tenor solos while I sang the soprano ones. The choir was strong in those days and sang all the well known cantatas such as Stainer's "Crucifixion ", "Olivet to Calvary" and "Manger to Cross" as well as excerpts from the Messiah. As years went by, I became Deputy organist and , in 1963 when the Rule family left St.Keverne for Salisbury, took over as organist. I played the chapel organ for two services every Sunday up until 1992 and since then have continued to play for the evening service.
I became involved in all the chapel events, including the Christmas Bazaar where I started off at the lower end by being in charge of the Lucky Dip. I was then promoted a degree higher to the choir stall and ended up organising the cake stall which I continued to do until we stopped having a bazaar in the late 1980s. The two day bazaar which I mentioned earlier always ended with evening entertainment, consisting of half hour concerts. These were held in the Infants Room and my dad was the door keeper and we each paid six pence to go in. These concerts attracted a lot of local talent and on several occasions Peter Sandry, the well known comedian from Helston, came and did a turn. My cousin Ada, home on holiday from College, would play the piano for the soloists; she was an accomplished pianist and could sight read any piece of music. After her marriage in 1924 and departure for Bude, I took over from her and became the official accompanist.
In 1924 I was ordered to bed by our local doctor, Dr.Spry, with a heart murmur and from January until March had to have complete bed rest. I was never lonely as my friends and relatives each had their visiting days. Auntie Gladys came every evening and Uncle Richard every Sunday morning, while Misses Katie and Thirza Giles, Aunt Edie, the Moyle boys (Hugo, Charlie, Percy and Billie) and Mr.Sidney Retallack were regular callers, while Irene spent every weekend with me. Talking of Sidney reminds me of when I was quite a young girl . Sidney was quite a heavy drinker and would go home to Laddenvean via Tregoning. Many was the time that I escorted Sidney up the lane to the main gate as he rambled from side to side but he was a lovely man.
But to get back to my story. When I was able to get out of bed and start getting back to normal, I remember one incident very clearly because of its sad consequences. On the first Sunday that I was well enough to attend chapel, my parents and I had reached the top of Well Lane when John Thomas went by at a terrific speed on his motor bike. My father made a remark that he would get himself killed if he continued driving that fast. By the time we had reached the shop opposite the Manse, we met the horse and trap bringing Mr.and Mrs. Walford Lambrick to chapel. Sadly, on Laddenvean bridge John Thomas had been going so fast that he had collided with the Lambricks and died instantly. This was in May 1924.
In 1921 I went to Helston Grammar School. In those days we had to take an entrance exam which I failed but I went as a fee paying pupil. Enid went at the same time and we lodged from Monday to Friday with Mrs.Thomas at 10, Meneage Road. She was a very kind lady but I think that we led her a dance because of the things that we got up to. For example, on one occasion she said that in the coming Easter holidays she was going to transfer us to her front bedroom where there would be more room for us. So, on one of her prayer meeting evenings, Enid and I decided that we did not want to wait until Easter for the move. No time like the present!! So we started the transfer. All Mrs.Thomas's clothes were put in our back bedroom wardrobe and ours put in hers in the front. When she came back from the prayer meeting, all had been organised and was under control. She was very keen to take us to these meetings but we always made the excuse that we had too much homework. I think she decided that we were past redeeming.
At one time a hypnotist came to Helston and he hypnotised a man from the town _ I think his name was Littlewood. Anyway, we were told at school not to visit the Godolphin Hall because that was where Littlewood was lying in his hypnotic state. Of course, what did a crowd of us do ? We visited the Godolphin Hall to see Littlewood - he looked very pale but peaceful !!! That night, Enid and I were sitting in the front room doing our homework and Mrs. Thomas had gone to her prayer meeting. This evening it was Enid's turn to go into the back kitchen to clean the shoes. She was well into this chore when I shouted " Littlewood is coming" She shot in exceeding any speed limit and kicked over the ink bottle which was on the floor (no biros in those days). The ink spattered on the painted skirting and over the lino. Thank goodness that it wasn't carpet. Then we had the cleaning up to do before Mrs.Thomas returned from the prayer meeting, a really marathon task but we coped and by the time she arrived home everything was okay - she never knew!
We went to school on Monday mornings in John Williams' bus - an elderly man, Joe Southey, who travelled to Helston market every Monday always shouted when the bus stopped for us to get off "Change for school". On Monday when our money was flush we visited a small shop in Wendron Street to buy pieces of broken chocolate and in the evening go to the cinema. Then while funds lasted and after we had done our homework, we would go to Lawrence's fish and chip shop, perhaps two or three times during the week. Chips only, I hasten to say - funds would not rise to fish as well. There we would meet two school boys, Arthur Pollard and Sidney James; they were good fun to be with.
While at Helston school, I danced in the first ever children's' 10 o'clock dance on Flora day and my musical debut was made in the Godolphin Hall one speech day concert. I had a strong soprano voice and was given the part of the "King" in a play written by the same author who wrote Pride and Prejudice (I remembered the name of the writer yesterday but at the moment its gone). However, I remember a few words which I bellowed across the hall " Then the brow of the King flushed crimson, with a flash of angry scorn. Well have ye spoken my daughter ?" I've forgotten the rest.
There was no bus to bring us home on Fridays, so my dad, Enid's dad and Dennis Hosking's dad (Dennis lived on a farm near Tregoning) came to meet us. We would start walking out from Helston until we met one or the other , whosever turn it was to come for us. Sometimes we would have a lift with someone going our way. On one occasion Mr.Edward Rowe from Porthallow picked us up. Now he was very posh, well educated and was the headmaster of Porthallow school. He drove a pony and jingle. Well, anyway, rather in awe of riding with such a person we couldn't think of anything to say. Eventually, I said "Foggy, isn't it?" Enid hooted with laughter as the fog was as thick as a bag.
In school we had a lovely shiny banister and at every opportunity I would slide down this and, as sure as you're born, there would be a prefect or a teacher at the bottom when I landed. We had one teacher, a real lady, called Miss Wright who had been educated at Girton College. She would never open a door and, after a lesson, would wait for one of the boys to do this for her. Out of sheer devilment they would make her wait.
I stayed in school for dinners. These were supervised by Fanny - when my cousin Ada was at school, she was the headmistress, Fanny Baldwin. She married the headmaster, Rev.Hayden, and they lived in a lovely house on Church Hill. Irene was at school at the same time as I was but she lodged with a Mrs.White and her daughter, May. Enid and I kept up our piano practice by going to a Mrs.Pascoe's in Meneage Street. I had several years of music with a Mrs. Woodcock and then a Miss Rothwell who later married Bentley Tripp.
I was friendly with May White and she used to come out to St.Keverne to spend the weekend with me for our Harvest Festival and I would stay in Helston for hers. This we did until 1930 when she married the Rev. Cyrus Burge. I went to her wedding. Over the years May and I lost contact but in May of this year (1996) we saw her ninetieth birthday in the Methodist Recorder. She lives in a residential home in Wales but I contacted the home and now we have chats over the phone. May was the one who brought another person into my life by introducing me to a Methodist minister, Rev. Billie Gilbert, who was stationed in Helston. We became friends and eventually got engaged. The engagement lasted for three years but then, in today's jargon, we decided that we were incompatible and broke up.
I have been jumping ahead of myself but I must come back to my younger and teenage years. When my cousin Rex and I were eleven we went to Redruth to stay with a cousin, Ada Johns. She had a large guest house overlooking the market. This house had long passages and dark corners and Rex delighted in hiding and then jumping out at me, frightening me. We used to go from Redruth by wagonnette to the beach at either Portreath or Porthtowan. The following year I went to Ada's on my own and had a holiday with her niece Gwen who was staying there at the same time.
I have just remembered another story to do with my days at Tregoning. During the harvest time, Bert Rogers always came up from Rosenithon to help my dad with the carrying of the corn. To get to one of our fields was a very rough cart track. When the wagon was empty, Irene and I together with any other children from the village, would ride out with Bert to this field. He would whip up the horses and drive like fury over this rough road. Wee would be bumping up and down but the best part was when we were allowed to ride on the top of the last load in.
We also had fields near Manacle View and, when the horses were required to work in one of these, I was allowed to ride on a horse through the village. It was only a cart horse but I felt very superior looking down on my school pals. In 1924 my grandparents retired and went to live with Aunt Edie at Alexandra Villa and we moved from Tregoning to Trelyn. I was 15 and another set of memories come flooding back.
Dr.Spry at this time was running Thursday evening dance classes and, once a month, "long night dances" from 8 o'clock until 2 a.m. On Thursdays we also had chapel choir practice, so Mr.Frank Rule and I used to rush to the dance class straight from practice. When it was the long night dance I used to sleep at Alexandra Villa with Irene and, even after she married in 1929, I continued to sleep there on a Thursday. I was also friendly with Doff Furkin who lodged with Aunt Edie and who was a dispenser at the surgery.
In my dance days I had a boy friend called Dunstan Mitchell. I think that I only chose him because he was a good dancer. Also his mother gave super Christmas parties to which I got invited. At one time I was keen on Bob Richards - he was a bus conductor and I would always make a point of being in the village when the nine o'clock bus came in. Bob would then walk me home to Trelyn. One evening, when we were at the end of the lane leading into Trelyn farm, my daddy came on the scene and said that he thought that it was time I was in. I replied with the usual phrase "Now, I suppose that you will tell Mummy". But he never did. Little did he know that that same evening, as I was sleeping at Aunt Edie's because of our summer visitors at Trelyn, that I met Bob at the top field gate !!!
We took summer visitors at Trelyn for many years and I still keep in touch with some of them. The Robinson family came on several occasions and I still write to their daughter, Joyce. One visitor, Jessie Hayes,actually had her baby with us while staying at Trelyn and I still write to that "baby" Patrick Hayes who is now in his sixties and living in Australia with his family.
At about the same time my Mum was taken ill and was diagnosed as having pernicious anaemia. Glenys Caddy came to help out with the visitors and after several years she was followed by Lorna Evans. Our local doctor, Dr.Spry, was a very kind man; for several evenings when my mother was poorly he would walk down across the fields to chat with her and, as she improved, he came during the day and often played a game of bagatelle. Don't get this consideration these days. In my teenage years my circle of friends grew. There were still Enid, Queenie and Margery but, in addition, I became friendly with Winnie Rogers from Treglohan, Winnie Lory, Edna Moore and May Cogar. May lived at Porthoustock and every evening after Rule's shop closed Winnie (Lory) and I would walk part of the way back home with May. Then we would come back and I would go in with Winnie; she had four brothers, Bill, Dick, Edgar and Henry and every Friday evening I washed the three younger boy's hair. One summer, when we had visitors at Trelyn, I slept at Winnie's house.
Some time later, May Cogar moved to Helston to work and Edna Moore came into Rule's shop in her place. Edna lived at Lanarth as her father was the chauffeur to P.D.Williams, the squire of the parish. So then we would cycle home with Edna. I spent nearly every Sunday with Edna at her home - her mother was a lovely lady. We'd go there every Christmas, my parents and I, and the Moores would come back to Trelyn early in the New Year.
Winnie Rogers and I were close friends. I was Matron of Honour at her wedding at St.Keverne chapel in 1936. This friendship continued even after she moved to Christchurch to start her married life. We have had many holidays with her in Christchurch and we still, after sixty years, correspond on a weekly basis.
In the late 1920s Gwen Keast came to St.Keverne as her step father, Percy Job, was appointed the village policeman. We became friends, especially when we left Trelyn in 1940 and came to the village to live. Gwen ( by now Gwen Foreman) lived in the next cottage to us down Well Lane and we remained friends until her death in 1988. What of my other friends? Enid married a naval officer but, sadly, died in childbirth in 1941. Queenie was killed in a car accident in 1939 and Marjorie died of T.B. in 1949. Winnie Lory died in 1995 and Edna earlier this year. May Cogar died a few years back in Helston.
Having reminisced about friends and relations, we now come to the crux of my story - Billie Moyle - the young boy who, with his aforementioned brothers, Hugo, Charlie and Percy, used to visit me during my illness at Tregoning. He joined my Dad' s band and so came to Tregoning and then to Trelyn for band practice. Then he used to visit in the evenings to play euchre and gradually wormed his way into my affections. We were married on 3 October 1935 at Helston Wesley by Rev. James Lewis and went to Torquay and Bude for our honeymoon.
At this time Billie worked at Porthoustock quarry in charge of loading stone. I remember a story, not long after we were married, which has nothing to do with his work, except indirectly. Harold Uren, who lived at the top of the hill in Treskewes Road, always walked across the fields to Trelyn to meet Billie for a lift in the car down to Porthoustock. One Sunday morning Harold arrived and I said " Why are you here today? " To which he replied "We are going badger hunting". If there had been a roof available, I think that I would have hit it !! " No husband of mine is going badger hunting on a Sunday, Harold Uren". And that was final!!! For ever after that, Harold always good humouredly called me "goo goo badger".
There was always plenty to do in St.Keverne throughout my life. I have already mentioned activities to do with the chapel, the choir and the dance classes. I should also mention the chapel tennis club which flourished in the 1920s. The members included Stuart and Frank Rule, Irene and Auntie Gladys, Ella Bunster, Sidney and Janie Roberts, Doff Furkin , Florence Birkbeck (the minister's daughter) and Katie Giles. Our courts were first in a field at Treglohan and, later, at Trelyn. St.Keverne Agricultural Show (Show Fair) was one of the highlights of the calendar. It started at 10 a.m. when the village band led the procession to a field near Treskewes farm, to be followed by the judging of the cattle and, in the afternoon the horses and the show jumping. We always had tea on this occasion with Auntie Edie at Alexandra Villa when it was "open house" and everyone was welcome to come along. We also had a village sports day; we had some very good athletes in those days , especially Percy Eustice and, later, his nieces Muriel and Mavis Retallack. I think it is a pity that these two events have died out.
Some time later I started the village youth club which I went on to run for seventeen years. At one time we had over forty teenage members. I remember that during the War when there was rationing I was granted extra supplies and every Tuesday I would make meringues and a huge sponge for club that evening. I would often meet some of the members around the village and they would say "What about the meringues, Mrs.Moyle?" We visited other clubs in the area and on one occasion attended a youth rally at Porthleven. We held dances in the parish room and local personnel from the local army and naval camps attended. In later years I had the help of Bill Lee, the headmaster of St.Keverne school. On my retirement I received a very nice letter from the County Education officer thanking me for my hard work over such a long time.
In 1944 the St.Keverne Male Voice Choir was formed and I was appointed the accompanist with Billie as the choir secretary. We were very successful in our early years at competing at Cornwall Music Festivals and were the only choir to win the Bolitho Shield three years in succession.
We toured Cornwall and Devon giving concerts and, in later years, travelled as far afield as South Wales. Some of our choir members sang on two occasions at the Albert Hall in London at Cornish Concerts. I had 51 marvellous years with the choir and until my illness in 1992 had never missed a choir concert engagement. Until Billie retired from Culdrose in 1975 and we started to take annual holidays of some length, I never missed a choir practice. When we both retired from the choir in 1995 we were presented with a painting.For over 70 years I have been involved with the musical life of St.Keverne but I played an active part in other village activities as well. I remember the Silver Jubilee celebrations for King George V and Queen Mary in 1935 when we had our first ox roast and the coronations of King George VI in 1937 and of our present Queen in 1953.
In September 1942 when I was pregnant I had to go into Helston hospital for treatment for too much albumen in the blood and this necessitated a diet until Terry was born in December 1942. After he was born, he was too lazy to feed and Matron said to me that she hoped his father had a good job as she could never see this baby earning his living. How wrong she was!! I was very fortunate that having a baby did not deter me from my other activities for Terry was quite happy staying with my mother whom he called "Ugga". This was the first word he ever spoke,
I have forgotten to mention earlier that in 1940 we left Trelyn and moved into a cottage on the corner of Well Lane. I hated to see our farm animals go under the auctioneer's hammer but my Dad's health was not good. !947 was not a good year for us as a family - Billie's mother died in January, my Dad died at the end of March, Auntie Gladys died two weeks later and in November we lost Auntie Susie from Laddenvean (Uncle Richard's wife).
However, I do not want to finish off on a sad note because Billie and I have celebrated two very special anniversaries in recent years. In October 1985 we celebrated our Golden Wedding when, with thirty relatives and friends, we had a dinner at the Bay Hotel, Coverack. The actual anniversary date, 3 October, coincided with the Harvest Supper at the chapel and the members put on a special "do". The room was decorated and a poem was written making reference to our life together and all the activities with which we were connected in the village. Billie's cousins, Merle and Ted Barnes, even came over from Australia to join in the celebrations.
In October of last year we went ten years better and celebrated our Diamond Wedding Anniversary with an "Open House" on the actual date and a "get together" in the Methodist Hall on the Saturday following when about 150 friends and relations attended. We invited all the Moyle, Nicholls and Martin relatives to make it a real get - together and I am pleased to say that many of them were able to attend. Billie's sister Edna, aged 91, came with her family as did his brother Charlie, aged 90, with his. Our sister in law, Valerie, Percy's widow who lives next door and our nephews and nieces from Mabe,St.Columb and St.Austell, the children of Billie's brother Percy and sister Ethel, were there. My family is much smaller but Brian and Mary, Irene's son and daughter from Trelan, and my Nicholls cousins, Hannibal and Vera from St.Martin, Mary and Basil Mitchell from the village, Russell and Susie Hocking from Laddenvean and Edna James (nee Moore) represented my side.
Talking of Hannibal and Russell reminds me of another story from the past. When Hannibal and his brothers Rex and Dickie lived at home with their parents, my Uncle Richard and Auntie Mary Nicholls at Laddenvean, they had a gramophone. This was not an old "His Master's Voice" type with a huge horn but a very posh square table top model. After chapel on a Sunday evening, my parents and I would be invited to Laddenvean to hear, or so they would say, one of their new records, a sacred one recorded by a famous singer of the day such as Paul Robeson. Auntie Mary's mother, Granny Pentecost, would enter and say "Good evening Mr. And Mrs. Martin, good evening Miriam". She would then sit down, bolt upright, something in the style of the manner in which Queen Mary used to sit. The boys would put the record on - not in the remotest way sacred - but the loudest, jazziest record you could imagine. Granny would scream " Sacrilege ! Shameful ! I won't listen to it". Then the boys would hoot with laughter. It was a shame as she was a dear old soul.
As I sit and think back over the years, I remember so many people that I have known. I can recall the names of the choir members at the chapel when Daddy , Billie and I joined in 1922. As time went on some moved away but others came in to replace them. The names that come to mind are the two Jimmie Rogers's, Frank Rule (senior), Sidney Roberts, Bill Hodge, Bert Rogers, Lewis Morrish, Arthur Skewes, Johnnie Eustice, John Pearce (grocer), Sidney Retallack and William James (shoemaker from Laddenvean) . The women included Nellie Evans, Annie Retallack, Margaret, Susie and Gwen Eustice, Winnie Rogers, Winnie Lory, Lily Rogers, Janie, Annie and Nora Hocking, Ethel Hodge, Janie Rothwell, Renie Rogers, Gertie James, Emily Eddy and Susie and Effie Gilbert ( from Trembraze).
When I was first in the chapel choir, we had a Minister's wife called Mrs.Peet and she caught the young members of the choir talking and giggling during prayer time. This dear lady called around to have a serious chat with us and to remind us of the need to close our eyes and be quiet during prayer time. Well, we had had a little committee meeting beforehand and had decided on our line of defence. It went along these lines. "Well, Mrs.Peet, if you had your eyes closed you would not have been able to see what we were doing". Case closed for the defence!!
After evening service we all loved the short prayer meeting which was good for a laugh especially if Mr.Willey from Chywoon was asked to pray. He would start and go like an express train getting faster and faster. Then suddenly, like a deflated balloon, he would fade away and sit down.
Now at the age of 86 with memories covering much of the Twentieth Century, I have decided to put my recollections down on paper . Billie and I are one of the few couples left that were born and bred in St.Keverne village and, together, we can recount many tales of village life from an age which has long gone. We have seen many changes but have spent happy lives, including 61 as husband and wife.
The following are a few after-thoughts
When I was about ten years of age, my mother, Auntie Gladys and I set off for Helston in the pony and jingle. When we got to what is now the Community Hospital, a farm implement passed by making a loud noise at which the pony took fright and bolted. She galloped, kicking in the front of the jingle quite beyond control, all along Meneage Road and into the centre of Meneage Street, when (and I can still see him) a sailor threw off his cap, made a dash and grabbed the pony. He held on for several yards before bringing her to a halt. We were all badly shaken and Mummy had dislocated her shoulder in her attempt to help control the pony. We went into a little shop kept by a Mrs.Tresise.
While living at Tregoning, every Saturday morning I had to take a jug of milk to Bessie Lory who was our landlady and lived at the end of the lane. I always had a biscuit and a glass of fizzy drink of some kind. My mother always went out to her and they iced their Christmas cakes together. Her pantry always smelt of pickled onions although I never saw any.
The stories above and those to follow happened in the days before my fifteenth birthday. It is quite a tale as to how I came to have my piano. Two men lived at Laddenvean in the house by the bridge, Mr. Penfold and Mr.Loman, and they went to London and purchased a piano but when it arrived at Laddenvean they could not get it into either room as the doorways were too small. So they offered it to Daddy for £40. He accepted and went to Helston to draw out the cash, all the money, every penny that they had. A lot of money in those days. Hence my piano.
Now to my days in the Parish Church. Every Easter the church was beautifully decorated and, prior to the Sunday, generally the day before Good Friday, a few of us were allocated to go and pick primroses. On our return from this tedious task, we would go into Auntie Gladys', bunch the flowers and be rewarded with a smashing tea consisting of her Easter buns. Now may I add, no one has ever made buns like hers. They were flat, round, the size of a tea plate and glazed on the top. I think that she put beer in her glazing and plenty of saffron !
I wasn't ever allowed to go out to Laddenvean to play with the children. I have never known why, for on my own sometimes could be very lonely. This was compensated sometimes by a trip there to William James' shoe makers shop, either with a pair of shoes for repair or with a message. I loved listening to his stories. He would hold all the sprigs in his mouth and then spit them out one by one on to the lathe. He'd make boots and shoes of the finest leather - a grand old man.
Irene and I loved going to Porthoustock to see Miss Jessie Hill, a step sister to Annie Old who was a Titanic survivor and a friend of my mothers, Miss Hill had a lovely garden behind her cottage where we would play. She would bring out our tea. This was usually a weekly event in the holidays.
Transport ! Bill's bus - a very posh affair with red velvet cushions and Peggy, Bill's sister, riding on the step. She wore a boater, like a man's, only it was black and I don't think that she ever combed her hair; it was all matted. There was rivalry between Bill's and Pentecost's, whose bus could set off first and who had the most passengers. Bill's horses were never as young or robust as the oppositions which meant that when we got to Rosevear Hill all senior passengers had to get out and walk. On coming back into the bus Peggy would shout "All aboard, Bill".
Behind what is now Monastery Close was a large shed belonging to Andrew Williams - this was utilised on a Saturday evening as a fish and chip shop run by Kathleen Eddy (Auntie Kath) and her sister Emily. No fish and chips tasted as good. This business was later taken over by Mr. And Mrs. Ernie Sowell in Trelyn Lane; they also kept a grocery shop where the Jacksons now live.
Now I'm well into my teens and living at Trelyn. Every Wednesday I went to Helston for singing lessons with a Mrs. Courtney Hocking. She was a very tall, plain lady but had a lovely voice. On many of these days I was accompanied by Mrs. Penna, our local butcher's wife who loved an auction sale. We would go to the sale, then I would go to my lesson, and we would link up afterwards and catch the 4 o'clock bus home.
In 1930 I went to London to stay with Minnie. Coming down her stairs I slipped and hurt my back. The following evening we all went to a service at the City Temple - on getting up to sing one of the hymns, the pain in my back was so bad that I fainted and had to be carried out. End of service!!
In 1968 we had "Songs of Praise" from our chapel. I wrote the script for Dudley savage who was the compere and I played the organ.
In the 1970s Billy and I had three very happy events - Terry married Margaret in 1971 and Victoria and Tristan were born (1973 and 1976).
Two events which I hated when we lived on the farm were the pig killing and the geese picking. A butcher from Helston would order a number of pigs. This was a day's event but oh! The poor things screeching and then gurgling when their throats were being cut was awful. Aunt Edie would put her hands over my ears.
Then at Christmas, Grandma Martin who had a yearly standing order from the big wigs at Helston for a Christmas Goose (no turkeys in those days) would light a huge furnace and boil water into which the geese were plunged. The stench of the wet feathers was most revolting - I can smell it now !!!
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