Mum’s Story — Page 17.
My friend Audrey Steinbach came to University College Hospital from Great Ormond Street during the second year I was there. We finished training together as she was able to do her nursing in two years because of her previous work in children’s nursing. I went for six months to Hornsey Cottage Hospital in Park Road and later to St. Mary’s Hospital in Milton, Southsea (near Portsmouth) for midwifery training.
Meanwhile Donald had left school and taken a job in Insurance. He was a lively chap, the sort that would have liked a challenging job, and this work must have irked him; but in the late thirties unemployment was a problem and one was lucky to have a job. My brother Brian was out of work for some time after this and was reduced to going from door to door as a salesman, a soul destroying job. However, this was not to last long for either of them. Roy, now in his teens was at home still.
While I was at Hornsey Hospital I took the opportunity of getting in touch again with Sam. He was living with his Mother in a flat in Stroud Green. He had come to see us once while we lived in Wallington, and I later learnt that he had got soaked going home and ended up with pleurisy and pericarditis. I used to meet him after Mass on Sundays and it was wonderful to renew the acquaintance. That was as far as it got then, however, and I went away to Portsmouth wondering if a romance would ever develop with Sam. It did not seem likely
While I was doing midwifery the Corner Stores packed up. Customers had run up accounts which were not being met and my Dad did not have enough capital to see him through. He went bankrupt and they came to a flat in Crouch End, on the corner of Cecil Park and Crouch Hill, number 106. It was a three storey house and they were in the top flat. Brian, Donald and Roy were there too. In the evenings Sam would come round and they would play table tennis or card games but I did not discover this till I also came back to London to do District Nursing at Hampstead, and was able for the first time for many years to go home on my days off. The Superintendent of the District Nursing Home, a Miss Partington (nicknamed “Maw) used to call me “the lodger” and I gathered that she did not approve of my gallivanting off home, but I did not care! Sam and I had been to the pictures to see “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and he had asked me if I would marry him! Life was bliss! The threat of war, rumbling in the papers and on the radio, I did not take seriously. We had had a War to end Wars, and nobody would be so silly as to repeat such a disastrous experiment!
The flat that my parents and brothers now lived in was at the top of the’ house. Brian was about 23, and would come home late and creep up the stairs so as not to disturb Mother and Dad if they had gone to bed. Once or twice he came in to find that Don had arrived just before him. Don was 18, and should have been home earlier. There was Don, removing his shoes and tiptoeing up the stairs with exaggerated caution, jumping with alarm at each creak. Brian watched him in fits of laughter. He himself could get upstairs without a sound, for he seemed to know each creaky stair and avoid it. On another occasion Sam came up the stairs and entered the flat as the door was open, to hear Don playing the piano. Sam stood inside the door listening, and as Don came to the end of the piece he stood up, turned around and bowed this way and that to the imaginary audience! He was nicknamed ‘the Duke’ by some of his friends because of his airs and graces, and he did love to play to the gallery! When Sam and I married my Dad wanted Sam to wear “tails”, and as Don was the best man he had to wear them too. It seems very ostentatious now, and Sam was not keen to do this but eventually he obliged as a favour to Dad whom he called “the Guv’nor” or “Guv”. When Sam and Donald went to hire the suits Sam came back to tell us “there was Donald standing in front of the mirror in his suit, pruning himself” !! We realised once more that Sam had got the wrong word and meant preening!