Getting the Letters

The letters of my dad’s family are coming home to me today. Maria has finished scanning them and has offered to meet me in Knutsford so she can hand them over. It’s going to be very emotional, I know. I am looking forward to tracing the narrative through and looking at each sibiling’s letters to get a fuller picture.

One thing I was always told is that my dad passed the 11+ but was not allowed to go to grammar school, but told to get a job. This was terribly unfair because the oldest two went, and went on to do well in life with better jobs. Frances lived to the age of 95, whereas my dad was only 67, having had a tough life working first in shops and then in factories. These letters seem to have been written in the period this was all happening so it will be fascinating to see the other side of events. I am wondering now if finanically the family fell on harder times and there was no intention to be unfair.

After hearing this story years ago I wrote this poem:

Equal Measures

My father cutting Cheshire

gauged by eye the placing of the wire,

shaved from crumbling block

the perfect ounce.

This skill he had to live by,

dividing creamy cartwheels

under Mr Lennon’s

judging eye.

His father’s careless cheeseparing

cheated him of grammar school.

His childhood left

a bitter taste.

Not wanting us to gag on rind,

he jiggled scales to weigh

in equal measure

everything,

his knife scrupulous. But we

just kids, repaid him with

“Got more than me!”

“Got more than me!”

I want to see if there is another side to the story, and also what my dad thought about it at the time.

There are so many other questions I may find answers to in these letters. Already from what I have seen I can believe what a loving tight-knit family they were at this time.

Cover of my second collection, where some of these earlier poems reside.

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Filed under Education, Everything else, poetry

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