It was Molly who often had to run to the Co-op before school began, as the shop opened at 8.30 . School for Molly, as with many girls of her generation, was not a priority to her family, even considering her father had been a school teacher. She was a clever girl, and very capable, but it was not surprising she failed the equivalent of the eleven-plus exams, with so many other demands on her time and attention. However, the manager of the Co-op was Molly’s Uncle Bob Patterson. He knew that there was a scholarship sponsored by the Co-op and Molly’s father took her to Ashington to sit the exam. Although she passed the examination, she did not accept the scholarship, as it was felt that Ashington would be too far to travel each day.
It was not that she was not encouraged to learn, simply that learning needed to have a reason. There is a charming note she wrote:
Feb 16 1992 – I forgot about this but when Andrew (her grandson) told me he was learning piano I remembered taking piano lessons then playing the old piano at Sunday School for the children doing solos and choir practice for the “Anniversary”. Mr Newlands was very helpful and a lovely old man. I made my dress that I wore on the big day in the Chapel. I even had to play on the organ for them on Good Friday tea and concert and Easter Sunday. Mr Robson the proper organist sat beside me and made everything safe and I didn’t need to touch any pedals. Even so, I had a bilious attack on the Thursday before the big weekend, and everyone was at panic stations!
It seems from her memories there was a constant building pressure on her as she was relied on more and more to support the family, and the families’ way of life. There were moments of relaxation, however.
She writes of the picnic they went on during one summer holiday. Aunty Lily took Molly, Roy, Norah and Louie to St Mary’s Island for a picnic. They walked there over the fields, and carried the picnic in a basket. Once at the beach they bought water, probably from the family at the light house, which was a tourist attraction at the time, and made a fire out of driftwood to make tea. It mush have been a lovely day, but a really long walk home – as I estimate Louie would have been about four years old at the time.
There was also a small note in her writing about a holiday they took once:
Daddy and Mothers brother Rob Patterson always went to Stanhope for their holidays to a wee farm called “Shield Hurst”, and once Mother, Roy and I went with him. I never left the farm as I went all goose pimply with every wild sound when walking down to the burn.
Perhaps in the end she was happy in her role as family support, and stepping out of her comfort zone was too great a change for her.
NB: In the 1901 census The Harrison family lived at Shield Hirst; Thomas, Elizabeth, teenage children, Francis and George, and Elisabeths Mother, Frances Dent - Could this have been the same family?