maandag 19 oktober 2009

Stephensons Chapter 11 - Alice Maud b. 1897 - d. 1982

Kate and Hudson’s first child was Alice. Alice was a slow as Kate was quick. Her picture as a young girl shows her very pretty but she dressed plainly, walked in a slouched clumsy fashion and had very little grace.
She could not do anything right and her mother had no patience with her, making matters worse. Kate pushed her out of the way more often than not, so Alice had no chance to learn and become any better at household tasks. Truth to tell she never had any liking for housework and maybe hadn’t the inclination to learn any of the skills.
She worked in for a time in Dickinson’s fruit shop and tried to learn to be a florist but she did not work all that long and never earned a living for herself.
Her brothers always made fun of her and “put her down” when she had her hair fashionably bobbed her mother shrieked that she “looked a sight!” and indeed the new hair style didn’t suit her or her type of baby fine hair. Her face looked plainer than ever.
She became more and more lazy, preferring to sit working away at the beautiful fancy work which she and her mother were brilliant at. She must have had some intelligence because she could work the most intricate patterns in wool; knitting or crochet. As she sat working away “the ashes were meeting people as they came in the door”
She loved to go to a half cousin of hers, Mary Galley, who had a wet fish shop in South Shields, Ocean road.
The men came in droves after the pubs shut for oysters, prawns brown bread and coffee. The café and shop was a lively place to go, away from her mothers eagle eye, and Alice worked for nothing. It was a pleasure to get away from her domineering mother with her caustic tongue.
The shop had a reputation as a bit of a shady place, the ladies of the town knew where they could go to get customers when the pubs closed, but Alice would not be aware of that.
She was a devoted Christian, The church was her real love. She had no boy friends nor did she seem to want any. She was very fond of her brothers friend Leonard and he with her but it was only friendship as the jeers of her brothers prevented it being anything else.
When all the family gradually died leaving her brother Bill as her only relation instead of becoming closer they had endless quarrels. Bill Stephenson had been left nothing in his mothers will because he already had had his share when she had been alive, so everything went to Alice. That didn’t stop him continually hounding Alice for “subs” which he thought she could easily afford and which he felt he had a perfect right to anyway.
Alice was stubborn. She knew the money (which was not a large amount) had to last her lifetime. She was careful and her savings grew to quite a tidy sum; the stocks and shares which Bill wanted her to sell when her mother died brought in a decent income. Bill had always been a drinker and Alice didn’t want her money to vanish into the nearest pub.
When 11 Kirton Park Terrace came up for sale after the war Bill was forced to buy it or get out. He had no money for the deposit so Alice had to dig deep into the funds. This she did, very grudgingly, knowing that Bill had had money enough only a few years before when he left the Fountain Head, but had spent it all.
Alice had a friend in a beautiful house on the Broadway, Mrs Littlefair, of Red Gables. Alice gave the greedy woman anything she fancied out of her house (at Jackson Street) counting it an honour that the woman was her friend. This infuriated Bill and Minnie to see so many family possessions given away, especially when they knew Mrs Littlefair told everyone Alice was her daily woman. Alice who hated housework would go regularly to clean Red Gables, so she looked like the cleaning woman,. Polishing windows for everyone to see, but of course she hardly got a cup of tea for her pains!
Later when Mrs Littlefair died Alice became very friendly with Maggie Pickering, her sister in law’s cousin, and they went on two or three holidays a year together. These were happy times for Alice; Maggie was very good company, but she in turn went to live with her daughter away from the district and Alice was left again.
While her mother was alive she joined in all the help Kate gave Minnie and Bill and the children, knitting beautiful jumpers, woollens and swimming costumes (which reached the ankles when wet) She took all the children to every pantomime in the area every Christmas, and took them on numerous outings by bus and train. When they grew up and her mother died she spent every public holiday at “Broomhaugh”. Christmas, Easter, Whitsun and August Bank Holiday.
In later life she needed eye operations, and recuperated at “Broomhaugh” - Kirton Park Terrace - for months at a time. Because it was her money that had gone towards paying for the house she must have thought it was partly hers. (when she was senile she told everyone it was hers!)
Gradually her friends in the church died and she really was left alone. All she had was her brother, with whom she argued all the time, her sister in law who was kind to her, and her nieces, nephews and grand nieces and nephews. Her nephew George, and his wife and family were her favourites, but they lived a long way away, and Cathie, another favourite was even further away, in Australia.
When her awful parrot died, a present her brother George had brought her from is sea journeys before WW1 it seemed to be the last straw and she broke her heart that day. It was the last link with all the family and friends she had known and loved and the happy times she had had at 8 Jackson Street, when the house was full of lively jolly people. She died in 1980 aged 85 years.
Meg Stephenson in 1987

Chapter 12

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