Sunday, 26 April 2009

California Cousins!

Since Ella's death, Bill's interest in obsession with genealogy research has picked up again. Using his subscription to he has been incorporating bits and pieces he discovered in Ella's papers. Also, other distant members of his family have joined in and contacted him to ask questions about his branch of the family. He's discovered his grandfather had brothers he never knew about and that people who visited his house as a child were actually related to his grandmother, not to his grandfather as he'd believed at the time.

One of his new-found cousins is Annette, from California; she and her family are planning to come to England in the fall. We'll be headed off to Australia for Jane's 60th birthday about that time, but hopefully will be able to meet up and spend a little time with them before we disappear.

Bill mentioned that they would be interestd in seeing Scotswood, an area on the west side of Newcastle where part of Bill's and Annette's family lived at one time. I said they might not be ready for Scotswood and he laughed. I started to write that it is a place I wouldn't want to go alone in the dark, but it's fine during the day. Then I remembered the time I took a taxi (not driving at the time) over to a flat in Scotswood to follow up contacts of a meningitis case. The taxi driver pulled into a car park behind the flats and interrupted the football (soccer) game of a handful of boys, maybe aged 9 to 12. As I got out of the taxi, the boys came over and told the driver in no uncertain terms, and with a lot of 'effing and blinding' as they say here, to move his car. He did; when I came back he was waiting for me in the street. Fortunately they took no notice of me. I was all set to try to surprise and disarm them with my American accent, but it was as though I was completely invisible to them, which was more than fine by me.

Scotswood has an interesting history, built in 1850 to house workers of the Vickers Armstrong factory, where ships and munitions were built. they employed thousands and were amongst the leading producers of ships, guns and airplane parts. Another of the area's claims to fame is that in the heyday of that factory, Scotswood Road literally sported a pub on each and every corner.

I was thinking that surely Armstrong Victers would have been a major target for bombing during the war, but at 400-450 miles from the nearest take off point, Stavenger, Norway, it was a difficult stretch for many of the German planes, apparently. There were frequent bombings in the NorthEast all the same. I found this amazing diary site that lists daily events during the war years. It likely won't be much interest to you, but imagine what it would have been like to have your neightbour's house destroyed by a bomb or to see an enemy plane dropping mines into the sea off your coast. The website also gives info about the popular movies and the cost of things during the war years. I think it's brilliant.

I, too, have a new-found cousin, Sandra, also from California. We've exchanged several long, chatty emails, trying to learn all about one another. She sounds lovely and I'm sure we'll get together some day either there or here or in Australia. I'm looking forward to lots more emails full of news about her and our wider family.

No comments: