Autobiography of Mary E Wilson (4) My Father Returns – 1925

Mary E. Wilson

Mary Ellum 

The story of Mary Ellum Wilson continues in her own words. She has written her memories of her childhood in England during the first quarter of the last century.

1925

GRANTHAM

There was no news of my father’s whereabouts so my Grandmother arranged to have my brothers live with other family members and I lived with her.

So, another phase in my life started. I was now fourteen and my cousin Qweenie lived with my grandparents who had brought her up. She was the pianist for the London Symphony Orchestra. She had never married and she made me feel like Cinderella, as she was very spiteful and resented me living with them. She practiced on the piano daily and my Grandma adored her. Qweenie was the lady. She played the piano and was the one who made my life miserable. I hated her.

My Grandmother ran a little food store from her house and across the street there was a business which chopped wood into “faggots” for burning in fireplaces. They also sold bags of coal. My Grandmother taught me how to prepare food for the workers in the mill.

I still attended school and loved it. I saw my brothers and they seemed very happy with their living arrangements. My mother sent money regularly but would not return to England. I remember she sent money for shoes for me. Grandma used most of the money and bought Qweenie a beautiful pair of high button shoes and I had to wear ugly black ankle shoes bought with what was left of my mother’s money.

My father finally returned to Grantham. Only God knew where he had been all that time. My Grandmother welcomed him like a prodigal son and did not even question him as to where he had been. He did not even ask me how we have managed when he disappeared. My Grandmother put all the blame on my mother for our problems. Uncle Bill came to the store and had a fight with my father about his desertion of us. The aftermath of the fight was that my Grandma had a stroke and almost died.

My Aunt Sarah Jane came down from London and immediately sent me to live with Aunt Ruth and my cousin, Phyllis. I really loved living with them and they were so kind to me but they all hated my mother over the desertion of her three children. My Aunt Ruth worked in a hospital and with an extra mouth to feed, it must have been hard for her but she never complained. Phyllis was a few years older than I but she was my friend and I could confide in her. I was just beginning to feel a little secure when Aunt Ruth had a man come live with her so I was sent back to my Grandparent’s house to live.

After school I would work in the store. My Grandma had recovered from the stroke but was partially paralyzed from the waist down. She had a couch in the store and I sure got used to ducking because anything I did that displeased her would cause her to throw anything within her reach.

Looking back, I realized how unhealthy it was to have an old lady lying in a food store, who did not trust anyone and was angry all the time. She adored my father and blamed my mother for all his weaknesses and misery.

Tomorrow, we’ll begin reading the reactions to their engagement from those closest to Lad and Marian. This will continue throughout the week.

Judy Guion

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