Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dad's Story

One of my first internet stops of the day is always Spitalfields Life and yesterday's post At Tom's Flat reached out to me.

Tom talks about his childhood spent in an orphanage  - "In an orphanage, you go from a cot to a bed in a dormitory and you don't know what they're going to do to you in there," he says.

My dad wasn't born an orphan as Tom was. He had parents and an extended family, but when his mother walked out in 1935 he and his brother John were placed in St Mary's Home for Boys in North Hyde where they spent three years. Dad was just ten years old. John a year younger.

He always said that once his father got on his feet again he sent for the boys, but it wasn't quite like that.  The orphanage closed and my grandfather was obliged to take back his sons.  A third son, four year old Patrick, was lost forever. Placed in the care of the Vincent St. Paul Society and subsequently sent to Nazareth House Orphanage in Widnes, Cheshire, Patrick drowned swimming in a pit in the grounds of this orphanage.  He was fourteen years old.  I spoke to a couple of the men who were his boyhood friends.  Patrick thought he was from Liverpool, one told me, he didn't know he was from London, that he had uncles, aunts, a grandmother, parents, two brothers and a sister.

Recently Sheila, a cousin I haven't seen in more than forty years, sent me a bundle of postcards.  This is the boys' story.

Dear dad
Please say yes to Georges letter and please save us from being bullied down here or come on Sunday.  Love From John xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx PS Please excuse pencel xxxxxx

Nov 1, 1935.

Dear dad,
I am writing these few lines to let you know that I am well and happy and I hope you are.  I hope you have got work.  Please dad when you write me another letter would you let me know Pat’s address.  Give all at home my love and tell them I am happy.  John sends his love to you and all at home.  I remain your loving son George  

Nov 1, 1935.

Dear Granny
I hope you are well and happy like I am.  I have not heard from you for a long time that is why I am writing.  I hope you will come and see me soon.  Please answer this as soon as possible.  John sends his love.  Well Gran Goodbye and God Bless you I remain your Loving Grandson George Revel xxxx

Nov 4, 1935.

Dear Frances,
Just a few lines in answer to your postcard.  I hope you are enjoying yourself at Eden Grove School.  I hope you enjoy yourself on fireworks day.  Please Frances would you tell dad to write me a letter.  Give Dad and all at home my love also ask dad to send me a few coppers as I am spending my last penny to send this.  John sends his love to you and all at home.  Well Goodbye and God Bless you.
I remain your own Brother George xxxxx
From John xx

Dear Granny
Just a few lines to say I am soon making my holy communim love from Georgie xxxxxxx

Dear Dad,
We are enjoying ourselves very much here.  We are at Dymchurch and we are going back on Friday.  Please try to see me as soon as you can. Give all at home my love. With fondest love from John.

Oct 17, 1936.

My Dear Dad
I hope you are quite well and happy.  George and I are enjoying ourselves down here.  Will you please try and send us a few pennies give all at home my love and George sends his fondest love.  Well Dad as this is all I can think of I must say Goodbye and God bless you I remain your loving son John.


Dear Dad
I hope you are well and happy like John and I.  Please answer this card dad, because I haven't heard from you for a long time.  John sends his love.  Give all at home our love.  Well dad Goodbye and God Bless you I remain your son George xxx

John pictured aged 17, joined the Merchant Navy as a boy sailor.

Dad, aged about 18 in this picture, joined the Territorial Army - there are no photographs of them as children.

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  1. Thanks so much for this. It will allow me to write more details into my wife's dad's page. He was at St Mary's orphanage from about 1925-1935 and we had very little info but we had poor copies of some of the photos. Thanks so much. Chris

  2. Hi Chris - glad to be of some help. I'd very much like to read your page about your father in law. My dad seldom spoke about these years, for obvious reasons.

  3. Sadly, my father in law didn't speak about it much. But I will let you have the chapter when I finish it