Sunday, 12 January 2014

Sunday reflections

I have decided that I miss the storytelling Sundays where I could mostly dredge up family tales and write them down for my children to read and learn about life before them. I was thinking about this last night and into my head popped the Christmas party we had at Llandowlais Farm.
It was the normal thing for family gatherings to be at our house because it was large enough to hold a lot of people. I have described before here how my dad and grandfather renovated the farmhouse and the party was the first Christmas where we could use the downstairs rooms. This means it was 1961. I was still in school - well I was still going and getting my mark in the register. I left at Easter 1962 so I can be sure that this party was Christmas 1961. By Christmas I mean Christmas Day. Our party was always Christmas Day. My Dad and Uncle Peter who lived with us, and Uncle Ron cos he had a car, would go out across the area and collect everyone who was coming to the party. My Dad had an old post office van with bench seats down the sides si he could get loads of people in. For some reason we decided to have a fancy dress party.

As the vehicles returned people trooped in through the kitchen door to be greeted by shrieks of laughter as they were recognised - or not - by other guests.
Some of the first to arrive were Pat and George Murray with their son Michael. This was one of the phases where I wasn't in love with Michael. There were times when I was but these never coincided with when he fancied me so we have had a friendship that has lasted 60 years - can't be bad.

Where was I? oh yes. Pat is a bathing belle, Michael is a lavatory attendant from paradise and George, well George was a tramp. He didn't come in with the rest of the group. He waited outside for someone to sit on the window seat in the kitchen. It was Aunty Kath. He tapped on the glass, she turned around and he pressed his face against the window.
I swear that her scream was heard five miles away in Newport.

My Dad decided that he could only come to the party as a pirate. Why? Well he lost his right leg at the end of WW2 when he was blown up by a mine. He had a tin leg. he had one with a foot on it for a day but it slowed him down so he took the foot off and for the rest of his life - he died age 89 - he sped about on his peg-leg, as he called it. So here he is with a curtain ring on a thread for an earring and a red scarf tied around his head.

Uncle Fred and Aunty Phyllis always joined in with the fun. We used to joke about Aunty Phyl because she always had an opinion and she always knew she was right. She would tell you something and then say "Isn't that right, Fred?" He would nod and continue his own conversation without missing a beat. The main thing about Aunty Phyl was that if you needed anything she would move heaven and earth to help you. She was wonderful.
 Uncle Fred arrived as a Russian spy With Aunty Phyl as a Beatnik. Just behind them you can see Cousin Andy. I have no idea what he came as because he avoided the camera.
How did we know Uncle Fred was a Russian spy? Well he told us he still had the snow on his boots.

Aunty Mary told us previously that Uncle Hilmer would be coming as Fred Flintstone. We asked if she would be coming as Wilma and she looked horrified. Oh no, she was coming as a hippy which was much more dignified. My mother decided that she would come as Wilma and found some brown fabric in the sewing cupboard and made this enticing little number.
It really cracks me up when I look at this picture because Fred Flintstone is wearing his vest! He also has his two year old son, Paul, waiting to be picked up. Paul came as himself.

There was lots of music and dancing. There was usually a time when Aunty Muriel would sit at the piano and vamp her way through the favourite songs and there were always games.

The honeymoon game was the favourite. Only to be played by adults no married couples to be together and no cheating - as the rules were Dress in opposite sex clothes run to kitchen and back holding hands, don't forget suitcase. It was easy not to cheat.
It did mean that there had to be a time when music played but nobody moved because they were hurting too much from laughing. Then it was back to dancing and singing again.

Uncle Ron and Aunty Kath came as Indians - this was 1961 so forget the PC stuff. Kath made the costumes and did the war paint. I can also see Cousin Jacky in that picture. She said she came as a hippy but really she came as Cousin Jacky, she just added a long rope of pearls to her big jumper. The pale pink lipstick was the absolute height of fashion and that was something that Jacky knew all about. She had started work at C&A in the ladies fashion department so she was able to get her clothes at a discount.
I was the despair of her life because I wore jeans and T-shirts. I had horses so fashion was not something I cared about. My clothes had to fit and not wear out.

I love that in this picture Uncle Ron is holding the bread knife. They look so young.

Aunty Val was involved with the youth football teams where she lived. She trained one of the teams. For some reason her brothers and sisters thought this was hilarious and it was never spoken about without them laughing. Now I think about it they never spoke about each other without some teasing and laughing

 Aunty Val is here with Uncle Peter. They were not a couple. Aunty Val was married to Uncle Tom. He was never one to put himself forward. Let's face it he would have needed to be really loud and boisterous to be noticed in this lot.
Uncle Peter was my mother's brother. He came to live with us after he came out of the army and he worked with my father as a partner in the business until my Dad retired and then Peter continued to run the business for another 20 years. Now it is still being run by Peter's Son Alan

It wasn't just family that came to our parties. Friends came too. Uncle Alfie Taylor, his wife Aunty Dulcie and their Children Graham Linda and Linden were always included in every family occasion. Uncle Alfie was a childhood friend of my father and they had been through a lot together. Uncle Alf died a long time ago and Aunty Dulcie passed in the last year. I have very fond memories of them and this picture brings back their sense of fun and the great sense of joy at being alive that always came along with them.

So there it is. A Christmas Party that was recorded in pictures more than 50 years ago in a house that no longer exists.

Thank goodness for memories.


Sian said...

This is brilliant! You are so lucky to have the photos to go with the story. My Mum tells us about the Christmas parties they used to have in the 50's, but there are no pictures. These are treasure

Anonymous said...

Oh how wonderful to have the pictures! Thanks for taking us along with your memories. We used to have family get togethers on Boxing Day but nothing like this.

alexa said...

I have loved reading this - it's not just that the pictures are such fun to look at, but your running commentary is a delight. I am so glad these memories are being recorded for posterity.

Miriam said...

Oh! I am so thrilled that you posted this. The pictures and your story to go with them are wonderful. Thank goodness for memory keeping and thank you for sharing. Your post has made me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Alison said...

How wonderful to have thes photos!...and your description of the party is Greta!
Alison xx

Barbara Eads said...

What great photos! That sounds like such a fun time in your life. Aren't these stories exactly why we do this? At least that's why I scrapbook and blog.

Missus Wookie said...

The commentary and photos made this such fun to read. What a great party and tradition :)

Maria Ontiveros said...

I'm so glad you're carrying on the tradition, as you are one of my all-time favorite storytellers.

Ruth said...

What a wonderful glimpse into your family's history and equally wonderful that you have actual photos to go with the memories.