Oldham Historical Research Group





The memories on the linked pages are from Norma Eaton (nee Keary) and are about the lives of her parents and relatives.

"Gypsy Louie" .. 1892 TO 1962

Mnica Brierley

"My Auntie Louisa (called Louie) visited us each Christmas, Easter and any other occasions when we could all find an excuse for a party. She, Uncle Jack Brierley, and their daughter Monica would arrive via the Liverpool bus to Manchester, express bus to Copsterhill Road and then to walk to our house.

This very demonstrative Brierley family would greet my Grandmother, parents and myself with noisy hugs and kisses. My parents and l, not being particularly demonstrative ourselves, found this sometimes a bit embarrassing. lt was soon over when along came the welcoming cup of tea.

Within a short time afterwards mv Mum and Grandma would have a hot meal ready to serve, usually a large meat and potato pie (more potatoes than meat due to rationing), which the Brierleys insisted on calling 'Scouse'. As it was a special occasion the pie would have a suet crust and there would be beetroots and onions in vinegar on the table A rice pudding would be waiting in the oven 'for afters'. During the meal family gossip would be exchanged, then came the time for the usual cups of tea.

The visits ofthe Brierley family always prompted the use of the best tea cups and saucers. Not the 'see through' china cups Auntie Louie insisted in having in her house, ours were the best that the Oldham Co-operative quarterly dividend payment could buy. ln those days of pre-tea bags, tea leaves were used to make the tea and it was inevitable that the tea remaining in the bottom of your cup contained some remnants of the tea leaves essential for fortune telling.

Looking very serious Auntie Louie would gaze into an adult`s tea cup, whilst studying the formation of tea-leaves. Then would come the news of pending family events, warning of gossiping neighbours, pending tears, illnesses and then whispering secretively to the owner of the tea cup, Louie would tell them confidential news. As a child l never found out what this confidential news was, although it was not for the want of trying.

At party time, Auntie Louie, wearing her full make-up, her many gold rings, sparkling necklaces, brooches and earrings would lead the community singing, whilst dancing and waving her glass of Guinness around in time to the music.

Later in the evening Auntie Louie would disappear upstairs to reappear shortlv aftervvards vvtth a scarf tied around her head. Gypsy Louie had arrived, vveartiig even more sparkling, dangling earrings. Cups of tea were quickly made to enable the fortune-telling to begin. this time, though, the cups ot tea also contained tots of whisky.

As a young child during the 1st World War, I remember party guests queuing to have their fortunes told whilst Auntie Louyie sat in a tent made of colourful bed-covers. Fortune-telling always began by guests first crossing Luoie's palm with a silver coin, usually a sixpence. The silver was later donated to the local 'Soldiers' Comfort Fund'."

Sutton & Keary Lives

Story and pictures contributed by Norma and Brian Eaton

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