The Goodyear Story

My name was added to the 'Goodyear' family tree in 1969 when I married Martin. Several branches of his family history had already been well documented by his paternal aunt, Florence May (Flossie), and his grandmother so there didn't seem a lot for me to do. However, when I hit a 'brick wall' in my own family tree and finally turned my attention to adding something to the Goodyear tree I didn't really expect to find much that wasn't already known. How wrong can you sometimes be!

Martin's aunt, Florence May Goodyear was born in 1902 and died in mid 1996. I feel privileged to have known and loved her and also grateful that my own children also knew and loved her. Throughout her long life her focus was always her family, both close and extended. Born into a strongly Wesleyan Methodist family the guiding principles of her faith were always to the fore and she gave selflessly of herself to those who needed her. Hers was a life dedicated to family and faith and she was truly selfless in everything she did for them.

In her late 80s she had been a favourite 'playmate' of my young daughter and her brother............ she had that rare ability to empathise with any age group and talk to them on their own level without patronisation or superiority. She would encourage them to rummage through the drawers and cupboards of memorabilia and, as each new item came to light, tell them its story as they demanded.

The 2 adjoining cottages, which were home to the Goodyears, had been built in 1840, by Flossie's great-grandfather, Robert Schofield, and neither had ever left the family's ownership. Nothing seemed to have been thrown away and memories were in every cupboard and drawer. Paper, photos, garments, souvenirs and letters; everything you could imagine. Everything with its own tale to tell. There was a strong Methodist tradition in the family and no-one in need or want was ever turned away. The chapel up the road was a focal point in all their lives and there was a constant stream of relatives and friends visiting from all corners of the globe.

One of her greatest strengths, as keeper of the family history, was her phenomenal memory. She died in her mid 90s but, although physically she might have been failing, her mind and memory were as keen and sharp as ever. She was a storyteller in the grand tradition .......... making people and events live again.

About 10 years before she died she started writing all her memories down in the hope that one day they might find a new audience. As I read these stories again, 15 years after her death and I'd last heard her voice, it was as if she'd never left the room. I could see her leaning back in the chair, offering to tell us the story of some long dead ancestor, and hear her voice as she recounted the tales with her usual humour.

Her working title for her collection of family stories was 'Robert a'th' View' and the dedication was, 'An Expression of Gratitude to 'The Little People', irrespective of their years who have enriched my Ripe Old Age'.

I recently began transcribing her typewritten manuscripts. Fortunately, she had left the pages bundled in chapters, so my task has been made a little easier. I shall upload the chapters as each transcription is finished.

Stories: 'Robert a'th' View'