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"Look at this lovely thing, Rachel," said Michael. "It's a boat," commented Rachel. "Yes, it is," replied her brother, "but it must be a special picture - it says it's woven in silk."

And so it was, a souvenir of the R.M.S. Canada which sailed Sept. 1921 with Eva Berry on board who was to make a new life in Alberta, Canada. Eva, whose parents had had an allegiance to the Wesleyan cause, was the last unmarried member of their family and she was going out to marry a man who had emigrated to Canada years before. Eva could be described as a devoted friend of our family which started when she became attracted by the various commissions undertaken by my mother and she did some babysitting for her. So we three children formed an attachment and I am afraid we must have led her a dance at times.

One of my pet aversions, as a very young child, was the tendency on the part of some grown-ups to talk down to children. I did hate it and it was specially marked in the conversation of one of my grandfather's sisters when she would talk to me. She was very, very small in stature and very bird-like and at one time I used to view her with dismay when I saw her approaching me. Feeling that Eva was an ally of mine and, as she was kneeling at the time with her face at my level as I stood in the kitchen, I asked bluntly, "Is Auntie Walker silly?" "Yes, love," replied Eva, whose attention must surely have been on finding the object on the floor which she had lost rather than studying the implication of the question. So the next time Auntie Walker lavished her baby talk on me my comment was, "You's silly, Beebe says." I believe it took some time for Mother to placate her aunt.

This Aunt Jane, by the way, had no children of her own but she insisted upon accompanying the parent when the births of any of her nieces were registered and she succeeded in having her name appear in the next generation, at least on three occasions, as was (1) my mother, Elizabeth Jane, (2) another cousin, Mary Jane, and the final, just Jane. It is obvious that in our family, even before we could speak correctly and certainly before we had learnt to be discreet, at an early age we had an aversion to adults using "baby talk" to us. I was told that an older cousin had gone through a similar phase when he was quite a baby and when a very effusive lady was departing from his home after spending a pleasant afternoon with his mother and she regaled him with the type of conversation he found not to his liking, he said, coldly, "Oo tan't talk totterIy."


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When Eva was going abroad Mother knew, and Eva had to admit it, that she would have difficulty in writing letters because her education had been sketchy but was adequate for her work in a cotton mill. Mother need not have worried. In due course the letters flowed. Harry, her husband, himself not a good correspondent, really struggled, along with Eva, to tell us of their new life together and their own personal reactions in a manner which made us all feel that Eva was coming into our home and chatting to us in her own familiar way. Other members of Harry's family were out there, in Calgary, including his widowed mother, and they all extended a warm welcome to the traveller. I think what pleased us immensely was the friendliness extended to Eva by the younger generation of Harry's relatives and, amongst them, was a very good photographer. The letters we received frequently contained snapshots which furnished us with some very good illustrative material. Harry was a railway employee which enabled them to have holidays entailing long journeys and Eva's delight after a trip through the Rockies was something we shared with her when we read their letter, a joint effort.

All our special family birthdays and celebrations were remembered and it was amazing with what speed the letters passed between us. A letter of Sept. 14th, 1948 was full of news; they were acknowledging the receipt of a booklet covering the l50th Sunday School Celebrations and they must have minutely studied the names printed within. They had also received newspaper cuttings of the Golden Wedding Celebrations of an uncle of Eva's in England and, whilst entertaining a new acquaintance from her Canadian church, was surprised to learn that the uncle and his family had been known to this new acquaintance when she lived in England before emigrating. The letter was full of detail and to read it was like having the whole story bubbled out in a torrent of words. Then Harry took over the letter and, without any concealment, expressed his pleasure about his forthcoming retirement and the amount of income they would have, which would enable them to live in comfort.

Within two years both were dead; Eva first and, within the following two months, Harry's death followed. Several of their friends and relatives wrote in detail to Mother and the photographer sent a photograph of the grave of these dear, good friends.


Failsworth View 1840

'Robert a'th' View' - Chapter list