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The memoirs of Cissie Ewen


Cissie's father dies

The funeral

Cissie Ewen's mother.

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I think Dad must have been forty-seven years old when he died of double pneumonia. I remember hearing, when I was much older, that he’d just got over a dose of 'flu and had gone out and painted his boat in cold, wintry conditions. He kept his boat in a shed at the far end of Shields, next to the undertakers. He got another heavy cold on top of the 'flu he already had. He died just two weeks before my sixth birthday.

Things were never the same after that as regards our financial position. Mam left a widow at the age of forty-one or forty-two years old, with six children under the age of fifteen years and Mattie expected eight months later: no wage coming in except ten shillings widow's pension and five shillings for each of the children. There was no more fish, rabbit, poultry or vegetables to help out, which Dad used to supply. Robbie who was still in the army, and didn't hear of Dad's death until two years later when he was 'demobbed'. He did not have any letters, for they never reached him with his being on the move all the time. Jimmy had already married a couple or so years before and had a baby son. He and his wife lived with his wife’s people in part of their house in North Shields.

While I do not remember the death or funeral at all, I do remember Maggie and I being all dressed up in black and being caught in a rainstorm on our way home from visiting Jimmy. Our black silk and straw hats got ruined in the rain and a kind lady on Albion Road called us from the other side of the road and took us into her house and dried our clothes and kept us there till the storm was over. Years later, we used to see her sometimes on our way to school. If she had shoes that would fit me, she would give them to me.

Mam could no longer keep Annie, so she had to go and find another job elsewhere. It must have been shortly after that we went to live in Silkey's Lane, because we lived there when Mattie was born. Mam always regretted shifting. She exchanged houses with a woman who was always pestering her to change. I suppose Mam was not in a state of health at the time to put up with it. She must have been worn down. Maybe, she thought of Aunt Agnes being in the same street, and she could help her when Mattie was due to be born.


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