Lifestory Showcase - Chappell
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We all began working at the new market garden from dawn to dusk, especially mother, and we were offered three heifers in exchange for letting another farmer graze his cows all that summer on land that we were not ready to use for ourselves. We did buy an old milking cow, so that we had our own milk and butter which was made by shaking the cream for hours in a mineral water bottle.
I can still remember doing this myself but did enjoy that lovely real butter afterwards on home made bread. Daisy the cow had to be milked by hand, in all winds and weathers, while tied to the fence. It was a long time before we had more cows and could afford to build a cow-pen and pig-sties for the many pigs we bred. It was a case of buying and selling anything to live and pay the monthly animal feed bills. By searching pockets, purses and handbags we were often able to pay these bills early to get a substantial discount on them.
As soon as Derek was old enough we bought an old Ford van, not only for the farm but we were able to snatch an hour sometimes to go for a ride round. Derek had had a slight accident on his motor-bike and as soon as it was repaired, we sold it at the farm gate of course. We could sell anything out there.
After selling bunches of flowers for 6d. a bunch, one man, asked if the dirty water left in a big jar was ‘special water’ as it was still marked 6d. after all the flowers were sold. With so much hard work by all three of us the business soon began to flourish. We were asked for everything and we did anything to make a shilling. Campers came into the field at night, mother and Derek would still be outside late into the night, preparing lettuce, bunching onions, carrots, digging potatoes, cleaning and packing eggs up for the next day.
Then Mum would come in and cook a supper and meals for the next day, or we would pop into Wimborne for fish’n’chips if she was too tired (6d. fish and 3d chips each) We often posted letters at 9 pm. to make sure they would arrive at their destination the next morning. Derek was a workaholic and for his age had no other outside interests at all, no girl-friends, but he was a picture-goer and did not miss seeing many films, he would just go, sometimes mum went with him, but often she would carry on working.
I was serving customers in the portico porch of the house which was right on the main road, so would only see mother and Derek at mealtimes or when I called them to stock up the shop. Mother made bags, to put goods into, on her sewing machine, out of the meal-bags the animal food came in. We wrapped eggs in newspaper at first, until we were able to afford to buy egg boxes - I think these became available about this time.
It was now 1959, we were doing well, Derek was now going out more for pleasure. We had a ‘Wolsey’ car by now, obtained at a bargain price and mother had also learnt to drive the car as well as the tractor. Mother was working all the hours God made, indoors and out, but Derek and I like brother and sister were being very unfair to her and each other.
We were quarrelling something awful, we were too close all the time, so I asked if I could go away somewhere to sort myself out, and to give them a chance to get on without me. It was soon arranged by the authorities for me to go away from home for a while. This was the first time that we had asked for any help since I left St. Loyes many years ago. It was soon arranged for me to go for a three months stay at ‘Ponds’ a home for ‘spastics’ in Beaconsfield, Bucks.
It is now known as the Princess Marina Centre. Mother and a friend took me there on February 14th 1959 and I soon settled in there with new friends and other ‘spastics’ who had a lot more physical problems than me and unlike me had no home to go back to.
I was able to walk enough to go out on my own and I had my electric carriage sent up there and would go out every Saturday to do the shopping for myself and everyone else, first going round to make a long shopping list. I soon settled in and relaxed awhile, mother visited me every few Sundays but I did not know what was happening at home.
In the same year Derek met and married Elizabeth, I did not attend their wedding, but Mum and Dad did and mother did not recognise father at all, he was by now an old sick man. The couple first lived in a caravan on the farm and later in a bungalow in the next village where their first daughter Sally was born. By now I had come home to live with mother once more. Mother was still working on the farm which by now had become a thriving market garden and became very well known for miles around and we were never closed until we were in bed.
Derek was married now, we were four different people and it just wasn't working for mother and I was still living in the house. Derek finally left the farm and got a job. leaving only mother to carry on, but because the conscript call-up was still compulsory he soon found himself in the Household Cavalry in London where he spent the next eighteen months.
This he enjoyed and it made a man of him, then he returned to the farm and their second daughter Tracey was born, I helped to look after the babies quite a lot when they were busy. It upset me the first time I saw Derek with his two babies around him, I was a woman and felt very emotional.
Just after this I had to have an operation on my left hip. It had to be fused, which meant a long metal pin right down my hip. I was in plaster for months but came home and mother cared for me as well as doing everything else on the farm and market garden. She continued to make jam and chutney, as well as growing anything else that she could sell.
This also meant going to market to buy the fruit and tomatoes etc. to make it. We had hundreds of chickens and laying hens by now, so the eggs had to be taken and washed and got ready for the shop. It was then a television was bought, secondhand of course, for me, and I watched and enjoyed Wimbledon for the first time. When I came out of the plaster from most of my body, I was so weak that mother had to lift me like a helpless baby again. Next she hurt her back lifting me and was put into a plaster jacket so to be able to care for me and she could not work outside. A nurse called once a day which wasn't much help.
Things were getting so hopeless, Mum and I both felt useless to anyone. So we went into a caravan that belonged to a friend which was in our field and lived like hermits. No one wanted to know that we were even there. Mother decided to give up working on the farm to let Derek and his wife take over, which was always what we had intended. That time had now come, the only thing to do was get out and leave the past twelve years behind, thank goodness. She was now able to drive a car. So with a ‘Morris Traveller’ and our clothes, bed' table and chairs, she took a parlour maid's job with a bungalow included. There was very little actual cash paid to her, a little more if she did a dinner party in the evening, and she was still in plaster when we moved to Alderholt (near Fordingbridge).
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