Frank was my great grandfather on my dad’s side.
I only met him a couple of times. One time, me and my brother were made to wear the most ridiculous and embarrassing outfits, and we just felt very uncomfortable and ill-at-ease meeting this very old man from another time.
He was born in the early 1901. So he must have been 80 or so when we met him. Not so old these days, but back then he really was like a dinosaur, or a fossil.
I remember a couple of stories about him. After the Great War, when he was a young man with a new wife and baby daughter (my grandmother), he had to walk twenty-five miles to work, where he would labour hard for sixteen hours before walking home again, only to be brutally murdered by his father before going to bed and getting up the next morning to do the same thing over and over again. Well, he certainly had to work hard, just to survive and raise a family.
Life was no doubt much harder then than any of us can really imagine, but you try and tell that to the young people of today. Would they believe you? No!
My great grandmother, Ellen, was committed to Lancaster Asylum some time after my grandmother Freda was born. I don’t know what the reason was, but it’s possible it was because she was suffering from what would now be recognised as post-natal depression.
In those days, it was a life sentence, not to mention the shame it brought upon the family.
Frank divorced Ellen and married “Auntie Florrie”. I don’t know if Florrie was actually Ellen’s sister, but it’s possible.
Freda never forgot her mum, and secretly visited her whenever she could.
When Frank got the cancer that would kill him, Freda took him in and looked after him in her bed until he died.