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‘Penfriend’ Rhoda writes again

It doesn’t seem possible that we are already into March 2012! I had intended writing a little last year about my mem- ories of Christmas prepara- tions during the war years but unfortunately I had a fall in my bungalow and broke my right wrist, which, after an opera- tion necessitated ten days in Stafford hospital where I was very well looked after despite television and newspaper re- ports to the contrary concern- ing our local hospital. As I have never been um- bidextrous I had to practise doing many things including signing my name with my left hand so that I could add my Christmas wishes to the 180 cards and annual letters which we always send out to family and friends at this time of year. It is so good to keep in touch with folk from our wartime days to the present both home and abroad. During my convalescence I caught up with reading again some of the articles I have put into my Welling- ton News folder and various references in these have re- minded me of things which I had forgotten.

I was interested in reading many allusions to the former Wellington Cottage Hospital and photographs of it both past and present. It was here that my father was so wonderfully cared for in his final months suffering from cancer.

I remember that we asked the staff if there was anything that we could buy for them to show our appreciation and gratitude for all the care that he had received from them. At the time they didn’t have a clock in their staff room, so that was what we bought – no doubt that no longer exists with all the changes since the 1970’s but who knows, we still have many things in our home bought at that time! I was also looking through a scrap book in which my late mother kept cuttings from the Wellington Journal and I came across a wedding photograph which must have been taken in the 1970’s and on it I have written: “A nurse who looked after Dad in the Cottage Hopital.” I wonder if she is still in the area or if any- one recognises the names.

24 24, 25 Letters.indd 1 26/03/2012 15:38 Rhoda Weller writes again from her home in Stafford.

will awaken more memories. Thank you to all the many contributors who help make it so interesting and for all the work that you and your dedi- cated staff put into it.

Ed. Rhoda, I am glad your wrist is fully recovered, your handwriting is very good con- sidering! You look very glam- orous in your photograph with the crimpled edges. Just for you I have looked at the records of Smiths Crisps and printed them for your infor- mation.

“Miss Maureen Patricia El- liott of 18 Arleston Avenue, Wellington married Roderick Guy Johnson of Ketley at the Union Free Church and made their new home at Donning- ton.” I don’t have the exact date but maybe they are cel- ebrating their Ruby Wedding about now - I do hope so! Mum was also pleased that she was able to attend their wedding service.

It is so good to know that present day seniors are able to find help at the Cottage Day Care Centre. Cottage Hospitals throughout the country have held a spe- cial place in the lives of so many older friends and still do so. I wonder if the lady who brought you the hospi- tal photographs worked with Maureen?

Another reference was made to a telephone you re- ceived from Mr Lloyd about the outings to Blackpool for the Illuminations. This re- minded me of what I think must have been a Special Minders’ Outing by train to Blackpool and of an amusing incident which I have always remembered. We were travelling with Sid and Minnie White on our return journey having bought some things to eat includ- ing some packets of Smiths Crisps (yes they were Smiths back then – not Walkers Crisps) and Dad asked Mr White if he had enjoyed hem. I think it was his first taste of them and he said: “I think they were all right but he felt that they needed something added to them to give them

more taste – perhaps salt?” Poor Mr White – he had thrown the little blue packet containing the salt, which we had in each packet in those days, away not realising what it was for! I wonder when Smiths Crisps started and fin- ished or were they taken over by Walkers?

I wonder how many of your readers made arrangements to write to French penfriends before the war began? Many of my friends at Newport Girls High School did so and I ac- tually visited mine, Georgette, near to Grenoble during the year I spent in France as part of my studies.

The photographs we sent

out to France were usually Polyfoto ones and quite plain whereas those we received always had fluted edges and the girls looked really glam- orous!

While I was in Cambrai, Northern France as an As- sistante Anglaise in 1948-49, I decided to have a photo- graph taken to send home to my parents and I was surprised at the outcome! I thought you might like to see it. I well remember the dress I was wearing - a dark brown woollen one enlivened on the pockets with silver sequins and my brooch was an ivory one of elephants sent to me by a cousin who was in the forces during the war. He also sent an ivory brooch to my sister but hers was of camels against a pyramid background.

I am still busy reading our March copy of the Wel- lington News – perhaps it

Smith’s Potato Crisps Ltd. was formed by Fran- cis Leigh Smith in the UK after World War 1. The firm started in Cricklewood, Lon- don, reputedly in Smith’s ga- rage. In 1927 the company expanded into a factory in Brentford, London. This was enlarged in 1930. During the depression Smith travelled to Australia to expand the business. Smiths was later owned by Nabisco, BSN and finally sold to PepsiCo in the 1990s. Subsequently Pep- sico withdrew the brand, in favour of Walkers, which had been heavily marketed in a campaign using footballer Gary Lineker. Smiths is now largely controlled by Walk- ers Crisps in the UK. Many of the products previously owned by Smiths are now la- belled as Walkers, although there are still several Smiths branded crisps.

Musical mem

Les Oswin writes: Firstly I must apologise for the poor typewriting of then enclosed article for the Wellington News. Sometimes my port- able doesn’t do what I ‘tell’, but I think it’s readable. I doubt if I could tackle a com- puter which would correct my errors, so I’ll ‘type’ on. I do thank you for the ex- cellent presentation of most of the episodes of my “Life in Leicester in the Thirties” and I hope many readers enjoyed my teenage and post-war reminiscences even though Leicester is far from Telford. You are encouraging your readers to put pen to pa- per compete with your great contributor George Evans, and the results have been most interesting and I hope will continue, with my copies of Wellington News reach- ing me from one of my old neighbours.

The readers who man- aged to endure my account of “Life in Leicester in the Thirties” during the past year may remember in my final episode I mentioned my last two years in the army being in the Far East.

So March 1946 saw me in an abandoned rubber plan- tation in the Kranji District of Singapore Island in a tented camp not far from the Johore Bahru Causeway which gave

the Japanese easy access to the island in 1942.

By this time, of course, the war was over and we spent our time organising demob and return to the U.K. or India. We had no mains electric- ity but were provided with electric power from petrol generators which ran contin- uously and in my tent I had a heavy wooden wireless re- ceiver with 6” valves which I had acquired the year before whilst commanding a Royal Signals wireless station in Chittagon, East Bengal. Army, navy and RAF ser- vices in the Far East were well served on the radio by the BBC, e.g., Forces Favourites, but also by our special station on Ceylon (as it was called in 1946) named Radio S.E.A.C. Ceylon, and amongst those working there were David Jacobs and Desmond Carrington, both of whom are still pre- senting excellent music pro- grammes 66 years later. But every Thursday night for an hour there was a programme of listeners re- quest records presented by a major in the RASC named ROSS PARKER, who had adopted the Title “ROSS THE LARKER PARKER” and introduced and presented his service listeners’ re- quests in a most jocular and

Researching the life of Samuel Cadman

Sir, writes Shirley Bruneau, project manager with Dawley Heritage, I and a colleague, John Churm, have been researching the life of Samuel Parkes-Cadman for the Dawley Heritage Project. This very charismatic and interesting man who was born 18 December 1864, became a miner but later entered the Methodist Ministry and died 12 July 1936 in New York , USA. He emigrated there with his wife and family in the 1890s where he eventu- ally achieved fame for his oratory skills and was known across America for his powerful sermons on the radio.

However it is his early life that still holds some mysteries: The 1881 census shows him as having been born in Ketley. We cannot find a birth certificate or baptismal records for him. We know that according to the 1881 census he was living with his family at Ketley Sands.

Terry Lowe’s ‘The Ketley Mon’ book states that he moved to Ketley Bank to live with other fam- ily members when growing up before moving back to live with his parents at 22 Ketley Sands by the time he was 16 years old. We are keen to find out if anyone knows for sure exactly where in Ketley he was born, where he was baptised and what school he attended. There is a belief that he attended a school, supposedly in Malinslee known as the Timber Yard School, (Ironbridge Gorge Muse- um Trust have a photo of him and classmates at that school), although no detail of a school of this name appears to be recorded anywhere for Malinslee. If any reader, particularly any of Samuel Parkes-Cadman’s relations, have any further information which would throw light on our enquiries we would like to hear from them. I can be contacted on 01952 403296.

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