WELCOME TO THE FAMILY OF WILLIAM EDWARD FRANCIS

 

 

My Gran 

 

My Gran was very much a lady and would often try to teach me manners and etiquette.  I remember being taught to walk across the room with books on my head in the hope I would walk upright and straight.  I do not think this worked.  There were lessons on how to hold a cup properly and how to lay a table, all done with love and laughter.  As young as I was I remember her saying "canna afford to send you to some posh finishing school, but my Granddaughter will know how to behave".  My Gran although rather posh had some quirky phrases that she would use.  Here are a few: 

 

If I told her I could not do something she would say 'you munna say dunna it inna polite, you munna say canna for that inna right'.  This was often repeated by my own mum as my sister and I grew up. 

 

If I asked what was for tea she would say 'bees an nees and spiders elbows'.   

 

Other sayings: 

 

'Do not let your eyes grow on your forehead'. (Which means do not look down on others). 

 

My Gran was also wise.  One of her favourite tricks would be to make sure the table was laid before my granddad came home from work.  She would say, "Put the tablecloth on, lay the mats and put the cutlery out, that way if the dinner isn't ready at least your granddad will know he is going to be fed". 

 

I have very vivid memories of my Gran's kitchen.  She had a stone sink with a cold water tap; you had to watch you didn't graze your arm as it was chipped and ragged around the edges.  The clothes were washed in that tiny sink by hand and then fed through a mangle.  On a nice day the mangle was carried outside by my aunties.  The sheets were white heavy cotton twill and I am sure I remember that on washday my aunties also used to help with taking them out of the sink and feeding them through the mangle.  The water dribbled out into a tin bath and was then used to water the garden. With the sheets it took great effort and often family team work to lift them from the sink to the mangle, on wash days I remember my gran and aunties singing the following song.

 

She who washes Monday has all the week to dry.

She who washes Tuesday is not so far awry.

She who washes Wednesday is not too much to blame.

She who washes Thursday wash for the shame.

She who washes Friday wash for the need.

But she who washes Saturday is a dirty slut indeed.

 

I remember the laughter when they finished singing and me begging them to sing the song again.  It would take a whole day to wash, line dry, fold and air the clothes.  When it rained then Gran had a pulley attached to the ceiling which she brought down.  The pulley was fixed to the ceiling by chains and had a cord which was wound around a large hook fixed to the kitchen wall. It was about three feet long and had three or four wooden slats to hang the washing over.  Then my gran would pull it back up secure the cord and leave the washing to dry over night.  

The ironing was always done the next day, the iron was placed on top of the o heat and I think I remember her having two irons, one to heat and one to use.  They were small compared with today’s iron but quite heavy and of course they cooled off very quickly. 

 

When I was very young the kitchen was lit by gas lamp which.  I remember the excitement when my Gran first had electricity installed.  Her first electric iron was plugged into the light switch and as she was ironing the light cord and the iron cord used to swing across the room.  With hindsight now that was frighteningly dangerous.  My gran would still have to use the gas lamp because of the iron being plugged into the light socket and the shadows from the gas lamp and the motion of the cord swinging across the room created spooky, swirling shadows across the ceiling. 

 

Gran & Granddad

 

 

 

 

My Gran lived at Lloyd Street for over 43 years unfortunately she never owned the house and eventually a new landlord took over.  He wanted to modernise the house and after a lifetime of happy memories and some tragedies she had to move into a small flat at 2 Swan Lane.  I firmly believe that she never recovered from this move.  My Gran died on the 12th June 1975 at Oswestry and District Hospital aged 93.  When her son-in-law Arthur registered her death she was described as the Widow of Frederick William Francis.  So the name 'Fred' was with her to the very end. 

 

My Nan and Granddad had five children five daughters and one son. 

 

DOROTHY FRANCIS 

 

Dorothy Francis was born on the 4th March 1907 and although I have many recollections of Dorothy, she did not talk about her past very much even to her own daughter.  She married Jack Pryce in () and their daughter and Granddaughter still live in Oswestry. 

 

In 1931 Dorothy gave birth to a son Bernard unfortunately he only lived for three days.  He was so tiny when he was born that he was kept in a shoe box lying on and covered in cotton wool to try and keep him warm, which is what they did at that time, he was very blue.

 

When I married and had children, Dorothy never forgot my children’s birthdays and they always had money at Christmas.  My husband and I always received a tin of biscuits at Christmas.  Dorothy died on the 24th January 2001 at the age of 93.

 

CONNIE FRANCIS 

 

Constance Francis born 1908 and I have many fun memories of my Auntie Connie I spent a lot of time with her and she spoiled me.  She would buy me lots of clothes and I remember when she took me out for an afternoon it would be to take flowers to the cemetery to various relatives graves.   

 

Auntie Connie always had a cigarette pasted to her bottom lip.  For many years, she was a nurse.  In June 1941 she married Joseph Slack known to the family as Joe they married at St. Francis' Church, Chester.  It was a hastily arranged wedding as Joe was off to war.  

 

 

 

The following article appeared in the Oswestry Advertizer dated 26th June 1941.

 

SERGT. J. SLACK AND MISS C. FRANCIS

 

The wedding took place on Monday, at St. Francis' Church, Chester, of Sergeant Joseph Slack, The Cheshire Regiment and Miss Constance Francis, second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Francis, 5, Lloyd Street, Oswestry.  The bride, who is a nurse in a Chester hospital, was given away by her father.  She was attired in a dusky pink dress, with a navy edge-to-edge coat, navy hat, shoes and gloves, and wore a gold chain and cross, the gift of the bridegroom, and a spray of pink carnations and fern.  The bridesmaid was Miss Margaret Gorden, a colleague of the bride, who wore a grey costume, black hat and shoes, and a spray of white carnations.  The groomsman was Mr. J Read, junior Nantwich. 

 

My thanks to Derek and his team at Oswestry Library for providing me with a photocopy of the above article. 

 

Sadly, Joe died on the 27th February 1945, which was towards the end of World War 2.  He was the love of Connie's life and although she got on with her life, I do not think she ever got over his death and she did not remarry.    

 

The one time I went to stay with Connie overnight was when she was living at Coed-y-go Nr. Morda something unsettled me do not know to this day why but Connie had to bring me home to my mum and dad.  It was a summers evening and we walked all the way from Coed-y-go to York Fields in Oswestry and then I presume Connie would have to walk all the way back.  Recently my husband and I took a ride to have a look at the cottage Connie lived in it is still there and I realized how long of a walk back to York fields this would have been.  However then we walked everywhere we had no choice. 

 

I also remember Connie walking me over the Gas Works Bridge, pointing, and saying your Great Grandfather used to live in cottages down there.  Connie died on St Swithins day 1959 she had stomach cancer.  I always remember my Gran saying that losing a child was harder than losing her husband.

 

 

 

 

 

The above picture is the front of letter written on 11th December 1944 by Lieut J Slack (289931) 13th Company, 1st South Lancs Regt, B.L.A., and reads. 

 

Heres wishing you a very Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year and I hope that next year we shall all be back home for good. 

Many thanks for your very nice card which I have received today and I like it very much, and I do hope that you have received mine, of course I have been looking forward to that letter you once promised me and I hope it wont be long in arriving now you have my address, and please excuse this one being written in pencil. 

 

Well has will no doubt have guessed or Connie will have told you, since I was last home I have travelled quite alot, I landed at a place called Ostend which was very nice but like all places over here very expensive then on to a place called Horwain, both the last two places where in Belgium, from there I moved on to Holland and I must say when one has the chance to meet the people they are very nice indeed in fact I like the Dutch far more than the French or Belgians, of course the language presents a little difficulty at times but we get over that easy enough, the people themselves are very similar to English people of course in the country they wear some very old type clothes but they do look quite smart and really all, men and women wear clogs, believe me they need to as well for I have never seen or been in such a country for rain or mud, it has rained every day and night since I got over here, the country is very flat indeed, some woods and in case I forget more water, but Connie tells me you have been having your share of rain at home anyway let me have a nice long letter telling me all the news. 

 

How are you keeping these days and how are the dates running nowadays? Still playing with those detestable Yanks I suppose, give my love to Mummy, Dad, Mable & of course Margaret Ruth.  I bet Connie looked funny with her black eye? Still it was a good job I was not at home or you would have blamed me for it. 

Now dear that is all for now, so I will say Goodnight and don't forget to have a good Xmas party and have a drink for me. 

Lots of Love

 

Yours

Joe xxxx 

 

I have typed this letter as it was written.  When I first read this letter I cried and felt as if it was written just as Joe would have talked.  Even more poignant is that the letter was written two months before Joe was killed in action.  The newspaper article, written about his death is in the right hand column.

 

CONNIE AND ME

 

 

 

 

MOLLY FRANCIS 

 

Bertha Francis born 1909 at 25 Lorne Street, Oswestry and is still living.  There is quite a story to my auntie.  My Granddad was sent to register her birth and by the time he got to the registrar he had forgotten what name my Nan had told him to call her so he thought Bertha was a nice name and that is the name on her birth certificate.  However when he got back home he was in serious trouble from my Nan she was horrified that he could have called their daughter Bertha.  My Nan immediately named her Molly and that's what she had been called ever since to all her family and friends.  All here official documents are in the name of Bertha. 

 

Molly married twice her first husband Emrys Williams worked for the GPO in London I believe he had a quite a high powered job. Emrys died in () While married to Emrys and during World War 11 Molly took in Evacuees, after the War she received the following letter from the Queen.

 

 

 

 

 

At the time of this letter from the Queen her address was Craigomer, Cefn, Nr. Wrexham. 

 

Molly would buy designer clothes for me and my sister.  She also bought me my first grown up bed, which was a divan.  She is my Godmother and on my confirmation in 1964, she gave me a prayer book and a signet ring with my initial on both of which I still have and treasure.  Molly taught me everything she could about etiquette and I developed her love of cooking and entertaining.  Although Molly never had or wanted, children of her own she spoiled my sister and me and in turn our children her great nieces and nephews and now her great great nieces and nephews. 

 

MOLLY AND ME

 

 

 

 

Molly stayed single for quite a few years and married Edward Arthur Ashley- Graham in () he was an ex RSM retired in the Army.  

 

Two of my sons travel to Shropshire two or three times a year and my eldest son always takes his children with him and my grandchildren love going to see her.  My youngest son has just come back from Oswestry July 2007 and Molly was not in which surprised him on a Sunday morning only to find her walking up from Aldi with two heavy bags of shopping very sprightly for a ninety-eight year old.

 

JACK FRANCIS 

 

Jack Francis born c(details to follow).  Jack was a Dental Technician he married Inez Thursby on 20th August 1942 at the Registry Office Norwich in the County of Norfolk.   He was 29 and a bachelor and his Rank shown as 144411 S.L.A.C. Royal Air Force Dental Mechanic and his address given as 5 L