Now in her eighties, Kathleen Curry recalls the Crowes, a family of ten, of which her own grandmother was one. She has gathered together memories of all the brothers and sisters, together with some family stories about the Crowes, their children and grandchildren.
Though written chiefly for family, friends and Crowe relatives, these memories of a by-gone era provide vivid insight into a reality that’s now the stuff of history. But here it is alive and kicking.
Auntie Lou had been a parlourmaid in one of the posh Green Walk houses and Uncle Herbert was a gardener up the road. I think he must have been somewhat disabled even then and his courting was far from adventurous. He simply stood outside the back gate whistling, until Lou came out and sent him away. He came back again though, time after time, and to her great embarrassment. The other maids called him ‘the Green Walk Cuckoo’. In the end, she said, there was “only one way to get rid of him, and that was to marry him”, so that was what she did. They had no children, although she was a loving and motherly person.
But she didn’t like little boys. To my delight, she would have nothing to do with my brother Peter, while I could do no wrong. She would let me build houses with the pack of cards or play with the button box, spreading the buttons all over the table. And she read to me for hours out of those Victorian religious children’s books. My favourite was Little Faith—The Child of the Toy Stall. It always made me cry but I loved it. Sometimes we played Ludo, or Snakes and Ladders, and I always won.
Inside the house there was very little furniture. The kitchen had only the table, two chairs and some sort of dresser, whilst the front room had nothing in it but an empty birdcage. The kitchen had a shallow sink which we called a ‘slopstone’, a table for baking and a shelf for the china. There were only three cups: His, Hers and one for a visitor. No-one was ever allowed to drink out of Auntie Louie’s cup—it was sacred. Even I had to have the visitor’s cup.
One day Auntie Louie took ill and was carried off to hospital. I must have been nine years old at the time and knew without a doubt that rather than drink out of anyone else’s cup, she would die. And she did.