My father died when I was young. He was involved in an accident at the Gaslight and Coke company in Bromley-by-Bow, where he worked. I don't have many memories of him but I do remember being taken to a football match with him. It must have been by the Spotted Dog as the pitch was roped off rather than it being a big football stadium. Another memory I have of him is me crying and him going to remove his belt, but I don't remember being hit.
The most vivid memory I have is of 'the lady'. One night I woke to see a woman in a long white dress leaning over me from the back of the bedstead. She must have been thin as the bedstead was only 4 inches from the wall. She looked at me and said: You'll be alright son, you'll be alright. The dress almost glowed and she had fair hair. The next morning I was woken by my mother in a panic. An ambulance was there waiting to take her to the hospital, she didn't know what to do with me as obviously I couldn't go with her but she didn't have time to ask a neighbour. I told her to go, it would be o.k as the lady upstairs would look after me. I must have been convincing because she went upstairs and looked for 'the lady' who obviously wasn't there. It was a weird experience and I still remember it so clearly, I often think that maybe it was an angel who came at the time of my fathers accident (which at that time I had no knowledge of at all). I wasn't afraid of her and it all seemed perfectly normal to me at the time. I don't remember what my mother did with me.
No-one ever told me my father had died. They didn't tell children then, it was always placatory, with phrases like, your father has gone away or your father has gone to heaven. None of it meant anything to me at the time. I have no knowledge of his funeral. I must have been taken to my Grandmothers (on my mothers side)during the funeral because I have a memory of staying there the night and being given a pair of her bloomers to sleep in. The big ones with elasticated knees. My mother returned later in the day and the first question I asked was 'Where's dad?'. Obviously this caused some upset and I can remember my aunts crying.
In later years, I found out that my father had had a military funeral. He was in the cavalry during WW1 from which he returned. The Gaslight and Coke company at that time were very good employers and encouraged their staff to join the territorial army. So as a WW1 veteran and a reservist I can only imagine this is why he was buried with military honours. He died in 1929 at the age of 34. This would have made me 4 years old.
My mother was left with 3 children, myself, my older brother, Reg and older sister Gladys. The Gaslight and Coke company gave my mother a job as a cleaner. She also had to see her MP to be allowed to receive a widows pension. She had been given money as compensation but had hardly ever touched it. We found out all this after she died. She was a very proud woman and at times a very hard woman. She never remarried.