Year and place of birth
I was born 21st June 1920, my name was Daisy Rose Puddephatt and I was born in “The Vale” a very small village just outside Chesham with about 24 houses and one Public House “The Black Horse” which was run by a Mr and Mrs Wakefield whom had three children, Ivy, Dorothy and Ronald. Also in the village we had a small chapel which we would go to every Sunday afternoon, Sunday school teachers would walk from Chesham to teach us, the older children went with Mother, the younger ones stayed with Father.
I had four brothers and three sisters myself making eight of us, Mother and Father making ten of us, all living in a two up, two down small cottage and all being fed and clothed on one wage. We always looked neat and tidy, uniforms weren’t compulsory for state schools.
Sometimes an older sister would grow out of a coat, so it would be turned up for me, I was ever so pleased I liked it better than mine! So my younger sister would have mine passed on to her. We were taught to look after our clothes, never to throw them down any old place, always to hang them up, Mother liked things to be tidy and everything in its rightful place.
We had to take sandwiches and a slice of cake for school dinners and sit at our desks to eat them, no canteen etc. We’d put our mouth under the tap for a drink, some-times some one would bring an old cup and our friends would let us use it.
Before I go any further I would like to mention we had no electric, gas or tap water in our small cottage. Father would draw it from the well, standing astride with his feet, the bucket on some rope, one hand in front of the other he would pull it up, we used about two tin bathfulls a day.
We also had a very crude toilet, which the council supplied us with free disinfectant for. In the cold dark nights Father would have the task of taking the four girls up to the top of the garden to the small brick structure that housed our toilet, this brick building was about eight feet high with two bricks left out to supply fresh air, no windows! Imagine four daughters all needing the toilet at different times of the evening.
Father would carry an old empty jam jar with a candle stuck inside, a piece of string tied round the jar for a handle to light our way up the garden and we would take this in the toilet with us as there was no light in the toilet. Father would stand outside patiently in the cold dark night air, bet he was glad when the summer nights came! Of course my four brothers always put on brave faces and went alone.
Although we had this toilet we didn’t have a bathroom. We did have a copper boiler that boiled the white clothes, sheets etc. with a place beneath it to burn fuel. We filled the copper boiler with cold water and also used this boiler to supply us with water for our weekly bath, when the water was heated we would use a large enamel jug to scoop the water out and into a large tin bath on the floor, no press buttons or switches here.
We knew no different – this was just a natural ritual, my sisters and brothers and of course myself were bathed in front of each other; this was normal and natural to us all we were never embarrassed. Of course, for light we had paraffin lamps down stairs, one in each room, to go to bed we had a candle in a “candle stick” we had to blow it out once we settled down to sleep.
At weekends we had three meals a day. Breakfast, nearly always toast, porridge was one of our favourites for breakfast especially on cold winter mornings, great with jam on. About midday to 1pm a proper hot meal the same as most people have in the evenings these days, then about 4.30pm to 5pm for tea we would have paste sandwiches sometimes with banana in and also Marmite which was supposed to be healthy eating and Mother’s very own home-baked cakes.
My younger sister and myself had to keep the bedroom tidy and she would stand one side, me the other to make our bed and fold our nighties up nicely, put them under our pillow. We had to share a bedroom with two brothers, one younger, one older, but boys and men didn’t do housework things in those days.
I remember when young we had no radio or television in our cottage as they hadn’t been invented, all we had was a gramophone with a big horn, just inside the horn was a miniature painting of a little dog and written round it was “his master’s voice” which was the maker’s name.
I was nine or ten years old when we first had a radio, before that we would play Ludo, Snakes and Ladders, cards or dominoes, sometimes we would just chat very quietly of course, our house before the radio was very quiet!
My Father kept chickens and he used to take our dog in the pen with him when he went to feed the hens and all you could hear when he threw the maize and corn down was repeatedly “chick-chick, stay” over and over again.
He also had an allotment at the back of our small Chapel so we were never short of vegetables, you name them he grew them, even flowers so Mother had flowers from him as well as our wild ones that we would bring her, he wasn’t going to be out done by us children!
We also used to pick baskets of dandelion heads, because Mother made dandelion wine, just snip the heads off. I remember once we were all sitting very quietly at the meal table when a couple of the bottles in the pantry made a funny noise as the corks popped off, we started giggling, Mother just said “now, now” we weren’t sent to bed this time for giggling at the meal table, after all there were us three young ones, too many meals to be wasted.
We also used to go blackberry picking so Mother could make jam, pies and puddings which of course helped as there was still only one wage coming in to keep us all, it must have been a relief for Mother when my older brothers and sisters started to work and contribute money for our large family.
We were never smacked we knew by Mum’s tone of voice “she means it” we just knew we mustn’t answer back. Looking back maybe we respected our parents, I just don’t know, yet they never threatened us. I know sometimes I was sent to my bedroom for being sort of naughty, I was giggling at the meal table about something once when this happened that’s all the discipline I remember.
I can remember my Father saying to my brothers “be a man for goodness sake” it was normal for men to be the head of the house hold, no equality between husband and wife, in big families such as ours older brothers and sisters would look after the younger members of the family and stick up for us younger ones especially when out to play.
More memories that have come to me during my note making are that during the 1920’s and 1930’s council workers would even come to the Vale to sweep the roads to keep them free of litter and in the winters free of the snow that would fall during the night, they would have sanded the roads well before we had woken and set out for the day.
When we did all go out we did not have to worry about locking the door, our Co-op delivery man would just come in and leave the groceries on the table for Mother and shut the door behind him! Mr Shirly the baker would do like wise with our bread order, crime was rare. The postman Bob Surman would stop me on his rounds and say “here you are, a letter for you from your sailor husband hope it’s good news” obviously this was while Tom was away during the War, Bob was our postman well before the outbreak of War, I can remember him right back in the 1930’s.
Our milkmen Bill and Cyril Palmer would measure our milk out in Gills – 4 Gills in 1 Pint – this would be poured into our own jugs for our use, the milk bottle was unheard of and we could only obtain milk from the milkman he delivered the milk in a small two wheeled horse and cart which had a little step at the back for him to get to his seat to reach the horse’s reins, at the back of the cart were two very large milk churns. The only milk we could buy from a shop was condensed in a tin and was very sweet.
Another delivery we had was coal from either Mr Bruton or Mr Woodley from Sunnyside Road, we needed coal for our only method of heating, it would be used for cooking and in the fire grates, we would make our toast by putting the bread on the end of a fork and hold it up in front of the grate bars to brown it.
In the summer Walls ice cream was sold to us by a man on a three wheeled bike which had a large square box on wheels containing the ice cream, Mother would take a basin out and have four penny worth (old pence) for herself and Father while we children would have cornets which cost two pence each (again old pence) this was quite a lot of money!
All the delivery persons that I have mentioned would keep the same job all their working lives until retirement and that’s why we were able to refer to them by name we lived in a very friendly environment.
You had to be very naughty to get the cane, I can’t remember any girl getting it. If we were late we would have a hundred lines to do, for instance “I must not be late”, and for speaking in class the same thing, a hundred lines. We were too scared of the cane to do anything really bad.
My favourite lessons were dictation competition, music, history, sewing, knitting and science. When at White Hill School we had domestic lessons which we used to go down to Germain Street once a week to be taught at the back of the boys’ playground, there was a special room there where the teachers had their mid-day snack so we were taught housekeeping such as how to lay the fire in the open grate and how to lay the table.
I started school at Townsend Road Infants which was our nearest school, from five years of age to eight years of age. Between these ages our classes were mixed, when between the age of eight years and eleven years I, and the other girls went round to the other part of the school, the boys and girls were separated, the boys were sent to the top half of The White Hill Girls School until they were eleven years of age and then they were sent to Germain Street Boys’ School until the age of fourteen years when they left to go to work.
I went with the other girls up to White Hill Senior Girls School until I was fourteen years of age and left to start work. I can remember that while at White Hill School there were two playgrounds, one for the junior boys and one for the senior girls.
The teachers’ names at Townsend Road Infants that I can recall most were Miss Governess Bell, Miss Wheeler, Miss Pearce, Miss Reynalds and Miss Bragg, maybe some were Mrs but being children it always was “yes miss, no miss” when answering questions, sadly the school is no longer there.
Playtime games at White Hill were mostly skipping and chasing. The Head Mistress was a Scots lady, Miss Morrison VERY strict if she said “jump” you did! She used to come to school on a bike and she would always catch one of us to push her bike up the hill. At White Hill Girls’ School I got to like Drill as it was called then which is called P.T. or P.E. maybe even something else now, nothing stays the same.
I can only recall just three of the teachers at White Hill apart from the Scots Head Mistress, Miss Edwards, Miss Wright and Miss Griffiths. Every Friday morning at White Hill the whole school congregated in the Hall, the Headmistress and all the teachers would stand out the front and when all was quiet and settled all of the pupils standing (you could hear a pin drop) we would say altogether in perfect unison “Good morning Miss Morrison” she would reply “Good morning girls”, we would say a prayer, sing some hymns and always end with God Save our King anthem. We all marched out in single file, silently, no giggling, well behaved, the only sound was from our feet, you see we didn’t want that cane.
Other lessons at school of which only a few I have mentioned earlier were of course arithmetic (as we knew it) also we had drawing lessons which is now known as Art class I believe, of course painting was a subject that I liked along with spelling which I loved. Before we started our work we always had prayers and also said “Good morning Miss” always in perfect unison.
Sometimes it would sound a bit noisy in the classroom when we sat down and our teacher would say “Quiet please” and we would certainly be quiet! A register was called first thing every morning, no one ever stayed away from school unless they were genuinely unwell, we had a man called “The School Board” who would visit parents to check up on us, so you would be in great trouble if you played truant not just with parents and teachers but that cane would keep looming.
We played when young, hoop, top, skipping and hopscotch. Ruff and tumble football with the boys as well as cricket, although we didn’t get chance to bat much, the boys saw to that!
We as children used to get up at six o’clock in the morning to pick mushrooms when the fields were fresh with dew, we also played in the fields and woods climbing trees and swinging out on the boughs, in the spring time we would pick blue bells, violets, primroses, cowslips, horse daisies, periwinkles and honey suckle from the hedge rows.
Mother would put them in vases on the windowsill. I can remember that we could walk all the way to Bellingdon and Ashley Green through the fields and woods, we didn’t have a bus service through the village in the 1920’s and 1930’s and so we children also had to walk all the way to school from the Vale, our nearest school was my first school Townsend Road School, we thought nothing of walking miles in those days, we didn’t own a car. I can also remember that the nearest we got for a paddle was a small pond in the village that was part of a “spring” that came up through the ground in the winters.
In my teens onwards I went to the British Legion dances sometimes, there were two cinemas in Chesham, The Astoria in the Broadway and The Embassy in Red Lion Street, sadly all gone now. Sometimes we would go to The Regent cinema up in Amersham-on-the-Hill. On sunny days we would stroll sedately through the avenue of elm trees in Lowndes Park pretending to ignore the boys!
Our family couldn’t afford holidays so instead we would have the odd day out at the seaside by local coach. In my early teens I would spend a month with my Auntie and Uncle in Paddington, on reflection I also spent time with them when I was a little girl. Naturally we always went and supported all the Chesham Festivals, we always put on a good show and still do, even better than ever.
I went to work at the age of fourteen years at Lewis’s Brush Factory just up the side road opposite The Nashleigh Arms Pub. Above our small factory was “Howards”. Sometimes we used to help out another brush factory Beechwoods Brush Factory which was situated in Higham Road. I always loved housework so I decided to answer an advert “Wanted Housemaid”.
I got the job and left the brush factory, my boss said “if you don’t like it you can always come back”, I did like it, but missed my freedom, as I only had half a day a week and a separate night a week off, the money was wonderful and the food delicious and I got on well with The Lady of the House, the cook and the chauffeur, but I went back to the brush factory and eventually the 2nd World War came and I was sent to High Wycombe on War Munitions, the work place was called Cossors , this was not my choice but the government’s.
We had to show our special cards when coming in and going out of the factory, it was all very secret and severely fenced off. We had to go into lodgings as the bus service to and from work was too poor for me to travel home to Chesham Vale each day, the government paid some of our rent for us.
I stayed quiet a while but I found out I could get special exemption and return to Chesham, because having lost my mother at the age of eleven years I had been cooking and cleaning for my father and brothers ever since and now my father and brothers were finding it hard to care for themselves while I was working and living in High Wycombe, so I went before a “Court Tribunal” and I was allowed to return home. Not long before this I met the man whom was to become my husband.
Late family life
I first met my husband at the Astoria Cinema in the Broadway, Chesham. The programme had finished, I got up to go, but apparently my gloves had fallen from my lap, yes, it couldn’t be more old fashioned but, it’s true, he found them and picked them up, I got out into the foyer and he gave them to me, shook my hand and said “I’m Tom”, so obviously I said “I’m Daisy” and from then on we became a couple.
I had not noticed who was next to me all through the programme before. Tom and I had been going together for about a year, then sadly at eighteen years of age he was “called up” to fight in the war, so he chose to serve in the navy and on one of his returns on leave we got married, he was nineteen years old and I was twenty two years old, we were able to get married in Church but it was a very quiet affair as rationing was in full swing luckily I did manage to wear the usual white bridal gown and veil, he looked so handsome in his naval uniform.
Time passed, the war ended, gradually things got back to normal more or less. We went and lived with my Father in the Vale when Tom returned from the war and I can remember that we belonged to the Black Horse Pub darts team in the village and the publican would take us in his car to play other teams.
My husband got a job at “Carsbergs” in Asheridge Road making surgical instruments, a big change from the job he had before the war and being called up as he had been a clerk with a large London firm but he didn’t want to commute by train each day back and forth to London , when I had first met him his firm had evacuated to Amersham-on-the-Hill during the war and then moved back to London when the war ended, while working for Carsbergs he also played football for them, he worked for a long while at Carsbergs and was not many years off retirement when the firm moved to Essex, we didn’t want to “up sticks” at our time of life so my husband went to work at the Radiochemical Centre which subsequently changed its name to Amersham International, he retired from this job at sixty three years old, just a few years later I sadly lost him to a heart attack.
During our marriage we had our four children, all sons, when they were young we couldn’t afford holidays so we would all go up to London for the day, visit the zoo, museums, boating lakes, parks etc. When at home we would visit our local park to go to the swings and feed the ducks.
I have now got three grand daughters and two grand sons and over the last four years I have become a great grand mother, two great grand daughters and one great grand son.
During our time married our most favourite and happy holidays were spent at Bournemouth with many happy memories for me to cherish.