It must have been about this time that father met my
mother, a strictly brought up young lady of some 20 years of age from a
rather poorer family than his own, living in Fulham. As one of seven
children, mother had got this far by learning to survive. Unlike my
father's family, there was never any money to spare. Dedication to
cleanliness and education were bywords in the Rogers family. Clothes
were either passed down or made, and the slightest refusal to eat up
one's food at table resulted in six other forks descending upon the
plate in question. I never knew Grandfather George Rogers but he
described himself on my mother's Birth Certificate as a 'Journeyman'
(Hot Water Fitter).
In 1893 he was resident in New Road, Marylebone, and
was regularly employed by the 'Upper Crust' society of Central and West
London including Eaton Square. His wife Minnie (nee McGouran) had
already presented him with a son Leslie and a daughter Winnie when my
mother arrived on the scene. She was then followed, fairly quickly, by
Stanley and Bertie, but it wasn't until some 12-14 years later that
Ernie and Bobbie were born.
It would appear that Grandfather and Minnie, whom I
knew well and loved dearly, had a somewhat stormy marriage, but typical
of the Rogers family, the children were too busy getting on with their
own lives to care too much.
Grandfather Rogers' work often took him away from
London. I think this was because the Eaton Square set sometimes needed
him to work in their country homes. He was well respected for his high
quality of work.
When he was away on these trips, it appears that, out
of loneliness for her beloved spouse, Minnie would take to the bottle
(not excessively, but she enjoyed it). Then, upon his return, having
discovered things had not gone as he would have wished, there would be
ructions. It was not long before he found an excuse to be off again.
The children do not appear to have suffered from all
this. As I grew up I knew all my uncles and aunts very well, in fact
much better than those on the Berryman side. Every one of them was
strongly self-disciplined, self-reliant and capable. A bit on the hard
side perhaps, but certainly humorous and loving.
The family home was, by then, 19 Betteridge Road,
Fulham. My father swore that he could run the whole length of the road
in 15 seconds flat when grandfather's boot was behind him. Timing was
never his forte, and daughters in those days had to be home by 10:00 pm.
Grandfather Rogers finally left Minnie and died alone
in the City of Chester during 1930. He evidently had style, I gather he
was known locally as 'The Gentleman'. A loner I think, and I'm sorry I
never knew him. Grandmother Minnie pressed on as far as her limited
means would allow. Although poor and often comforted by a bottle, she
always loved me, her grandson, and was proud of my boyhood achievements.
She was fun and, as a newly-commissioned Pilot Officer in 1942, I sadly
saluted as she was lowered into her grave.
Connie Rogers, later to be my mother, had all this
time been beavering away in Derry & Tom's as a cashier in the
She combined modesty and considerable academic
achievement with her undoubted beauty. A regular prizewinner at school
and commended for good conduct and punctuality, she won first prize in
the Essay Competition open to all London County Council Schools. First
class also in arithmetic, she later developed into a most capable
accountant and could easily have become qualified if she had not married
young. This was in the days when the place of a wife was very definitely
in the home, and Connie was nothing if not dutiful.
I do not think that Derry & Tom's exists today,
but between the wars it was situated at the top of Kensington High
Street which was just about opposite Church Street. I have no doubt that
the imposing building is now under the auspices of another but more
modern business name. The distance from 19 Betteridge Road must be all
of 4 miles and I was regularly reminded that, in order to save the bus
fare, mother walked at least one way each day; and six days constituted
a week's work.
She was paid 2s 6d a week (twelve and a half pence in
decimal coinage). Connie's legs obviously became very strong, as she was
seldom to be off them for the rest of her days. She was industrious and
could move pretty fast. Not fast enough, however, to escape the
attentions of Reginald Wyndham who pursued her relentlessly for another
12 months. She took a fair bit of stick from her brothers, who to say
the least were down to earth, and who had also returned from the war. To
cap it all, they had been reared in a somewhat different environment
from Reggie, not that the Rogers boys were not smart. They certainly
were, but in a different, more casual way.
The exception was younger brother 'Ernie' who was
probably one of the most immaculate men I have yet to meet. Even the
underside of his shoes were polished. At this time, he was the second
youngest and probably had not a great deal to say. Sisters Winnie and
Bobbie enjoyed the experience of my parents' courtship and both adored
Reg for the remainder of his days. He used to arrive to court Connie,
attired in bank clerk's suiting and very debonair with hat and white
gloves. For the time being however, sing-songs round the piano in the
front room cemented the relationship to everyone's ultimate
satisfaction. True to form, Reggie took Connie to the altar on 6th April
1920, thus not wasting even one day of a tax year for marriage