Robert James Lawson -I was born on the 19th August 1925.
My earliest memory was about 1929. I was four years of age, I remember my mother taking me to my ninny walling’s house in Rockeby Street where I was born. We had set off down Rose Vale where we lived, into Langrove Street, into Prince Edwin Street, then through small side streets into Everton Brow, then into Rockeby Street. My nin was a little lady who had six daughters and a son, she also lost a son aged 5 through an accident in a playground. Nin had beautiful hair and when she combed it out it reached down and completely covered her back.
The house was so tiny, it was a two up two down with a toilet in the back yard next to the coal place. I’d swear the living room was only about 8ft x 8ft, with furniture in it there wasn’t much room. Yet on Sunday night every week we would get together at nins, mum, dad, aunty peg, uncle will, aunty nelly, uncle dick, and aunty hetty who was unmarried and in her teens.
My aunty hetty was only about 16 or 17 years old and she used to brush her hair over a hundred times and it really shone a lovely red colour. She had a few boyfriends that I can remember. The story goes that one of her boyfriends was a jew and he wanted to marry hetty, but when he insisted she change her religion and forsake her family and live the way he wanted she told him where to go.
Her older sister nelly was courting dick king and she was still living with her mum. So places for courting were few and far between. They courted on the stairs and especially on Sundays they must have been driven mad with the kids running in and out. I have spoken to Nellie recently (2004) she told me sometimes they would go to our entry alongside the church at the top of Rockeby Street to do their courting. One night someone threw a cabbage at them, they had a good laugh and so did I when she told me.
We looked forward to Sundays because nin showed us kids a lot of love. She couldn’t give us much in the way of clothes, toys and other material things, but always lots of affection. Now granddad was a different kettle of fish. He showed us no affection at all and my picture of him was sitting by the fire in the old grate leaning on the kettle and smoking his pipe and then spitting in the fire. Grandad was a short, stocky man with hair like wire wool. According to stories I was told, as a young man he treated my nin very badly. To his credit, if any of his grandchildren came in he would ask them who they were and then proceed to tell them their birthday. He cornered a rat in the coal place once and when a rat is in that position it will try to jump over your shoulder. This one landed on his chest and he had to kill it with his hands, he worked in Bibbys on the docks he was used to rats, the place was overrun with them.