One is of them was taken on their wedding day on the stairs of the Riverside Hotel in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England in 1958, and the other one is of them both at ‘Land’s End’ in Cornwall a year or two after their marriage.
My Grandad is called Richard Peter Hodges, and my Grandma is called Julia Ann Hodges.
Here are some facts about my Granddad:
- He was born on 04th July 1934.
- His father was a fireman and was killed in action when he was 3 years old.
- After his death his mother was a widow and life was tough with very little money.
- He didn’t have any toys when he was little. He made things from sticks and stones, bits of string and whatever he could find.
- His favourite home-made toy was his catapult, and he was an ace with it!
- When he grew up, he became a very successful engineer.
Here are some of his childhood memories:
- His family lived by the river and one day he and his friend found an old tin bath. People didn’t have bathrooms in those days. Instead they would heat some water on the range (a kind of old fire with a cooker in one side) and then fill the tin bath with it, which they would have put in front of the fire to stay as warm as possible. Then they would take their bath quickly in front of the range and quickly get dry again. It had to be done quickly because houses were not heated as well as they are today, and it was very easy to catch a cold. There were no showers. They didn’t exist. With the old tin bath my Grandad found, he tried to make a boat and sail it on the river, but it was pretty dangerous because it kept on turning over. He and his friend might have drowned!
- When the World War II started, the American soldiers - called ‘G.I.’s - arrived in my Granddad’s small market town, and that changed his life. The first G.Is to arrive were dark-skinned men who worked hard to convert the stables at the bottom of the yard into accommodation for the other soldiers. Later, the light-skinned men arrived and lived in them, and they brought their doughnut-making machine and ice-cream making machine with them. That was the first time my Granddad had heard of doughnuts and ice-cream. Before the Americans arrived, my Grandad’s family didn’t have enough to eat each day, but when the American soldiers saw how thin he and his sisters were, they gave them food (mostly in the form of tins) from their cook house.
- One day, my Granddad was sitting on the gate in the lane by his house and a group of G.Is went by and asked him if he knew what day it was. He said “Yes! – It’s my birthday!”. In fact, it was also American Independence Day! (04th July). After that he was a favourite with the American soldiers and that day one of them gave him a red, metal toy car. It remains the only toy he ever had as a child. It was his only ever ‘birthday present’. He still keeps it on his desk, even though he is now 82 years old.
- When my Grandad grew up, he wanted life to be better for his children (my Mummy and her brother and sister). So, he worked very hard at school and easily passed the ‘eleven plus’ exam (which all children took at 11 years old in the last year of primary school) and he passed with flying colours a year early - when he was only 10 years old. So, he went to Grammar School one year early and started to make a better life for himself through education. A little later, when he met the most beautiful, caring, interesting girl in the world at that time (my Grandma) he knew he wanted to marry her straight away and live a life that was happier and not as difficult as his early years had been.
Now, here are some facts about my Grandma:
- She was born on 07th July 1937.
- She lived in the countryside in England (an area called ‘The Cotswolds’) in a beautiful, large country home.
- Her parents worked on a big ‘feudal’ estate with a kind of ‘Lord of the Manor’ who was in charge.
- She loved going to school.
- She had some lovely toys but none of them survive now because she had younger brothers and sisters who played with them after her.
- When she grew up, she had three lovely children.
Here are some of her childhood memories:
- When she was the same age as me, she used to go and play sometimes at her friend Nancy’s house. They played outside using leaves to pretend they were serving tea and having a tea party in the grass under the trees.
- Nancy’s Dad had a car because he worked in a garage. Not many people who lived in the countryside had cars in those days (circa 1940) and the land was still largely worked using horses.
- For a treat, my Grandma’s Mummy sometimes made home-made toffee, and their favourite thing was to pack a picnic and walk up Bredon Hill (which is very beautiful, with a lovely view), set up their picnic and spend the afternoon there playing on the grass among the trees and flowers, paddling in a nearby stream and enjoying the fresh air.
- When my Grandma was 9 years old she was in a play at school called ‘Hiawatha’ which they performed outside. She remembers how she loved dressing up as a Native American Indian.
- One of her favourite memories is when she and her class used to dance around the maypole on May Day, making pretty pattern formations with the long, silky ribbons and having great fun.
- My Grandma didn’t see much of the American soldiers (G.I.s) because she lived in the countryside and was younger than Granddad, who lived in the town where they were stationed.
- The war was not so traumatic for my Grandma because she lived in the country and they had plenty of food in the form of home-grown vegetables and livestock (animals like pigs, cows, chickens for eggs etc.)
Today, my Grandad and Grandma have been married for 59 years.
Here attached is a picture of them as they are today. This July my Grandad will be 83 and my Grandma will be 80 years old.
My Grandad still runs two or three miles each day to keep fit, and my Grandma wears a pedometer to measure her steps. She likes to do about 16,000 steps per day.
I hope you find this interesting.