Annie – 100 years

So, my mam would have been 100 years old today had she still been alive. She died in April 2015 of dementia, a shadow of the woman I knew best. I thought it apt to choose to make my memories of her the subject of my first proper blog post on my new Family History website.

Born Annie Jubb, 20th October 1920 in Sidney Street in one of the poorest areas of East Hull, known as Groves, mam had happy memories of her childhood on the whole. She used to talk about how she and her younger sister Rose were the lucky ones because they and younger brother Gil were the youngest of a family of nine surviving siblings. The eldest two or three by now working and bringing money into the household, so mum, Rosie and Gil had warm coats and shoes on their feet. She loved her family very much and always used to tell us that although they were poor, there was always a good meal on the table and they were loved and cared for by their parents.

Her first job at the age of 14 was at Needler’s factory, making sweets and chocolates. Now for those who remember my mum, they’ll remember she could be a bit on the fiery side if she felt she or someone she loved had been wronged! More on this later but for now, this was to be her undoing at Needler’s when, after complaining to the forewoman that the conveyor belt was too fast for them to pack the chocolates and being told to get back in line and get on with it, she threw a box full of chocolates on the floor and jumped on it before marching out. Arriving at home in the middle of the day finding her mother scrubbing the floor she announced that she had ‘left the job’ and found herself dodging the scrubbing brush that my grandma threw at her for being so stupid to leave a job without another to go to! Such were the times that everyone needed to be working and contributing….and that fieryness, it is hereditary among the women in the family!

Annie, or Ann as she was more commonly known was 19 when WW2 broke out and she loved to tell us all the stories of going to dances and being walked home by handsome soldiers or airmen. She and Rose had fun during those war years, no hanky panky mind you! She started work at Ideal Boilers & Radiators Ltd or most commonly known locally at the time as ‘Radiator’. A young Scot called Sam Cuthbert who was a time-served pattern maker and so in a protected trade was sent down from Glasgow to Hull to work at Radiator, although at the time he would have preferred to sign up to fight as his two elder brothers were doing in the RAF. However, his skills were needed to help make the boilers and radiators for military use and besides that, he would never have met Annie Jubb had he been in the RAF! They started courting despite another fellow who was sweet on mam trying his best to come between them and telling mam “you can’t understand what the Scotch bugger says”. Mam’s response was “I understand him well enough” and in 1946 Annie and Sam were married.

L-R : Ellen Cuthbert, Jack Cuthbert, Rose Jubb, Sam, Annie, bridesmaids Pat Sillis & Sheila Harrison, Bill Jubb, Eliza Jubb

In the wedding photo above is my father’s mother and brother, mam’s sister Rose, mam’s brother Bill who gave her away (grandfather didn’t bother going to weddings after the first one apparently! ), mam’s mother and the bridesmaids are the daughters of mam’s sisters, Jessie Sillis and Maggie Harrison.

Daughter Ann arrived in August 1947 followed in March 1950 by son Peter Graham (known as Graham all his life) and youngest son Stewart in May 1952. Around this time, dad’s mother and siblings had decided to emigrate to Canada and wanted Sam and Ann to go with them. Mam was so very close to her own parents and siblings and just couldn’t contemplate living so far away from the people she loved and currently saw almost everyday so they stayed here in Hull. In 1962 mam was shocked to find herself pregnant again, this time with me and I was born on their wedding anniversary, 29th June1962.

My happiest childhood memories are of my aunts visiting. Once a week on a Monday afternoon the sisters all came round to our house and had cups of tea and Hovis bread spread with best butter. Oh to wangle a day off school and sit on the floor, usually playing with the button tin and making bracelets and necklaces for them all to wear whilst listening in to all the gossip. On Fridays it was Aunt Jessie’s home that hosted the gathering, same format and mostly the same gossip but still irresistible to me.

Back to the fieryness I mentioned earlier, another wonderful set of memories are of mam’s ferociousness in sticking up for us all, whether we were in the right or not! Graham and Stewart were the kind of kids who were always in bother with someone, no serious trouble, just kids mischief kind of things. Dad used to laugh as he would recall that mam always spoke out for them, even when it was plain they’d been buggers. She always said they weren’t a scrap of bother but dad said that’s right, they weren’t any bother to her, just to everyone else! Ann caused no such problems but mam had cause to step in and fight her corner when in 1962 at the age of 15, Ann had to take some time off school to help mam when I was born. The headmaster in his stupidity decided to refuse to give Ann her leavers certificate, a much needed document in those days if you were looking for a job! He should have known better really having had many dealings with mam due to Graham and Stewart’s misdemeanors (which of course she defended resolutely). Mam soon sorted out his little error of judgement with a visit to the school and Ann had her certificate. As for me, I recall a time at school when I was about 11, a particular teacher just took a dislike to me and picked on me at every opportunity. One day, I had forgotten to take money in for a cookery lesson and she gave me such a slap that the whole class went silent in shock. I waited until her back was turned and ran home in floods of tears. Now this was another case when mam’s ire was completely justified and so she marched off to school to ‘have a word’ and the tales that my school friends told of the day Mrs. Cuthbert came into school and gave Miss a good telling off, threatening to give her a good hiding if she ever touched me again gave me legendary status for a few weeks.

By 1972, I was the only one left at home, Ann, Graham and Stewart all being married and starting their own families. This is when my mam became the absolute personification of a grandma. She did the babysitting, the spoiling rotten and she loved nothing more than Saturday afternoons when the family would visit and the grandchildren play in the garden or borrow books from my collection of Enid Blyton’s. There was always something she could rustle up to eat if someone arrived hungry, sausage, egg and chips being a favourite. My dad was a keen gardener and as well as vegetables and salad crops, we had apple trees in the garden and most weekends during autumn, she would have baked apple pies. Everyone went home with an apple pie and a bag of veg from the garden. These were such happy times and I loved Saturday family visits. I was close to my nieces and nephews being only 9 years older than the eldest of them. Although we have all grown apart with our own lives and families, there is no doubt that these happy memories still bind us together as a family.

By the time I had my sons, the first crop of grandchildren were mostly grown so my two were lucky to have a lot of lovely grandma attention. Dad had suffered a couple of strokes and after he died in 1996, mam started to spend a lot of time with me and the boys, my husband at the time often working away at sea. Each Saturday after the family visit, I would drive her back to my house and she would spend the night and the next day with us. She became my best friend and was always there for me when I needed her. Lovely things I remember most are the way one of my dogs, Aslan, was so devoted to her that no one else could do anything for him when mam was around. He would go and ask her to let him out, get him food or whatever else he wanted. I was redundant! Michael and Mason loved to sit either side of her with her reading to them and Mason was obsessive about a TV show called Stars in Their Eyes and insisted that grandma was sitting next to him to help him guess who the person was going to impersonate. She would have cooked a beef joint at home and we would have that for our Sunday lunch, ‘grandma meat’ as the boys called it. When she was slicing the beef on Sunday lunchtime, Aslan and Ziggy my two dogs would be sitting patiently by her side knowing they were going to be given a treat. Sometimes on Sundays if the weather was good, we would go for a drive to the coast, all of us, kids, dogs, me and mam. I’d take the dogs for a run on the beach and mam would take care of the boys. They were very happy times for all of us and I know my boys remember it as fondly as I do.

After mam’s sight deteriorated due to macular degeneration, Ann and I talked her into moving into sheltered accommodation and not long after that, she developed dementia and went downhill from there, needing daily carers. This is a time I don’t like to remember because I am ashamed that I didn’t do enough to help. Ann was wonderful and she and husband Tony being retired and living very close by had the main responsibility for looking after mam. They were so good with her and dealt with so much. I found it difficult to spend time with mam and didn’t visit often enough or give her enough attention when I did. I only wish now that I could turn back time and be a different daughter to her when she needed me the most.

But for now, on what would have been her hundredth birthday, I’ll have my happy memories and wish her a Happy Birthday wherever she may be. I hope she and my dad are having a bit of a knees-up to celebrate the occasion.

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