Tenants at No 29

From Clifford Chambers
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Back to the Square

“I dare you,” said Vic Radbourne to young Jack Huckvale of the Horseguards. “I dare you to go over to that young lady over there, sitting under that pear tree, and ask if she would like a drink!” And that’s how Jack and Dot Huckvale met!

Dot was staying with her Granny Robbins and had accompanied her Granny to the Pub, and Jack was on leave from his National Service. By the time they came to live at No 29, they had been married a couple of years, spending their first two years living and eating at No. 24 with Jack’s parents and sleeping at No. 11 where they lodged with the Woodfields.

Life at No 29 was blissful, where they bathed in a tin bath in the kitchen and had four children in one of the two bedrooms! Fortunately, the first three were girls, but when John, the youngest, turned up, it did seem to make the four-roomed cottage small. John’s birth brought great excitement. “It’s got a tail!” Jack shouted out of the window to his neighbours. Then he got on his bike and cycled along to his mother who was now living on the corner of The Nashes, shouting along the street, “It’s a boy!”

The Radbourne’s were their neighbours and, with the two Radbourne boys near the age of their four, there was a lot of sharing of baby-sitting. Dot has happy memories of spending evenings at the river bank, fishing, while Norah Radbourne listened out for her children. By the time John reached the age of three, they realised the family was now far too big for the cottage, so they moved to No 5 Orchard Place.

In their place came the Assistant Matron of Birmingham Accident Hospital, Miss Muriel Taylor (known all the rest of her life in the village as Miss Taylor). She was quietly spoken but very firm in her convictions and in her principles. She was the picture of efficiency and tidyness. Her little garden just by her kitchen window became her patio where, during warm days, she would bring out a silver tray covered with a beautifully-laundered traycloth in which rested a dainty teapot and milk jug, with a matching cup and saucer. Also, a matching tea plate with a few of her home-made biscuits. She would sit amongst her lilies and roses, daintily sipping tea in her afternoon dress, her hair neatly drawn into a bun on the top of her head. She loved her cottage and her garden – and the birds! She was still working in the Hospital when she arrived in the village, travelling to and from work in a little car. When she retired, she sold her car and bought a bike. Twenty years later, that bike was still spotless though she rode it regularly into Stratford to do her weekly shopping. Once she had unpacked her shopping on coming home, the bike would be turned upside down and she would give it a good cleaning and oiling.

She joined in many of the activities in the village, placing her produce in the Produce Show; serving on the W.I.Commitee; helping with the Over 60’s, and singing in the Church Choir. She enjoyed life to the full, appreciating everything and everyone around her, and was a joy to listen to, as she had such a wonderful sense of humour, as well as many interesting things to tell us. Sadly, she became ill with cancer, but in her illness, she never lost her quiet dignity and firm resolve. When the illness became severe and she realised she could no longer be the tidy efficient woman she had always been, she made a brave decision. She left the little cottage she loved so much, and the garden where so much beauty had been nurtured under her caring hands, and spent the rest of her life in Myton Hospice. Here, sympathetic nurses kept her shielded from anything that might crumble the dignified pride she had in her bearing and appearance. She lived quietly and died quietly and bravely – a great woman!