Sunday, March 19, 2017

Just an old book?

A few weeks ago a cousin of my Dad's said to me 'I've left a few old bits from Aunty Elsie for you with you Dad - chuck them if you don't want them.'

I was intrigued.  Aunty Elsie was my Grandma's sister, I never knew my Grandma but I was very close to Great Aunty Elsie, (I've blogged about her before).

The next weekend Dad gave me the bits which included this book:

It doesn't look very exciting does it.

But, on opening it, I discovered it was meticulously kept accounts from Dec 1954 to March 1964, all recorded my her husband, Uncle Cyril (I know it was him who wrote it and not her as there are many entries referring to 'wife's wages').

Most of their income was from the sale of the fruit and flowers that they grew, on quite a large scale, and from selling eggs - all seasonal of course, rhubarb featuring in May.

Today, whilst I was reading more of it, I found an entry showing that they'd paid my Grandma, Mrs Harris, for casual fruit labour work, in July 1957.

 He also bought a new summer suit in August 1959 from Joshua Taylor for  £17 and 8 shillings.

Joshua Taylor's was a shop in Cambridge that I remember from my childhood, I think it was on the corner where Monsoon is now.

Why did it stop in March 1964?  Because they retired - the last entry of income is the first payment of their pensions in February 1964

It's a truly fascinating piece of my family's history; I can see where they went on holiday, when they built their new house (and who built it and for how much), and the fact that they had an insurance claim for some damage to some gates.

This is them, Aunty Elsie and Uncle Cyril, the man who hand wrote every single entry in the book.  It was taken in the 1930s and is from a book called 'Cottenham in Focus'. They are with their 'Clara Butt' tulips.

One day, I will try and find out some of the answers to the questions that I have about the entries - for example, who or what is 'Soar' - it seems to be a company they sold to but I've never heard them mentioned before.  But for now I'll just enjoy as it reveals more insights into their lives.


Celia Hart said...

What a wonderful record. I'm sure my grandparents had similar books but they've been thrown out or lost. The name Goodchild is familiar, I'll ask my mum if she remembers and if she has heard of Soar. I used to help write the box labels for my Gran's flowers in the early 1960s, maybe that's why I recall Goodchild as a customer?

C xx

Celia Hart said...

I've just found this maybe it's the same business?

Jo said...

What a lovely thing to have. I'm sure you'll spend hours poring over those pages, they must hold so much information. The photo you have is lovely too. I've just been sent a load of old photos from my dad's cousin of the family and they're wonderful to look back on, especially those of people I've heard so much about but never met.

Gina said...

What a fabulous piece of social history. I remember Joshua Taylor, but only just!

Toffeeapple said...

That is a marvellous piece of history to own. Their pension receipts look very small when one considers what they might be today. I remember that in 1966 I earned £5 per week and was able to feed myself and my husband on that and pay for petrol. It all seems so tiny now.