Cynthia’s childhood memories of older brother, Malcolm Harvey 1936 – 2020. Written for family members across the Atlantic.
I always feel that in some ways we had two different families – the pre-war one consisted of mum, dad and three young boys
After a lull during the war the family became mum, dad and a boy and girl!
Malcolm was born in 1936 and until I came along was the baby of the family.
I’m sure it was a bit unsettling to get pushed out especially as I believe the boys, with dad away, were ‘farmed out’ to various relatives while mum was in hospital as a good ten days was the minimum to be kept in, in those days. It was also the time that he started school and with the war going on there was quite an upheaval.
There were numerous scares and when the sirens went off, everyone had to rush to the air-raid shelters. We had a small one in our garden but the main community one was at the school opposite. I of course was unaware of most of this but Brian told me Malcolm became very reserved at that time and developed a bit of a nervous tic. Dad returned home in November 1945 so we were a family with 4 youngsters for a couple of years. I was lucky as the only girl, because I got my own bedroom whereas the three boys had to share. Around 1947 Brian and Gordon both left school. Brian joined the Navy as a boy entrant and Gordon went to do his National Service prior to University. Thus we became the family of 4 as mentioned above and Malcolm got a bedroom to himself! At that stage I think we were close enough in age for me to be a bit of an annoying little sister and we each had our own friends during term time. One main memory of our childhood however is of our musical evenings. Mum played the piano and we all had our own songs to sing. I’m afraid I have no singing voice and, according to Brian, it was pretty dire! Luckily we had some elderly aunts who would always clap in appreciation so I didn’t realise at the time. Also we could always rely on Malcolm to save the day with first his soprano and later tenor voice. His speciality was “Bless this House”
Our dad was not a one for going away on holiday unless it involved fishing but I do remember, soon after the War, staying near the Thames in a converted bus coach – no proper caravans until much later! While we were there Malcolm became popular as dad had hired a rowing boat and Malcolm got himself a little job ferrying folk across the river. We had one other family holiday staying on a farm near the Norfolk Broads. After that, holidays were spent on fishing days out, usually by the Thames.
Gordon’s National Service took him to Gibraltar where he met Maribel, his future wife. However they had to be parted for the next three years while Gordon was at University. (They managed to write to each other almost every day! No mobile phones then). In 1953 they were married in Gibraltar as by this time Gordon had joined the Admiralty and managed to get a posting there. Gordon asked Malcolm to be his best man as it wasn’t feasible for any of the rest of us to make the journey. I believe good-looking Malcolm made quite an impression on the young Gibraltarian girls!
It was later in 1953 that I started at the same secondary school as Malcolm. I, of course, was quite proud of my handsome, prefect brother but I think, as a little first former, I was a bit of an embarrassment to him.
The trouble with Malcolm was that he was good at everything. He had passed his exams well, was really good at athletics and games, played the piano and of course had a lovely voice. Soon after I started, a friend told me they had seen my brother out with one of the girls from school and when quizzed Malcolm confirmed the name of his girl friend as Pat Jarman! That is how it all started. Malcolm left school in 1955 and went to Southampton University to get his BSc degree. He continued there to study for his PhD. I was a bridesmaid at their wedding and Pat joined Malcolm as he completed his studies.
In 1961 they made that important decision to uproot to Canada. I think it was a wrench for all involved at the time but one that was to be the start of a momentous life for many. Sadly in April 1962 my dad was killed by an Underground train on his way home from work. Having just got settled at Deep River and with money a bit tight, he was worried about getting back to the UK, but family here persuaded him that he should remain in Canada. I know it hit him hard. Of course my mum in particular missed Malcolm a lot, even more so after dad’s death. However one of the highlights of those days was receiving letters. We were all worn out reading about the numerous activities taking place summer and winter as in comparison we lived quite a staid life (and still do!). As time went on Malcolm was able to make visits, often when he was on lecturing tours and some of us have made the opposite journeys.
80th birthday cake, courtesy of little sister!
Family 80th birthday gathering for Malcolm, with the ‘Sandersons’
I would like to promote this organisation, working to provide toilet facilities, clean water and health education, to the poorest and most deprived communities around the world. https://www.toilettwinning.org/
As a family and social historian, I find it fascinating, and often horrifying to consider how my ancestors and their neighbours had to live in the past.
Luckily I was born at a time when health and education was well established in the developed world. However, many around the world still do not have basic facilities.
The results caused by the lack of these facilities falls mainly on the women, as they are charged with water collection, and the results of disease (particularly in their children), spread by dirty water. Many of my female ancestors faced the same issues.
Although the most basic of necessities, provision of toilet facilities is not something mentioned too often. Taken for granted in developed societies, as I’m sure we all enjoy our own home comforts!
I would like to tell the family story of THIS toilet, which has been twinned with a latrine in Afghanistan!
In 1952, this toilet as part of a bathroom suite was installed in my Grandparents house in Sheffield. A back bedroom was split and one half converted to the first indoor bathroom the family had known. Whilst the family had previously been lucky to have an outdoor toilet to themselves, it still meant a trip across the yard in all weather’s, and a bucket under the bed at night. Previous generations living in poverty had to make do with filthy shared facilities in their ‘back to back’ housing.
At that time the toilet had standard black seat and cover, with high level pull flush cistern.
In the 1980’s my grandparents updated their bathroom suite, removing this wc and storing it in the cellar.
In 1992, my husband and I, built a house in Norfolk, trying to keep a traditional style, I remembered the old fashioned wc in my Grandparents cellar. I asked if I could have it to install in our new house along with the wash basin.
Although they couldn’t understand why I would want to do this, they agreed, and here it is, still going strong.
A well appreciated toilet. Firstly as a ‘modern’ indoor installation, and then as an ‘old fashioned’ traditional installation!
Please read more about Toilet Twinning, and consider supporting this worthy organisation. https://www.toilettwinning.org/
A century of pocket knife manufacture begun about 1728 in the Parish of Bradfield near Sheffield.
A local researcher, Michael Dyson, (a distant relative, discovered in the course of our family history researches, has spent many hours looking into the descent of the Dyson’s in the Bradfield/ Stannington areas, and his research has eventually helped me link the known Dyson ancestors in my family to the wider Dyson family in the area.
These days almost everyone has a camera on a phone, and our lives can easily be recorded in images for posterity.
This wasn’t always the case. It wasn’t long ago that the majority of families did not own a camera of any description.
Luckily ours did, and Dad was quite a keen photographer. He even developed some of his own photographs in a home made darkroom.
We were also lucky to own a cine camera, and so our childhood was documented.
Even so, neither camera nor cine camera were on hand at all times, so having a photo taken was a novelty, and watching back our cine films, was a particularly special event. A white sheet was hung on the wall, lights switched off, while Dad sorted out the 3 minute films onto the projector.
No sound of course except the whirring of the projector.