Quotes from ice-creams – 10

Quote: We were going to have Christmas 1925 at home. All the Aunts sent along wonderful food, dinner would be a banquet. Laurie and Joan (cousins) who were staying in the top flat were with me when I opened my gifts.  I was six years old and Laurie was ten. Being a special occasion I was allowed to wear my hair loose instead of the long plaits I usually wore. I detested plaits, but I hated more the knots and tangles when my hair was brushed and combed. Laurie picked up the scissors from my little sewing set and waved them in the air and said, “Want a haircut?” “Oh yes please.” I replied, “I’d like short hair like Joan, it looks so pretty.”  Joan’s hair was naturally curly; mine was as straight as hair could possibly be. Laurie started clipping away at my hair with the little pair of scissors; he had gone halfway around my head when the door opened and in walked Gran and Auntie Gert. Ice creams -A farthing cone Page 27/28

Even though it was Laurie who had cut my mother’s hair her Gran insisted that Mum was the guilty party and refused to let Auntie Gert tidy it as punishment. Gran was adamant that she could wait until her hair grew out. Having once again received the benefit of her grandmothers’ slipper, my mother said she could not enjoy her beautiful Christmas dinner. It wasn’t the slipper that upset her, she was used to that, it was the shame of bearing the punishment till her hair had grown back.

Later another Aunt, who wasn’t afraid of Gran came to the rescue and saved the day. Without  Gran knowing she trimmed my mothers hair and rolled it in rags presenting her to Gran with lovely curls. My mother said and I quote, “I went to sleep happy that night, I was forgiven.”

I can’t help thinking that this is what Christmas is all about. We were pronounced guilty but God sent Jesus as a substitute not only to save us from our rightful punishment but to take that punishment for us and then to present us to his father guilt-free. That makes me ‘sleep happy’ too.

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Quotes from ice-creams – 9

“An hour later Auntie Daisy and Gran found us all asleep on the floor. Laughingly they agreed that we must have all eaten big dinners and turned to leave. It was at that time Gran spied the bottles. Picking up a bottle she examined it almost enviously. “I didn’t know you had ginger beer. I am partial to a drop myself, especially after a big Christmas dinner, it settles the tummy.

 My aunt turned back. “But I don’t mum, oh no!” she stooped to pick up the bottles, “This is not ginger beer its Green Ginger Wine……………………….they are intoxicated.”

This scene took place in London when my mother was seven years old and visiting her Aunt  Daisy (Mary) for Christmas. It was 1926 and she and her two cousins Brian and John, who were about the same age, had wandered into one of the bedrooms finding the bottles under the wardrobe. The homemade wine had been given to her aunt for Christmas but not being a drinker her aunt had stowed it under the wardrobe till she could deal with it.

In her late teens, my mother became a Salvationist and did not drink alcohol for the rest of her life. In the early days of The Salvation Army, it was decided that soldiers would abstain from alcohol so that they would not become a stumbling block to those of their converts who had been affected by its dependence.

This decision echoes the words of St Paul. “If meat causes my brother to stumble I will not eat meat” (1 Corinthians 8:13) In other words if there is something I am doing no matter how innocent it is to me, I should give it up if it will lead to my brothers ruin.  

In these modern times, a popular idiom is ‘always look out for number one’. However, this can lead to selfishly considering our own needs and interests at the expense of others. Giving up something that could hurt our brother (or sister) is a small sacrificial gift to give.

We are reminded again this Christmas that God gave us the greatest sacrificial gift ever known, His only Son. God knew that we would reject and crucify His precious gift but He gave us Jesus anyway. I am so thankful He did.

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Quotes from ice-creams – 8

“We lived at number 4 Hadlow road for over two years and John was not called up till the 29th of November 1943 eleven days after Veronica was born. A farthing cone – Ice creams page 72

My mother had told me the story many times. “You were born on the tabletop in a snowstorm, one minute you weren’t there and the next minute you were.” It was the same table which was also known as the ‘Morrison Shelter’ under which our family sheltered. 

The midwife arrived to see my mother on the back of her boyfriend’s motorbike. “I’m off to the pictures,” she stated. “I don’t want you to be calling me out, so I thought I’d stop by and check you over. Now, climb on the table and I’ll take a look.” By the time my mother was on the table, my head was making an appearance. Needless to say, it was a short easy delivery and afterwards, the nurse went to the pictures. Job done!

At this time of year, one can’t help thinking of Mary the mother of Jesus. She gave birth in a small town having travelled 111kms (69 miles) through a mountainous region on foot. Though a donkey was a common mode of travel there is no record of her using one. Bethlehem was crowded with visitors all arriving for the census, hence no room at the Inn.

Who sent for the midwife? Did Joseph ask the Inn Keeper to send for one? Was it the Inn Keeper’s wife? We know that midwives were routine in Israel and pre-Israelite history. Was the midwife still there when the Shepherds arrived with their story? Was she aware that she was part of the most miraculous event in the history of mankind? Whoever she was what a story she would have to share! 

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Quotes from ‘ice creams’ – 7

‘I was following the other children across the lawn to the entrance when a window above me opened and the biggest woman I had ever seen bellowed out “Get off the grass child!” Miss Edith Fryer was six foot six inches (195cms) tall.’ A farthing cone – ice creams page. 45

This was my mother’s introduction to Dartford County High School for girls, which also catered for younger girls. Mum entered the doors of her new school trembling with fright. It was 1927 and she was eight years old. Miss Edith Fryer was the Head Mistress.

Recently I saw a ‘Keep off the grass!’ sign and recalled the incident when my mother was sent unaccompanied to register herself at her new school.

Back in 2013, we visited Oxford with members of our family and discovered that the University Colleges we visited had the same rules. Everyone was required to take the paths that skirted around the immaculate squares of green lawn. It’s the same at Cambridge University also. Did you know that it is illegal to walk on the grass at Cambridge, unless, (a) you are a Fellow,( b) you are talking to a fellow or (c) you are a duck?

This past fourteen years my mother has been enjoying the angel choir in the company of her loved ones. I’m sure she is holding her face up to the sunshine, loving the beauty all around her and most of all enjoying being in the presence of her Redeemer. One thing I know without a doubt is that no one will be bellowing ‘Keep off the grass!’

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Quotes from ‘ice creams’ – 6

One day I was sitting looking at the small Diary that my Cousin Eileen in Kent gave me some years ago.  It reads Tuesday the 1st September 1998. 6.40 pm. Just past Alice Springs, ground speed 926kph, outside temperature minus 44deg, altitude 10,670 metres, Distance from Departure 2053km destination time 4.35 hrs. We were flying, of course, heading for Singapore, our refueling stop on the way to England. I was finally realizing my dream of returning to the land of my birth. It was a dream that ebbed and faded during the years as other demands took precedence.

It finally took me being almost paralyzed with pain from a lower back injury to remember there were still dreams I wanted to fulfill. So, in the weeks and months that followed, I started to plan and save, two years later we were on our way.

Quote “ We visited Hampstead and saw the house where my mother with her Gran and Gertie had lived over the shoe shop….. We went to the Tonbridge-Hadlow road in Kent where I was born. (There is still a Cherry orchard opposite where the doodlebug exploded.) We went to East Peckham and visited my cousins, the Johnson’s’ and saw the little village school where they always called me Ann and the church where I was christened.” (Six chocolate coated ice creams page 301)

Have you given up on some of your dreams? do you not dare to dream anymore? Always have a dream in your heart. I think of the song from the movie South Pacific which I saw as a girl. You gotta have a dream, if you don’t have a dream, how you gonna make a dream come true. Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and He will establish your plans.”

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Quotes from ‘ice creams’ – 5

This quote is dated 1958 – 59 and is from ‘Six chocolate coated ice creams’ Page 228 “There were two Salvation Army Children’s homes in the area and every Sunday morning the boys would fill one side of the church and the girls would fill the other……there would be a children’s message and everyone including adults would sit in rapt attention. Mother had an amazing wealth of stories about well-known identities in history. We often teased her about the extravagant adjectives she used. Cups and mirrors in her stories never just broke, they always ‘shattered into a thousand pieces’.”

One of Mothers favourite stories which she often used as a children’s message still touches my heart whenever I hear it. Originally written by author Richard Pindell a long time ago it was called ‘Somebody’s Son’.  In the story, an errant son returning home after a term in gaol writes to his mother. He asks her to show that he is welcome by tying a white handkerchief on the tree in the back garden which could be viewed from the train as it passed. I’m sure you have already guessed what happened, the tree was covered in white handkerchiefs. 

I tracked down an American account where the letter has become a phone call and another where the white hankies, were white cloths and yet another with white ribbons. This, of course, reminded me of the seventies song ‘Tie a Yellow ribbon around the old oak tree.’ The story is still about forgiveness but now the mother is a wife or sweetheart, and the train has become a bus. It’s interesting how stories evolve, just, like Chinese whispers.

However, there is still a part of this story that has not changed since Richard Pindell wrote the original and that is the message of forgiveness, rejoicing and restoration. It makes me wonder whether Richard based his story on Jesus’ story of the prodigal son. Either way, Jesus said there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who haven’t strayed away.

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Quotes from ‘ice creams’ – 4

In my opinion, one of the best quotes from ice creams is the one from ‘six chocolate coated ice creams’ (page 209) It’s the paragraph where Doug meets his Auntie Lil for the first time.  

This is the quote:   ‘We knocked on the back door and walked straight in, “Auntie Lil this is Doug.” My father informed her without much ado. She immediately reached out and pulled me towards her and gave me the biggest hug, “So this is Dougie?” There was genuine affection in her voice: my heart melted. I could feel the love radiating from her, it was almost tangible. Somehow I knew that here was someone who would love me for myself and whom I could trust.’

As I copy this quote It’s almost as if I was there in the room with them. I find myself inwardly responding as Doug did that day. We all need people to care, to value us and to affirm our presence in their lives. No one wants to be treated as if they are invisible or insignificant.

I get the same response as Doug did when I think about the love of God, especially when I read words like those in Jeremiah 31:3  “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” God is offering us that same affirmation today, He loves us unconditionally and we can always trust him he will never let us down.

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Quotes from ‘ice creams’ – 3

Some time ago, our neighbour returned from an extended holiday in Argentina and Spain. She came in to see us bearing gifts and photographs.  As we went through her album I spied a rock formation I recognized. ‘Gibraltar’.  Memories of watching the Island from the deck of the migrant ship TSS Cameronia came flooding back

Quote: “Once around the coast of Spain the sea became calmer and I remember our parents hurrying us up on the deck to watch as we passed the Rock of Gibraltar. Our days in the Mediterranean were beautiful and we spent much of our time out on deck in the sunshine…..It was like one long holiday.” (a fourpenny wafer – ice creams page 147).

My friends’ photo’s looked very English with Bobbies in helmets, and red Telephone Boxes. She observed that everyone spoke English and everything was so familiar that it was just like being here at home in Oz. Remarking that it was like home away from home she added that there was nothing like being home in Australia. 

As I write I am reminded that earth is our ‘home away from home’. We are a spirit, we have a soul and we live in a body. We are here for 70, 80, 90+ years and then we go back to where we belong. Back to our real home. Back to being a Spirit with a new, recognizable body which will last forever and never grow old. Now, that will be home!

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Quotes from ice creams – 2

October 1952 came to mind one morning as Doug and I were discussing the violent storm in the Mediterranean which lasted 14 days and ended in St Paul’s shipwreck. (Acts: 27) After our discussion, I revisited our family’s emigration journey through this seemingly idyllic stretch of water.

Quote: “ Initially my mother was really ill; the Ships Doctor gave her injections to help. She lost so much weight and became so weak that David (my brother) was convinced she was going to die. Meanwhile, I was sure we were all going to drown as the ship pitched and rolled and the waves came crashing over the decks especially through the Bay of Biscay. Sometimes it was so bad that stewards were posted on the hatches to stop any of us going out onto the deck lest we be washed overboard.” (a fourpenny wafer – ice creams Page 144)

Later, Doug and I continued our discussion, remembering sailing across Bass Strait to Tasmania. On his first trip we had a fairly rough passage, but not the worst I’d experienced.  Midshipman Doug was anxiously up and down all night checking what was going on. He was quite forgetting that the Captain and Crew had been sailing this route ever since the Ferry was commissioned.  On returning to the mainland two weeks later he was much more relaxed and really enjoyed the journey.

Now, as I think about St Paul’s shipwreck, I remember that even though everyone was panicking Paul knew God was in control. God had promised that none of them would drown, and they didn’t. It’s a very human trait, of course, stressing and worrying about things which are totally out of our control, instead of relaxing and enjoying the journey. Remember what Jesus said, “Be sure I am with you always even to the end of the age.” Matt 28:20

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Quotes from ‘ice creams’ – 1

My mother had a very eventful early childhood living with her grandmother in what was initially leafy upper-class Hampstead in London. It was now the 1920’s and more moderate housing had been appearing since the late 1800s. The coming of the underground to Hampstead in 1907 had made it easier for traders from other parts of London to move into the area. Hence, my mother went to ‘New End’ school with many cockney children and soon picked up the language.

Mum was the first to admit that a lot of her troubles were of her own making. In the story of her 7th birthday, recounted in ‘a farthing cone’. Her Auntie had planned a picnic for her and invited her friend Vera. Now, Aunt was in a state of panic because Mum had boasted about the picnic and had somehow invited most of her class along.  Vera took charge, “I knows wot ter do Pat’s Auntie.” She said. “Yer cuts the scones in ‘alf and butters ’em and I’ll send ’em packin’ wiv a bit each.” (Ice creams Page 29)  

Later, Mum was to go to the private Dartford County High school for girls. At the time listed as one of the three top secondary schools for girls in Kent. (1926). Even there her impulsiveness was sometimes still an issue. After she married my father he would remonstrate with her and if she knew he was right, she would grin and poke out her tongue.

With great affectation,  dad would say “Oh! So that’s what we learned at Dartford County High School for young ‘liddies’ is it?”  Mum was always her own person and I never ceased to admire her boundless energy. It is with a sense of pride that I remember her now.

When I was about ten years old she wrote a verse in my Autograph book. The book is long gone but the verse has stayed with me. 

Whatever you are, be that.

Whatever you do, be true.

Straightforwardly act, in fact.

 Be nobody else but you.

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