Memories and Pictures - Page 15
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Feb 27, 2008 Dear Raymond, just a short note to confirm receipt of your excellent book "Pamber Heath History".
Like my cousin Susan Smith (who I notice has had correspondence with you recently on the 'Pamberheatharchives' website) I spent many summer and Christmas holidays as a child visiting my grandfather James Smith, who lived at "Lone Pine" on Pamber Heath Road. I would be delivered there and then collected again, often weeks later so I have many pleasurable memories of the quality time spent there.
Occasionally and reluctantly I was taken by my grandfather to visit Stan James (pictured) at The Forge for a haircut. If he was busy we would wait until he finished and the anvil became free, for this was the 'chair' I was sat upon for my haircut. I use the word 'haircut' cautiously, because rather than the hairs actually being cut they appeared to be painfully torn from the scalp by the ancient hand clippers that were used for the task! I am wincing at the memory even as I write. I think he was a much better blacksmith, farrier and taxi driver than barber. When I was taken by my parents to stay with my grandfather, first we traveled by train to Basingstoke and then sometimes we were met at the station by Stan and his taxi to continue the journey to Pamber Heath. Usually this was when the bus times were inconvenient. My family didn't drive a car so this was probably the only time I traveled in a car when I was young, and an event to be looked forward to. I can remember today the smell of that car - that curious mixture of hot oil and petrol fumes tempered by the smell of the old leather upholstery. Magical! I don't really recall what type of car he had at that time during the 1950's, but I suspect that it was something like one of the larger Standards or possibly an Austin.
My grandfather James Smith fought at Gallipoli in the 1st WW. He served in the cavalry for the Gloucester regiment but like many people of his era, he would never talk about his experiences - too many friends and comrades had died I suspect. Although "Lone Pine" did in fact have a lone pine tree in the front garden, Lone Pine was also a battle fought during the Gallipoli campaign so I have always wondered whether this was why the house was named as such.
I have always been under the impression that the house was a gift from the Oppe family when my grandfather retired from their service as a gardener. No pension, but a house! Different times, eh! On the subject of the Oppe family, I had always suspected that the name was a contraction of the German-Jewish name Oppenheimer in an attempt to make it more acceptable in England. Many Germanic names were changed during the war years. So I was very interested to hear that your researches had turned up the name Oppe in York at such an early date. Yet another theory of mine shot down in flames!
I can confirm that the pupils identified as Dorothy Smith (my mother) and Helen Smith (my aunt) in the pictures on pages 106/107 are correct. What a remarkable memory the lady had who remembered all those names from so long ago!
Well, by now I'm sure that you're pleased this is only a short note and not a long one. I could go on - about Barrie Stroud's shop, about watching cricket at the ground opposite the Pelican, about following the Boxing Day hunt at Mortimer West End (not very PC these days!) etc., but not today.
Thanks once again for such an enjoyable book that has wakened so many memories of bye gone days.