After considering several possible sites, we finally decided to have a bungalow built on the land bought from Mr. Noakes. So after thirty three years as mine host and mine hostess at the Apple Tree Inn we said goodbye and moved into the ‘Pippins’ a couple of hundred yards away in September 1959. We now had a care free life. Cecil was getting less angina pain. The American Government were still paying us a monthly compensation for the loss of Richard. We could afford a gardener and I had my rose garden.
I joined the newly formed Lady’s Fellowship in Shoscombe. We met once a month at a different house, had an annual outing, and although a non religious group enjoyed teat on the vicarage lawn at Wellow once a year. It was a friendly time. we made toys and other things to be sold for the annual church bazaar. The group finally disbanded in 1986.
Jim continued to be posted to different air bases which we were free to visit.
In 1965, once again , a holiday in Arizona was planned. This time Cecil was able to accompany me. It was the first real vacation that he had ever had.
In 1966 I became a Parish Councillor. At my first meeting the clerk resigned and I was invited to succeed him. I agreed to take on the job temporarily till a permanent clerk could be found. it took seven years for one to be found. I was then able to resign.
Also from 1966 I served for the next fourteen as the school governor representing the parish.
I was able to take other holidays accompanied either by friends Nancy or Valda or with Jim and Joan to Italy, France, Switzerland, Minorca, Spain and Sardinia.
From 1972 Cecil was ailing. In January 1974 Jim retired from the RAF at the age of 52 with a Flight Lieutenant’s pension. He and Joan were with us just a week before his father died.
In the May of 1990 I celebrated my 90th birthday. It was open house from 9.30 am to 9.30 p.m. with so many of my family, friends and neighbours calling on me. I received many gifts and greeting cards, even one from the American President Bush and his wife. The biggest and best surprise though was the unexpected arrival of my youngest grand daughter Mandy with her small son. They live in New York.
I now have a ‘home help’ who is paid by the state to clean the house for me on three days each week. She is also a personal friend and gives me so much attention than she is paid to, for which I am eternally grateful. It is good to be able to depend on someone.
I still receive each Christmas, as I have done since 1945, a Greeting’s card and calendar from one of the wartime evacuee boys who came to the village. He still lives in his native London and has called, with his wife, to see me twice in recent years. It is hard to believe he is about 60 years old now.
I can look out of my window and see my roses and the green fields I have known all my life. I have my relatives who frequently visit me and neighbours to drop in for a chat. I am still able to knit and read. The television is a good companion. I feel pretty good – what more could an old lady want.
But I have seen the village change so much. In 1931 there were 53 houses, many with no piped water. Most had outside toilets. Mains sewerage and electricity were many years away. Heating and cooking were by coal fires. Lighting by oil lamps and candles. The men mostly worked as miners or farm labourers. Over ninety per cent of the children received all their education at the village school.
Our lives then were not so very different from our parents and grand parents before us. Public transport was by steam train, the halt being about a mile away from the main part of the village at Single Hill, or by ‘bus a mile and a half away at Peasedown. We had one of only two cars in the village and there were two or three private telephones.
Now at the end of 1990 there are only 69 houses, many of the new ones on the sites of old ones. All of course have piped water, mains electricity and sewerage. Very few, if any, are without bathrooms. All the local mines closed down some years ago so there are no miners. The remaining farms are very much mechanised and require the help of only a relatively few farm labourers. Many men commute to offices or businesses in Bath or even as far a way as Bristol. All of the children leave the village school at the age of eleven to receive further education elsewhere.
The railway closed down in the early ’60′s. There is still a ‘bus service at Peasedown though. Only six families living in the village today do not own a car, many own two and several even three!
So present day life in the village bears no relation to what it was as recently as forty years ago. It has very nearly caught up with the American standards.Ella Drew
Shoscombe December 1990