An emergency op.
on the kitchen table!
The doctors were GPs not surgeons, but they asked that lots
of water be boiled; mother scrubbed the kitchen table. The doctors
were of the opinion that I had both pneumonia and pleurisy. There
was no time to get a horse drawn cab to take me to hospital,
and so these two GPs decided to operate. They took out two of
my ribs on my right side to get away the fluid from the lung.
The following days were anxious ones for all. But, with the devotion
of my parents and local nurse and the two doctors, my life was
I had to take great care for a long time. There were no rough
games to be played. Of course there were the family books to
read, but I wished to find some other means of killing the monotony.
This was solved my uncle Tom. He came with a Magic Lantern.
This was a fantastic gift. It was more than a toy, it seemed
very big. Inside there were three brass screws that, when turned,
caused a large wick to come out of a container. In the base,
paraffin oil as poured, just like in grandmother's table light.
What fun ! Yes it was, until the room was full of black smoke,
much to the amusement of my uncle Tom. The wicks were adjusted,
the lens directed towards the white painted wall.
Now the great moment; uncle Tom opened up a mysterious packet.
He did this slowly. He took out a piece of square glass that
seemed to have a picture painted on it..... yes, it was a slide
for the lantern. There was a set of slides of Russia, I opened
another box, just as slowly. Here were coloured pictures of fire
engines, and to all this was a printed story of the pictures
- to be read as the pictures were being projected. This was fantastic.
I had never seen anything like this before. I gave 'shows' to
my family and friends and they too marvelled at the coloured
pictures appearing on a white wall from a container that had
a light source provided by a lit wick, as was used for household
lighting. This was indeed just wonderful. My friends wondered
if they had an operation, might they too get one of these Magic
All this was the beginning of other kinds of magic. On his
next visit my uncle Tom came with a Quarter Plate Sanderson Camera.
He took several photographs and said that later he would come
back and put these into the Magic Lantern. I never forgot the
magic of that lantern. Thirty years later I had invented a new
type of Magic Lantern - the 'Hanna' projector.
Another treasured memory is held in a gift from my teacher
Mr Arthur Davies. The book is called 'A Book of Golden Deeds'
by Charlotte M. Young. Inside the book is a note written for
my mother -
It was the loving care of my father and mother that
brought me through that post operation period. During my convalescence
my parents asked me if I would like a special present from them.
I shocked them by asking if I could have a pet monkey! Needless
to say I did not get a real monkey but dad went all over the
place to buy me the most realistic toy monkey he could find.
I still have that monkey today, a treasured memory of 1910. The
monkey looks rather worn and battered but hat memories it holds
this book from me to your son Sam. I hope that it may prove interesting
to him, especially if you can read it to him.
I made excellent progress after that drastic surgery, but
I had to take care of myself. I was not allowed to join in boisterous
play with the rest of my friends. Instead I turned to my books.
But, when I did join in play with my friends, I remember how
supportive my brother Bill was to me. He was five years my senior
and after my operation he certainly looked after his little brother".
He stopped me from getting involved in rough play, protected
me from bullies and took me all over the place on his bicycle.
He fixed an extra seat on the crossbar of his bike and together
we went round the streets of the town with occasional trips into
the countryside. We both enjoyed the countryside and when he
introduced me into the Boy Scout Movement, he and my friends
recognised that I could take part in most of their activities
and for my efforts, I gained several proficiency badges.
When I was twelve years of age I had reached 'Standard Seven'
which meant I as a potential grammar school boy, but family income
would not allow me to take a grammar school place. I recall my
mother saying to me - "Ay lad, th' hearts willing, but
purse isn't, tha'1 a' t' go t' work."
I joined the rest of the working members of the family when
I was twelve years of age. It meant working half days at the
mill and the other half at school. Wearing a shiny black pair
of clogs I proudly took my mother's arm and set off for the mill.
The sound of irons on my clogs echoed down the cobbled road with
the hundreds of others, the hooter from the mill wailed out its
message "hurry it's nearly six o'clock."