Lemon Sherbet and Dolly Blue: The Story of an Accidental Family
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150 Station Road, Wheeldon Mill - a short stride across the Chesterfield Canal in the heart of Derbyshire - was home to the Nash family and their corner shop, serving a small mining community with everything from Brasso to Dolly Blue, from cheap dress rings to Lemon Sherbets. However, this was no ordinary home and no ordinary family. Three generations were adopted - Lynn Knight's great grandfather, a fairground boy given away when his parents left for America in 1865, her great aunt, rescued from an Industrial School in 1909, and her mother, adopted in London as a baby and brought north in 1930. Their story spans centuries and the changing society of twentieth century Britain. But more than that it is a story of community and of love. Full of colour, light and life, Lemon Sherbet & Dolly Blue is a story of what it really means to be family.
birth of their first child. Dick spent his days at the foundry. Betsy washed and baked, and swept and re-swept their stone floor, and waited. Finally, in July 1890, a daughter, Mary Elizabeth Doran Nash, was born. The relief of her first cry, after all that waiting, and a summer baby too. Betsy felt fortunate to be delivered of a July baby. It was pleasant to sit on the doorstep on warm afternoons, rocking the cradle with her foot while darning and watching the spiders spin their webs. More
Its People and Steeple, J. Toplis, Derbyshire Courier Office, 1882. Williams, J. E., The Derbyshire Miners, George Allen & Unwin, 1962. ON ADOPTION, BABY FARMING, ILLEGITIMACY, INFANT MORTALITY Behlmer, George K., Friends of the Family: The English Home and its Guardians, 1850–1940, Stanford University Press, 1998. Brookes, Barbara, ‘Women and Reproduction 1860–1919’, in Lewis, Jane (ed.), Labour and Love, Women’s Experience of Home and Family 1850– 1940, Basil Blackwell, 1986. Davies,
illegitimate. The phrase War Orphan performed a neat elision: by airbrushing out the mother, it reduced the taint of immorality many found disturbing. The road to legalised adoption was long and hard, tying up two committees of enquiry and involving considerable debate. (And even after the 1926 Adoption Act was passed, there were still difficulties to resolve; further legislation was needed to regulate adoption procedures.) While agreeing that there should be some legal foundation (and redress)
Sarah’s down the canal again,’ someone would say to Betsy, who’d draw in her breath and shake her head. What prospects for a big slow girl – hardly a young woman – with a too ready grin and an eagerness to please that made you fearful on her behalf? Most neighbours felt sorry for the girl and turned a blind eye, though some objected: it’s not nice, this canoodling; a disgrace. Then, the inevitable happened: she became pregnant. That was the last my great-grandma saw of Sarah Cooper. There was
immediate practicalities to consider; their most pressing need was money. Annie’s widow’s pension was ten shillings a week, with an additional five allocated for Cora. (In two years’ time, when my mum started senior school, half of those five shillings would be swallowed by the cost of school dinners.) Annie was not sorry to lose her Saturday-morning humiliation at the dole office, but the money had to be made up somehow: Providenting would not be enough. The tailoring course Annie had taken