Saturday, 26 December 2009

Joan's Journey Chapter IV. Hard Times

.1952 was a year to remember, but unfortunately not for any good reason. This must have been a very hard time for my mother financially because she just seemed to be burdened with increasing debt. She was very badly in arrears with the rent and she feared to be taken to court. Sadly, she was not able to confide in my father and tell him how serious things had become. Had she been able to make an appearance in court, she would have pleaded for more time to settle the debt. About the time she was expecting the summons to court, her twin brother in Dublin died suddenly at the age of 36 years. She thought it was her duty to go to his funeral, I presume her family in Dublin sent her the travelling expense.

Now before she travelled to Dublin, all the children had to be placed out again. Some very kind friends came forward again, this time Kevin and I remained at home, to deal with any impending emergency. Should a letter be received from the court I was told not to show it to my father, but to take it straight away to Aunty Myra. She had promised to attend court and represent my mother’s interests; unfortunately Myra forgot the date on which the case was to be heard. Consequently an eviction notice was issued and surprisingly it was granted for the following day. Unfortunately no one in the house was aware of this until the bailiffs arrived at the house. A policeman arrived about 10 am, there was only Kevin and I present in the house. Dad had already gone to work and it became obvious we were about to be evicted. When he next saw us we would all be homeless.

I can remember all four feet of me at the age of 13, standing my ground and shouting at the bailiff and the policeman that they had no rights to do this. Had it only been for one of Mom’s friends who was passing the house and immediately took charge of the situation, I am certain that Kevin and I would have been taken into care. Joan Johnson was the name of the lady. She started to take charge of everything, including collecting the other three children. I think she was able to foresee that once the furniture was taken out of the house and dumped in the garden, the people who had taken charge of the children would panic and ask for them to be put into care. Joan Johnson phoned my father’s factory and arranged to meet him with all the children at the house of a lady named Georgina.

By now all our furniture and belongings were scattered out in the front garden and as I have said, our plight was open and exposed to the world. My father was in total shock and could not understand what had taken place. He did not have a clue what went on in the house and how much debt my mother had accumulated. Perhaps had my mother been able to confide in him more, things might have been different. Before my mother had travelled to Dublin, besides mentioning the court letter, she had said if anything occurred in the house, I was to pick up her bag. It was a Gladstone type bag and contained all the birth and marriage certificates, other papers of importance and things of sentimental value. Dad phoned Dublin and told Mom the bad news. Having attended the funeral, my mother was about to return home. While there, she had pleaded with her family, the Whelans, for a temporary loan to see her out of her present difficulties, but although they were financially well off her request was refused.

While waiting for things to be sorted out and until my mother returned home, we all stayed with Georgina for a few days. In the confusion of that morning, I had not picked up my mother’s bag. So I confided in Joan Johnson and we returned to the house that same evening. By then the house had been boarded up, with a large padlock on the front door. We had to rummage around the garden where everything had been unceremoniously dumped. We were able to retrieve various items of clothing for us all, my mother’s bag and a few little personal things. Items included my little metal crucifixion group which Dad had cast in the foundry and which I value to this day, also my prayer book, which had been given to me by Kevin. I had realized that by the time Mom came home, the garden would be cleared. My father would not accompany us to the house, to retrieve our few valuables. I am sure he was too ashamed and embarrassed for what had happened.

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