Reflections on the Life of
Lynda Parrish 26th June 1925 – 8th May 2013
Lynda Barbara Parrish was born in Sittingbourne in Kent on the 26th June 1925 almost 88 years ago and shortly after she moved with her parents, Rupert and Barbara Knott, to Bexleyheath where her sister Molly was born five years after her. They lived there till 1936 when the family moved to Dudley.
Lynda loved pointing out that her parent’s names could be shortened to ‘Rhubarb’.
Mum went to school there till she was 14 where she and my late father attended Dudley Intermediate School – and it was there that their paths first crossed. Dad mentioned that he remembers throwing an apple at mum for some reason and hitting her full on the back of the head – young love?
Mum then went to college in Birmingham to train as a Comptometer Operator. And for those who don’t know, a comptometer was the first commercially successful key-driven mechanical calculator and was about the size and weight of a small child!
Around that time she trained, part time, in the Red Cross and worked in a tailor’s shop in Dudley until about 1943 when she joined up and was sent down to Gosport near Portsmouth and from there to the voluntary Aid Detachment associated with the Fleet Air Arm in a place called Thistleton Lodge near Blackpool where she helped set up the hospital there as a nurse.
Days off from the hospital included trips to Preston and Blackpool and it was only after the war that mum discovered that Dad had also been stationed near Blackpool at one point so there paths almost crossed again!
But it when mum was demobbed that she met Dad once more and to quote her it was “boom – love at first sight”! Although apparently she refused to dance with him at first because she didn’t like the fact that he smelt of beer! She had also must have forgotten the Apple incident? But luckily for Chris, my brother, and myself she relented and they got engaged.
In 1947 Mum’s fathers factory, where he was manager, moved to Bedford and he offered Dad a job there so Dad moved down here in the September of that year, Mum followed soon after in the February of 1948 and after chasing around looking for suitable churches they where married in the March of that year in the nearby Elstow church.
Mum & Dad lived with Molly, her sister, and her Mum and Dad until Chris was born, then they managed to get one of the council prefabs in Harewood Road in Bedford, where they lived for a while until they bought a brand new house in all Saints Road, Cople in 1956.
As Molly told me “it was a difficult time for young couples to set up home as every thing was on coupons, clothes, material, food, petrol, even furniture.” In fact Mum remembers that it was so cold when they moved in that the water in the toilet had frozen!
Over the years Mum has had a number of jobs apart from being a full time mother looking after Chris and myself.
These included working in the accounts department at a company called Kismet Dynaflex in Fenlake Road who made garage equipment where she employed her comptometer skills again.
A short stint as a Post lady where she cycled around the village delivering the post and no doubt having a good chat as she went.
She also worked in the accounts/wages department at Clare’s’ garage in Cople. And It was at that time that mum was apparently knocked over by a car outside the garage but neither Mum nor Dad contacted Chris or myself at the time, as they didn’t want to worry us!
Mum was in the, sadly now defunct, Cople branch of the WI for many years. One year she was President and was the secretary for many years where she was able to employ her numerical skills. And on one occasion she also enjoyed a trip with the WI to a ‘Buckingham Palace garden party’.
Mum tried at one point to lean to drive – I remember as a ten year old driving around the countryside in the back of the car when Mum was being taught by Dad but remember most stopping at the Black Horse Pub in nearby Ireland where lemonade and cheesy biscuits where consumed, well that’s what I had anyway! We understand that she even bought a little car, but never actually managed to take her test.
Mum met her closest friend Joy Clayton through the school Joy’s children Frances & Barry and my brother Chris attended. They remained close friends for the following sixty odd years and enjoyed lots of adventures together.
Joy & Mum used to go ‘peasing’ together and Joy recalls that the first time they went pea-picking Mum was wearing full makeup – just for picking peas! Joy’s daughter Frances recalls “Lynda was always immaculately turned out” and I know that one part of that was because Frances used to do Mum’s hair for her even before she qualified as a hairdresser – and continued to do it for the next 50 years. And I also know that her friendship meant a great, great deal to her.
Apart from the ‘peasing’ Mum also enjoyed many holidays with Joy and they visited Majorca, Ibiza, Tunisia, Malta, Tenerife, Madeira and Jersey to name but a few as well an infamous trip to Paris with Frances, where they apparently visited a strip club – something we’re sure dad never knew about!
And on another occasion on the return from a trip to Amsterdam Mum was stopped by customs for having two lighters rather than the requisite one allowed at the time, Joy apparently got through with both of hers! How times change?
After their retirement Mum and Dad enjoyed some adventurous holidays together visiting Russia, Canada and a Round the World trip including Australia where they visited Molly, Mum’s sister and her family who had emigrated in 1970 to live first in New Zealand and then in Australia.
Mum was also an accomplished seamstress/cross stitcher and knitter and made all sorts of clothes for family and friends over the years including Frances’ bridesmaid dresses, some lovely waist-coats and knitted many a cardigan – in fact she did get me knitting at one point!
Comptometer operator, great cook, knitter, frog-hater, code-word lover, pea picker, library book devourer, wife and mother – she was all these and much more.
Dad sadly passed away in late January 2013 and Mum was only just getting used to not having him about. So we were all really thrilled that Mum could attend Chris and Christine’s wedding at Easter up in Sheffield and Mum really enjoyed getting out and about and was a real live wire talking to anyone who would listen.
Mum and Dad, Lynda and Doug, were married for nearly 65 years and lived in Cople for almost 60 years. The whole family will miss both of them tremendously as I’m sure will their friends.
They are together again and we will keep them both in our hearts for as long as we live.