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Doris Watts - as told to to her son Paul in 1996
South End School - Memories of Doris Watts c1905

The houses up on High Causeway opposite the school These are the trees Doris admired
Undated school playground picture - the houses standing on the High Causeway in the background
Wymington Road - looking down to
High Street South and the school c1910

I was born Doris Evelyn Watts, the second child and eldest daughter of Charles and Rose Mary Watts, at 96, Cromwell Road, Rushden on the 17th November 1896. My parents had 16 children all told, Tom was the eldest, two years older than myself the eldest daughter.

When I was three my mother sent me to the Newton Road School. When nine years old Mother took me away and sent me to the National School, at the bottom of Wymington Road. I was to keep an eye on my elder brother, Tom, who was a bit of a daredevil. If Tom saw me he would dodge out of the way. I never knew what he got up to and so could not tell Mother.

From Cromwell Road we went to school via Crabb Street. Across the road, which we called 'High Causeway' was a sweet shop. Sometimes my Mother would give me a farthing for some sweets and with it I would buy 'banana gums'. These were coloured yellow, hard and shaped like a banana.

I liked the National School; even today I have fond memories. On afternoons we would be taken on a Nature Study walk up the Wymington Road, up which we walked in two's.

My study was trees; I still look at and love trees - the shape of the leaves and branches.

One afternoon walking up the Wymington Road on a Nature Study the girl in front of me turned and handed me a toffee, wrapped in paper. It was the first toffee that I had ever been given or seen wrapped in paper. I did not know such sweets existed. Even today nothing seems to take the place of that first toffee wrapped in paper. The girl was Ella Brown and her Mother kept a hat shop in the High Street which is still there I believe.

Ella was a nice girl, very pretty with fair curly hair; how I envied her that beautiful hair, mine was straight hair. Ella always called me by my proper name of Doris - unlike all others that called me 'Doll' (except my youngest Brother Charles).

I cannot remember the name of the teacher now, except that he was a very kind man. For my study of trees in the summer evenings he handed me lined paper. This was the first lined paper I ever saw.

The class faded out and I was the only one left who was interested in Nature Study. This kind teacher gave me the notepaper to keep and take home.

Even today, on holidays, in either Cornwall, Wales or Scotland, I never miss a tree, its shape and its leaves and always remark on them to my son as we drive along. The teacher's lessons have always remained in my memory.

When I reached Standard 6 the teacher was Mr. Smethurst who gave me a Christmas Card. This was my first Christmas Card. On the front was a picture of a carnation.

Despite the passing troubled years, my fondest memories of Rushden are of the National School at the bottom of Wymington Road, and kind Ella Brown and the toffee wrapped in paper, of trees and my first Christmas Card.

The headmaster was Mr. Brown whom I always recall saying ‘Nunc Dimittis’ at Morning Prayers. He wanted me to stay on as a pupil teacher but Grandmother went and saw him and said "Bless you man, her Mother has been looking forward for her to earn some money for a long time".

On the day I was thirteen I went into Selwood's old factory in Harborough Road for 3/6 per week - but that is another story.

Doris Evelyn Roberts, September 1st 1996

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