WILLIAM JAMES HUNT…..early life continued #2
The next very bad thing we did and this was really bad, was when we first started collecting the milk, we used to take a short cut to the farm by crossing the railway line and into the farmer's field. Just above where we lived, we didn't think there was any harm in this, as long as there was no man working on the line. If there was, any men on the line, we had to go the long way round to get to the farm., then this one day there were men working on line.
This particular day we had to go the long way round. As we got to the end of the village, a van came round the corner and its back door flew open and a big carton fell out and down the embankment. There was no one around except Thum and I. The driver mustn't have noticed what had happened. When we got to the carton, we saw that it contained lots of small packets of cigarettes ("fags" we called them in Wales). We picked up the carton and placed it in a big bush where it could not be seen.
On our way back home and as no one was around we opened the carton, and filled our milk bags with the packets of fags and made our way back to my house and hoped that my mother wasn't waiting at the door. We went round the back, as we had a cellar [basement] in our house that was not used for anything else but storage. So we thought that was the ideal place to hide them. Obviously the driver of the van discovered his loss when he stopped at the Village "square" to deliver an order at our sweet shop, and found a carton missing. He called-up our bobby [policeman] to report it. He must have said that there were only two boys on the road. He had been back to see where it could have fallen out but it was nowhere to be seen.
The next day our bobby came to see my Dad to ask him if he knew anything about it, and of course he did not. He must have said to the bobby that he would have a word with me when I got in. When I did get in that night, my Dad started asking me if I knew anything about it. I said that we did not go that way as we used the shortcut to the farm. Next day my father had Thum and I together and asked us both if we did know anything. We both said, "no" once again. Only we knew that we had gone the long way round, that day. After several "weeks," things quietened down and by then we thought we had got away with it, and so pleased that we were believed.
Now we thought we would pick up a few packets of fags and take them up to a special place we had. We crossed the railway line at the same place as we went to pick up the milk, then we went to the farmer's top field, close to the mountain, where there was a nice big gorse bush where we often played. We could get right inside of this bush and nobody could see us. So Thum and I went up one night and smoked a fag or two, then we started having our school friends joining us and it went on for some time. We invited more boys from other streets that were in our class in school. Then we got more and more each night when the word got around and we never thought we would get caught and even the farmer could not see us. We kids could crawl inside through a small hole in the bush.
Then one night there was a lot of us and we did not know how to smoke, all we did was draw in and blow straight out. We did not see the farmer one night in the next field, close to us; we had been there for a good hour all smoking one after the other. He happened to look up and saw a lot of smoke coming from the top of this bush. The next thing we knew was the farmer's head coming through the hole. He sent us all "going" and of course the only ones he knew were Thum and myself.
He went straight away to tell my Dad what he caught us doing. I got grounded for a very long time after my Dad had a word with me for lying to him. I had to show him where I had the rest of those fags. I never did find out what happened to the rest of those cigarettes. I must admit that none of us had a clue how to smoke properly, as I said it was just a case of sucking in and blowing straight out again. I never smoked another a fag after that time to this very day 2005, and never will again. In other words I have never smoked all my life, after that episode, I was taking my sport really seriously. I told our Lord above that night I was so sorry! And I promised never to do that ever again, and I never did smoke again.
I had had a paper round since I was 11 years old and it did give me a lot of walking, and it kept me quite fit. It was at the top end of our village and I had a lot of customers and a good mile to walk - morning and at night. When I got to 12 years old I got a bicycle. My Dad helped me to pay for it, which helped a great deal to get my round finished quicker.
On weekends, my two friends and I would set off on our bikes in the early morning and go to the seaside for a full Sunday outing. The one we liked best was Porthcawl (in Wales, it was almost equivalent to Blackpool). It was 32 miles to Porthcawl, but we really enjoyed going there, especially when the weather was good. I travelled all over on my bike. You would have thought I was glued to it. Of course, wherever we went, we always took plenty of sandwiches to eat and pop to drink and thought nothing of riding 46 miles there and back or more to different seaside towns, for a full Sunday outing, if weather permitting of course. Even though we only had a short time as it took us almost 3-1/2 hours to get there, so we only had the afternoon, as we had to leave for home at 6-30 p.m. It would take us a little longer as there were a lot of up hills going home and we did stop a lot of times for a rest (That's why I'm so fit today at 84years old and also having God in my heart all my life); always enjoyed my time playing with my friends.
Once more we are now in 1932 and looking forward to the end of June to our summer break from school. We did not go away in those days but found plenty to do in our little village, and of course our rides to the seaside. Those two months we had seemed to us young ones to fly away and time to go back to school once again. We have just come back to school from our Christmas holiday. We did not travel around on our bikes during the winter, except in our
village. As for me, be it wet or dry, I did my paper round. I did not give that job up until I started work some years later. I was happy to be able to earn some spending money and to give my Mam half of what I earned, it all helped a little.
I was very lucky as my parents did not have much money and in those days our Mothers did not go to work. My Dad, as usual, saved money from his extra job that he did around the village. They always gave us things for Christmas and never a dull moment, as we always had my Dads brother's family with us. Uncle Tom's family slept overnight. We had to sleep anywhere, sometimes six of us kids in the same bed. One of my uncle Tom's three daughters, her name was Hetty - she was a right comic, the fun we had with her in bed, we couldn't go to sleep for laughing at all her jokes they were so funny.
Hetty was a lovely girl every one loved her. That was the best week of the winter months. That went on for quite a few years; we sure looked forward to those Christmas times.
(KEITH comment---Now I did not meet Hetty until I was about 16 or 17 at my Dad's younger brother's wedding. During those years growing up people could not figure out who I looked like. I did not look like my Mom or Dad; I never thought I looked like either of them that much. But when I met Hetty, I knew instantly where my "Hunt" genes had come through. Hetty could well have been my Mother, we looked so much alike, only she was of course 20 years or so older than me. And what a lovely lady she was, warm, friendly, smiling, up-beat; so I could well imagine she was the life of the party when she was a youngster, as my Dad has related above. After I had come to Canada, my Dad told me Hetty had died of breast cancer at about age 45. I felt so sad because she was such a lovely lady - Keith Hunt)
My Dad could play the mouth organ and sure was good, he always entertained us, his one song was "The Laughing Policeman." He would not only play but would be acting it out; he had a few songs that sure made us laugh. I have loved music from that time I heard my Dad play the mouth organ; he had a big one, and one that was only about one and a half inches long and played a few tunes with it only using his tongue. I hoped that one day I would get the chance to learn to play the piano, as that was the only thing we had in those days. Still we really enjoyed those times at Christmas, it all stopped when we got old enough to start our working life, but after we got to 16 years old we ended up chasing the girls and having lots of fun with them.
Again I will say, when we are young we don't realize that we have good parents, so once again we were so lucky in those days. We had just two weeks holiday from school at Christmas time, and once again it was time to start back to school once more, not much changed with the system. We still played soccer in the yard, at break time. We had all sorts of positions on the team, in other words, we played all over the place, and my favourite place was in goal. We boys only had a concrete yard. I had that job because if the ball went over the top of the big doors, I had to climb over the doors to retrieve our ball, and we were not allowed in the girls yard. They were suppose to throw the ball back to us but they would keep it and throw it back only after a little while.
Now I must tell you of a big change that came over me. I was 13 years old when we started after our school holidays. In the summer of that year I did not know at that time there was a new girl started that year. She had just arrived in our village, and she was a class behind me. It wasn't until I went over our big green doors separating the girl's yard from the boy's yard to retrieve the ball that I came face to face with her. She would not give me the ball back. I chased after her as I was a very fast runner, but I found my match, she could run as fast as me, and I couldn't catch her. The girls had a big field as well as a yard. I ran all over the field chasing her, she teased me, running everywhere, but in the end she gave me the ball back. (KEITH comment: as a kid and teen I was champion at the 100 and 220 yard dash in school, and in the inter-school competitions; I only ever lost one race all through my school years; guess I got the fast genes from both of my parents - end comment).
The boys were playing "hell" with me for not giving them the ball. When we went back in class, I got "caned" as someone had told the teacher I was playing in the girl's yard. I did not mention that the girl would not give me the ball back - I did not want to tell about that girl so I just took the blame. I was told not to go into the girl's yard again after I got caned, I did not take any notice? (You bet I didn't). After school was over I was walking home. This new girl, along with her friend, was a little ways in front of me. I hurried to catch up with them. When she saw me, she said, "Did you get caned?" I admitted, " Yes, and I'm not to go over to your yard again!" Then she said, "One of the girls told the teacher." I said, "Where do you live?" I had a right shock when she told me this, "I live in the new houses off 'Neath' road." I said, "What number?" and she said, "Number 8 Lewis road." That was almost by me. I could see her back door, from our pantry window. Later, I found out her name was Edith.
By this time, after finding out that we lived across the back gardens from each other, we arranged to meet after school and walk home every day. Then we would play around the streets at night. There weren't any youth centres in our young days, so we had to make our own fun. We did lots of things, like knocking on peoples' doors and running away, silly harmless things, but people got to know us and chased us off because it was annoying them. There were lots of other things we did, but it would take too long to tell you about them. They were only harmless pranks anyway.
You may think to yourselves, how did you find time to see Edith? Especially with all the sport and church activities I was involved with. We did not have to be indoors until 10 p.m. in summer time so, we would meet at 8 p.m., after the Rugby practise, and play out till 10 p.m. We were allowed to play out till that time in the summer, as it did not get dark until 11p.m. We always met and played unless it was a wet day.
We saw plenty of each other, and in winter we did not have practice, then we would be out playing straight after tea (supper in Canada,) We were seeing a lot of each other up until I left school at 14 years old. There was never a day went by without us being together, Now can you see how God once more brought us together.
We both fell in love from the first time we met in school. We had a long happy time together, almost 54 years of marriage plus the years we had as teens, don't think we never had our little tiffs, but not one bad quarrel.
We are back once more after our summer holidays, this will be my last year in school, Edith will have another year to go as she is thirteen this year. It was not long before I was "caned" once more for being in the girl's yard. This time, I told my Dad about it. I gave him the reason why I had to go into the girl's yard, to retrieve the ball. My Dad said, "You tell your teacher, that if he 'canes' you once
more I will be up to see him." They all knew my Dad in the village and he was a very strong man, when he was a young man he did exercise every day, also he trained in weight lifting when living in London. I was the same when I was young, it will come up later.
Then the headmaster had me in his office. He said to me, "If you do it again, we will stop you and Edith from going out to play." I told Edith that afternoon on our way home what the headmaster had said. "They had me up with the headmaster and he told me the same," said Edith. We decided not to do it any more. Anyway, they could not stop us from going home together. And we still played out at night and had lots of fun playing on the streets, as I said before we had to make our own fun in those days but never thought of doing what some of them do in the later years, we lived in the time when everyone was friendly, today it is an entirely a different world we live in. But I still believed in what my mother taught us to love one and all, as that's what the Lord in heaven wants of us.
Some of the lucky ones got to go to collage. I told you I didn't learn a lot while I was in school. I guess a lot of that was the fault on the school because we only got taught the basics, of the Mathematics and English, we had five classes and good or bad moved up to the next class every year, the sums [math] got tougher and the same with our Welsh (English). All I was interested in was the sports, and today the education they have is a lot better then in our days.
After I left school I did not see much of Edith. I had changed my job from working in the shop to working with this man in Crynant who had a fruit shop. He travelled around a few Villages in Wales, which meant that I could only see Edith at weekends for the last year of her schooling. I did get into the coal-mines just before Edith finished in school. How did I get in the coal-mines you will read how it all came about later in this story with help from our Lord-God and Jesus Christ.
After Edith left-school things did change quite a bit. Edith went away from Crynant to live with her aunt in Halifax, West Yorkshire. She eventually went to work with her uncle in the cotton mills. He was the manger there so she got the best job in the mill that meant we could only see each other at holiday times. They were Easter, Whitsuntide, August, (Wakes in Halifax. U.K.) and Christmas. It may have, been only for a few days at a time, so she asked me to write to her. I never had much time to write and anyway, I did not know how to write letters in those days. I just had too much going for me to find time to write, still her mother kept an eye on me especially when we got a dance in our little village or some social activity taking place, and then she would have a tent and read the cards for people, or tea leaves, fortune-telling.
One of the times while she was still in Halifax, she came home for the weekend. I didn't know she was coming home, so we hadn't made any arrangements for the weekend. I came home from evening church and she was waiting for me at the top of the crescent. The only thing was she had her sister Nancy with her. We all chatted for a while. Then my friend went home and so did Nancy. Edith and I had decided to go for a walk down by the railway. There were no trains running on a Sunday and it was a short way down to our favourite courting spot. It was at the end of the village on the old road near the bridge. The lights on the road only came so far, and it was then pitch black, till you came in sight of the next village. From our courting spot you could see the last lamppost, but no one could see us in our little spot against the farmer's gate even though there was no big trees or big hedges around in our early days, we still could not be seen from the lamppost as it was so dark. I was leaning against the gate and Edith was close to me with her back to the main road. After being there for a while I saw this figure of a man standing by the lamppost. I said to Edith, "Is that your Dad over there?" and she turned around to look, "Yes, it is my Dad," she said. He stayed there for a little while just watching, and then he walked-away. We waited a little while to give him time to get home. We thought we had given him enough time, then decided to go home. As neither of us had a watch, we had no idea what the time was. Just as we got to the main road, the lights went off the main road so we realized that it had turned midnight. We couldn't believe it. I think the time must have flown by. We got to the bottom of my street and at the top of the crescent her Dad had been hiding behind the wall waiting for us to appear. He jumped out, got hold of me by my coat collar and lifted me off the ground and said, "Don't you ever take my daughter out again." I got the fright of my life believe me. I was only small and he was a big man.
I was told when Edith next came home that when I was in the "air" my feet were going fast, and as soon as he dropped me down, I ran up the road like a shot out of a gun, (I told you I was fit, and a very good runner). The next day Edith went back to Halifax and I didn't see her till the next big holiday, that was three months later before I saw her once more. Every time I saw her mother she got on to me to write to her, she was always asking her mother how I was keeping. Still I never forgot Edith even when I met other girls.
Her Dad was working afternoon shifts at the colliery. His job was collecting a full tram of coal and bringing it to the surface, then returning with an empty tram to the coalface. This is the difference between a pit and a drift. (A pit is straight down, drift is level and "one can walk into"). In a drift they have a horse to pull the full trams all the way to surface. Edith's Dad would stand on the bar fixed to the tram. In a pit it was similar but the horse was used to take the tram only a short way to where they would be connected to a train of eight or more and pulled to the bottom of the pit by a machine. It was a few miles to the coal face, we also walked it.
When her Dad was going to work, he used to sit on a little hill across from the shop at the top of the crescent. If he was sitting there when I came out with my bike to go to the square, I would not pass him. I would go in the other direction. I was so scared of Edith's father. I really did that every time I saw him sitting there, until he got his bus taking him to his work place. That went on for a very long time, I never got told he wanted to tell me he was sorry.
It would be about two years after the incident with the coat collar, that he had a very bad accident at his work. As I said earlier, he used to ride on the bar connecting the horse to the tram. When he thought he was almost at the surface he lifted his head up to see where he was and did not notice that a stone with a sharp point was sticking out from the top and this cut his head very badly. He was brought home for the rest of the day. He was back to work the next day because he was a very good provider for his family. He worked about six months after that incident, until he couldn't carry on working any more. The cut had now turned septic.
He passed away several months later. Edith stayed home for a few weeks after her Dad passed away. We saw each other every night until she decided to go back to Halifax to work in the mill. Her father was laid to rest in his hometown of Pointycummer in Wales. Edith had asked me several times since the "incident" to come home with her on an evening, but I was too scared of her father to take up that invitation.
Then, when I eventually did go to her house after Edith's father passed away, her mother told me that he was so sorry about what he had done to me that night. She said to him, "Why don't you tell the boy?" He replied, "I can't because every time he sees me waiting for the bus, he turns round and goes in the other direction." I found out a number of things after Edith's Dad died. I was really upset that Edith's mother did not even tell her, how sorry her father was, I would have gone to see him. The biggest surprise I got one night when we were out was about her Dad. She said he was her Step-Dad. I just could not believe this, as he was so very good to them, I don't think any one in our village knew.
He actually met her mother at one football match in Manchester, England. The next thing was, that her real Dad was a Manchester man and he worked on the railway. Her Mom had three little girls with him. He was killed when he got crushed between two carriages. This is another way of our good Lord bringing her Mom and Step-Dad together. He did not want any children of his own. He told her Mom that three was enough for her to look after, he was a very good man believe me. I was so sorry that I avoided him. I wish that Edith's mother had told me while he was still living. I regretted that time very much, believe me!
When all this happened, I was very upset that I did hot know bout him. If I had, I would have gone to see him. When he was very sick his dog would never leave his side before he died. He was very protective of his master. The dog was called "Bruce," and he would only let Edith's Mom go into the bedroom. When the doctor came they had to drag the dog away. After the Doctor left they let the dog see his master, then he would be taken away but he still would not leave the bedroom door. He was a very faithful dog; I got to know him, after his master died.
When I started visiting at Edith's home, I got to know "Bruce," he was a lovely dog. After he got to know me, he loved coming for a walk with me. He was so faithful to Edith and I after his master died. "Bruce" lived quite a few years, and I would go up to Edith's house when she was away, and take the dog for a little walk. The next time when Edith came home we decided one afternoon to go for a long walk taking Bruce with us, after a while we noticed that Bruce was dragging behind us, we thought he was getting tired so we turned around and started our way home, when we got home and into the kitchen Bruce went straight under the table; where he always slept. We both loved that dog and he loved it when Edith came home on holiday, we went for a walk many a time. I just loved having him with me; he was a faithful dog believe me!
Edith and I were having a cup of tea and a bun when I called him to come for his titbit, which I always gave him, he didn't move. After a few times calling him, I looked under the table and found he had fallen asleep, and died. What a shock! We were both with him right up to the time he died in his sleep. We talked about him for a very long time. There was a time, when both of us could not stop the tears, even now I have to stop and dry my eyes. Oh, how we both loved that faithful dog. The next day they dug a hole in the back garden. Edith and I wrapped him in blankets and we laid him there to rest. We planted some nice flowers with stones around the edge. It took us a long time to get over the loss of Bruce. When Edith came for visit we talked about him, we missed him so much.
Going back some time before Bruce the dog died, I must tell you this little story, it happened this way. We had been out for the evening, and I was walking Edith home. There was a Lamppost at the top of her street, which we would lean against to say goodnight. We had been there for half hour. The lady of the house must have been fed up of hearing us laughing and talking, she opened her bedroom window and threw a big bowl of water over us. I was soaked to the skin and I had to go into the house with Edith to dry off. That was the start of me going into her home after her Dad passed away, I had to go into her home and her mother was so kind to me. Edith went back to work in the mill in Halifax. I still called in Edith's home to see her Mom now and then to get news about Edith, every chance I had, until Edith came home again.
Well I think I have gone on long enough about my younger years, I could go on and on, but this is only a short version of my life after starting in the infant school. I realize that I had a very good upbringing, and I was blessed with a very good Mam and Dad. I also realized that I was very fortunate, and in those days I did not realize that I was in the hands of our good Lord God. As you read through my life story you will begin to realize how I was guided for better things, and it will happen to you if you believe in Jesus Christ right from your young days, or even later.
Remember to ask God for help when you say your prayers, also remember it may take a long time for God to answer your prayer, when you read my story you will find how long it had taken to get me out of the coalmines when I was not ready to come out, but God knew when the time was right. Now I think about it, God was so right from the very beginning and what my Mother told me. "Trust in the Lord and he will always see you through" - many a time in my story you will read how our Lord God and Jesus Christ came to rescue me and I never forgot to thank them every night.
The door will open if you do not walk away from it. God will not quit on you,
When I first left school I worked in a shop, behind the counter and delivering groceries. The money wasn't very good. I was paid
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