The passage of time changes a village landscape. We have a responsibility to record something about the place(s) where
we grew-up and recall to memory the people and things remembered from time-past. The recounting of this is important :
it is of value to the next generation to pass on to them: and to ourselves it is a sort of life passage. It can be a mix of
the wonderfully sentimental exorcising some ghosts, but not everyone has pleasant memories to recapture from childhood.
The quest here is to recall to life some of the memories of our roots;. My late brother, Charlie Cross , who died in
1995, aged only 40, inspired me to write the original piece as a tribute to him and our village. I have since returned
to that script and added some further thoughts and comments about that short, but precious period of childhood we both shared.
I have several regrets. One obvious one - that Charlie is not able to read this. Another is that there are very few photographs
of us as boys or indeed many of the Cross family at all covering this time period. Not only just 50s and 60s snaps from the
family album but there are few pictures either of the village or village people we once saw almost every day. An old
picture of Cleland Cross from a time around 1900 is held and some features are recognisable in this from our childhood days.
I cannot remember our parents or paternal grandparents ever actually owning a camera, except an old brownie, that was from
at least the 1920s and it was only ever played with by us: it was never used as a camera. In the wider family there are a
few surviving photos that capture memories. There are a few school photos too. Another of Charlie and I, all dressed up
too, at least I am in a oil skin and fur hat as Davey Crockett, so it must be from the time of making the John Wayne epic
The Alamo; from the early 1960s. We recalled mother arranging for someone to take photos of us when we first lived in Bellside,
one of these at least survives. We both remembered how cold it was sitting on the linoleum floor. Carpets were not wall to
wall in our house! Or in many houses in our village, until the late 60s.
We had a sheltered childhood. It was remembered as being to use that over-used cliché happy. It was mostly, happy and
innocent. This was not an illusion or an inappropriate memory. We always felt safe. We were never abused, or treated badly,
and although there were raised voices and some correction was made, we were loved. Happy it was.
Our family unit was dominated by adults. These were mainly parents and grandparents. Then came aunts, uncles and cousins.
Some of the cousins were adults too. As our father was an only child the aunts and uncles came from an earlier generations
on his side, our mother had three brothers, these three uncles were also close guardians of our childhood mentoring, but they
were younger than mother by 5-10 years. Their children were born when Charlie and I were young boys at primary school. In
total this collection of rellies provided us with our first childhood experiences of family ties and relationships .
This setting provided our home life, security and safety and also invariably our appreciation of family values, of right
and wrong and formed the cornerstone for the way we were reared .
We were able to peep through into this largely adult world around us and glimpse on what made our family tick and how
other families in the village, and adjoining villages.
Beechwood will be published in late 2005.
Contact me for more details.