Muriel, Pat, Jean and Rose Thomas - 1946 - 1950
This is Muriels story
Muriel Lawler - New Facebook Member July 2012.
Muriel joined St. Edith's gang recently. She has been very generous in sharing her personal story and memories with us. What makes it even more interesting is that she has been so honest about how hard life was for the children who were in the home in those post war years.
Muriel was born in Bristol, her family lived in Avonmouth. Muriel's mother ran off with an American during the war and when her Dad couldn't look after the girls they were put into a home in Falmouth (The Royal Cornwall Home) first then they moved to St.Edith's. Muriel went in when she was 5 years old, her sisters were 3 -7 and 10.
Muriel and her three sisters were in the home for four years, but were on different floors, so they never saw each other and didn't get to know each other until they left. (This seems to have been the norm for a lot of siblings even in later years. Christine and Danny Nicholls who entered St.Edith's in 1951 only saw each other for the half an hour television time after tea, their older brother Terry was moved to a different home in 1953 (Broadstairs) until 1955.
Muriel remembers Sister Alice and Sister Josephine but doesnt' remember many good times, Muriel tells us that Sister Alice will remain in her head for ever because
"She was cruel and sadistic - I couldn't begin to tell you how bad she was. I'm sure she wouldn't have gone to heaven"
Though she goes on to concede that her siblings say she used to answer back a lot, which she says may help to explain why she was punished a lot. Muriel also remembers a Nurse Wilkinson "hitting me so hard she burst my ear drum and I was in hospital. I still suffer to this day. She was later sacked as she poured boiling water over someone's head".
Even though life was obviously hard, it is clear that Muriel maintained her sense of humour.
"we had a terrible time there, the worst years of my life. I keep saying I would like to write a book about it, I can remember when I was 8 I had to wash 265 pairs of navy blue knickers by hand. I must have been naughty (lol). I can remember one good thing as a punishment, I was made to polish the floor downstairs, afterwards we could have a good slide with socks on".
Linda Rodriguez sympathized, and confirmed that those bad times were shared by many in the late 40's. It seems that some of those who cared for the children were very harsh towards them. Linda did once have a conversation with Sister Lydia about things that she didn't like. Lydia explained that some of them were quite in the dark about caring for kids, never having kids theirselves. When Cathy met Lydia on a separate occasion she explained that when she first took charge of the home, she was in her early 20's, had no knowledge, training or guidance about how to care for children. As she told me "we made it up as we went along"
Would like to say a huge thank you to Muriel for telling her story , not everyone had a fair time!
Helen Lee who was at St.Edith's around 1964 between the ages of 3 and 5 also remembers the harsh punishments dished out including being struck wuth wooden rulers as punishment, cold baths for wetting the beds etc.
It seems that lots of the children wet the bed (hardly surprising considering their traumatic lives) that fact the the Nuns believed it to be deliberate is inconceivable, punishments included being sent to bed with no tea, or being made to stand in the attic with the wet sheets over your head. (Where was Esther Rantzen when you needed her? ).
Huge thank you to Helen for sharing her story.