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Auntie Gert

AG and her nieces taken by a street photographer in Whitehall C1947
Miss Gertrude Ethel Finnie:
February 1908 – October 1998

AE additions from Ann in 2015

As is in the nature of little girls who like chocolate – my first memory of Auntie Gert - is of her arriving at our house in Woodlands Park with two ¼lb boxes of Cadbury’s chocolates, one for me, and one for my elder sister, Ann! Was that just my imagination; I don’t remember us having to share a box; after all rationing of sweets (and lots of other things) continued well into the 1950s

I also remember her reading Beatrix Potter’s books, and A A Milne’s books, to me so – I say, with great confidence, that I could read before I went to school. I cannot remember what time of year I started school: I would have been 4 years and 9 months old in September 1945. However . . . I do remember my sister, Ann, aged 7 on her birthday in October 1945 . . . saying to our mother ‘Miss Brown says that Jeanette can start school next week’. So I assume that this was somewhere around my fifth birthday on 27th January 1946; or perhaps I started School at the beginning of the Summer Term after Easter that year.
JH has a Coronation Tin in which she found this note to her parents: obviously her writing was not as good as her reading! JH is left-handed, and so smudged her writing as she wrote with a dip-in pen . . . and there are at least six spelling mistakes!
On 2 January 1996, I wrote a letter to Edwin Hipsey in Canada: Edwin had been my initial contact with the intention of researching the Hipsey Family Tree, and I apprised him of all I know about the paternal and maternal sides of my family. So in this letter I said:-

“ . . . I must, however, tell you about Auntie Gert because she is a single lady who was a second mum to my sister, Ann, and I. Auntie Gert supported our mother - in spite of them being such different personalities - with moral support whilst daddy was away in the war and mummy was almost beside herself with coping with 2 young children. Auntie had a stroke some 9 years ago and is now living in a Residential home in Chigwell, Essex. . . .”

But a lot happened between 1946 and 1996! There was a ‘rivalry’ between Auntie Gert and my mother – or should I perhaps call it ‘jealousy’: there was no doubt that my mother was aware that Ann and I, were more ‘at ease’ with our relationship with Auntie Gert – and this was not only because both of us liked chocolates!

{AE}Kentish Town: 20 [JH - 20 Dunollie Road LONDON NW5 2XP now!] looked at with Pat Dean PEA SOUP [Further information from Ann during telecom May 2016: Ann was, of course, referring to walking through the London Smog before the Clean Air Act]

Her Loo three stairs down + Sunday Lunch in front basement room with Aunt Lil and daughters

But I can remember distinctly, two episodes when JH made Auntie Gert really angry. When WW2 came to an end, Ann and I were able to visit Auntie Gert where she lived in Kentish Town - in the rooms at the top of a tenement; the other rooms in the building were occupied by other members of the extended Finnie Family. On one occasion Ann and I were sharing Auntie Gert’s double bed: somehow or other I aggravated my elder sister – who found it necessary to complain to Auntie Gert about my kicking her; my sister called out more than once, although JH does not remember feeling that she was being particularly naughty, and – finally – JH really felt very subdued, and treated unfairly, and barely allowed to breathe! On the second occasion I was on my own with Auntie Gert [I have no recollection as to why Ann was not there]: I considered it a treat to be taken to a Lyons Corner House . . . but on one occasion Auntie Gert got so angry with me for not making up my mind quickly, that I became too upset myself to make the required decision! I had two cup cakes for the meal then ‘due’ be it dinner or tea or whenever! Auntie Gert used to retell this story for some years afterwards, until I was several years older: I don’t think she ever realised that I remembered this incident – as if it was yesterday - and in fact still do!