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Fond memories of a fun father

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: June 23, 2014

By Dan Shaw

  • George Jennings, left, with David's uncles Alf Luker, centre, and Tom Haden, right

  • Young David Jennings was taught to fish by his dad

  • George Jennings gives his son his first sip of beer

  • George Jennings in 1944

  • David Jennings as a pupil at Hillcrest school, Netherton

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THESE family photographs have been loaned to us by David Jennings, who lives in Rowley Regis but grew up in the Buffery area of Dudley and went to Hillcrest Secondary Modern school in Simms Lane, Netherton.

Sorting though his old pictures revived many happy memories for David and he writes, "My dad was George Edward Jennings, the funniest man I ever knew. He loved sport and taught me how to fish, a constant pleasure for me, and crown green bowling. He helped lay the bowling green at the Struggling Man in the Buffery, now gone, and was a member of the bowls team at the Selbourne Inn. He won many trophies for bowls and fishing.

"He worked as a furnaceman at Barlows in Oldbury, which had a good fishing club. In the war he tried to join the Black Watch, having lost a relative in the fighting, but he was refused, having a perforated eardrum and being in a reserved occupation.

"He met my mom during the war, Gladys Joyce Luker. She was my best friend, telling me lots of funny stories of life. As a girl she kept house for her family, after her parents died, in Ballard Road, Netherton. To escape the drudgery she joined the Women's Land Army and worked at farms by Shugborough and other places. She met Dad on leave, in a local pub.

"Dad worked a three-shift pattern at Barlows but found it hard to sleep on nights as where we lived in Buffery Road was a very busy street and noisy with lots of traffic. But in those days the men were given free beer at work because they sweated so much. On Sundays, if I was lucky, Dad would take me to Barlows to see the slag being knocked off the bottom of the furnace.

"Dad was always in his garden and green house and he always gave away his crops. He would try and eat anything and one of his sayings was that he was so hungry he could eat a gas tarred monkey. I remember his mom was a little lady and she made scratching stew, a good cheap meal.

"Every summer we went hop-picking, sleeping in the farmer's barn. Ashford Bowdler on the River Teme was a good place, with a pub called the Red Lion.

"Mom and Dad saved money for holidays and in the '60s went to Spain and Italy and lots of other places but they still loved holidaying in Great Britain.

"I was in the 2nd Dudley Scouts and I remember John Barnsley was always doing something with the Scouts; he had a white Austin Mini and a boxer dog.

"I remembers lots of camping and walking through the night from Dudley to Bewdley. We had swimming competitons and gang shows and raised funds with newspaper collecting and bob-a-job and open days at the Scout hut with a tombola. I was patrol leader of Kingfisher patrol and took a team to Kinver Scout Camp where we won the Watson Colours.

"Mom went to be with the Lord in November 1985. Dad coped on his own, with home help and family and neighbours but, sadly, he had to go to Valley Court nursing home, where he died in the early 2000s. He was buried with Mom at Gornal Cemetery."

Do you remember any of the people and places David has mentioned? Have you your own memories and pictures of childhood in the Black Country to share with readers? Contact dshaw@blackcountrybugle.co.uk or write to 41 High Street, Cradley Heath, B64 5HL.

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