THIS is a picture of my grandmother, Sarah Ann Evans, outside her shop in Dudley Road, Lye; just below Lye Cross, in the 1920's.
Of course, the shop is very typical of hundreds of others in the Black Country, or indeed of shops in every working class area of the country.
However, the background story to this makes it a bit different.
My grandfather died in 1906 leaving my grandmother with four boys under ten, and pregnant with my mother.
Dr Barnardo's offered to take the boys into care, but Sarah Ann was adamant that this should not happen.
In the event the neighbours collected money for her. With this she turned her front room into a shop and the family survived on any profit she could make from the business.
She must have been successful because this picture shows her in front of a 'proper' shop on the other side of Dudley Road.
She moved across the road to this shop in 1910.
I have a much treasured notebook, listing the names of her neighbours and the amount contributed.
On the first page you can see that contributions ranged from 6d to 5/-.
Some must have been the better off residents of Lye.
Even 6d would have been a lot of money for people working in chain and nails, industries notorious for low pay.
One of the contributors on the list is Dr Hardwicke - their local doctor on Lye Cross, and father of Sir Cedric.
My mother, Mary Perrins, lived to be 91.
Right until the end she always ate twice as many vegetables as anyone else.
She said that this was a habit she had learned as a child.
On Sundays the family had to eat all the vegetables left in the shop, which would not be fresh enough to sell on Monday.
The habit stayed with her and perhaps contributed to her long life!
When I look at the notebook, I always think that my family has good reason to be grateful to the caring folk of the Black Country.
Mrs Inga Bulman,
8 Fox Hill Close,