My father Jack Pitt was born in nineteen hundred and eleven. One of nine siblings, two of his sisters died very young and are buried close to my grandfather Edward Pitt, in St. Mary`s churchyard in Acocks Green. My grandfather was a greengrocer and owned Pitts the greengrocers shop which was situated in Acocks Green village.
My mother Bess was born a mile up the road. A few months younger than dad, she was raised on Pinfold Farm in Yardley and when they were ten, both she and dad attended the same junior school. This is how they met.
In those days the boys and girls` playgrounds at Acocks Green Junior School were separated by a tall brick wall, so when my father was eleven he let my mother know of his love for her by writing “I love you” in Quink ink on a piece of orange peel and tossed it to her, over the wall. Thus began their enduring love affair which spanned almost eighty years.
It wasn`t all hearts and roses. Their love was often fraught with insecurity, petty jealousies and cold silences. As one of their four children, I recall these could span several days. I didn`t really get to know my father until he was very old. I knew him on a superficial level because mum was a true matriarch and had she allowed my father to get close to us, it would have meant her losing her position and control in the family. In spite of this I loved them both very much and I think of them often.
I was talking with my granddaughter Mimi the other day, about her great grandfather and recalling some of the things he did which used to make us laugh when we were children. Dad used to make apple pie beds and for those of you who are uninitiated, this consisted of him tiptoeing into my room before bed time and placing all my childish belongings under the sheets at the foot of my bed. I`d snuggle down later in the evening to find my books, my china ornaments of which I had many, anything uncomfortable or lumpy he could find he would put down the bed. He found it hilarious, he loved slap stick humour.
When my own children were born, my daughter Rebecca was given a life sized doll which she named Sally. Sally never had a very good start in life as Rebecca found it necessary to cut off all her hair. To be honest, we all found Sally a bit creepy and none of us really bonded with her but I did dress her, in Rebecca`s old clothes if only to make her appear a bit more attractive and cared for, her glassy eyes so motionless, her bald scalp so prickly. One of the things father did to amuse my children when they were small, was to place Sally sitting on the toilet, her tights around her plastic ankles, a toilet roll clasped in her plastic hand, dad thought it very funny to hear their screams of dubious laughter when they went to the loo, only to find Sally had arrived before them.
My parents lived in a large flat above the shop until my father died in 1993 and mum went to live with my brother and his wife. My daughter recalls us emptying the flat almost a year after dad had died only to find Sally sitting in one of the rooms, all alone. No-one wanted to take her so she came to live with us again and I cannot recollect now, what happened to her.
Dad taught me many of his old army songs from World War Two which I still occasionally sing while preparing vegetables for Sunday dinner, just as I did with my father, all those years ago……. After dinner, a few glasses of wine under his belt, my father would hold me close to his chest and dance a waltz with me in the large kitchen at the flat and then we would wash up and give my mother the afternoon off. He always smelled of cigarettes and Old Spice and sometimes embarrassed me with his affection, I was too young to appreciate how much he loved me, loved us all. I thought he was a funny, loving, silly old man who I had a huge amount of affection for.
All my life my father woke me every morning with a cup of tea, until I left home at twenty three, pregnant with my first child. I miss that………
Jack Colin Pitt. 22/11/1911 until 3/3/1994
Happy birthday dad. xxx