|Porcelain sculpture by|
So this is goodbye?
This is goodbye
Monday, April 20, 2020
Tuesday, January 28, 2020
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Sunday, January 12, 2020
Friday, January 10, 2020
Wednesday, January 1, 2020
The Glenn family at Sheffield, c. 1927
(L-R Ronnie Glenn (1920-1983); Bill Glenn (1893-1970) Millie Glenn (nee Turner), Walter William Glenn (1917-1931), baby Mildred Joan (1927-2008).)
Walter William Glenn was born in September 1917, the first born child and son of Bill and Millie Glenn, after Bill had been conscripted into the Royal Garrison Artillery in the May as Gunner 163028. Bill was a railway engine shunter. He told a yarn about the goods yard where he was working in Sheffield, that a Royal Navy train was accidentally (or intentionally) rough-shunted so that the wagon carrying the rum rations was split open. Much of the grog was stolen and as a punishment, the authorities then conscripted anybody who might have been involved. Bill sailed to the front in November 1917.
Millie with Walter, a christening photo? 1917
Naturally fed, at the age of just 7 months, Walter weighed nearly two stone and was entered in a competition in Southport – he took first prize! Dad, Gunner William, was fighting in France and had not seen Walter since he was a few months old. Bill returned in 1919, to his relieved young wife and their son, to whom he was a stranger.
Walter age 2, in 1919
In the summer of 1920, Ronnie was born and later that year, Bill, rejoined the railway and the Glenn family moved to Townhead-road in Wadsley. By the time little sister, Mildred, arrived in 1927, dethroning the boys, the family were residents of 43 Victor Street in Sheffield, which is where the following account is situated:
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF A BOY ON A BICYCLE
For his 14th birthday, our uncle Walter was given a bicycle. He had been told that he was not allowed to ride it until his father came home from work, but he mithered his mother so much that she let him go out early just to get some peace. Unfortunately, Walter lost control of his bike coming down a hill and hit a tram with great force, resulting in a complex break of his leg. He died in hospital four days later – it is believed he contracted septicaemia. 
“I am both a night owl and an early bird. So I am wise and I have worms.” —Michael Scott
It is not known when the bicycle story started, why it was told or who concocted it. It first was put down in written form in 2004, passing from an English nephew to the Australian-born, bred and buttered niece [me], only when Walter's sole surviving sibling - Mildred at the age of 77 - began her slow descent into the fog of Alzheimer's disease.
The 2004 version seemed to echo a vague memory, from my childhood, of being told by my Australian mother, that I couldn't have a bicycle as "your father's brother broke his leg...some sort of accident, I'm not sure!".
My kid logic circa 1966, accepted the story and I never mithered my parents (or Santa) for a bicycle nor learned to ride one, until I was 26 and 'arf years of age (late bloomer) Never had much confidence in myself as the story of Walter's accident and broken leg had cast its shadow. My father never spoke, to me, of his early years growing up in Sheffield. He never told the story, to me, of his brother and their lives together. By the time I was born, it was all 30 years behind him and so much had happened in-between, dad having been an airman with the RAF and served in the Far East. In Australia, when returned servicemen didn't want to talk, we knew not to push the matter, unless we wanted a clip round the earhole. Dad would say, let sleeping dogs lie and I carried on with the business of being a child growing up in the peace, quiet and warmth of Melbourne, whilst gazing wistfully at snowbound scenes in movies. I didn't know then, I was a throwback.
The silence my Sheffield father kept - I have surmised tongue-in-cheek like - makes a grave look positively loquacious; even inoculated with t'gramophone needle!
My dad, Ron, had died in the December of 1983 - when I was 22 - suddenly and unexpectedly in the workplace: no lingering death for him, no shuttling between hospital and home. Ron had died like a honeybee found nestled in the flower at dusk. Its last day spent exhausted and resting on clover petal, a full life lived. Unsurprisingly, my thoughts turn to my father come December and it was on the twenty-ninth drop-dead-anniversary of 2012, that I pondered the photo of young Mildred standing next to Walter's grave. Then I did something I'd not done before. I turned photo over to read "Wadsley Bridge Cemetery" written on the back....
Quickly shot off an email to Wadsley Bridge Church, whose warden kindly checked their records: "Sorry, Walter William Glenn isn't buried here".
Walter’s sister, Mildred Joan Glenn, with first grave marker, Wardsend Cemetery,
It was about then that the penny started to drop that aunt Mildred's version of experiences she remembered from the first nine years of her life - the muddled and misremembered - had never been corroborated or corrected via conversations with my father, Ron, (her seven years older brother) in their adult mature years....as he had buggered off to Australia, having never returned to England at war's end.
Ron Glenn, passport photo, New Delhi 3 December 1946
age 26yrs 5 mths
Almost a year later, when my genealogy work circled back to the Glenn stonewall, in September 2013 my Tameside cousin provided the necessary clarification : Walter had been buried on 30 September 1931 at Wardsend Cemetery not Wadsley. I am not embarrassed to admit, that it was love at first web site : Wardsend in the Snow, one of my beloved screensavers.
Prior to late 2017, I hadn't been on Facebook. I quickly joined the Friends of Wardsend group, which was when the journey towards unearthing the truth about Walter's death, gathered speed with access to current visual images of Walter's grave and a flurry of emails with the Tameside tribe.
After viewing the photograph taken by FOWC of Walter's grave in November 2018 that I had emailed, cousin felt prompted to obtain Walter's official death certificate, which totally threw the bicycle story into the dustbin. Oil beef fooked!! We didn't expect this to not have emerged in the 80s or sooner...
Cause of death: Acute Miliary Tuberculosis of the lungs
Walter, age 13 yrs, 9 mths
43 Victor-street, Sheffield
Everyone lived in fear of tuberculosis but it was not much talked about. Families preferred not having it known that one of the children had died of consumption; it meant something wrong with the family.
The hardest part of the disease, for both the patient and the family, was that it took so long to die. Even in its most malignant form, called galloping consumption, it went on for weeks, even months. The only relief was a curious phenomenon near the end, known as spes phthisica, when the patient suddenly became optimistic and hopeful, even mildly elated. This was the worst of signs; spes phthisica meant that death was coming soon.
Tuberculosis meningitis was always fatal, and the only function for the doctor was to see to it that the end came as peacefully as possible for the patient.
Bill Glenn, second grave-marker, Walter's grave, Wardsend. c. 1950
Walter is buried in section NP 346. Two photographs taken by family, show that the first grave-marker had been replaced. The latter photograph also shows the grave of a young lass who died in her twelfth year of life.
THE ANGEL OF PHTHISIS : where the buck stops.
Youth grows pale and spectre thin, and dies. - Keats
The dispelling of an erroneous perception of the Glenn family of Victor-street, may not have come to pass it it were not for the synchronicity of Sheffield Wednesday Fans - in 2018 - arranging for a memorial to be installed for old Owl's fan, Tom Wharton, who was buried 1933, near Walter's grave (two rows down, veer right). There are probably people who don't 'get' what Friends Of Any Cemetery find so interesting or rewarding about devoting their free time to derelict and abandoned old places. I turn to another old Tom for a clue :
To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith,
no explanation is possible.
~ St Thomas Aquinas
Of course, for us, as Walter's niece and nephews, Pandora's pithos had been knocked over like a pint perched on paver at Piccadilly Gardens. My dad - who was called Ronnie in England, but always Ron in Australia - had been a lad of 11 at the time of Walter's death with their sister, Mildred - my cousins' mam - a peerie lass of four. We think, as tuberculosis was so contagious, it was unlikely Ronnie and Mildred stayed in the home, yet no stories have been handed down of them bunking in with grandparents or shuffling around the Turner and Glenn aunts and uncles. Extended family, understandably, not over keen to open their doors to the angel of phthisis. This suggests that Walter had been in hospital for a prolonged period; abruptly removed from his daily routine and maybe...just maybe in the Wadsley Parish Magazine, there is a mention of prayers being being offered for Walter's speedy recovery.
Could be searching for a needle-in-a-haystack there.....however there might be mention of other family so: "once more into the breach, dear friends, once more" the Bard crows!
Physicians in northern Europe generally believed in a noncontagious heredity 'tubercular diathesis'. It was common knowledge that the disease 'ran in families', sometimes for several generations. Moreover, the fact that only certain individuals developed the disease, although almost everyone was exposed to it, was used to argue against contagion. Rather like saying that bullets do not kill, because not every soldier on the battlefield was killed by a barrage of bullets. 
From 1927-1931, children (and adults) were succumbing to the galloping consumption; Walter
being among the unfortunate 40 children (0-14 years) in Sheffield, whose deaths from TB had been recorded and whose sweet hereafter is to form part of a clinical demographic in medical history.
In 1924, the number of deaths in children had been 82. As there had been a demonstrated decline in tuberculosis mortality in children - a glimmer of hope, no doubt, was extended to Bill & Millie Glenn, by the doctors and nurses of Sheffield Royal Infirmary. It was the random find of a birthday card addressed to Walter c/o The Balcony which was redirected to Victor-street, that deeply opened the anguish of our grandparents, Bill & Millie, as there was nowt more to be done. Not in those days. Not before the Age of Streptomycin. Walter had been brought home to die.
The Child’s First Grief
OH! call my brother back to me!
I cannot play alone;
The summer comes with flower and bee—
Where is my brother gone?
“The butterfly is glancing bright
Across the sunbeam’s track;
I care not now to chase its flight—
Oh! call my brother back!
“The flowers run wild the—flowers we sow’d
Around our garden tree;
Our vine is drooping with its load—
Oh! call him back to me!”
“He would not hear thy voice, fair child!
He may not come to thee;
The face that once like spring-time smiled,
On earth no more thou’ll see.
“A rose’s brief, bright life of joy,
Such unto him was given:
Go thou must play alone, my boy!
Thy brother is in heaven.”
“And has he left his birds and flowers;
And must I call in vain?
And through the long, long summer hours,
Will he not come again?
“And by the brook and in the glade
Are all our wanderings o’er?
Oh! while my brother with me play’d,
Would I had loved him more!”
Felicia Hemans, 1838
"Delicacy" was a euphemism for having TB.
People would cross the street to avoid contact with a "delicate" person.
When the reality of what our grandparents, parents and uncle Walter had been through began to roll over me, I turned to the account Frank McCourt had given in Angela's Ashes -
"a cacophony of hacking coughs, bronchial rattles, asthmatic wheezes, consumptive croaks...turned noses into fountains, lungs into bacteria sponges."I thought of how every cough, sniffle, croak and wheeze of my childhood had been beaten out of existence with generous lashings of Vicks VapoRub before bedtime; an experience enhanced by the coat of my striped flannelette pie-jamas clammy clinging to my camphor-basted upper body. It was enough to make the neighbour's eyes water.. three doors down.
Where had Walter been exposed? As a member of the choir at Wadsley Church; as a scholar in a school whose name I do not know; (see notes below) at the local fleapit watching cowboys & Indians; at a footy match; at the fair....perhaps a glass of milk. Recall that Walter had been naturally fed as an infant which suggests that his mam, Millie, and her mam, Rhoda, had an awareness of contaminated milk being a vector fo the TB. Furthermore, Rhoda had buried two of her young children in 1901, Millie's next youngest siblings: had they succumbed to tuberculosis at Dukinfield....
Another hazard arose, ironically with technological progress in the 1920s. This was the mixing in 3,000 gallon tankers of the milk of 1,000 cows. If only one cow was diseased and excreting mycobacteria then the whole batch was contaminated because tuberculous milk can be diluted 10,000-1,000,000 times and still be infective.
When had Walter first gotten crook.....what year, what season, what month? How fast had the galloping consumption been; a Derby winner or an ambling Blackpool donkey...?
there used to be a fruit forest, a cubby house, a swing, and flowers.
The Oak Tree Ron Planted
Reservoir, Melbourne c. 2016 (rental property since 1994)
And this oak tree that has grown from Walter's grave, it's roots cradling what remains of the Youth our uncle had been; my father's big brother, his partner-in-pie rustling. How did the acorn get there? A forgetful squirrel or had it been placed in his pocketses by my future dad, then a shattered and devastated lad. If Walter was to be exhumed, would there be a dead frog in t'other one.......
I keep on all the time dwelling in the long ago ~ worrying how Ron had felt at "this period" and at "that time." My flesh creeps thinking of his losing his brother of 14 when he was 11 ~ they must have been good pals. I was 4 and do remember a few details. Then he had to go through the trauma of mum and dad's divorce and all the terrible trouble which was involved ~ he would be about 15. The two tragedies happened rather close together and he must have gone through Hell ~ I didn't realize what things meant, as I was eight.
Ron became a dad in his 41st year of life, the age when some blokes are bouncing their first grandchild on their knee. Dad scrounged up an oak sapling from somewhere, during one of his fishing trips, planted it in backyard of my childhood home, 55 years ago, where it still stands, tall and strong, casting deep shade so welcome in the harsh summers, but crowding out the many trees in the fruit forest. Dad was a house-painter, fisherman, forager of mushrooms and blackberries, and minor league hoarder, not a horticulturist.
A tale of two oaks. A narrative of two brothers. A true blue account of how breathing life into an abandoned Victorian cemetery has worked a kind of darning in the hearts and minds of those whose narratives were forged in Sheffield.
Tuberculosis is no longer the killer of the flower of youth in the west, but it still kills millions worldwide, and stalks the marginalized, elderly and the socially deprived. Within the grounds of Wardsend will be scores if not hundreds of folk who died with consumption and perhaps there were protocols surrounding the burial of the contagious dead. TB was and is a deadly reality.
We look toward each other no longerFrom the old distance of our names;Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath,As close to us as we are to ourselves.
John O'Donohue 
My name is Anita Joy
I am the only niece of Walter William (Liam) Glenn
Credit for narrative and images go to the living grandchildren, in Australia and England, of Bill and Millie Glenn, who after believing the tall tale about the birthday bicycle for a large chunk of their lives, came to the forlorn conclusion that there's probably no Santa Claus, Easter Bunny or Hogwarts either: San Fairy Ann!!
 Personal email AGJ to AJG 12 Feb 2004
 The Big C - Lewis Thomas, The New York Review of Books, 9 November 1978
 A History of Medicine by Lois N. Magner
 The Mortality from Childhood Tuberculosis in Sheffield, Possible Causes of Its Decline by John Lorber, M.D., M.R.C.P., Senior Lecturer in Child Health, University of Sheffield. Nov 21, 1953.
 The TB Curse Lives On. The Irish Times 11 May 2004
 Obituary: Frank McCourt : A responsibility to write. npr.org July 20 2009
 Atkins, P.J. (1999) 'Milk consumption and tuberculosis in Britain, 1850-1950.', in Order and disorder : the health implications of eating and drinking in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. , pp. 83-95.
 Letter dated 21 Feb 1984, from Mildred Glenn, following Ron's death on 12 Dec 1983.
"New estimate suggests a quarter of the world's population has latent tuberculosis", University of Sheffield,
1 November 2016
 John O'Donohue. Excerpt from 'On the Death of the Beloved'
SEE NOTES BELOW
8 Jan 2020: AGJ confirms that a birthday card for Walter (dated the 23rd, addressed to the hospital and redirected to Victor St) is from the boys at the Morley St school; a short walk to the west of Victor St, where Walter and Ronnie were scholars. Now named Rivelin School. A brief history a Sheffield historical site gives the alternate name of Hillsborough School.
Posted by Roll Cage Mary at 6:21 PM
Tuesday, December 17, 2019
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Friday, November 22, 2013
"It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it … and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied … and it is all one". ~ Charlotte Wood
“There is a theme that runs through responses that I receive from children of a narcissistic parent(s). The child is subjected to unbearable levels of ongoing abuse–scalding criticisms, withering humiliations in front of other family members and alone, routine secret physical beatings and other horrendous acts of brutality including psychological and literal abandonment. When the child lets family members know what is happening to him, this person is not believed. When the victim of a narcissist tells the truth about his dreadful pathological parent, he is not treated with kindness or understanding. The family is shocked; the victim is treated with disdain and often told he/she is the sick one or that this is all lies to get attention. The narcissistic mother or father gets a complete pass. A masterful coverup takes place and remains ongoing. The child victims become family pariahs. Often the suggestion is whispered that they belong in a psychiatric institution or are in need of intensive psychotherapy.” (Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D, author of Freeing Yourself From the Narcissist in Your Life)
If you read blogs from ACoNs, they often refer to the other parent (the non-NPD one)
as the “flying monkey.”