More of Linda’s Reminiscences

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More of Linda’s Reminiscences
From Mrs Linda Esgate (nee Holloway) Former St Hilda’s School pupil

It seems you are far more familiar with Knostrop than I ever was. Peter. To me it was somehow strange and secretive with a brooding atmosphere and I don’t really know why.
My father had an allotment down Knostrop during the war which I remember as a three or four year-old. It was quite near the river Aire. He was exempt from military service as he was nearly blind in one eye and was working in the optical trade which was one of the essential businesses. Almost every time anything was ready to pick or dig up it was stolen, like the family tent which was locked in his shed…..that was the final straw and he decided to give up the allotment. My mother and I used to go down to the allotment occasionally and as we walked towards a railway bridge we had to pass under she pointed out a tawny owl sitting on one of the metal supports. It was my first sighting of an owl and I remember it well.
We children used to go “down Knostrop” to collect conkers in late August and September. I can’t remember any other horse chestnut trees in the district so the Knostrop ones were in great demand and we used all the tricks to harden them up for “tournaments”, i.e. leaving to dry naturally, baking in a cooling oven, pickling in vinegar etc. I used to love playing conkers. We sometimes played in the playground at St Hilda’s school. (The nanny state hadn’t reared its ugly head then.)

It’s odd how we suddenly remember events from a fleeting memory jog like that. There was a foreign lady (German we children thought)who lived “down Knostrop”. It was unusual in those days to have a foreigner living near us and we gave her a wide berth, poor lady. One Saturday when I was about seven I was in the Co-op butcher’s in a long queue, waiting forever it seemed, to get the weekend joint(still on ration). The butcher was preparing a piece of pork for someone, scoring the fat when his knife slipped and he badly cut his hand. The blood fascinated me, I couldn’t take my eyes off it and it couldn’t be stopped it seemed. I fainted. I remember the side of my cheek hitting the sawdust-covered concrete floor before I passed out completely. I came to being clutched to a large lady’s chest while she slapped my face saying “Come along, come along” in a very guttural accent. I soon came round properly! I realised later how kind she had been.. probably the first person in that long queue to react and help. If you lived down that way you will probably know who she was. I never knew her name or exactly where she lived. I hope I thanked her for her help.
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I remember the lady you mention, Linda, she was the mother in a Czech refugee family who came to live in Yate’s Yard at the top of Knostrop Hill. They were a nice family and they made ends meet by making ladies handbags out of a red and black material. They had a daughter called Rose Marie. Thanks for you memories Linda.

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