Friday, December 27, 2013

"The Grandfather I Never Knew" Part 4 1948-1950's.

Although the move to Africa was precipitated by Iris' being sick it is important to remember that Idris also felt called to the continent when he was a child and believed God wanted him to be involved in mission there. During the next four decades Idris was constantly at work with local churches, hospitals and outreaches.

When he first arrived in South Africa, Idris purchased a black coloured 1938 Ford V8 with red wire wheels from the city of Salibsury. Later this was replaced with a 1941 Plymouth. This was the vehicle his family would all learn to drive in! A number plate was attached to the car when it was first registered. This would remain with the vehicle for the rest of its lifetime. The license was U4472 and was placed on a circular paper disc on the inside [Drivers side] of the windscreen. The number plate would remain with the car whomever it was sold to although the paper disc with the registration changed and had to be renewed each year. The Plymouth was bought in Kempton Park, South Africa but registered in Umtali so the designated letter was U - its place of residence. Later this car was also re painted after Iris ran it into a post at their home. Idris was very fond of cars, another that he rebuilt was a 38 Chrysler, which he then repainted and sold on.

Iris standing next to the 41 Plymouth

 The family first lived in Hatfield, a suburb of Salisbury but around 1950 they moved to Rainbow Ranch, Inyanga, part of the eastern highlands of Southern Rhodesia. This was only a brief stop over as later that same year they moved onwards, to Umtali. [Below a picture of the Inyanga Mountains.]

Muturazi Falls, Inyanga
He also continued to use motorcycles as he had in England. Below is a picture of an old 250 Royal Enfield, built around 1951. Idris would use it to drive to work and back on. He bought it second hand and rebuilt it again. His son Glyn loved playing with it and once, when Idris was away to the mountains on a mission trip Glyn tried to kick start it. It fell on the ground and started to burn. Fortunately some boy scouts were walking by and they helped Glyn put out the fire by piling dirt on it. Glyn remembers never being so scared of anything in his life.

Iris standing next to the 250 Royal Enfield
Idris was a stern father but loving. He forbade swearing of any kind and would not allow his children to go to the movies or play cards. These were places and things of the 'devil' and children should not mess with them. He was also full of kindness, his daughter Wendy always remembering him as her hero, kissing her better and seeing with great kindness to any cuts and bruises that she sustained. He was also not above playing with his children, sometimes pretending to be a horse as they rode him, and as they grew older, fixing up bikes and cars for them to drive and ride.

As the 1950's drew on he had some more great undertakings ahead of him as well as personal tragedy.


Facts and information courtesy of interview with family members Glyn Davies and Wendy Thomas, which took place between 2012-2013.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Boxing Day

I have spent the past decade in America and many of my friends do not know what December 26th, Boxing Day, is all about. There are essentially two traditions that have merged to give Britain and many of its old dominions this day of celebration. The first is that, dating back all the way to Medieval times, alms boxes were often left out for people to donate to the poor. On the 26th December the contents were then delivered or given away. The second is that servants and tradesmen were often required to work during Christmas day and were therefore given their own day of celebration. This became Boxing Day. The day their boxes were opened.

Growing up my memories of this day were always very similar. Christmas Day was spent either at my parents house or at my grandparents house. Boxing day was then celebrated at whichever place we had not yet visited. While Christmas saw the traditional Christmas meal, Boxing day was left overs and other delicious foods that were supplied in a buffet style by either my parents or my grandparents. Mince pies, pigs in a blanket, cakes [more Christmas Cake particularly], small sandwiches with various fillings available and so on.

This has also been a big sports day in the U.K. Similar to how Americans what their 'football' on Thanksgiving, the Brits love their 'football' on Boxing Day. It's the start of a rather hectic period of sports where one of the big teams can often put themselves ahead in the English Premier League. If we never went to watch our local team live then we rarely saw a game on T.V. but I do remember watching a show on BBC1 called "Grandstand". This was a popular sports show and the latest scores would always be flashed up on the television. Nanna would also often turn the radio on. Our local team, Grimsby Town,  was not particularly famous but the local radio would always broadcast live from the stadium.

We would spend the day playing games, showing off the presents from the day before and I would often read a lot. Usually at Christmas I would receive a book of some kind and Boxing Day would find me marking time by devouring it as quickly as possible. The day was also interspersed with movie watching. Christmas movies and one or two former big blockbusters would be on T.V.

Since moving to America it has been little different. I still manage to make it to England periodically for Christmas but when I'm not then Boxing Day is no national Holiday. It's just December 26th, the day many Americans return the gifts they didn't like. I follow the football scores on the internet but rarely watch the Boxing Day games. I still eat left overs with whichever family members are visiting and I still read rigorously. I've always had that day off work so the fact that it isn't a national holiday has never factored into my enjoyment of it.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve 1938

On Dec 24th 1938 Iris was married to Idris and became Mrs. Iris Davies. The wedding took place at Bethel Gospel Temple, Wardend Road, Birmingham, England. Iris' father Harold Griffiths was a traveling preacher and he was due to be speaking and planting churches in Ireland both before the 24th and after Boxing Day. (1) So the 24th it was!

From this marriage was born Wendy, Glyn and Merthyn Davies. Merthyn was to marry Christine Davies and that eventually led to the birth of John, Michael and Peter. 

And it all started December 24th 1938!


[1] Boxing Day. The day after Christmas Day. St Stephens. There are multiple theories as to why it is called Boxing Day, perhaps the most likely is that it became the day servants of the wealthy would open their "Christmas boxes" and the day tradesmen received "Christmas Boxes" as thanks for services rendered throughout the year.