I was at Mayfield Girls School from 1947 to 1951. I remember Miss Tappenden was the Headmistress at that time. You may have read in the local newspaper the account of my mother, Jane Stephenson, falling while cleaning the windows. That was the day before Remembrance Day in November 1956; she died the following day, and I lost my best friend.
The following year I left for Canada. Canadians in Ontario did not welcome the English. We were “Bloody know it alls”, you know the person that goes over there and says, “You are doing it all wrong, in England we do it this way”. I guess you can’t really blame the Canadians. Anyway it took me a month to find a job and then I met a friend who had been to the States and said how easy it was to get work there and at much higher wages. So off I went to New York and got a job right away in a big Insurance Company. Everybody loved the English!
I met my husband, a Private Eye, who turned out to be an abusive alcoholic and womaniser. I had my daughter, Deborah, and stuck with the marriage until she was old enough to go to school then I got a divorce. I felt I wanted to be with family, and most of mine had gone to Australia by this time. So off I went with my daughter. It was not quite as bad as Canada but jobs were offered to Aussies first so I came back to the U.S. on a Cargo Ship, the African Moon. My brother made jokes about the African Queen and that I would have to get out and tow it. It took six weeks to reach the States and in that time I had met my second husband. He was the second mate on the ship and my daughter loved him. We continued to see each other and finally got married.
We lived in New Jersey for a while where I had my son Matthew, my husband was no longer at sea but still worked for a shipping company. Eventually he was promoted and we spent two years in Hong Kong. Then we lived in Illinois and then California. My husband and I, after 18 years, drifted apart and we divorced.
I worked in a hospital on the surgery wing as a Unit Assistant and supported myself and my son by having two other jobs. Five days at one job, five evenings at another, and I worked the weekends at another. Not too much free time so I joined a dating club where I met my present husband Richard Simpson but I decided to keep my maiden name this time around.
We retired in 1997 and moved here to Oregon where we bought a house with 3 acres and decided to raise Miniature Donkeys. We had lots of fun with them but due to health reasons we decided it was better to find homes for them now while we still could, rather than dying and not knowing what would happen to them.
My husband was transferred to Hong Kong in the early 1970′s. As an avid gardner, and lover of Bonsai, I was very excited when I made my first trip down town. I found my way to Ladder Street, which has hundreds of steps leading up with a store or vender’s stall on almost every step.
I found one vender with dozens of Bonsai. Excited by all the choices I had, I took my time choosing and finally settled on a deciduous tree, hoping it might flower. I wanted to know the botanical name of the tree. But the little Chinese vender didn’t speak English, and I of course didn’t speak Chinese. I looked around and spotted a Chinese business man walking towards me. I stopped him and explained that I wanted to know the name of the tree I was buying and would he get the seller to write it down in Chinese. I planned to ask my husbands secretary to translate it for me later – I would then have the botanical name in both Chinese and English. They exchanged a few words and the vender went next door, said a few words to the store owner and came back with a piece of paper. Off I went pleased as punch, clutching the piece of paper and my beautiful Bonsai tree. When I arrived at my husbands office I showed him, and his secretary, the Bonsai I’d bought. I explained how I’d managed to secure the botanical name of the plant and gave the piece of paper to the secretary to translate. She took the slip of paper, read it carefully, smiled and said, ‘It say – Small tree in pot’.