People die but sometimes you don’t know

It’s that time of year. Time to write Xmas cards. We continue to do this because there’s people out there whom we know and we want to tell that we remember them. An email is just a little bit too easy and informal. Every year we have to review the list and, sadly, update it to reflect those who’ve died.

We send very few cards to the previous generation of our families, that’s hardly surprising with Juni and I both being in our 70s, but one of these is to Thelma Kelsall. We’ve known that her husband Ron died in 2013 but we’ve heard nothing from Thelma for a couple of years. Is she still with us?

A call on the phone number we have for them ended with a dead line but of course nowadays we have Google. A quick search linked me to https://funeral-notices.co.uk/notice/kelsall/1807496 which told me that she passed away in April 2018.

Thelma was my father’s cousin and Juni and I looked her up in October 2004 during a visit we made to Deeside to capture a few photographic memories of where I grew up. She was still living in the same house that I remembered from the 1960s (90 Kelsterton Road) and although she and Ron would have been in their 70s then they both seemed to be in robust health. Check out the photograph above.

Thelma’s father would have been a man I called Uncle Ronald and he and his family lived in Taliesin Avenue at the top of Plymouth Street in Shotton. It was a pleasantly symmetrical bungalow with a dormer bedroom and a unique circular approach to the front door and it commanded a view straight down Plymouth Street. Google Maps tells me that it’s still there and appears to be largely unaltered. Google also tells me that a Ron Jenkins drove a lorry during the 1947 bus strike and that there’s a photograph of a(nother) Ron Jenkins at the No 2 steelworks in Shotton in 1948. In its 26 Feb (19)14 edition the Flintshire Observer reports a Ronald Jenkins receiving a prize at Rivertown Congregational Church. Not exactly exhaustive research but I guess it adds up.

My grandfather, Richard Jenkins, lived in Plymouth Street when I was growing up and his father ‘Grandad John’ lived a little further down with his wife. I don’t remember anything of them but I do remember visits to darkened rooms where very old people lay in bed. They must both have died in around about 1950. There are too many John Jenkinses in this world for Google to be any use to elicit any more information about them

When we were chatting to Thelma she said, almost in passing, something like ‘of course my father and your grandfather didn’t go to Philadelphia’. After a little light cross examination she revealed that Ronald and Richard’s father and some of the family went to the US. The father returned but some of the family stayed. Sadly a Google search of ‘Jenkins, Philadelphia’ isn’t much help.

I was gobsmacked. Why did I not know about this and why did it never turn up in conversation? My grandfather often talked about his childhood and growing up in Swansea. I knew of his two brothers (Victor was the second and I’m guessing that he moved into his father’s house when he died) but there was never any mention of any more and certainly no mention of a jaunt across the pond.

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