Sarah Ann Green Collins

Sarah Ann Green Collins
with her son Henry Hone circa 1916

SARAH ANN GREEN COLLINS...Evans...Hone...Barnes...Breen b.1862 d.1935

A thrice married Englishwoman immigrates to Canada with her 4 surviving children and marries a widowed Ottawa Valley farmer with two children of his own.

This is my paternal grandmother's story RE-IMAGINED lovingly by me.

To post I have to ask you read from #1 and thence backwards to the top of the page.

Hope there isn't Word protocol stuck between the lines now.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


New Grimsbury, Warkworth, Northamptonshire July 6,1874
“Sarah as it‘s your twelfth birthday what would you like to do as a special treat?” asks Father as we finish our evening meal.
“Can we go to the band concert at Cherwell River Park?”
“I was hoping you would ask that,” beams Father.
“Can we walk to the park please? It’s such a warm night and it is my birthday.”
“Mother do you think you would feel up to coming with us?” Gran Collins shakes her head,
“Thank you for asking but no is my answer. I’ve had enough excitement today what with Sarah’s birthday and the singing and the gift opening. You go along and enjoy the evening.”
“I’ll stay with Gran. You know I don’t like the music and I’d rather not go,” says Mary.
“That is kind of you Mary,” says Father.
I hold my tongue. Father always thinks the best of everyone. I want to say, ‘Is there anything you do like to do Mary, besides pinching me behind Gran’s back?’
Soon Father, Annie and I are walking to the park as it is just across the bridge from New Grimsbury in East Banbury. I’m carrying my new mauve parasol. I practice twirling it like a saw a lady on the High Street do last week. The parasol flies out of my hands and into the road.
“Father. Father. My parasol.”
A horse and cart is lumbering our way and I’m afraid my parasol will go under its wheels.
Father dashes into the road, scoops up the parasol and delivers it to me with a deep bow. I love my Father so much. Other Fathers might have scolded.
It is a soft velvety evening.
Father is humming and imitating the instruments in a military band. "Pa bump bump. Pa bump bump. Ta rum rum. Ba bump."
He is in high spirits. We have to step lively to keep in pace with his long strides all down Middleton Road. The roses are blooming on the cottages along the way and patrons are sitting outdoors having pints of ale The Bell and The Cricketeers by the bridge. I can’t think of a fairer place in all the world.
As we cross the Cherwell we can hear the music floating on the air all the way from the park. Father says he is proud to have tow such delightful young ladies on either arm and he must be the envy of all the young men in Banbury. He says it could only be nicer if Mary were with us.
I snort and Father looks down at me.
"Sorry Father. I must have dust in my nose."
It would be romantic to pretend we are walking with a sweetheart as the scent of blooming roses wafts up to us. But then the band strikes up ‘Rule Britannia’. Soon we three link arms and are half walking, half marching towards the bandstand.
Father says, ‘Pick up your feet men. You’ll be drummed out of your battalion if you lollygag.’
I wonder if anyone said that to Florence Nightingale?
We see young boys using sticks for guns and playing at being Prussian and French soldiers. Father says that war was in a faraway country but it will continue to touchus in many ways. I don’t like war so I don’t listen. I would never marry a soldier. I just sing a merry tune in my head.
What a surprise. It’s cousin Walter Ives strolling in the park with a group of young men his age.He breaks away from them impervious to their taunts and comes running to Annie’s side. He barely tips his hat to Father and I as he is intent on greeting Annie.
Walter asks if he may join us and Annie says, “Yes, But isn’t this park a long walk from your boarding house?”
Walter doesn’t seem tired and mysteriously Annie doesn’t seem surprised to see him.
I’m certain Annie and Walter are sweet on each other. But I’m not worried as his move back to his mother’s house, our Aunt Mary’s, in West Ham when he completes his apprenticeship will remove him from Annie’s list of prospective suitors. Annie has promised me she will not marry and move away. West Ham is far away on the edge of London. I wonder should I tell him so? I decide no. That’s just as well as I can’t get an opportunity to speak with him alone as Annie is both hanging on his every word and off his arm.
After the concert fireflies dart in and out of the bushes around the edge of the park. Mother once told me fireflies are memories that you forget. Father buys us each ice creams from the vendor. We have a choice of lemon or strawberry. I pick lemon. It is heavenly. I should like to eat it every day. Mary will be jealous that we had ice cream and she didn’t. If it was the other way around she would torture me with a description of how cool and utterly delicious it was. I will not stoop to teasing her. I’m twelve now and it’s not ladylike.
We walk out the east gate of the park and to the bridge. This is as far as Walter can walk with us as he has to walk back to the far side of Banbury to his boarding house . He rises with the sun each morning to work with the Master Carpenter. Since Walter moved from West Ham to Banbury Walter is able to call at our home once a month or so and sometimes takes a meal with us.
Annie calls, “Goodbye Walter.”
“Goodbye Annie. Goodbye Uncle. Goodbye Sarah and Happy Birthday again.”
Annie barely says a word all the way home to 44 Middleton Road. I wonder if she and Walter have plans that I don’t know about.
July 6, 1874 Dearest diary,
It was my birthday today and I am twelve years old. Our Mother has been dead for two years. I do wish I could talk to her about my life. Perhaps she can read you, dearest diary, from heaven. That might seem foolish to anyone else who might read this diary but no one can understand how much a girl can miss her mother.
Sometimes I can remember her face and sometimes it’s just a shape of a woman I see. I often ask Father to see the miniature he has of her in his watchcase but it’s so small it could be anyone’s mother.
I do have Mother’s madras shawl. It’s soft wool in colours of red and gold. It was the last gift Father brought her before she died. For a long time it held her scent; like lilacs and sun all mixed together. Now it just smells of me. I wrap it around me when I feel sad and missing her. I wore it to bed one night and Mary said, ‘Take that shawl off. You’re just trying to make me jealous.’
At the park tonight we saw lightning bugs darting about the bushes. Gran Collins told me lightning bugs are the memories of lost children and they come back to remind their parents. Maybe George was with us tonight. I wonder if Father saw them.
Mary has Mother’s diary. I let Mary see and even touch the shawl but Mary won’t let Annie or I read the diary. There are so many things that I can’t remember about my mother and reading her own words and seeing her handwriting might bring her back to my mind. Someday when Mary is not at home I plan to find where Mary hides the dairy and read it cover to cover. I’ll tell her I did it too and see how she likes it.
Annie shared her ice cream with Walter tonight. She says she wants to keep her figure and eating ice cream makes you heavy. Annie could eat ice cream all day and all night as she is tiny like Mother and Gran Collins. I think she just wanted to share with Walter.
Father says every young lady should be aware of her prospects. Mine are dismal. I am still flat-chested and I have a strong nose. I still have that kind of hair that will not stay in its pins. Annie says that is it lovely and shiny. She doesn’t have to worry about anything as she has curly coppery hair that looks stays in pins and her nose is tiny like Gran Collins.
Oh ! I have only just now figured out why Annie wasn’t surprised to see Walter. She remarked to me last week that she saw a poster pasted on the wall of The Cricketeers advertising a band playing at Cherwell River Park on the same day as my birthday. Annie knows how much I love music and that Father gives us a special treat on our birthdays. Hmmm? Did she tell me about the concert so that she could tell Walter we would probably be at the concert?
My question for you tonight, dearest diary, and this is very important, ‘Do you think Annie will move to West Ham and marry Walter? In spite of her promise to me?’
Your true friend, S A G Collins

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