A Tale of Two John’s

John aged 18 in 1944

Last week my iPad pinged to notify me by email to say that a certain John Lawson had commented on an old blog post marking my dad’s second anniversary of passing away.

Rather confusingly my father was also called John so hopefully there will be no confusion in this post…

Now I have to admit I had no idea who this John was but he suggested getting in touch as apparently there are numerous connections between the Lawson and Shores families unbeknown to me!

Intrigued I emailed him straight back asking for some more background information and was stunned when I read his initial reply.  Not only had he known the Shores family very well, but when he married his wife Joan way back in 1951, my father was his best man!

We swapped numbers and agreed a time for me to call the following day and ended up reminiscing  for about an hour on the phone.   John put me on speakerphone his end as he is now 91 years old and sadly deaf in one ear but otherwise in relatively good health.

His childhood home was in the Paddock, Anlaby Park Hull, close to 48 Anlaby Park Road North, where my father was brought up before the Shores family moved to 48 the Link.  This is where I used to visit Grandma Shores and Auntie Daisy & Uncle Alf Hopper who cared for her when I was a young boy.

John remembers many happy Christmas parties at the Link ,with pantomimes laid on by siblings Daisy, Beryl, John (my father) and Dorothy, the large house was ideal for playing “Murder”!   At Christmas he also sang in his then treble voice “See, Amid The Winter Snow” and “Where ‘Er You Walk“.

My paternal grandma Hilda had a sister, also called Daisy, who took on the role of housekeeper when John’s mother sadly passed away in 1934 when he was only eight years old.  John’s father was called Sir Philip Lawson and was Officer Commanding 152 Squadron Air Training Corps Hull where he apparently practiced drill loudly on the Corporation fields!

My dad was four years older and they went to different schools at 16, but John followed his example and joined the Royal Navy in 1944 aged 17 & a half.  He volunteered as he didn’t fancy being compulsorily called up into the army and so enlisted in Jamieson Street where Radio Humberside used to be located & broadcast from!  He also trained as a coder, rather than a writer (naval clerk) as he’d originally intended, at the same HMS Cabbala as my father too.

Eventually he was posted to HMS Slinger an escort carrier in the Pacific “forgotten fleet“. Like my father (& me) he made friends for life from his service and organised reunions of his old shipmates in the Chester area.  He even published his memoirs of his wartime experiences on the internet which can be found here.

John’s sister Margaret joined the WAAF during the Second World War and was best friend to my Auntie Beryl, my father’s older sister.  Beryl later married John’s cousin Douglas Pook who was in the RAF!

After the war he sometimes went with my father to watch Hull City at Boothferry Park with Roy Binnington at the stand on Bunker’s Hill Terrace.  Roy was my father’s best friend and attended his funeral so I was honoured to attend his funeral in May 2015 in Yorkshire with Debbie.

I will definitely write a blog post about my memories of Roy in future, as he was so funny and a very talented comic strip style artist, as well as an accomplished architect & best friend to my father.  So much so that I mentioned him during my father’s eulogy with him and his wife Kathleen being very appreciative.

There is one last connection between the two John’s as Roy’s family were originally owners of East Yorkshire Motors and John’s future wife Joan worked there as a wages clerk, while he was cashier for the bus conductors between Hornsea and Bridlington before joining British Gas!

When my father got married in 1956 sadly John couldn’t make the Saturday ceremony as he was supervisor for the loading of coke to Poland whist working overtime for British Gas, however Joan attended in his place.  Sadly they lost touch over the years as so easily happens which made reconnecting with me via the internet and phone so many years later even more special.

He did keep in touch by phone with Auntie Dorothy who lives in nearby Hessle after he had to give up his car and knew of my father’s passing from her but found my blog via judicious use of Google!

John told me he early retired in 1986 at 60 and became a golf enthusiast as well as a grade 140 chess player.  In getting involved in club and reunion activities he started publishing his wartime memories on the internet.

Eventually our call came to the end as the visiting hairdresser downstairs attending to his wife Joan had John as their next client.  So we said our goodbyes for now and exchanged addresses my email later.  I’m sure we’ll keeping touch and if I ever visit Hull I’ll try and pop in and see them.

Although social media can be quite disruptive to people’s lives there is a positive aspect to it as well in terms of reconnecting people and making sure memories are not forgotten.

I suppose it’s all about finding the right balance as with most things in this life!

A Tale of Two John’s