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MY GRANDFATHER.

 

My grandfather was Dave Wildish  which is why my middle name is David,  and my mother was Eleanor Wildish .My mother played the piano for the silent films in Sheerness years ago, which I have always thought as being very difficult having to catch the mood of the scene being played either sad or happy etc. and to match the words shown on the screen.

Dave lived in Spring Garden Passage ( the opening by the Bon Marche ) about half way down the passage on the left hand side ,a little opening that led into a  little square with two houses and a common garden, Dave’s house was on the right hand side  and he lived with his mother. I will always remember the outside toilet , a little shed like structure approximately 4ft x4 ft very similar to a Sentry Box  with just a longish  wooden seat with a hole cut in  and the newspaper cut into 5” squares and secured by a nail to the door and it was so cold in the winter.

I often went with my grandfather Dave Wildish to look for anything washed up by the tide . During the war if a plane or ship etc was blown up Dave would know exactly when and where the pieces would be washed up and he would be waiting with his little push cart.  Any dead body washed up and the finder would  receive money to make sure the body was quickly removed , I believe it was £1 per body - a lot of money in those days.

Dave had eagle eyes and could easily spot the coins lost by the holiday makers I could not see them even when he pointed them out with a stick. I remember one day we(?) collected a jam jar almost full  of coins and we enjoyed cleaning them up to see how rich I was .

We used to go “sapping “ underneath the bottom end of the pier at Bluetown opposite Rats Bay this involved casting a line in the water (this being a short bamboo garden pole and a piece of string  with Daves secret bait  on it) giving it a few shakes and we would pull the line in with an eel on the end , Dave would catch about 10 a minute his rod going in and out of the water almost like a piston. He had his own recipe for cooking these eels and they were superb.

Dave would go trawling in his Bawlie boat and later on in the day he would collect me from the sea front near the Paddling pond in the little dingy and we would wheel the fish to Cassells the fish shop in the High Street in a large barrow ,  offload them and then we would sail around to Bluetown. Sometimes we would go to Southend for the day .He had to stop this later when the Government insisted that all his catches had to go to London first and then brought back to be delivered to Cassells  and this meant  no  really fresh fish. I would watch Dave mending his nets  his hands moving so very fast and this was  while as talking to me I tried to mend the nets one day what a mess I made of it.  Dave was an old Victorian  type of fisherman  who could not swim and through his influence on me I never learnt to swim either  ,he always told me “If the boat sinks just go glug,glug and it is all over in a few seconds rather than swim around in agony for a couple of hours and then go glug glug !”

I never  go near the water now and take pleasure in the fact that I will never ever  drown!!!!

 When Dave retired?  he  wanted to keep himself busy so he  shovelled coal  for the Coop coalyard alongside the Railway Station ,I remembered he did not like the “sissy shovels” and had one specially made for him which filled a hundred weight sack in a few shovelfuls. We used to  collect cockles off the front ,near the Leas  and they tasted excellent when he cooked them. At neap tides, the very low tides, he would take me to catch lobsters  armed only with an old broom handle which he would poke among the large rocks or pieces of wrecks   and as the lobster would obligingly grab the broom handle with its pinchers- and not let go-  we would carry the handle plus lobster ashore over our shoulders. Dave also had a paper round before and after work with Charlie Barber and this was as well as his beach combing and checking all the sea front shelters for items that had fallen out of the lovers pockets as well as working on the pleasure boats , he certainly was a busy man.  The Daily Express were so impressed with his active life they interviewed him and the whole of a centre page was  an article on how hard he worked I believe he was about 70  at the time..