Auntie Vangie (Thompson)

Tees Street runs off Harrison Street and was where Grandma’s younger sister, Auntie Vangie lived. As a small boy I hardly ever called in unless I was sent around with a message. She lost her husband Alf many years before and previously lived  with her two daughters Ruby and Coral. The sisters were 15 years my senior and long before had married. Coral and her husband emigrated to Western Australia in 1963, shortly after me.

Years later I discovered that Vangie was a very interesting person with strong views on social justice. Unfortunately, in those days I just saw her as an old lady. According to  my Aunt she and Alf were members of the local Communist Party Chapter.

On a recent visit to Perth, Helen and I stayed a few nights with Coral and Peter. She recounted the sad story of an event in November 1930 when she was about four. Coral’s father, Alf Thompson, died of consumption (TB) at the age of thirty-two. As was the fashion in those days the deceased was ‘laid out’ in the open coffin in front of the street facing window to be viewed. Before the funeral could be organized, their oldest child, Gertrude, took ill and died at the tender age of eight. Coral can remember the heart-breaking sight of the two coffins lying side by side in readiness for the double funeral.

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