Phyllis Mary COLLINS, my maternal grandmother was born in Northampton, Northants, England on 23 Mar 1915. She was the only child of William Collins and Violet Mabel Moyses and as such was doted on by parents who provided her with everything she could want that was within their means. William and Violet ran The George Hotel, a pub situated in Market Square in Winslow, Bucks, and that is where Phyllis grew up. Bell’s Garage was just across the way, and Phyllis caught the eye of Ted Turner, a charming chap employed there as a mechanic. Ted quickly fell under the spell of the vivacious, red-headed, daughter of the George’s publican, and the two were married at the parish church in Winslow on the 26th of January, 1938. Ted by that time had left his job at Bell’s and taken a position as chauffeur to the eminent eye doctor Sir Richard Cruise, personal ophthalmic consultant to King George V. Evidently the King had insecurities about his poor eyesight and felt the need to have his eye doctor present at all times. Ted’s position took him frequently through the gates of Buckingham Palace, to the races at Ascot, and to France, Monaco, and other popular Royal destinations abroad.
The newlyweds took up residence at 7a Wimpole Mews in London and their first child was born in 1940. Unfortunately, Britain entered World War II shortly thereafter and Ted and Phyl didn’t have much of a chance to settle into every day life with their new baby. As his father had 15 years earlier, Ted felt the call of duty and left his young family just a few months after the baby was born to join the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers regiment of the Royal 8th Army. He spent the next 5 years in North Africa and Egypt, serving under General Montgomery.
It was too dangerous to remain in London, so Phyllis and their baby returned to her parent’s pub in Winslow, where they lived for the duration of the war.
The family moved to Northampton after Ted returned from the desert, and Ted was hired as a mechanic at Mulliner’s Garage, where he worked until his retirement. The couple’s second child, a son, was born in 1949. After staying home to raise her children, Phyl took a job in town selling shoes at Steve Clark’s Shoe Store. (Northampton was home to the famous Clark shoe brand.) She worked there for years. In her retirement she and Ted traveled abroad often and spent their free time enjoying their six grandchildren, including three who lived in America.
My Grandmother was witty and bright, and was always up for anything that sounded like fun. She wore bright red lipstick and never let her lovely auburn hair go grey. She was well read, and loved sitting out in the sun on warm summer afternoons sipping her gin and tonic and chit-chatting with family and neighbors. She and my Grandfather came so often to visit us in America that they knew all of our friends and made even more on their own. Grannie lived a long and happy life and anyone who knew her could tell she lived life to the fullest, every day. She and my Grandfather had the happiest marriage I’ve ever seen, and the warmth and love they shared was obvious to everyone around them.
Phyllis outlived Ted by a couple of years, missing him terribly all the while, and died of pneumonia on 2 Oct 2002 at the age of 87 at the Royal Infirmary in Leicester. She is missed every day…
(Sentimental Sunday is a blogging series hosted by Geneabloggers)