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Article submitted by Gaye Elliott (nee Gregory), March 2010

Memories of an American child
in Burton Latimer in the mid-1950s

My parents and I lived in Burton Latimer from January 1954 - August 1956, while I was age 5-8 and my father was stationed at the base at Molesworth with the US Air Force. I went by the name of Gay Gregory while a student at the Council SchooI.  I believe I was only one of two American children at the Council School, the other being an African American boy.  I have a class photograph with Miss Leach standing beside our class but I don't remember how long I was in her class.  It was probably 1955 and 1956.  I think I had another teacher before Mrs. Leach as I think our class was in another building but I don't remember her.*  I remember learning so much in Mrs. Leach's  class and was much more advanced than others my age when we moved back to the States.  My memories of the Council School include the shared desks, inkwells and pens with nibs, the outdoor toilets, Mrs. Leach's "slipper" which she used sparingly to keep us in line, the wind-up Victrola that played  records, being in the Christmas pageant, and my mother walking me back and forth to school each day.  I also have several ribbons which I must have won at sports day competitions at school. 

* [Transcriber's note: This would have been Mrs Williams at the Council Infants School. Click here for an account of life at both schools in the 1950s]

We lived on Bridle Rd (number 9) next door to Harry and Frances Goldsmith and their daughter, Hilary ,who was two years older than I. I don't know if she went to the Council School or not.   My mother corresponded with Mrs. Goldsmith for over 30 years before their deaths.  I believe Hilary became a nurse, married and moved away from Burton Latimer.  

Since I was so young when we lived in Burton Latimer, I have few memories other than school, my front and back yard, Wicksteed Park with the swans and a huge (at least to me it was huge) water slide, and St. Edward's Catholic Church in Kettering where my mother and I attended Mass. There was also some kind of mission church on the second floor of some building in Burton Latimer where we also attended Mass.  There were no pews or kneelers and I remember being a very uncomfortable little girl kneeling on the wooden floor, so it must not have been a "real" church at that time.  I notice from the website that there is now a Catholic Church in Burton Latimer.

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