My grandmother’s firstborn died at birth. To be expected Grandma's broken heart was inconsolable. Baby furniture, clothes, nappies, etc were removed from the house only to be replaced by a determination never to have another child. Fortunately, a year later Grandma did have another child. Convinced her new baby would also be taken away Grandma treated the arrival as if it were only temporary. My mum Phyllis Mary Wright born 1929 in Kings Norton, England slept for the first few weeks of her life on a worn out towel inside a laundry basket.
Her name was Amy Reeve. My brother Richard called her “Mummy” or “Mum,” but to me she was always “Belinda”, after a cartoon character named Belinda Blue-Eyes. She was born around 1899 in Tasmania, and was the youngest of four daughters and one son. At least, this is what I thought until a recent internet search revealed that she was actually born nine years earlier, on February 3, 1890, and was the fifth of six daughters and one son. Perhaps only four of the girls survived, and that is why I was never aware of the other two. I recall Belinda telling me that her father, a surgeon named Charles Frederick Reeve, was a Baron from England, who met and married my grandmother in Australia.
My mother was born Julia Veronica Szappanos in Szarvas, Hungary on June 16, 1933. Her mother, Margit (Lazar) Szappanos and father Janos Szappanos were performers with a dance act that toured Europe under the name “Rita and Ray”.
Janos was also a circus performer and developed a blindfolded knife‐throwing act with Margit. Shortly after my mother’s birth, due to the busy traveling schedule her parents had, they moved to Szeged, Hungary to live with her grandparents, Janos Lazar and Juliana (Karolyi) Lazar. Her grandparents had a small farm with an attached bakery, and her grandfather Janos was a master baker. My mother’s grandparents raised her and her parents dropped in from time to time as their touring schedule allowed (she was always thrilled to spend time with her dad, who did dote on her, but she described her mother as “distant”). My mother had a happy childhood helping with chores on the farm (loved the animals especially) and described herself as a tomboy, climbing trees and getting into fistfights with the local boys.