Avis Saltsman - Artist

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Essay on my Origins - Version of May 1997 - Page Two

My Mother

My mother Frances (nee Stansfield), born 1912 was married to Cyril Saltsman, born 1908, in the summer of 1934. In 1926 they met in Clayton, Manchester where both their families lived, when she was fourteen and he eighteen. My mother, was a naturally gifted pianist who could not read music. When she was three she wandered from the public house her parents kept and was found listening in rapt fascination to a Salvation Army band. In her late teens she was a member of a group playing 1930's style popular music and my father used to follow the group round. She seems to have only played on her baby grand piano (her most precious possession) at home after she married, rather than in public. Anyone with a gift like that, male or female, would these days be guaranteed a living. She went on picking up every popular trend, her style being somewhere between Billy Mayerl and Fats Waller, until she died thirty years after my father in 1993. She was also a good amateur painter.

They married in August 1934 because my Father's mother, Caroline (nee Daniels) had died of pernicious anaemia, having produced three sons, all weighing over twelve pounds at birth and three sets of twins, all boys, who died before the age of one. So Cyril and his brother Leonard, who was nineteen, were left motherless, which does not say a great deal for Frances' intended role. The fact that Leonard lived with them when they were first married was an understandable source of resentment on my mother's part. She had artistic and craft talent and went to a trade school to learn millinery, but her parents would not let her go to a high school at eleven because they said she was 'too young to cross the road'. I suspect it might have been connected with the payment necessary. Her brother John, who was ten months older, went to Manchester Grammar School. My mother was gifted in the arts and not given an equivalent chance. She must have envied me my limited amount of higher education which was a great deal more than she or my father had had.

My father was an excellent sportsman. He had been given a five-pound note by his headmaster for his prowess as a bowler in school cricket matches, (a lot of money then). This must have been before he was thirteen as his father lost his job then (1921) and my father had to leave school and start work in a chemical factory. He had played water polo and was an excellent goal keeper for Stalybridge Celtic, at one time being offered a position for a first division team (Preston North End), which he did not take as he felt his business was a better prospect for making a living. He told me twice that a sadistic foreman at the factory had 'tried to push him into a vat of boiling chemicals' but without explaining why the foreman might want to do this. This attempt to murder him must have been accompanied by verbal abuse making clear what it was all about. After leaving the chemical factory, my father had gone to 'night school' to educate himself ,saving the bus fare by walking and eventually becoming a Chartered Surveyor and Estate Agent, .

My mother had had a miscarriage between myself and my brother. Many years later on telling me about it she said 'I said to the doctor 'I bet that was THE BOY.' She had been lifting me out of my cot and I was shocked to learn that she had blamed me for the miscarriage over all these years. There always seemed to be an element of regret at having produced me. I might have been more acceptable if I had been male as they were considered the useful people. There was no general knowledge or attention to child psychology in those days, indeed very little today amongst the general population. But having any child was an economic burden in the thirties, and my father started his business because he had earned very little when first married.

Contact: Avis Saltsman (or Saltzmann), 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY
+44(0)171 359 6294 or e-mail her

Last revised 21/5/2002
URL: http://www.art-science.com/Avis/Avis_family/Origins2.html

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