Lila Coward, Part 2

I researched Uncle George from the last part of Lila’s tape that I transcribed, and found records for him that show he was not her uncle, but a cousin. While Lila’s father only had one sibling who lived to adulthood, Lila’s grandfather had many siblings, and so there were many relatives. I believe that George Coward was the son of Lila’s great-aunt Maria Coward. Maria Coward married John Coward, who I haven’t been able to place in the tree but was probably a second or third cousin. So George was a first-cousin once removed to Lila, and a first cousin of her father. I apologize if this is all very confusing to all the non-geneologists out there.

In any case, the next section I transcribed from Lila’s tape provided the clue I needed to confirm that she was the daughter of Wildon Coward, my great-grandmother’s uncle. (And so, a first cousin to my great-grandmother Emma Maria Coward).

Along our half of the yard, behind the sheds and dustbins was a high stone wall. Behind it was the large house and lovely garden belonging to old Mr. Jersey. He used to sell daffodils and narcissus, and there were times when my mom would send me round for a bunch. I never liked going around to this big old house and having to face Mr. Jersey. He was such a miserable man. Perhaps he was miserable because he lived alone, or perhaps he lived alone because he was miserable. Who’s to know now? Sometimes when my friends and I would play in the yard we would accidentally bounce or kick our ball over the wall and it would be a timid bunch of kids who went around to try to retrieve it. If he was in a reasonable mood, we got our ball back, but I feel sure an awful lot of balls were lost forever, bounced into the old man’s flower beds.

Now to go back to the days when I was too young to take note of the scenery out the front, or to care what the back looked like, I remember the day when I got the fright of my young life. My second oldest sister, who was eight years older than I, had the task of emptying a bucket of ashes into the dust bin. I ran at her side as she strode to the bin and hastily emptied it. Then, suddenly, the unexpected happened. A little old woman sprang up out of the bin with her arms waving in the air, her eyes blazing, covered with ashes. I was very frightened. I don’t remember what happened after that, but you can bet I made a beeline for the safety of the house as fast as my little legs could carry me.

It was a long time before I saw that old woman again. When I did, I must have been on my way from school, and there she was coming straight towards me. I’d forgotten all about her and the fright she had given me. But seeing her again so unexpectedly gave me a shock and filled me with terror. I was still very young, so it was little wonder that I thought I was seeing a witch. After all, I had seen her pop up out of the dust bin, and she did look like the witch in the story book, even if she didn’t dress like one. The way she was dressed was most peculiar though. She wore a grey shawl over her head fastened under her chin with a safety pin, and draping well down around her body, and underneath was a long black dress. It was her eyes that I found so frightening. Deep, round, and very pale in color. And so piercing. And don’t forget, I’d seen those eyes blazing with anger. Now, I was not alone on the road. Children were milling around me and running past, and this gave me the courage I badly needed. I saw her a couple of times after that, but only at a distance. But the time was to come when that old woman would strike terror into me yet again, but that’s another story.