September 28, 2021

A Surreal Day in York FHS Research Room

I spent yesterday afternoon manning York Family History Society Research Room, I volunteer for this about 2 days a month. Normally it isn’t very busy; a couple of visitors and a few phone calls to answer,  so I generally take a bit of research work to do whilst I’m there.

Yesterday started off without any surprises; there was one person there doing some research and I chatted to the lady who had done the morning stint. Then it all started getting a bit surreal.

Another lady popped in and after introductions said “Oh! You’re the person I’ve been wanting to speak to.” She asked me if I used to live in a small village outside York, which I admitted to, and then said “I’ve got photos of you when you were small”.

Having a surname like Thomas-Peter is sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse, usually for the same reason – nobody forgets the name. The village in question is quite tiny and we lived there as extremely young children about 50 years ago for about 2 years. It wasn’t a particularly pleasant time for our family although I always remember it fondly – when you are 4 you’re not really aware of what your parents are going through.

Anyway, as with most Yorkshire villages, the same families who were in the village all those years ago are still there. They have regular history days and apparently we are remembered by many. I must say, the memories are not reciprocated as I could only remember the first name of one boy I used to play with. So, I gave the lady my email address and she sent me a couple of photos, one of which is shown below – I’m on the right at the front and my elder brother is standing behind me. What a scamp I look!

Class photo with rabbit

Apparently, four of the children still live in the village and the parents of another two do as well.

Just as I was getting over that, the lady who had done the morning shift said “Did you used to live in Fulford?”. This was getting a bit strange! “Yes I did” says I. “I think I used to baby sit you when you were young” says she. Good grief!

So what started as a fairly mundane afternoon became extremely personal. York is a fairly small place and typically Yorkshire so everyone knows everyone else or is only one person removed from doing so. Even so, it is a bit of a coincidence to bump in to two people who can fill in a few missing parts of your family history in the same day.

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