Friday, February 08, 2008

The past on email

Joan ( above) asked her daughter Beth to "google" Craig-y-nos then sent me an email.

As the emails began popping into my mailbox it quickly became obvious that my search for the “Children of Craig-y-nos” was an intergenerational project.

It was the sons, daughters and grandchildren who wrote seeking to piece together their own family history, or they were writing at the request of their relatives.

Beth Rees Baglan, Port Talbot emailed on behalf of her mother Joan Wotton, nee Thomas:

“We only found the Craig-y-nos web site as she was at my home and asked me to see if there was any information about the hospital on the web. She was overjoyed to see lot's of familiar faces from her time there as a patient of 15. She arrived in 1950, and left at the beginning of 1953, Mum say's that she remembers you and even what bed you were in! I have been brought up on all her memories of her time at Craig-y -nos both good, and bad.”

For others it has been an opportunity to learn more about their own family past.

Betty Thomas’ niece, Gaye, wrote:
“ I knew no details of Auntie Bett's story until a couple of years back (perhaps I am now seen as an 'adult'!). Veiled comments were made by my father once in a decade but my mother quickly told him to'forget it now, there's no need'. “

Many, such as Janet Tayler from Worcester, express bafflement and regret on learning that all records of this period have been destroyed.

“I'm so disappointed to find out there are no records of patients at Craig y nos. My great aunt, Kathleen Powell, from Cwmgwrach, died there during the 1920s. My grandfather was only young at the time and he hasn't spoken much about his sister. I can't even find a record of her death.”

A small minority of ex-patients, those comfortable with technology, wrote directly.

And this includes a teacher who has confined herself to email contact only still finding it too painful to speak, even over the telephone, about this time in her life over fifty years on.

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