My mother Gladys Ella, née Hume, started going to Sunday and elementary school a year before the outbreak of the First World War in England. When I left home to do my apprenticeship in Sweden in the mid 1950s, Mum sent me a chain of letters, mostly from Memory Lane. Here is a letter she sent me on her earliest childhood entitled ‘Mottos on the Wall.’ Mum was brought up in a poverty-stricken home bereft of a father but could write the account given below in joyous remembrance. How different it was then to the grumpy groaning of modern society who have no Scriptural ‘Mottos on the Walls’:

How well I remember the Mottos once hanging on our bedroom walls. They were coloured and framed, depicting the seasons of the year. Below the scenes were printed a few lines of Scripture from the Bible. At an early age, we often fell asleep gazing on these mottos, placed near our beds. They taught many of us to read. We started school at three years of age in those days. We were taught to read simple words before we were given Nursery Rhymes and Children’s Story Books. These books were scarce, not so attractive as they are now and we were expected to read without much prompting from our teachers. All our books were neatly backed with strong paper to keep them in good, clean condition to preserve them for other children and save money. Scriptural mottos in our homes gave us our first Religious Instructions. We learned quickly to read them, and wanted to know more. We were expected to go to Sunday Schools which we did at an early age being taken there by our older sisters and brothers. Our activities there kept us happily occupied all the year round, thanks to our dedicated teachers at that time., who willingly gave us their spare time, and their knowledge of many things. We had a great affection for them and remember them well. Our mothers were busy running the home and caring for several children and often there was at least one of their own parents in their home in those days. The young and the elderly learning from each other many useful and joyful things. They read to us tales of adventure and endeavour and played many games with us and helped Mother with the lighter work on their ‘good days’. Grandma taught the girls how to run a home. The words on the mottos gave us all comfort and courage in the bad times. I still remember these verses in times of stress, such as, ‘What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee’ and ‘In Thy presence is fullness of joy’.


George Ella


George M. Ella is a historian, author and biographer. His writings may be accessed at the online archived, ”Biographia Evangelica”.


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