Blacksmith’s Son Beats Countdown

Although, like many of his generation, he was forced to leave school at the age of 14, he was a very clever man. He could work out conundrums, or anagrams, or do the mental arithmetic on Countdown faster than his son or his son’s computer. One of the sadnesses for him of his final weeks was that his stroke left him unable to read the newspaper or do the daily crossword.

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(Born, August 3rd 1920. Died, March 8th 1999.)

Edwin Rye (known as Ted) was the son of a Blacksmith.

Ted RyeHe grew up in, and around, King’s Lynn, and joined the Royal Norfolk Regiment at the start of the Second World War. However, he was soon captured and spent most of the war in various European prison camps.

On returning home he joined his wife’s family businesses and for over a decade helped run a Cafe next door to the Police Station in King’s Lynn, and the Tower Restaurant in New Conduit Street. The family have many photos of dinner-dances at the Tower Restaurant and of Ted laughing or dancing and helping his customers celebrate with some enthusiasm!

After the collapse of the family businesses, Ted worked as a Canteen Manager at Lockwoods, and would sometimes travel to Long Sutton on Christmas Day to cook for many of the immigrant Italian work force. His son has fond childhood memories of rides through Sutton Bridge on a motor-scooter, and of arriving at the factory to eat his dad’s spaghetti and tomato sauce.

Ted then worked for a long spell with the Industrial Caterers, Gardner Merchants. He spent many years travelling throughout the Midlands and the East of England setting up canteens in new factories, and in sorting out problems in failing ones. Although he enjoyed this work, he was often away from home for weeks at a time, and with his first wife’s deteriorating health, he decided to take a job closer to home. The last part of his career was spent as Canteen Manager at Campbells Soups, and he also worked at Sun Testers for a brief period.
Despite the stresses caused by business collapse and illness, he was happily married to his first wife, Ida, and cared for her through many years of poor health. After her death when he was 50, he found happiness again in a second marriage to Joan who died when he was 65. In the last decade of his life he had an important friendship with Edna who would often accompany him to the Buffs, the Conservative Club, or the Crossways.

One of the pleasant surprises of his retirement was the enjoyment he found in his grandchildren, and they have happy memories of grandad explaining the uses of the farm machinery at the Gressenhall Museum, or of sharing his knowledge of horses at the Shire Horse Centre.

Although, like many of his generation, he was forced to leave school at the age of 14, he was a very clever man. He could work out conundrums, or anagrams, or do the mental arithmetic on Countdown faster than his son or his son’s computer. One of the sadnesses for him of his final weeks was that his stroke left him unable to read the newspaper or do the daily crossword.

One of Ted’s greatest assets was his ability to relate to all kinds of people. He could talk to strangers and put them at ease. He had many friends of all ages, and from all walks of life. Even during the last three weeks of his life, after he had suffered a massive stroke which had left him paralysed and with severely impaired speech, he was alert and trying to get a conversation going with visitors and other patients, and of course, teasing the nurses. Two of the nurses treating him provided, on separate occasions, a quite independent and unsolicited testimonial for him. They said: “He is a lovely man.”

He was a lovely man.

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