Maybe Minnie was destined to be barren? She was certainly unconventional. At a time when other little girls talked about princes and princesses, Minnie told her mother she thought she would be married three times and it might work the third time.
In other respects, Minnie was highly conventional and responsible: she did a lot of babysitting and child-minding in her teens. She was startled by hanging pheasants at one stone cottage. At another gentrified address, she struggled to fulfil the parents’ timetable which included daily violin practise for a 6 year old. Only ten years older than the child at the time, Minnie could not see the merit in imposing such a punishing schedule on a child who wanted to play. She had to phone her mother for advice from another babysitting gig. The toddler kept peeling off her nappy. She was screaming; Minnie was sobbing with exhaustion. The toddler’s parents could not be reached on any of the numbers they had left. Minnie’s Mum talked her through it over the phone. Turned out the child had an ear infection. The parents had decided not to inform their babysitter so they could enjoy a night off. Minnie had felt powerless as the child repeatedly stepped out of her nappy and bustled away screaming. It was her first experience of the power of a toddler. Of not being able to reason with another person.
One trio of little girls Minnie looked after she imagined as her own brood. The sisters were very different to each other. The youngest was a fairytale princess, the eldest an imaginative writer, the middle one…a tearaway in training.
Minnie was gentle, kind and responsible. She attended Junior Red Cross and Girl Guides. She was was a popular child-minder. There is a photo of her, lean and fair-haired, gazing as if mesmerised at a small child next to her. She looks curious and astounded by the little person in the making by her side.