History Focus

An American Connection to Teddington

One of the interesting things about writing this column is in meeting so many remarkable people from all walks of life, and occasionally, from overseas. This month is a good case in point.

Last January our editor received the following letter from Philip DeHaas :

“Hello Christiane, I live in the USA and am wondering if your magazine is online. My Grandad owned the ’Builders Arms’ in Teddington. He was my Mother’s Father. She was born there and during WWII she met my Dad who was stationed in Bushy Park and later married in Teddington. During the 60’s my Mom took me to visit my grandparents for a summer. They lived at 12 Blackmore’s Grove. I met as lot of friends there. We would often go to the swimming pool and at times to the cinema in Twickenham. Some days we would wait for Tonibell to come by and we would get a one and tupney cone.

One of my Mom’s friends in Teddington had an extra ticket to see The Beatles at the London Palladium and I got to see them, but not hear them ! The girls were going crazy screaming. I had a smashing time that summer. I am getting close to my 70’s but will never forget that Summer there. Somehow I discovered your monthly magazine and wondered if it was online. As my auntie that lived in Station Road would say; 

Ta Ta Ducks.”

Christiane passed me a copy of his email and I started corresponding with him. It was quite amazing to hear an American’s view of Teddington in the 1960s. I can remember many of the things he has mentioned and know of some others. Can you imagine getting hold of a ticket for a Beatles concert in the 1960’s and for free!

Firstly, going back to “The Builders Arms”, Edward and Olive Hards were landlord and lady of the pub. They took it over in 1904 and lived there with son, Edward (very confusing – known as Young Ted) and daughter, Joyce. They ran the pub very successfully for 45 years and then retired around the corner in 12 Blackmore’s Grove.

Joyce, (Phil’s mother) worked at Lloyds of London but somehow met with Cryder DeHass, or to be more correct, Staff Sergeant Cryder DeHass of the US Army Airforce and he was in charge of the motor pool in the Bushy Park base. Clearly Cryder hit it off with Ted Senior as Ted nicknamed him Tubby and called him nothing else. Things moved on and Joyce and Cryder decided to get married and arrangements were made for the ceremony at St Albans Church. Ted said that he would not go to the wedding unless he could ride in the General’s (Eisenhower) car, knowing that “Tubby” was responsible for the camp cars. Fortunately “Tubby” was able to fix this and everyone turned up on the day.

This was on 22 August 1944, still wartime, and many shortages were in being but between Ted’s licensed house connections and Tubby’s camp associates, a full spread was laid on at the Builders.

Gradually the war came to a close and the challenge of getting back to normal. The American forces were starting to return home and the time came for Joyce and Cryder to decide on their future. They opted for life in the USA and set off across the Atlantic to start a new life. Phil always maintains that he was conceived in the UK although born in the USA – in fact it was a close call that he was not born on the Queen Elizabeth!

It was not until some years later when Phil was about 11 that Joyce took him home to Teddington :

“In the early 60’s I was about 11 years old and my mom brought me to Teddington for the Summer and we stayed there at 12 Blackmore’s Grove. The first night there, my grandad went to the pub but nan stayed with us. After a while, nan popped out and returned  with this bottle of Guinness. In my surprise I asked her if she was going to drink the whole bottle? Oh yes she answered and two more! That answered the next question I had later that night when we were going to bed. There  was this large china bowl under the bed. Never having been in the UK before, I asked mum “what is this for?” Wisely she replied “that’s a goesunder.” I guess with three bottles of Guinness inside you, you would need that in the middle of the night. 

When it came to breakfast, I was waiting for a bowl of cereal. Not a chance! A large roast and potatoes was on the table. I didn’t know what to think. If we have this for breakfast, what will we have for dinner? Later there we all were at the dinner table, me waiting for leftovers from lunch, found a pot of tea and a stand with biscuits and sweets. I learned quickly that it was important to eat breakfast and lunch.

As days went by, I met some boys and we played together almost every day. Going to the little corner shop store adjacent to the pub for Flake and Jello to the corner room on the pub where we purchased chips for 3d. We would kick a ball off the wall of the house across from the pub until the old man came running out and we would disappear down the alley, only to return later.

Our family went to Butlins Holiday Camp for a week and that was fun. We stayed in one of the small cottages living out of a suitcase. My mum took me to Buckingham Palace to see the Queen and the Changing of the Guard. She told me that if the flag was flying on the palace, the Queen was home. The flag wasn’t but a lady came out on the balcony and mum said ‘That’s Mamie Eisenhower’! Can you imagine coming from the US only to see a Yank and not the Queen.

Three years later, we returned to Teddington for Christmas. How beautiful were the hanging stringing and spinning decorations. We were at The Builders Arms when New Year’s Eve came. Midnight the pub emptied into the street only to start the conga line, singing, shouting and shaking their backsides. It was fun like I had never experienced.

Soon it was back to the US, never to return. But I guess I got the Teddington Fever my mother had all her life. I have wonderful memories of that quiet little town with stores on both sides of the street and bridges on both ends of town. Thank you for sharing the times of my childhood in Teddington. I will pass on to you two words I learned there that are still not in the US.

Cherrio and Tah Tah for now.”

Phil DeHaas

Does anyone remember the Hards family at The Builders Arms or Phil De Haas on his visits to Teddington?

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