John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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We return home

1965, the year that changed my life
“By his stripes I am healed”

Chris wrote in 1967: "The next day we returned home and were in serious trouble with the police for leaving home, but we prayed about it, and it worked out alright. Jesus has completely changed our lives, and quite a number of our friends have been saved because of what happened. We have now all been baptised in water, and have received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, praise the Lord. Two years have now passed as I write about this miracle, and I have had a note from the doctor to say that as far as the medical profession is concerned, I am completely well. Praise the wonderful name of Jesus for all that He has done for me!"

Friday 15th January 1965

 1. Then, in the morning, we set out, intending to hitch-hike home. We presumably walked back from Camp Street, along Great Clowes Street and Blackfriars Road, till we reached the city centre, just where an old stone-built church stands, seemingly overwhelmed by railway bridges and modern buildings. We started to “thumb it” from there, turning right into Chapel Street and retracing the route the bus had taken two days before. We had not been thumbing long — we had walked perhaps a further mile along what is the main A6 route out of Manchester and were now in the Crescent, Salford, just before or just past the University — when we got our first lift: a coal lorry [truck] stopped and picked us up.

Salford, with Manchester skyline — looking out from Salford University in 1969

"The Crescent, Salford" — looking down from Salford University in 1969.
From the standpoint of this photo, we would be walking left-to-right, on the far side of the road (we drive on the left in the UK). I have a vague recollection of the coal truck picking us up outside the pictured building; if that was so, it would be "just before the University".
 The lorry dropped us off in Bolton, in Bradshawgate at the traffic lights. Chris got out of the lorry and immediately fell down on the pavement [sidewalk]. His leg had gone numb from how he had been sitting in the cab of the lorry. Perhaps it had been a bit cramped there, with the three of us and the driver squeezed into the cab, and one of Chris’s legs had completely “gone to sleep”. It was a very cold day, he remembers.

 2. Our next lift, in a van, took us almost to Chorley, or just beyond Chorley — more likely just beyond, between Chorley and Whittle-le-Woods. I have the impression of a fairly broad road, perhaps one of those with three lanes which existed at that time, with one lane each way for travelling in, and one for overtaking — if there was no-one overtaking the other way! I also have the impression of there being fields around us, and of our perhaps being in a dale, so that the road rose both before and behind us. It was here that we happened to look back and see a “180” bus, destination “Cleveleys”, approaching. There was a bus stop some distance ahead of us. “Can we reach it in time?” We ran and, yes, managed to catch the bus. Although we had intended hitch-hiking all the way back home, this was too tempting to be missed; and we still had enough money for the fares.

 3. The “180” used to come into Thornton the “back” way; rather than approach Thornton by way of Fleetwood Road, it would travel by what was then the A585, along Skippool Road. Then instead of continuing on the A585 route along Lambs Road, it would take a detour left into Tarn Road and thence into School Road, before rejoining the A585 at the T-junction of School Road and Station Road.
Peter Gooding’s caravan home
[trailer home] was on the Limebrest Farm site, just off School Road. Presumably, then, we got off the “180” in School Road and called at his place first.

Entrance from School Road into Limebrest Avenue — 1979 photo. In 1965 the houses at the end of Limebrest Avenue had not been built; there were just fields there. The entrance to Limebrest Farm is on the right.

Entrance to Limebrest Farm — 1979 photo. The caravan site
[trailer park] was at the rear of the farmhouse. All of this has now been eaten up by housing estates.
 4. Mrs. Gooding, I seem to remember, was quite impassive about the whole matter: she didn’t express any anger with us, or condemnation; she just outlined for us, quietly and logically, what would have to happen now. “Well, of course, you’ll have to go and see both your parents, and you’ll have to go to the police”, and so on. Mr. Gooding’s reaction, I don’t remember.

"Mrs. Gooding" — ca.1969
 5. I imagine that they took us in the car to Chris’s house and to my house.[1] That makes sense, because I remember their being with us a little later at the police station, but only them; Chris’s and my parents were not present. If the two of them took the three of us in the car there would be no room for anybody else.
[1] I imagine that they took us in the car to Chris’s house and to my house: Chris, however, has the impression that we walked from Peter’s to my house by way of New Lane (see map, above), and from my house to his by way of the ginnels (narrow passageways) leading from Fleetwood Road to Ascot Road where his house stood. What’s more, we don’t recall the presence of Mr. and Mrs. Gooding at Chris’s house. I know that I was there, and have always assumed that Peter was, too.

"Chris's house" — 2003

"My house" — 2006
 6. I don’t remember what happened at my house, nor whether we went there before or after going to Chris’s.
 We went to Chris’s house, and his Mum answered the door. We must have gone to the front door, then, and knocked. Mrs. Woodhead came to the door, and we went in and sat in the front lounge. She received us well, not at all harshly. Mr. Woodhead must have been out when we arrived; he may have still been at work, or maybe he was just in the back yard or something. (It must have been by now getting towards tea-time.) But when he came in, he sat in the dining room, on the other side of the double glass doors from us.
 Mrs. Woodhead went into the dining room and had a word with him. He presumably reacted negatively, for the first words we could make out were hers, saying, “Don’t you want to see him, Cliff?”
DONT KNOW!” he barked. That was the kind of reason we called him Fido; and that is our name for him to this day.

"Don't you want to see him, Cliff?" — 1977 photo

"I DON'T KNOW!" — 1977 photo
 Perhaps Fido did see Chris on this occasion, though, for Chris recalls that we were all standing in the dining room, when his grandfather, who was staying with them over the winter months,[2] came through and gave Peter and me half-a-crown[3] each because he was so pleased that we had arrived home safely. He then just went on through to the kitchen, leaving us both looking a bit embarrassed. Chris’s Mum interposed at this point, saying, “Please take it; he was so worried about you all.”
[2] His grandfather… was staying with them over the winter months: This was the first of what would become customary visits after the death of his wife in September 1964: around the time of the school mid-term break in October, he would come and spend the winter period with his younger daughter (Chris’s Mum) in Thornton, then at Easter time go home to Grimsby for the rest of the year. He would go to his older daughter (Chris’s Auntie Joan) for his lunch every day, and she would do his washing for him and various things. Her son Brian wasn’t entirely happy about these daily visits, and accused him of watching him while he was eating his lunch. He used to build a barricade around his plate so that he couldn’t be so easily observed! See also My first visit to Grimsby — Friday, and Chris and I watch “Sharon” on TV. Compare “Rag Doll”.
[3] Half-a-crown: a now-obsolete silver coin worth two shillings and sixpence (12½p).
 7. I next remember our being at the foot of the stairs in the police station, about to go up, and being told by a young constable[4] standing there, “Don’t smile!” — implying that the inspector upstairs would be very cross if we did. We presumably had some sort of silly grin on our faces because of nervousness.
[4] A young constable: His face was a familiar one around Thornton at that time. Chris’s impression of him is quite favourable, because he used to talk to him sometimes at Four Lane Ends, when he was with “Flea” (his friend, Michael Norman Lee).
 I suppose that I must have encountered him on a friendly basis from time to time, but I chiefly remember him for the time that he stopped me and someone else at the entrance to King George’s playing fields and subjected us to a fairly lengthy “grilling”. He was young, and keen, I suppose, to make an impression on his superiors with a good arrest record. I felt nervous, and I kept looking around. He noticed this and asked me, “Are you looking for someone? Are you waiting for someone?” I wasn’t looking for anyone; it was just his presence that was making me nervous. When I looked around again, he asked, “Are you sure you’re not waiting for someone?” On that occasion he had to let us go; in fact, we were innocent, but he suspected that we were up to no good.
 He did “cop” our Steve, though, a short time later for a minor motor-cycling offence; my Dad was indignant about the triviality of it. Steve had just passed his driving test. The first thing that you want to do when you have passed your driving test is take your “L”-plates off — which is precisely what Steve did. Then he thoughtlessly let his friend, who was still only a learner driver, ride the motor bike. Steve was fined for aiding and abetting the offence.

The nearest I have to a photo of the police station, for it is now demolished: a grey slate roof behind the red-roofed house, a decorative gable end, and a communications antenna — 1992 photo
 We went upstairs and entered the room. The middle-aged inspector sat at his desk there. He invited Mr. and Mrs. Gooding, who were with us, to sit down, and indicated chairs against the wall by the door, then turning to us, snapped, “But as for you three, you can stand!” So we stood there, facing the inspector across his desk, with Mr. and Mrs. Gooding seated to the right of us.
 “Now, which one of you is Woodhead?” he demanded first. “Are you Woodhead?”
 “Are you Woodhead?”
 “Then you are Woodhead,” he concluded, looking at Chris. (Years later, on hearing me relate this story, my Mum commented, “That’s detection for you!”)
 “Now then, Woodhead,” the inspector continued, “I’m getting sick and tired of you. This is the third time this year that you’ve run away from home. Do you realise that I could put you away for being in need of care and protection?”
 When the initial distress of this ordeal had died down and we discussed these things together, we laughed at the inspector’s blunder in saying “the third time this year”; this was clearly inaccurate: it was only the fifteenth day of the year! What he perhaps should have said, was: “the third time in a year”.
 He then made us turn out our pockets on to the desk. Gooding couldn’t — he had already done so at home — and was quite defiant, or quietly pleased with himself for thwarting the inspector.
 The latter confronted Chris with the charge that he had led us others astray in persuading us to run away from home; again, Gooding stood up to him and vigorously denied this. When we tried to explain that we had gone in order to get Chris cured, the inspector would have none of it.
 He angrily outlined to us the trouble his men had been to, out in all weathers looking for us. Again, afterwards, we were scathing in our comments about him, for on a number of occasions we had passed policemen who never even blinked at us.
 After a little while he let us go, maintaining his abrupt and severe attitude to the end. We left with the threat of further action hanging over us; our case, as far as the inspector was concerned, was unsettled, and he wanted us to return the following day to be interviewed by the CID (Criminal Investigation Department). He told Chris that he had not made up his mind what he was going to do with him at that stage.
[5] Chris’s account adds, “But we prayed about it, and it worked out alright.” He also told me in 1977: “After the Friday-afternoon incident in the cop-shop… nobody believed us, it was all a big fiasco and such like. And I think we all prayed…” I include this note about our praying here, because Chris has mentioned it twice; but I relegate it to the footnotes because I don’t remember it all.
 8. I returned home in great distress because of the harsh treatment I had received from the police, and because they disbelieved us so completely. In fact, no-one seemed to understand: they were not convinced of the reality of what we said we had experienced. The word “if” kept coming to their lips: “If Chris is cured.”
 “Nobody understands,” I said, as I broke down and wept. To me, it was crystal-clear, there was no room for debate any more: God was real, and he had healed Chris. None of us had any doubt about it; there was no question of having to wait to see if Chris had any more fits. We had come back fully expecting that those we told would be as convinced by our news as we were.
 Despite the fact that I hadn’t eaten all day, I couldn’t eat the tea that my Mum prepared for Peter and me; he ate both his and mine. In fact, I went upstairs to bed because I was so upset.

 9. During the course of that afternoon and night, when his anger had had time to cool, Chris’s Dad had a big change of heart.

We go back to the police station

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