Introduction

One Summer day in the late 1950s a young girl named Margot Rodda and her parents stayed with family friends at a house in Crowborough in Sussex. This is what she remembers of an unexpected encounter:


I was left to my own devices and would wander the lanes (as children could back then). On one occasion, I looked down a driveway and saw a Palomino horse in a field adjacent to the house. Being horse mad, I went straight to the door, rang the bell, and asked the lady who answered it if I could please see her horse. To be honest, I have little memory of the woman as my whole attention was on the horse.

What I still recall, with great appreciation and amazement, is her kindness to me. She told me his name was Goldie and that he was a circus horse. Not only that, she brought him in from the field to the front of the house and got him to count with his hooves, answer Yes and No and then, wonder of wonders, she put me up on his back and got him to dance. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Finally, she got him to bow. Her last kindness was to give me two photographs, one of Goldie waiting backstage at the London Palladium, and another one of her dressed as a cowgirl, mounted on Goldie on a wooden stage with what looks like a painted backdrop.

Sixty-one years later, I still treasure the vivid memories of that encounter and the photographs. Vera gave a lonely little girl the most wonderful experience when she could easily have just sent me away.
Goldie
Photo of Goldie and Vera given to Margot Blackah [54]
Goldie
Photo of Goldie at the London Palladium - date unknown [54]

While doing her own research into Vera, Margot came across a reference to her in an article about her brother George on my website. Margot got in touch and this spurred me on to do more research on Vera. Margot's digging - particularly her discovery that Vera had used the stage name Vera Cody, helped me find a lot more about her and the material you are reading here is the result of our efforts.


I decided that the best way to tell the interwoven stories of Vera and Tex was to look at their ancestry, their lives before they married, their lives together and finally their separate lives after drifting apart. There is a kind of symmetry in that Tex's career started before Vera's, and hers continued after his ended.

Most of us leave little behind other than the memories of our interactions with others, which may last a generation or two. Margot's encounter with Vera Milligen demonstrates the point very nicely - she remembers a kindness from over 60 years ago. I hope everyone has similar memories - I certainly do. I know how I want to be remembered and try to act accordingly.

The next page sets the scene for Tex's life by looking at his ancestors.