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The oldest Pharmacy in Schwäbisch Hall

The oldest Pharmacy in Schwäbisch Hall
As research into all branches of the family gather pace it is becoming clearer why all those secrets were kept in the last two generations. Harry Bird was against his daughter Pansy marrying 'John Watson' as he was a chemist. Harry was a herbalist and a strict vegetarian he possibly would have been horrified to discover the Rothermels ran butchers shops in Wellingborough. The German connection was possibly kept secret because of the sensitivities around the 1930's and then never revealed. The City Archives tell us that the families kept in touch as the German born citizen's details of marriages deaths etc in England have been recorded in the ledgers.
Harry took Barbara Lena and her son Derek under his wing and provided them with accommodation in Esdaile when they first moved down to Devon. To date there have been no marriage dates found between her and a 'Mr Watson' or with Albert Ernest Butler. Harry possibly sympathised with her trying to bring up two illegitimate sons, echoeing the plight of Dorothy Mazasitisz.
When Janice left school she had a German boyfriend for a year from the same area as the Rothermels. Her parents were furious and did everything in their power to stop the relationship, never giving a satisfactory answer to questions as to why they were so against the liason. Everything is now slotting into place - history repeating itself....


Remembering John Julius Rothermel Watson

Born 12. 03.1909 died 27. 04. 2000 at 91yrs

John qualified as a pharmacist in 1937 and although from the north of England he obtained his first job in Torquay Devon. He became the chairman of the local Rotary club and on his first annual dinner dance had to lead the President's wife onto the floor for the first waltz.
Unfortunately he could not dance so enrolled at the local dancing school run by a Miss Pansy Byrd. During his weekly ballroom lessons romance blossomed and in 1938 they were married.
When war broke out he was posted to a Chemist shop in Grantham Lincolnshire . He continued to be active in the Rotary plus set up and ran the local Youth Club in Grantham whilst Pansy (Ellen) was a 'Home Guard'
It was during the war that he began his life long commitment to serving the Community. His father in law Harry Bird came from Sleaford a nearby town so contact was continued with the family who used to visit and spend holidays with the family.
The shop in Grantham happened to be in the same street as Roberts Grocery store and a friendship quickly established itself between the Watson's and the Roberts, the parents of the future prime minister Margaret Thatcher!
The couple's two children Janice & Alastair were both born in Grantham.
After the war the family moved back to the South of the country but never permanently to Devon, although they had hopes of retiring there. They once bought a house in the 70's but found they could not settle.
Dancing remained a part of their lives right up until 1985 when both became too frail, they were still attending classes on a weekly basis until then.
In 1961 John's dream came true when he purchased a business in his own right.
'Stone Pharmacy' established itself as a pillar in the village often staying open seven days a week.
During the Asian flu epidemic in the winter of 1970 John was commended by the Dartford District Council for working tirelessly out of shop hours making up and delivering prescriptions to patients too ill to collect them themselves.
Serving the Community was his life's work and he regretfully sold Stone in 1991 because of his wife's failing health.
He was working up until the last morning of hand over at the age of 81, twenty years after most people think of retiring!
After the death of his wife Ellen in 1996 ( they had been married for 58 years) he took over the housekeeping and caring role, carrying out all the cooking for himself and Alastair until the day he was admitted to hospital
He continued to take a keen interest in everything medical and was still reading the latest issue of the Pharmaceutical Journal the evening before he died.
His sense of humour and his interest in all things topical is sadly missed

Reading at funeral

Reading at funeral

Dad was an Agnostic, mother always said she was C Of E as she was too embarassed to put
'nil' on any forms she had to fill in. I was brought up a Methodist - went to church 3 times on a Sunday! The evenings to sing in the choir - I also played violin in the Orchestra. I think it was more of a Social thing in those days more than anything else . I was a member of the MAYC There was the youth club on Thursday evenings in the Methodist Church Hall where I met all my friends. The best side of the whole thing was the Annual Conference often held in the Westminster Hall in London or other large venues, we used to go by coach. Great speakers such as Donald Soper and David Shepherd. But the best thing of all were the chances to go abroad for the international conferences and meet people from all over the world and the annual youth hostel holidays in August. This was the first time I ever visited Wales as they had a hostel in Llangollen, my mother would turn in her grave if she knew what we used to get up to!! The Association still runs strong with all its activities - religion never came much into it if I remember - it was all about being caring and supportive people - good manners etc - I don't think we even said grace before meals at the summer camps.
Alastair for some unknown reason went to the Baptist Sunday School, I think because neighbours used to take him and look after him there - giving mum and dad a break on Sunday mornings. Janice

From 1963 to 1966 when Janice went to Italy my parents used to take me ice skating to Streatham Ice Rink on Thursdays and Sundays. Alastair


Our parents bought their first car in 1957, it was a 1948 grey Austin, they then had a new Ford Escort and stayed with Fords. First a Zephyr, then a Zodiac a Consul, a Granada and two Sierras. Dad passed his driving test in 1960 up until then mother did all the driving. I passed my driving test on 5th February 1969 in my own Ford Anglia which my parents had bought me.

Ford Consul

Ford Consul


How we remember our parents

How we remember our parents
'In memory everything seems to happen to music'
Tennessee Williams 1944

Lena Barbara Rothermel Watson Butler

Lena Barbara Rothermel Watson Butler


Very poignant last birthday card

Very poignant last birthday card

Letter from Derek

Letter from Derek