A magical time at Lariggan Beach
Me, grandma, mum, dad, and my two brothers lived on Gwavas estate.
Our small house over looked Newlyn Harbour, Lariggan Beach, and the beautiful Mounts Bay.
Sometwimes, after the Sunday pasty dinner, we'd all go to the beach to look for heart shaped rocks and wishing rocks. Wishing rocks were very special. Finding one made you feel dead good. You'd squeeze it, close your eyes, and send someone a special wish.
On the day of my fifth birthday, July 14th, 1942, I was really surprised when my dad met me at the end of the school day.
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Holding my hand, we walked to the nearby beach to search for wishing rocks.
I soon spotted a super wishing rock. I picked it up so it rested comfortably in the palm of my hand. I slowly wrapped my fingers around it and squeezed really tight. My fingers warmed the pebble.
Then I closed my eyes and sent a special loving wish to my mum.
I put my wishing rock into what Mum called my treasure tin, a small red OXO tin.
Found on my fifth birthday, July 14th, 1947.
A beautiful wishing rock and piece of amber
Then, I spotted something different. There, lying with all the black, grey and white pebbles was a bright yellow object. It didn't look like any of the other smooth rocks. What was it?
It stared up at me, wanting, I felt, badly to be picked up, wanting to be touched and admired. By me.
I bent over, picked it up and held it in the palm of my hand. Not wanting to scratch it, I wrapped it up in my white hanky and put it in my pocket.
As I dressed for school the next morning, I put my treasure inside a small OXO tin to take to school to show my teacher, Miss Harvey
Even before all the boys and girls sat in their seats, I was standing by Miss Harvey's tall wooden desk, the OXO treasure tin in my hand, spluttering, "Miss Harvey, Miss Harvey, see what I found. I found it on the beach, after school, yesterday. Went there with my Dad. You know, when the tide was out, when you can see what the waves brought in."
As Miss Harvey looked inside my OXO tin, her eyes widened.
It wasn't, apparently a rock at all. It was ancient fossilized tree resin, and, she said, it was called amber. Miss Harvey knew amber was millions of years old and began its life as tree resin.
Resin? Fossilized? Amber? Ancient? What beautiful words, I thought.
Miss Harvey held my beautiful amber in her hand, smiled, looked down at me through her wire glasses that balanced on the end of her sharp nose, and said loudly, so everyone in class could hear, that it had been washed ashore after a long trip in the sea.
Miss Harvey handed the amber back to me and then wrote the word
A M B E R on the board.
"Show it to everyone," Miss Harvey said.
I turned a little red as I faced everyone in the room. As I held out my hand and showed the class, everyone stopped chattering. They were curious and wanted to see what I had found.
Then Miss Harvey said, "Johnny Paull, why don't you draw a picture of your amber? Here, here's some white paper. Use this!" "Don't just draw the amber, draw the other beach pebbles, too. Just as you remember."
"Can you see them in your head?"
I couldn't wait to grab some yellow, black and brown crayons from the big biscuit tin. Closing my eyes, I remembered just how the amber looked when I saw it lying with all the other pebbles.
When I'd finished my drawing and showed it to Miss Harvey, I could tell from her eyes that she liked it.
Quickly, she glued the picture onto some black paper, then taped it to the wall close to my desk, and told me to write my name and the date underneath.
As I was drawing another picture of one of my wishing rocks, Miss Harvey came next to me and, with a broad smile, said, very emphatically so that everyone could hear,
"Keep it, Johnny Paull. The amber."
"Keep it safe."
"And that wishing rock."
"Keep the amber. Keep it in your oxo tin- your treasure tin, sorry - and save it."
"Save it forever."
That was it. I was hooked. Now 70, I touch my wishing rock and amber every day.I've been collecting rocks of all shapes, colors and sizes ever since.