Author brings US back to her roots

Author Barbara Fox visits her former parental home-the Vicarage at St John's Church, Ashington, seen with a copy of her book-'Bedpans and Bobby Socks' written about the travel exploits of her mother across America.
Author Barbara Fox visits her former parental home-the Vicarage at St John's Church, Ashington, seen with a copy of her book-'Bedpans and Bobby Socks' written about the travel exploits of her mother across America.
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AN ASHINGTON born writer has had her novel about her mum’s life as a nurse published.

Barbara Fox joined forces with her mother Gwenda Gofton to write the true-life account of her time as a nurse travelling across America in the 1950s.

Bedpans and Bobby Socks tells how Gwenda and best friend Pat met at Newcastle General Hospital in 1952, fly to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1957, and work there for a year before embarking on an 18-month road trip with three new friends – one English, one Irish and one Scottish – in their battered old Ford.

In their drive across the USA, the car breaks down on the Alaska Highway, they work at a tiny border town cafe and fight off attention from a US army camp, they sell bibles in Hawaii, are forced to drink tea at gunpoint in Colorado, and quite possibly become the first nurses ever in Montana to report for duty straight from a campsite.

Gwenda Gofton was born in Newcastle and trained as a nursery nurse in 1949 before beginning general nurses training in 1952. In 1957 she travelled to Cleveland, Ohio, where she spent a year working at the city’s Mount Sinai Hospital before embarking on the adventure she recalls in the book. She and her husband Alder have four children and nine grandchildren and live in Ponteland.

Barbara said: “Bedpans and Bobby Socks came about after I finally read Gwenda’s letters home to her parents from that time and realised what an amazing story they told.

“I decided that it would be nice to write a book with my mother about her experiences nursing and travelling in America in the late 1950s.

“I spent my formative years in Ashington, and my father, Alder, was vicar of Seaton Hirst throughout the 1970s and my brother and two sisters and I grew up there in the vicarage on Wansbeck Road, so it’s wonderful to return and see where the book starts from.

“We’ve got a film agency representing us, so who knows what might happen next.”

Bedpans and Bobby Socks by Barbara Fox and Gwenda Gofton is available now priced at £6.99.