LOST BOTH LEGS AT EIGHTEEN
David—and his weighing machine faced life with a smile
IN 1906, young David Lee went to Scarborough and there he came across a second-hand weighing machine. He set it up on the sea-front and thus began his life’s work. Since then he has taken his machine around the country with him, finally coming to settle down in Skegness 30 years ago. And all the time he has been weighing people—scores and scores of them!
To-day, despite the fact that he is severely handicapped by the loss of his two legs, David is still enjoying life in his small bungalow on Lincoln Road and his proudest possession is, of course, his weighing machine.
“Keep the bearings clean and let it run on a drop of oil” was the advice he was given soon after obtaining it. And David has continued to do this all through the years he has had it and it still shines and gleams as if it were only a few years old.
How old is it you ask. “I don’t know,” David will reply, “for it was secondhand when I got it.” The machine is a familiar sight to bazaar-goers in Skegness, for David is a willing helper at these events and has raised much money for many causes—all with his simple weighing-machine and smiling personality.
He was only eighteen years of age when he had both his legs off, because of a severe illness. His bones were diseased and he had no fewer than thirteen operations in a Leeds hospital.
But David, with the same indomitable courage that he has today, refused to become an invalid and so, in 1906, he left his native Bradford and went to Scarborough. He spent two seasons there before moving to Blackpool, where he remained for fourteen years.
“When I arrived in Blackpool, I looked round to see if I could get a pitch and I managed to find one without any trouble in the Pleasure Beach there. And then, when I went again the next year, they would not let me have it.
HE “STUCK IT.”
“Eh, dearie me, I remember sitting on the old switchback there—it was a lovely day—and thinking to myself: what are you going to do now? You have had three jobs in three years. There’s something wrong with you!”
But David soon managed to find another pitch—but it was “right poor one” and soon David was in trouble. He took hardly any money at Whitsun. “Then came June and I took only 5s. I could not pay my landlady and I remember writing home to my mother telling her. She said that I must stick it out. Well, I did. I eventually managed to pay the landlady and went home with 50s.”
His successes changed and David was there for another twelve years before coming to Skegness.
He was with Mr. Butlin in his amusement parks on North Parade and spent altogtogether five years there. He was living in lodgings on Wainfleet Road and trade must have been better, or David did not tell us of any more incidents over non-payment of rent!
He remained with Butlins until he retired in 1933 and shortly afterwards built his present home “The Hylm,” which stands on a pleasant open site at the junction of Graham Road with Lincoln Road. It is only a small bungalow. But then David does not need anything bigger.
He lives by himself and has a lady to help him to clean on Thursdays. Incidentally, “hylm” (the name of his house) is an old Yorkshire word and means “shelter.”
Before he retired, David used to take his machine to Hull fair. But that was the only fair he visited. For he told us that he used to make enough in the summer to see him through the winter.
The tattered sign at the back of his machine gives a charge of 2d. —but says David, with a twinkle in his eye, if his patrons ever give more he never refuses it!
David is a regular worshipper at the nearby church of St. Clement’s and it was there that we met him—at the Christmas sale of work. He was propped up in one corner of the packed hall on his crutches, smiling and chatting cheerfully to everyone.
His life, these days, centres very largely around the church and he is a regular worshipper, every Sunday. Just to prove his devoutness, David sang us the hymn “God moves in a mysterious way” right through without once referring to the hymn book. He has a strong, lusty voice—and he will be 77 in March!
Never once did he complain during our interview with him of the loss of his IVs so early in life. He overcame the great blow and went on to bring happiness to others. (Photo by Mrs. Wrate, Lumley Road).
Picture below: Mr Lee’s bungalow at the junction of Graham Road and Lincoln Road, as it stands today, taken by Google Maps.