John Ernest Dickens

John Ernest, born in 1929, was a weedy child of the depression (his words) given to nightmares, eczema and asthma. He spent a lot of time off school, in bed at home, resting and reading many books.

His father, Ernie, who had a philosophy of fresh air, lots of exercise and physical excellence was not too pleased.

                          Ernest George and Violet Mabel Dickens - 1928

In 1945, or so, John became quite good at cricket (but no good at soccer), won prizes in chemistry and an Open Exhibition to Keble College, Oxford, so his Dad, who was becoming more mellow in his old age, decided the lad wasn't completely hopeless. John may have been the first Dickens to go to University and also the first one taller than six feet. He had a fair cricketing career as an opening seam bowler for the Oxford second team (Authentics), Yorkshire Council and West of Scotland league teams and in the United States led a Philadelphia cricket team to the East Coast Championship in 1964.

After a D.Phil in physical chemistry in 1954, John completed his military obligations at an ICI rocket plant in Scotland, did a post-doctorate at Northwestern University near Chicago and, in 1956, married Esther Anne from Cleveland, Ohio, who had attained a Ph.D in chemistry from Northwestern.

                                          John and Anne Dickens - 1956

John worked in research for 32 years for the Du Pont Company in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey and Anne also worked for Du Pont for 17 years. They are both retired now, living in Middletown NJ.  John has spent the last fifty years trying to become a good golfer but rarely succeeds in breaking 80; but he once did that on the Old Course at St. Andrews in 1977.

They have two sons, James Anthony born 1961 and Timothy Edward born 1963.
Both sons studied engineering at Bucknell University, PA. 

Jim is a tough guy who played football and baseball in college and does triathlons. Tim is very tough at golf and has run his marathon. Tim did a Masters in Engineering in the jet engine laboratory in Oxford and was also a member of Keble College in the mid 1980's. He won his Blue with the Oxford golf team for three years and also played cricket for the college.

Jim lives near Chicago with his wife, Lori, two teenage boys and one teenage daughter. Tim is married to Nancy and they live near Philadelphia with one college- age boy and teenage twin daughters.

                                    The Dickens Family in America - 2006

John and Anne first came out to South Africa in 1993, wanting to know all about the Dickens family. We had a family get-together and almost all of us were present. 

                       OUT OF ........................................AFRICA


Felicity, Rosemary, John, Margaret  1993  Margaret and Anne Dickens

Well, the girls were but Tony lives in Durban so that wasn't possible.

I don't think, at that time, that John, his brother Peter or myself, realised how this Dickens family history would ultimately pan out, either in Peter's journals or on this website but I have to say that although I am the scribe in this instance, because I am such a geeky, mousey would-be technophobe (see below), so much of the initial, original information has emanated from Ivan and Pyotr ... The Brothers Karamadickenzov themselves.

Self Portrait - 2009

A word, from me, about John and Anne, since they won't write about themselves. They are inveterate nature-lovers; having travelled the world doing good things for Mother Earth - oh yes, their society is called Earthwatch, and they are due here again, en route for Madagascar in a few days. They creep about on all fours, sleep on the ground, sharing nature with frogs, aardvaarks and people. I have no end of admiration for them and for their families; all of whom are in much of the same mould.

They were kind enough to invite me to stay with them when I visited the States in 1994. They took me miles and miles away to see the Liberty Bell and the Amish where they lived, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Through Pennsylvania Dutch Country, I was, at first, startled but in the end became quite blasé about going through towns with the names of Virginville, Bird in Hand, Blue Ball and so on, so that when John said he was taking me to Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory, I wasn't sure if I had heard correctly.

It was in Naperville that I met Nancy, the twins, Melanie and Theresa, and Michael. Within twenty minutes of meeting young Michael, I was convinced that he was going to be a star. One day. Dancing, singing, music... this young lad, to me, was amazing. Today he is, indeed, well on his way to being a Star. Watch this space. 

Alas, I wasn't able to see all the children and grandchildren but we have been in touch for so many years and with all John's dvd's, tapes, photographs, I know that each and every one of them is as talented and entertaining as the next. The Dickens genes live on.

And finally ...

                              Sept. 2009 -  Latest Visit - Anne, John et Moi

Lesley Dorothy Dickens

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