Some of you may have been wondering where Muriel had got to! Why wasn't she rising to the challenge of the memories so wonderfully expressed in Joe's account? (Memories of the 40s: Strange Alice) Evocative, for those who of us who lived through those times ---- and oh how I hugged myself with glee at the laconic, but telling phrases that described poor "Strange Alice", her antics and the eventual resolution. Do I detect the dreaded shadow of Hatton? And the "kindness" of Clive's sister for those lonely soldiers! How discreetly described. I loved it all.
Rather strange members of our human-kind were to be seen more often about when I was a small girl. We were told that they were a bit simple and were adjured not to stare. Perhaps their acceptance was the same as it had been in the villages, as our city still had rural pockets, not then built upon. A smithy and a dairy farm were tucked away in nearby streets and I passed them on the way to school. Above all, the old folk that I knew remembered their country ways.
To move on--------. How many lives did you use up, Joe? What a tough little crew you all were, and I bet caused many a grey hair on your mothers' heads! But as Grannie and Gt -Aunt Alice often said, "The Devil looks after his own" and you lived to tell the tale! Of course the raids did make plenty of materials available for your activities, and I expect that you often looked like "wounded heroes" after such sessions.
We had a large bombed building opposite our house which I remember was burning fiercely in early 1941 as we wended our weary way from a deep shelter and up the street after a bad raid. It was completely gutted and when tidied up made a splendid "playground" for the children of the area. Not without hazard, as there were many raised pieces at floor level to trip over and small depressions to fall into ---- also plenty of loose material at hand, but I don't recall any bricks flying about! It had wonderful possibilities for the young!
By that time I was beyond playing on these sites, if I ever was, and my sister too, was growing up and had left her erstwhile throng of young rascals, (mostly boys), when we'd had to move houses. No more did I have to be on the qui vive to drag her away from racing up and down the canal bank and playing on the towpath! It was an onerous self imposed duty, but I never "told" on her. If that makes me sound like an unpleasant little goody goody, I'm sorry, --- it was just me! They never saw the danger, and fortunately never learnt the hard way.
Mention of the static water tanks brought it all back. Do you remember how Broadgate, became similarly decorated?They proliferated everywhere, but we ceased to see them---or the many sandbagged entrances to public buildings, the public surface or deep shelters dotted here and there. All windows criss-crossed with tape to offset the effects of blast, or filled with that stiff cream tarpaulin-like material when the glass had been blown out. And oh what nasty glass did eventually replace it. For years we peered mistily through the panes of our front bedroom window. It was like looking through a thick fog!
Parks and recreation grounds were not numerous, but they were likely to be filled with something of a defensive nature, or most of them divided into allotments, with the "Dig for Victory" campaign going full swing. My mother had a patch and grew vegetables in our Baptist church grounds. She had very green fingers and her produce was the envy of all.
I remember a barrage balloon being sited close to where our friend and neighbour had had to move to, in Bell Green. A subdivision nearby had the curbing laid out, but progress had stopped in wartime.This made an area of waste ground served by unsurfaced roading, The crew, mainly women, raised and lowered the balloon from the centre of the field. We loved to watch them --- from a distance, of course. I have reason to remember the rough nature of the roading as I fell and cut my knee deeply whilst wandering along with my nose in the air! It was a deep and painful cut and I can see the scar, faintly visible, even now.
An odd sort of world to grow up in, but being children we
accepted it as the norm. The dust can settle as we lay these
memories to rest, again. ------------
And thanks, Joe!