Saturday, March 3, 2007
Eyes Of A Child ~ part 2
I don't remember much of the next few days, except that the old man seemed to be so grumpy and mean towards me, at least that was my impression. I was heartbroken in my quiet moments, and I spent some very upsetting nights laying in bed wondering, if I would ever rejoin my brothers and mom again.
Now when I look back I realize that as a child filled with the trauma and heart wrenching events of the times, it’s normal to just remember the bad things. The tendency is at such a time of upset, to not even notice the normal every day happenings so easily taken for granted. A warm bed to sleep in, food on your plate, not to mention the ever watchful eyes of the people who unknowingly to me, ministered to my needs. Yes indeed, things were not really so bad with the old couple after all.
The one thing about that time period with the old couple, things were still quite unorganized and chaotic to a point. I believe that for the first week to ten days, someone would show up from an organization that I learned was called the W.V.S. (more on that later) They took us around to give the old couple a break, hold meetings and also get things more laid out, explaining things for children and families to ease any concerns.
I think of it now as more like a ‘Show & Tell time‘. It gave people a chance to get used to what would now be part of a regular system routine, regarding the measures that had been put in place. Also it gave some a feeling of being involved, and belonging at least to something, anything. It was also a time of interaction between people, children and the authorities, much like a cloud of busy little bees buzzing around in a veritable hive of activity.
It was about six weeks later that my mother came and took me away from the old couples house. As a child it’s hard to comprehend why things have to happen like that let alone why it takes so long. Small wonder you can feel like you have been deserted, but still I sobbed my heart out, even then.
I was so relieved when I saw my mother again I think I must have cried for a week, all the time mom was assuring me that everything would be alright from now on. We arrived at a house in Clevedon Rd and once again, it was a terrible feeling going into a strange house with strange older people. The recent memory of my last stop still fresh in my mind. All the same it was a nice cozy house, nicer than any I had seen before. We were welcomed in and introduced, then Mom showed me where I would be sleeping. At that time I rejoined my two brothers and believe me that was a happy tearful re-union. I don’t know who was the happiest for finally things felt a little more normal again.
It didn’t take too long for me to start feeling secure again, for I saw and was around, my brothers and mom once more. I started to learn from my mother just a few of the things that she had had, to become involved in because of the wartime circumstances. There was an organization called the W.V.S. (Women’s Volunteer Service.) That service covered a multitude of things that they did to assist in the effects of the war such as catering to children and family needs, services for the fighting men and much more.
There were responsibilities to address whenever an air-raid siren sounded, for drills were in place that had to be marshaled and body counts taken. One of the things that I enjoyed for I found even I could help, was believe it or not, knitting!
My mother had taught me how to knit, and so I used to sit on the steps and knit balaclavas and scarves for the soldiers, perhaps seventy items over 5 years. Closer to the end of the war, I had attempted to knit socks on four needles, but failed miserably when it came to turning the heel. One thing about growing up in wartime, you can learn such amazing things in an awful short time.
My recollection right after that is a little sketchy. I do know that we stayed at that house for quite some little time, and that these old people were very nice. I had made friends with a colored kid who lived up the street and he used to invite me round to help him. The people where he lived had a backyard with a shed full of tame rabbits, I guess they bred them. Here again I found myself settling down. The smell of the rabbits was unmistakable and watching the babies when they came along was typical kids fun stuff. It was a great time trying to imitate that movement they had with their noses.
I also spent some time helping with the war salvage; that is, going around the houses door to door on a paper salvage drive. In to-days world we call it recycling. That's the time that I got my very first old Bible.
I had knocked on the door of a house and this little old lady answered. She recognized me I think for it was on the same street where I was living. She knew right away why I was there and had some books and magazines ready for the sack I carried. Of course, nice old ladies are always pleasant and talk to small kids, so we chatted a while.
It was whilst I was putting the books into the sack that I noticed this old worn leather bound Bible. I had never had one before and just couldn’t think of a book like that going into the sack, not even for the War effort! I asked her if she would mind if I kept it for myself and she seemed quite pleased that I had asked, telling me she would love me to have it. Her name, Mrs Thompson, was written inside the cover of the bible. I left her smiling and I was just so happy at my new found treasure. I still had that bible forty years later.