NOW ITS LIKE LOOKING THROUGH A WINDOW
by Mary Morgan
Chapter 1 - page 1
Do you, like me, find that there are a number of different ways by
which each of us sees the same event? For instance, a child playing with
a toy… The proud parents would see only clever things that child does
with the toy. Whereas a brother or sister would see what they would do
instead - with that toy. A stranger would be critical and judge the
child's intellect whilst playing with that toy. The child would only see
the toy! So this is how I saw my life.
IN THE BEGINNING.
I was the third child of a family of four. I had an elder sister and
brother, and a younger sister who died the day she was born.
My father was 24 years older than my mother and therefore old enough to
be my grandfather by the time I was born. He was a gentle person,
thoughtful, kind, and as much as his age would allow him - a playful
man. Because he served in the First World War and was wounded by mustard
gas which burnt his lungs, he was already very ill by the time I was
born. I had a father for such a short time, but what I missed out on in
quantity I gained in quality.
||This is Merridale Street in 2000. Our house and shop were
just where the pub is. There were houses on both sides and the
Ring Road was not there.
My very earliest memory was of a day, when I would be about three years
of age. I was in my mother's arms on the front doorstep of the shop and
my mother was talking to some of our neighbours - and they were all
crying. This must have left an indelible mark on my memory because it
wasn't until I was much older that I realised this would have been about
the time that the 2nd World War had just been declared.
Consequently, for my parents the next four years were filled with the
dread of bomb damage, the drone of overhead airplanes, explosions, fires
and people you had grown up with getting killed. But for us kids the
danger was never "real" so the nightly jaunts to the air raid shelter
that dad built in the garden…taking bottles of tea and pop, a tin of
biscuits and a pile of sandwiches was an adventure. We all had our very
own gas-masks too! Betty and Peter, my older sister and brother, mom and
myself would sleep in wooden bunks with plenty of blankets and heavy
coats, together with a couple of stone hot water bottles or hot house
bricks for extra warmth.
Dad was too old to be called up into the army - he was put in the Home
Guard instead. He had to walk the streets at night and help the fire
fighters, doctors and nurses get the people out of their houses after
they had been bombed. He must have seen some terrible sights, but he
never would talk about it.
The night that an incendiary bomb dropped three doors away from our
house was the first time I realised that the war was including our
family in it too. It shook us out of our bunks and we all fell in a heap
on the floor. A big piece of shrapnel (bomb casing) hit the door of the
shelter with a loud thud and burnt a hole in it. My mother lay there
telling us not to be frightened, not to cry and not to move, but she was
trembling so much herself that I clearly remember her teeth clattering
very loudly in the dark silence that followed.
If we were at school when the air raid sirens sounded we were all
shuttled into the underground coal cellars and boiler rooms. But as soon
as the all clear was sounded it was back to lessons as usual.
It's funny how human nature makes us cope with disasters: life still
went on as normal, even with all this going on!