Joan Wollen's Story



I was evacuated to Totnes, Devonshire

from Acton, London in 1939.

I was seven, and my sister was five.

Most of the people we were billeted

with were kind but strict,

which must have been strange to me as I

still remember it!

I think the main benefit was to show me a

different way of life, a love for Devonshire

and country life. I was evacuated

from Berrymeade school and well

remember the preparations we had to make

for the journey.



I can remember a few shops from before the war. one was a little

grocery shop which was just a few steps from my house, the butchers

shop, slightly further, next door to a fish and chip shop. I seem to

remember that there was also a pawn shop in that little group. I remember

the iced gems very well, when Marks and Spencer's was here in

Edmonton, it was possible to buy them, my main interests were of

course sweet shops, seems to me that one could even buy something for

a farthing! Remember Snow Fruits, would love to be able to buy them

now, the nearest substitute seems to be sherbet, an old man would

come around selling ice-cream from his horse and cart, Sundays would

be the winkles and shrimps, traditional Sunday tea, remember going to

the seaside, which for us was usually Southend, buying whelks and

cockles, all the shops with bucket and spades hanging outside. Lots

of nostalgia. In Devonshire, I never did have winkles and shrimps but

did discover milk shakes, cornish pasties and honey!



Hi everyone,

My first job was working in Woolworth's, on the music counter yet

which I loved, I was always in trouble for playing records that the

supervisor didn't like, I remember playing Mairzy Dotes and Dozey

Dotes and Little Lambs eat Ivy, she hated that one and I was

forbidden to play it!  can't remember how much I got a week but 15/-

seems to strike a cord, I was 14 years old and so glad to have left

school which I hated. I wanted to be a hairdresser Gerry but unlike

your dad, mine felt it wasn't a well-paying job, of course, he was

talking about the apprenticeship during which the pay was very low.

Later, when I entered nursing training, where the pay was even worse,

he kept quiet. There seemed to be so many jobs around then but unlike

today, we didn't have enough knowledge to decide which would be the

best path to do down.



 I was lucky I think but even so have suffered many emotional problems

which I am sure originated in that era. After the war, my father,

whom  I had worshipped as a child came back a changed person,

very angry and seemed to reject us all. I later found out that

during the war he had started another family and I supposed he

resented having to stay with his first family.

I don't think I ever did understand why I was sent away from home,

I was seven years old and although logically I must have understood or

been told the reason, I am sure part of me thought it was something I

had done which had caused this to happen. Later my mother joined us

for a brief period but went back to London once more leaving us with


The pain is still there obviously and I am sure that many of us have

had to deal with the same emotions in our adult life, I can't imagine

how I would have felt had it been me having to give up my daughter






Updated 11/16/2000