Susan Ciavola's Story


Last year we went home for a nice long touring holiday. We spent

four nights in Burpham near Arundel in Sussex, then onto Cheltenham

for five nights and then we rented a cob cottage outside of

Clovelly. On one of our touring days, we went to South Moulton to

revisit the site of my mum and uncle's evacuation. I had visited

there four or five times with mum and dad when I was quite young, and

remembered the names of people that Mum and Uncle Ray had mentioned.

As we were driving down a lane we saw a sign reading "Windwhistle

Farm, Bed and Breakfast," it was one of the places mum had spent many

happy hours during her evacuation. We drove up the lane to the

farmhouse, knocked on the door and the farmer's wife came to door. I

asked her how long her family had had the property, and she told me "a

few hundred years" I explained that Mum had been there during the

war and had mentioned the two sons of the farmer that lived there

that she and her brother played with "That was my father-in-law,

Come in have a cup of tea with him, he'll be thrilled to talk to

someone from the old days." We did go in, and Mr. Selly was thrilled

to speak of the old days but his memory was fading in and out and he

really didn't remember Mum, but did remember uncle Ray. I was

thrilled to be there with the family that had meant so much to my Mum

at a really terrible time in her life. My husband was thrilled in

being in at the tale end of a really historical event in world

history, even if it was in such a small way at the tale end of a

little bit of my family's history.



My memories of Sunday Morning---1950's style.


Eyes slowly opening, nose cold. The blankets have been piled high, and

winter coats added to supplement warmth. There's a bucket in the

corner, but we don't need to go into that do we?

Downstairs I can smell streaky bacon, fried tomatoes that have been

allowed to turn into a nice runny gravy we call dip ins. Lovely fresh

eggs and fried bread just in case any of our arteries look the least

bit clear. This is all washed down with lovely cups of sweet strong

tea with a drop of stera please.

Later after the beds are made, hoovering done and the dinner

in the oven, it's a sit down with the news of the world, people, and

the reveille while listening to two way family favourites and the

Billy Cotton Band Show on the radio, while Dad goes "round the boozer "

for a pint before dinner. Our boozer was the Vic on Axe Street in

Barking or the Barge Aground in Barking. There is a New Vic Pub, but

they pulled the Barge down and didn't replace it. Oh well! I can

now smell stale beer, and the Sunday joint cooking.



I had my Tonsils out at five years old; I think at Oldchurch

hospital. I don't remember knowing why I was there, but in the

morning of the first day all the beds were rolled out into a long

narrow corridor and lined up. Then one by one the beds were rolled

into the "Theatre". On my turn, I remember the masked faces and the

awful rubbery, was that the mask or the either. When I woke up into

a different room I was swathed in rubber sheets, with ice packed

around my neck. The taste of blood was terrible. Eventually, I was

sent back to the ward with the other children. I did not seem to

feel quite a well as the others, but I did not seem to care. After a

day or two (Still no visits from Mums or Dads that apparently was

highly frowned upon) they started dressing the children, except for

me! One by one the Mums showed up to take brave little soldiers

home, except mine. I was wheeled into another larger ward with what

seem like about twenty children, ten on each side. My memory may

have distorted these facts. After a few more days, Mum and Dad did

show up that must have been on a Sunday, that apparently was the

visiting day. I gave the normal tearful sobs and pleas to be taken

home and was told that it wasn't time and when my throat was better I

could come home. One morning upon wakening, breakfasts were brought

around, and none for me. A nurse came along and said, "We have some

nice warm socks for you" How strange I was spending my day in bed,

and they wanted me to wear socks that came all the way to the tops of

my legs. The boy in the next bed was very knowledgeable and filled

me in "You're going to have an operation," he said. With the self

importance that can only be imparted from a child who "knows

something" to a child that doesn't. Fear set in. I was eventually

wheeled down to the Theatre again. Apparently, my incision was not

healed and had to be cauterized (this is information I found out

much later). Upon seeing the masked figures of terror again I

screamed for Mummy and was told, "Mummy is not needed here, so just

be a good girl and be quiet." The shear cold hardheartedness to this

day overwhelms me. I had gotten no explanation from parents or

hopital staff. After a couple of weeks I was brought home as if

nothing much had happened to me at all. I'm sure that there was

worry and concern on Mum and Dad's part, but children were raised so

differently and didn't seem to be nurtured by Mum's and Dad's so much

back then.

Nan and Grandad's were a different story. If you were lucky enough

to have a single uncle who loved kids but didn't have any of his own

yet, you could write your own ticket!



Anyone remember taking a few coppers at a time to the corner shop for

firework night. I remember Barbara's Sweetshop at the corner of St.

Ann's Road in Barking would keep track of your deposits for you so

that the week of Bonfire night you could go in and buy what seemed

like a fortune of fireworks.

Funny, I don't remember anyone getting hurt or maimed with the

fireworks as they do now. That must be my selective memory setting

in. Although we did seem more respectful of things that could hurt

us in those days and on the whole try to use them wisely. Although

there were always the little sods that used to love to throw penny

bangers at us girls, and we loved to scream and giggle about it. Oh

memories,,,,,,,as they say "youth is wasted on the young."


I left school (Eastbury Secondary Modern) in July 1963, My first job

was at Tote Investors Ltd., on Ludgate Street in Blackfriars. I was

in the Addressograph department. There were hundreds of metal plates

with the account holders names and addresses on them and we (the

other school leavers that had just been hired) kept them in alpha

order and pulled them when the monthly statements were due and the

punters were notified if their accounts were up or down. We all

thought that they must all be millionaires, we all came from homes

where a shilling each way was a big gamble.

Working 'up in London' was a great adventure for us. Getting on the

district line at Barking station every day, straight through to

Blackfriars. Luncheon Vouchers. Season ticket on the train. What

fun we had all five quid a week. Mum got 30/- housekeeping money a

with the rest it was clothes train pass, food and pictures on a

Saturday night. Usually in Barking, East Ham or Upton Park. I

remember saving up for a pair of Shoes in Fisher's in Barking; they

always had the latest styles before anyone else. They also fell

apart before they were out of style. Mum and Dad always warned me,

don't buy cheap shoes at Fisher's. Would I listen? not bloody

likely, all my mates shoes were falling apart too. I was happy.

Gerry thanks for one again bringing up a subject that rattled some

long forgotten happy memories.

All the best Sue


 As a kid I enjoyed stamp collecting. I kept my stamps in a big

Manila envelope and my hinges in an old Elastoplast tin. I

eventually moved up to an album and had many happy hours sticking the

stamps in the appropriate places. So much knowledge could be picked

up from those tiny squares of paper. It doesn't seem to be a hobby

that the kids now generally are attracted to as they were in the

past. With e-mail and personal mobile phones letters and stamps will

soon be a thing of the past.

Cheers all.





Updated 1/6/2001