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Grandma's childhood memories No. 1

by shropshirelibraries

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Anna Stephenson's Grandma
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30 November 2005

Dear Anna,
I promised to tell you about my childhood in the 1940s. As you know, I grew upduring the second world war. Clothes were in short supply and everything was rationed. My mother had the brilliant idea of making me a coat out of a blanket. I thought I was so smart in the double breasted coat with a hood - the lining was made from the lining of Mum's old jacket. My friend Christine admired it so her Mum made her one as well. We wore three-quarter length socks so the tops of our legs were always cold in winter.

I remember my Grandmother had to dye some sheets and make them into curtains because there were no curtains or curtain material in the shops. My mother could not buy silk stockings so, like most ladies, she wore no stocking in the summer. When young girls were getting married the neighbours helped by giving some of their clothing coupons towards her wedding dress.

When victory was declared in May 1945, my mother queued for three hours to buy red white and blue hair ribbon for me. We were given a day's holiday from school. We were all so excited. My brother Bruce who was five years older than me, was a member of the Home Guard through the streets of Warminster. My father was a member of the Home Guard and he always disappeared on Sunday mornings to go to his Home Guard drills.

At Christmas time we had our school party. Our mothers were asked to contribute sandwiches and cake. We had to take our own cups. We did not get lemonade but tea served from pitchers.

When the American Forces were atationed at Warminster Barracks, they gave wonderful parties for us children under eleven years of age. We assembled at the Junior school on a Sunday afternoon and they sent a fleet of army trucks to collect us. Each child was in the care of one soldier. They organised games and gave us tea. We all received a present from Santa Claus when it was time to go home - Charlie the sergeant who was 'my' soldier stuffed chocolate cake in the pocket of my tweed coat. My parents invited Charlie to our house for Sunday lunch one day and Bruce and I were fascinated when he ate only using a fork. He was so polite, he took our photograph to send home to his folks in the States.

The Americans also put on concerts in Warminster. I went to tap-dancing lessons and our little class was part of the programme. The Americans put mop heads on their heads instead of wigs and sang songs from the shows.

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