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my last banana - food conservation!

by Action Desk, BBC Radio Suffolk

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
Action Desk, BBC Radio Suffolk
People in story: 
Michael Rhodes , William Eric Rhodes
Location of story: 
Chivers factories Cambridgeshire
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
24 November 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War website by Maddy Rhodes a volunteer with Radio Suffolk, on behalf of Mike Rhodes who has given permission for it to be submitted. Mike Rhodes fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

I remember in the lead up to the war being given my last banana. I was told I wouldn’t have another for a very long time, so I decided to keep it. Unfortunately I didn’t understand that bananas don’t last for ever, and in the end it had to be thrown away!
I lived in Cambridge with my parents and younger sister. Our father was in a reserved occupation so he wasn’t called up. He worked for Chivers, first at Histon but during the war he was manager of the Chivers factory in Huntingdon. Sometimes he slept on the office floor, as it was safer than making the journey back to Cambridge. The factory was involved in food production — essential work during the war, when it was important to find ways of producing and conserving as much food as possible. Dad pioneered methods of freeze- drying and canning food. For most of the war, the canning production was entirely converted to meet service requirements. I remember family meals consisting of the results of experimentation with canned and dehydrated food!
At some point early in the war, my parents thought that we ( my mother, my sister and I ) would be safer if we went to stay with my Grandmother and an aunt who lived in Keswick.. We stayed for about nine months, then much to my relief we came home again, partly because I was desperately unhappy at school. The local children didn't understand me, and I didn't understand them .
On one very happy day a bomb landed outside my Cambridge primary school, and we had a few days off.
An evacuee from London came to live with us. She was called Elizabeth, and got up to all sorts of mischief. On one occasion she spoiled our sugar ration by mixing it with salt.
We didn’t have new clothes. I remember going with my mother to the clothing exchange. We also used the Government run British Restaurant opposite The Corn Exchange in Cambridge. We had really good meals there to supplement our rations. We used to sell and exchange our toys with friends. New toys were very limited — even at Christmas.

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