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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Sunshine in the Shadows

by Norfolk Railway 1940s Weekend

Contributed by 
Norfolk Railway 1940s Weekend
People in story: 
Helen Anderson (nee Daynes)
Location of story: 
Norwich
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A3038942
Contributed on: 
23 September 2004

At the age of 14 my passions were dancing and aircraft. Working at Margaret Hill hairdressers on Tombland, Norwich I would give the ladies a good shampoo hoping for a sixpence tip to enable me to indulge in one of my favourite pastimes, as American bands from the surrounding air bases played in Blackfriars Hall. The only problem was you had to be sixteen. But I told “pops” on the door that “I go out to work” and I got in. The intermission bonus was cakes, which were a real treat as strict rationing was in force. This affected all families. One meal time I said “I’m still hungry”. Mum gave me a portion from her plate. Dad immediately said “Don’t you ever do that again.”

Dad raised chickens and rabbits to supplement the meat ration. As mum remarked “If we eat any more lamb we’ll soon Baa.” Another treat was wall to wall Americans, our boys were called up and away on service duties. Cakes and Americans — what is a girl to do?

As for my interest in aircraft, it was due to living close to Horsham St Faiths, now Norwich International airport. When I heard the engines warming up I would run down the garden path and climb on the shed roof where I would wave them “Goodbye” and “Welcome” them home.

We would patiently wait in long queues to get into the pictures. A film and B film continuous showing an usher would walk along calling out “1 seat 9p 2 @ 1/- - 1 @ 1/9” other prices 2/3 and if you were rich, 3/6. There were 10 or more picture houses, Empire, Regal, Ritz, Odeon, Carlton, Haymarket, Theatre De Luxe, Regent, and Capitol.

Dance halls were also packed; Gerry Hoey, Harry Gerrard, Don Smith, a big treat was Ted Heath. During the big band intermission f piece combos would play. When it seemed that no one was going to ask a “wallflower” to dance the girls would dance together.

Our education suffered as we spent time talking and singing in the school air raid shelters.

The first time I hear “Hiya Red” from an American travelling in a convoy of canvas covered lorries going down school lane I melted; as I had always hated the chant “Ginger you’re barmy, you ought to join the army.”

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