- Contributed by
- BBC Southern Counties Radio
- People in story:
- Sophie Deakin-Smith
- Location of story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 03 August 2005
I remember being evacuated to two different families; one my utterly mad auntie in Blackpool who gave me a whale of a time and I did not ever want to leave. But I could never understand why from time to time this man came to the door. She would take me, put her arm around my shoulders and say “This is my little evacuee”. When the menace of the billeting officer was gone, so was I — moved on to another family. But what strikes me is that nobody told me what was happening! People didn’t tell children then, you just did as you were told.
But this other family lived in a village outside Wigan, a nice country village, near enough to go into Wigan to school, shopping or Manchester. And fairly near the house there was a tennis court and every evening people would come away from work and they’d go and play tennis and I only found out in the last couple of years, through my cousins, that underneath that tennis court was an armaments factory. If it had been bombed, we would have gone sky-high! It was far more dangerous than where I was living at the time! I had no idea until my cousins told me.
I was nine and I wasn’t evacuated with the school, I was just evacuated by my parents to family members, so I took the entrance exam to Wigan Grammar School. They started younger there than they did in the town I was living in, and I passed that and went to school there for a while. We didn’t have to share with other evacuated children.
I said I had this mad auntie I was staying with, well she and the black market were made for each other. She had on a big sideboard, two big, big statues of real fruit, never eaten, and when it rotted, she threw it away and got some more. You know the average mother would have killed for an orange for her child. But you can see the character she is, was, and she won a goat in a whist drive, a pedigree goat called Glamour Girl. Glamour Girl was taken on a leash for walks and I was allowed to do this as long as I just went in a small area because obviously, as a small child, I had to be safe. So I took her where we used to gather bulrushes — I’m putting 2 stories together, but this is another sign of what she was. We would gather bulrushes, take them back home and paint them. She never did a thing in the house, you see, she didn’t cook, we ate out all the time, but to get back to Glamour Girl…
I took her for this walk by the bulrushes and then she had to be bathed. Now this meant getting a bucket of water, soap, me covered in a calico apron and Glamour Girl really, really docile. You’d get her front legs in this nice warm water, soap her down and she loved it. And then the next thing you knew, she’d bucked and the front legs were out, one back leg was in, or both back legs. Auntie on the sidelines, well away, shouting ‘Don’t let her run away, we’ll lose her!’ and I thought, we won’t lose Glamour Girl, she’s onto a good thing here. Anyway, we didn’t lose Glamour Girl but eventually Ethel got terribly bored with her and gave her to the Welsh Fusiliers as a mascot. Oddly enough it was my father’s regiment.
This story was submitted to the People's War site by volunteer Sue Craig on behalf of Sophie Deakin-Smith, and has been added to the site with her permission. Sophie fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
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