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15 October 2014
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Marcel Waves and the Jitterbug

by cambsaction

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Audrey Marlow
Location of story: 
Little Heath, Potter's Bar
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
30 October 2005

[This story was submitted to the People’s War site by a volunteer Radio Cambridgeshire on behalf of Audrey Marlow and has been added to the site with her permission. She understands the site’s terms and conditions.]

My name is Audrey Marlow. I was 18 when the War started, and that is when I got my identity card. At that time, my hair was in a Marcel wave, which I got at a hairdresser’s. There was a wire contraption in which the hair was curled. We also had tongs which we heated and then curled our hair at home, in the fashion of the day. At first the curls were on top and on the sides, with long hair; later, the style was to have shorter hair, but it was still curly.

My father was in the First World War; he was in India and was a Quarter Master Sergeant and then came out and went on the police force at King’s Cross, Metropolitan Police. Of course, then he joined the Territorials. When the war started, he was at Camp, in the West Country. He was a Regimental Sergeant-Major, in the Heavy Anti-Aircraft division for the defence of London.

My dad was very friendly with the local butcher, and we got extra meat, but of course everybody shared food.

I got married in 1940—I was born in 1921—at Little Heath Church near Potter’s Bar. My mother and I were both born in Little Heath. My husband was Ken Marlow—and I met him at a dance hall in Potter’s Bar.

I used to go around with my stepsister and I remember the first film I ever saw was “ Roman Scandals” with Eddie Cantor, in about 1940 or 1941. We saw the film two or three times. My husband was away at the time in the Army; he was in Wales.

My sister and I used to go to Hammersmith Palace, a dance hall; we used to go into the underground and we used to see all of the people lying down, because they used to come down at night.

The dances were waltzes, quick-steps, fox trot, and others. By the way, when the Americans came in about 1943 to Potter’s Bar, they used to liven the place up with the jitterbug. Both my sister and I learned to do the jitterbug and enjoyed it—it was great fun.

Ken used to come home on leave, and I became pregnant with twins, who were identical. They were born at Barnett General Hospital in 1943. Before they were born, the hospital even did an X-ray because I was so small, and the twins were so big.

The first pram I had was too small, so I borrowed one from a family, and they had a large pram, which was called a family twin pram.

In 1943, we were at the cinema and when I came home, a doodlebug came down in the nearby field (and they made a noise!) and then you could count 9, with the engine stopped, and they would come down with a bang. We could hear them coming. At our house (I was living with my mother) the windows had been blown in, some of the ceiling had come down, and everybody joined in and helped us clean up. It was a different, friendly world where everyone helped each other. They put frosted windows in the house.

In 1945, I became pregnant again and then had a son named Michael. He was blond and looked just like “Bubbles” from the Pears soap ad. We had moved from #5 to #2, and we lived there all of my life. When the War ended, I was still in that house and lived there until 8 years ago. I would love to go back.

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