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15 October 2014
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“Why’s Gran got a hundred eyes?”

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Patricia Perry (nee. Moulton)
Location of story: 
Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire
Article ID: 
A5953368
Contributed on: 
29 September 2005

This story has been added to the website by Eleanor Fell, on behalf of Patricia Perry, who has given her permission for her wartime memory to be added to the site and she understands the terms and conditions of the website.

I was born in the early years of the war in Greenwich, London in 1940. When I was three, in 1943, I left London with my mother Doll (Doris Moulton) and my younger brother Charlie, who was only a baby. We were evacuated to Poulton-le-Fylde near Blackpool. We arrived at our destination at the end of a long train journey, which was full of other evacuees like our family. We were made to stand in the middle of the town square, which I remember had cobbled stones and a big war monument. The local people came and picked the families and children that they wanted to take home with them. Eventually everyone else had been picked and left, except for us, we were still standing there waiting. Eventually a lady called Mrs Hotta was made to take us home and she did so grudgingly. We went back to her house and she showed us to our room where the three of us would stay until we were allowed back home to London.

I called Mrs Hotta ‘Gran’, but in reality she was nothing like a grandmother, she treated my mother really badly, like some kind of housemaid, and she made no secret of the fact that she wasn’t very happy to have any of us staying in her house.
She did take a bit of a shine to my brother though, I suppose it was because he was only a baby and couldn’t really upset or annoy her. The same thing couldn’t be said about me however, I was constantly getting a walloping for being insolent or cheeky. I remember that I would sit in her kitchen with my elbows on the table and ponder the strange appearance of our new ‘Gran’. I’d question my mother as she worked at the kitchen sink and say things like ‘Mum, why’s Gran got a hundred eyes?’ or ‘Why has Gran got a moustache?’ If Mrs Hotta was within earshot she would come into the kitchen and knock my elbows off the table so quick that she nearly broke my arms.

Luckily when I was five years old we left old grouchy Gran behind and returned to London, and I got to meet my dad for the first time that I’d remembered, as he’d been away for 5 years, since I was a baby. It was so strange when he returned home, as he was a big man with a white rucksack, and when I first saw him I ran and hid behind my mum.

Many years later I went on holiday to Blackpool with my husband, and while we were there I saw a bus that was going to Poulton-le-Fylde, so I decided on a whim to pay a visit to the place we’d been evacuated to all those years ago. It was very strange stepping off the bus, as the town square looked exactly the same as it did all those years ago, when we were waiting to be picked. I managed to find Mrs Hotta’s house, where we’d spent two years as unwanted guests, it was now a bookshop. I asked the girl who worked there if she knew anything about the house, and she said that the room we were in would have been the kitchen. Fancy that, I was now standing in the very place where I got all those wallopings for being a bit of a madam!

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