- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Pat Clarke (nee Hargreaves) and brothers Bill ,Peter, Barry,and Roy..
- Location of story:
- THE MEADOWS, NOTTINGHAM
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 05 July 2004
During the war I lived in The Meadows area of Nottingham. I was four when the war broke out, but don’t remember very much about that. It would be when I was about six that I remember the things about how we had to get by. I remember clearly that I was always so cold and hungry, there was never enough food to fill us and all the shoes I had were plimsolls, often with cardboard inside them to cover the holes in the soles so they could be worn a little bit longer. Mine were always the black ones because they were the cheapest and I always envied the kids who had the white ones; there were five children in the family so we had to have the cheapest.
On Saturday mornings my older brother and me had to push the babies’ pram (no baby in it) all the way down London road to the coke yard to get a sack of coke. In winter it was awful because we still only had plimsolls to wear and it was often icy or freezing. The queue was always really long and it took forever to get to the front, we would watch the supply of coke getting smaller and smaller and we just hoped it didn’t run out before our turn. The best part was when we got to the front, the Salvation Army was there and they gave out cups of tea, no sugar in it, but it was still wonderful. We would get home with the coke and mum would light a fire and there was hot water which came out of a boiler at the side of the fireplace and we all had a bath in the old tin bath which hung on the wall outside, it made our chilblains itch I can tell you. The fuel would only last a few days and then we were without a fire again.
One girl in our class at school lived in a shop run by her mother and she got nice things to bring to school to have with her milk break. One day she had an apple and she gave me the core, I ate every bit of it. The first time I ever saw a banana was when she brought one to school.
I remember the bomb being dropped on the co-op dairy down by the canal and there must have been one dropped on our street (Bunbury Street) because when I came back from being sent to stay with my auntie in Yorkshire a whole row of terraces had gone and a few of my friends along with them. All the kids used to play on the bomb site, we would build make believe rooms out of bricks laid out on the ground and collect the broken bits of crockery and anything else we could scavenge and play houses and mums and dads!!!
There was a public swimming baths on Muskham Street and we went with the school every week, I got to be a very good swimmer and often swam in the Trent. All I had was my knickers and vest to swim in until mum knitted me a costume, the first time I went in the water in it, it stretched to my knees so mum undid it and knitted it again, this went on until it stopped stretching.
My dad was in the army in North Africa and I hardly knew him. One day I was fetched out of school by a policeman and taken to the children’s home on Hartley road in Radford. No one told me why I couldn’t go home. My brothers were all next-door in the boy’s part, I was in the girl’s part and my baby brother was in the infant’s part. We weren’t aloud to even speak to each other, and one day my eldest brother was beaten because he tried to speak to me over the fence, even when we all went to the church at the corner of Hartley Road and Alfreton Road we had to sit in separate pews. We were told later that my mother had been in a bad road accident and was very ill, but this was after my brothers were very nearly sent to Canada with the orphan boys and were only saved from this because my aunt in Yorkshire found out where we were and came to see us in the home. She insisted that we were allowed to see each other and later she came and fetched me and took me back with her until after the war. She is still alive today and at 98 years old is a wonderful old lady, I still go to see her as often as I can. My mother was in The Cedars Hospital a very long time and remained a cripple until she died 2 years ago.
Patricia Clarke (Hargreaves)
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