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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Rationing and Bananas

by sarahbateson

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Sarah Hemming
Location of story: 
North Shields
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
26 May 2005

I was three years nine months when the war broke out. I could never remember ever eating bananas. I could only remember the sign on a fruiter's window which said 'A Hand of Yellow Banana's- Fyffes'. Sometime during the war, my mother who had a dock-side pub in North Shields, had managed somehow or other (we didn't question her), to obtain some bananas. But they were very bright green so as we had been evacuated to a mining village just further south in Durham called Ryehope, she rang up my grandmother and said to her 'send the children over quickly- I've got some bananas'. Now that meant two buses and a ferry journey! So that'll tell you how important these bananas were.

Mother, never lost for an idea, to ripen them, put them in the oven. At which they promptly turned jet black. She split one open and it was so soft, she tried to feed me with a spoon! So that was my first introduction to bananas!

And of course, at Christmas time, if you were lucky you'd get an orange.

I never believed adults ate sweets, because I never saw them eat them. I thought they were only for children. Just show's how wrong you can be! We weren't hungry but just because you had the coupon for a ration, didn't mean to say the store had it. And equally, if you had the money, to buy clothes in a shop for example, but didn't have the coupon, you couldn't have it. That's the way it was. And when you're brought up that way, that's the way it stays. I wont change.

It sounds crazy now but we used to be quite pleased, as children, when there was an air-raid drill, because it meant that we'd be given a Horlicks tablet, a sweet!

My grandmother had a Morrison shelter, an indoor shelter. The last one in put the wires round. But as soon as the sirens went off the first to run in there was our cat and two dogs.

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Childhood and Evacuation Category
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Tyneside and Northumberland Category
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