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With the great gift of your parents still being alive, it would be great if you could use the opportunity to mine their memories to construct a more comprehensive history of their life and times!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 3rd, 2017 at 08:08:37 PM EST
I know my Mum's story quite well, it's had its moments. My Dad has never really talked about his past very much, it seems it was fairly non-eventful.

Even his service in WWII didn't really add up to much. Joined at 18 fresh from an engineering apprenticeship. Serviced aircraft in N Africa and Italy till demob, very pleased never to have fired a shot in anger. The only moment of note he ever mentioned was getting drunk in Cairo on his 21st birthday and climbing a lamppost. Apart from that....

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Aug 3rd, 2017 at 08:20:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yea but sometimes details he deems unimportant might still be illustrative of the lives and times of people of that era.  War isn't all about fighting, and much of the more "boring" stuff is more representative of what they are really like. He might think people won't be interested in the time he fixed a faulty fuel line with fuel and fire hazards spilling all over the place, but it's still the stuff of social history.  Perhaps he won't tell you about some of the tristes going on at the time though - men are funny like that - what happens in war stays with the war mates even after they're dead...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 3rd, 2017 at 08:31:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yes, you may be right, but I'm afraid my Dad is now ill and such memories are beyond him

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Aug 3rd, 2017 at 08:59:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Long term memory is usually the last to go. But if there is pain...

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Aug 4th, 2017 at 12:38:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My Mum was evacuated from London in '39 at the age of 12. First off to Oxford, but she didn't stay long as the woman who took her in objected to her not being catholic. Her two friends, sisters, stayed and were killed in an air-raid later in the war.

She saw the first air raids on london and was impressed by the large block formations of the enemy lanes. But with this change in the war after a few close shaves from close impacts, she was then sent to distant relatives in S Wales, up the valley from Swansea. A mining town in Welsh speaking wales. She had to learn welsh pretty quickly cos nobody had any patience with some english speaking kid.

She wa the youngest in the household and thus the skivvy. She had to carry through the ton of coal to the back when it was delivered and then sweep the coal dust up. And she had to be wary when the coalman was coming to lock the door cos the coalman used to dump it right outside the door and through the door if you weren't careful.

For reason I won't discuss here, my Mum returned to London in 44. In that time she was once overflown by a V1 at a height of 100 feet. And survived the V2 hit, losing only the apple pie she was making which was coated with glass blown in from the window.

The V1 was much more hated than the V2. The sound would stop everything, for minutes on end as everybody waited for the motor to cut out. Until then, they were frozen. But the V2, if you heard the bang, you were still alive. So, why worry about it?

My Mum was in Forest Gate roller skating rink when a V1 destroyed the Princess Alice pub a quarter mile away. She says that there were a load of green leather benches against the wall nearest the pub which moved halfway across the rink, knocking people over.

When my parents married in 47, despite rationing there was a 3 tier wedding cake. It was only later that we discovered how my gran had managed to afford to get all the sugar and fruit from the black market she as a money lender.

It was a hidden part of the world of women at that time. Women ran short of household money, either cos their husbands drank it or there was an emergency. But she apparently had taken over the business from another woman when she died, she inherited "the tally book". My mum had always wondered how it was that she'd always had money. It was a steady income if not particularly substantial.

But it faded away during the re-developments after the war, it only survived because of close knit communities of women and those community bonds were severed and scattered during the 50s.

She lent my Dad the money for his first car, £80. And when my Mum's wedding veil was torn, she paid for it to be invisibly mended, 30 shillings (£1:50) but a weeks wages.

But there were no houses in the early 50s. With a young child and another on the way and living with her mother in law, my Mum would walk (!) miles from town hall to town hall through the east end begging for a chance to get a council flat. But was told that there was nothing unless the children had a serious lung disease.

So, she resolved to buy a house, soemthing that was then almost unimaginable. It took my parents nearly two years to save £100 for a deposit, my Dad left a job he loved (print engineer at Reynolds News, which eventually became the Sun) to join another paper, the Sunday Citizen for a vital 30 shillings more a week.

And then they bought a house.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Aug 3rd, 2017 at 08:56:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another thing was that my Mum's accent changed.

When she went to Wales she was an East end kid from Stepney, which was amongst the roughest of the rough. Occasionally, when she reminisces she can slip back into that accent and it's very broad.

But when she went to Wales she learned the Welsh lilt, which meant that her english became much closer to BBC approved received pronunciation.

So much so that she says that her family couldn't understand her when she came home. She remembers talking for 5 minutes before her mother joked that she was still spekaing welsh and they couldn't understand a word.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Aug 4th, 2017 at 06:51:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The V1 story reminds me of an anecdote told by sf author Christopher Priest (at a convention my daughter organised). Memory and its unreliability is a thread which runs through his work. He describes a vivid wartime memory of his, being in his mother's arms under a staircase, and hearing a V1's engine stop, and her look of terror as they waited for the blast, etc. But for objective reasons the memory must be entirely fabricated (his age, the fact that they were in Manchester(?) outside the range of V1s all the time...) Fascinating theme.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Aug 7th, 2017 at 08:31:23 AM EST
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A little discussed aspect of the post war period is the amount of PTSD there was. Most notably amongst the survivors of japanese prison camps.

Those men were very damaged, many of them died early from drink or suicide. But while they were alive nobody would bother them, if they went into a pub and tried to start fights, someobdy who knew woud tap whoever was being goaded, "no forget about it, he was in a jap camp". that was enough. The police would sweep them up and take them home. They were cared for in the community.

But so many fathers were wrecked. You only have to listen to the tales of remote fathers who'd been through the war, and their fathers before them in WW1. Two generations scarred by traumas.

My Dad was lucky, my sister suggests he'd connived to get an easy war, but I think that's unfair. He was already studying to be a proper engineering mechanic before the war started. The RAF was an obvious step, especially for a man who loved flying but whose hearing had already been damaged too much to fly in combat, even as crew.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Aug 3rd, 2017 at 09:29:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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