When I was young and foolish
Tidying papers the other day ~ I seem to be endlessly tidying papers without making much progress ~ I came across these little letters, the letters I wrote home to Mummy and Daddy in Bristol from Lustleigh between 1938 (when I would have been five) and 1940 ~ Mother gave them to me some years ago and told me how re-reading them always reduced her to tears ~ she had kept them all this time along with a bundle of David's letters home ~ David has gone now ~ he was 18 months older than me. It may be a bit of an ego trip, typing them up here, but what the hell ~ it was all of 75 years ago when that little girls sat down with the other evacuees to write our weekly letters home ~ Mapstone was a a large farm house high on a hill above Lustleigh ~ there must have been eight or ten of us, I guess, all evacuated to the safety of deepest Devon from impending war and bombing raids in Bristol, Birmingham and London ~ I believe we all slept in the large light attic ~ there was a paddock in front of the house, and possibly a pony. As an epileptic I must have been a bit of a burden to Jill Salmon and the other woman who ran it whose name I can't recall. Because my parents had lived in Lustleigh from 1935 until they moved to Bristol in 1938, this is where we were sent, David and I, as war loomed ever nearer. As time went on, both Stephen and Nancy were evacuated to a nursery that had been opened in the village for babies, refugees and war orphans ~ this was run by Frances Johnson and a friend ~ as two single women, after the war they adopted two of their orphan babbies ~ years later, my Georgie received regular parcels of clothes from Frances ~ beautiful wynciette dresses, smocks and petticoats ~ for most of her childhood Georgie was far and away the best dressed of any of us.
Sadly, I cannot remember the names of the two little girls Frances and her partner adopted ~ the only thing I do remember is that when they were grown up and married, one of them lived in an old thatched cottage in Dorset, and having the thatch repaired, the thatcher found a silver spoon hidden up in the roof which turned out to be the oldest teaspoon ever found in England and worth a small fortune which enabled the young couple to pay off their mortgage and gave them a comfortable start in life ~ one silver spoon !!
Tuesday morning 29th : Oh dear ~ wasted a good deal of time yesterday trying to copy my childhood letters from documents but could not do it ~ this is the upgraded version of windows 7 ~ first I scanned my typed copy and then copied it from picture gallery to documents but simplesite tell me I can't then paste it in here (as I used to do) but must use keyboard operation instead ~ no idea what this means so will have to type them out again ~ a bit of a nuisance, but it is probably my stupidity that I cannot manage otherwise.
First I must jot down yesterday's activities ~ I was getting the washing in off the line when Eileen came up the yard ~ Eileen is the owner of number 5 which she lets out on long lease ~ Vicky who has lived there for two or three years is moving out on 16th to start her own fish & chip business across by the railway ~ she has been working at the Magpie for several years and there is la flat above the shop ~ she should make a go of it ~ a hard worker with excellent experience in the trade. Good luck to her.
OK ~ so Eileen was interviewing prospective tenants and we sat out on the bench waiting for the second lot ~ a really nice couple, John and, er Lisa ? Sorry ~ first signs of dementia I'm afraid ~ once they had looked round the cottage and Eileen had shown them the ropes, they came in, the three of them, for quick getting-to-know-you session ~ he seemed to think he knew me though we couldn't think how (and for once it wasn't the TV program) ~ she poor soul had a crutch ~ her hip had crumbled away during pregnancy and they say she is too young to have a replacement so she has to live with excrutiating pain (which I remember so well) ~ poor soul ~ and they have 2 young children ~ a boy of 10, a girl of 3 ~ I think the children are going to have the large light attic bedroom, the adults the lower one ~ we all had ghost stories to tell, and Eileen went off and they looked round here ~ I feel quite guilty to have SIX rooms and TWO bathrooms all to myself, while the four of them will be squashed into THREE rooms and a shower/loo ! However they seemed really happy to have been selected as tenants and could move in almost as soon as Vicky moves out on October 16th ~ I think Eileen made a jolly good choice.
Where has the morning gone ? I'll type up those wartime letters after lunch.
Thursday October 1st: Having typed the letters up yesterday I have decided it was too much for this one entry so have successfully (praise the Lord !) copied them and pasted them into the next entry : 357 October 1st ~ I shall now try to scan the actual letters and put them into a Picture Gallery . . .