Memories of World War Two:Evacuation Day
We had tinned peaches and evaporated milk the night before I became an evacuee: it felt a bit like Christmas Eve,but sadder. I sat up at the kitchen table and looked at all the familiar things of home- the heavily ticking clock,my Silver Jubilee mug,the bright brass on the fireguard,my Mum's flowery apron,the pattern on the Lino. My suitcase,with its big brown label,stood ready under the stairs. Dad began to put up the 'black-outs'-wooden boards he had cut to fit over all the windows. I listened to the wireless, and hoped there wouldn't be an air-raid warning on my last night.
Evacuation Day was sunny. In best coats,with shiny shoes, name-labels tied to our lapels, gas-masks slung over our shoulders, we converged upon the Railway Station-anxious Mums carrying cases-a noisy army of children,half-unwilling, half-excited. For most of us this was the beginning of a great adventure;we jabbered together,restless as monkeys. Teachers marshalled us into some kind of order, and in a last rush of maternal reminders and damp hugs we said goodbye. There was a long,boring,cramped train journey,I remember. Puffs of steam and undulating telegraph-wires whizzed past. Home was already far behind us,beyond recall. Voluntary workers brought round a hot meal-soup,and rice-pudding- which some unusually bold boys threw out of the window.
Very late at night we reached a large hospital,with empty echoing wards prepared for us. We slept uneasily on the high iron beds:the blankets were thin and smelt of disinfectant. I thought about my Mum,and felt all alone,surrounded by strangers. Another train-journey the next day, and then we were in Yorkshire. By this time even I felt that I looked scruffy and uncared for. A large group of us were taken by coach to a Church Hall, where we sat like left luggage(labels still attached!)waiting to be CHOSEN by some kind Yorkshire lady. I hated this,and sank slowly into my seat,looking angrier and more unfriendly,as one after the other of my companions was selected and carried off to a new home. At last it was my turn! I was argued over for some time(I was considered too old- I was just twelve!),but finally it was agreed that I should be billeted on the Armitage family.
A car-journey this time,through the fresh spring country-side,and it was almost over. I was quiet and very tired. The house I was delivered to was certainly comfortable(I thought how rich they were-they had a GREEN bath!), and laid out on the lace-edged cloth was the most wonderful High Tea. Chicken(and in those days we only ate chicken once a year-at Christmas!),thin bread-and-butter,home-made cake, and an individual dish of black-currant jelly with cream on top. I sat by the window, and looked out. It was beautiful- green hills,blue sky, moving cloud-shadows and sunshine. I picked up the spoon and started on my jelly,looking stiffly away from my new family towards the hills. I thought about Mum and her flowery apron, and tears ran silently down into the jelly............ Audrey E.Deal