22 November 2013

21st November 1943: Sunday's children (+ see Comments)

21 Sun. Very cold, dismal, misty. A lot of children called, Connie Freeman came first and Shirley Bridges stayed last: they do like to come. Stayed in to-day; best place too. Doris stayed the night.


  1. Having discovered your blog fairly recently, I still have much to learn about life in Chestnut Road. Uncle Fred often mentions visits from children, with no clue as to why they come. Perhaps you could enlighten me. Thank you.

  2. Thanks for the question, Fern. I'd like a more complete picture, too. The easy answer is, "I don't know." But I may have some clues! There's the man himself and the wartime situation. First the man - my memories of him directly date from later, when I was old enough to cycle or later drive (my first car) to see him, from Tolworth. His almost childlike interest in so many things appealed to this young boy. He had loudspeakers and a record player, which we didn't at home - and batteries and wires and offered technical knowledge. He showed me how to get radio reception from a crystal set, adjusting the sprung pick up against a crystal! He built sophisticated model aircraft - Wow! Many years later I got a private pilots' licence, learned to fly in the States, and had a share in a real aircraft - what would he have thought of that? I still freelance copy-edit aviation articles. I wonder if he put all that into my young brain. And we'd flown those models on Wimbledon common - I don't remember doing anything like that with my Dad. A simple walk in their small garden and he'd have a tree/bush where he showed you a seed pod that popped between your fingers - to a child's delight. They had a vast pipe organ in the front room (the room I think was barely used except on Sunday's) where I could pump the bellows and make loud noises! He knew about bicycles - my parents never had any transport other than their own legs and buses and trains - none of them had a car. He loved word-play and would teach me long words and silly rhymes - with my own writing, proof-reading and poetry, it sounds as if he might have influenced me. And he could play the piano, violin, organ - always something interesting. So, as far as little boys go - this one at least - he was like a breath of fresh, interesting air - a perfect uncle and gentleman. That what I remember directly. Guessing at the visiting kids... their dad's were at war, mums knew they enjoyed and would be entertained by Ciss (Fred's sister) and Fred - maybe just getting the kids out from under their feet for a couple of hours! The kids would deliver/collect the latest scarce vegetables and garden produce - Fred would repair mum's wireless - Ciss would take the kids on to Sunday School (the family were keen Methodists). Perhaps one or two other readers have direct memories - this blog has been seen by wartime neighbours. So - I think that's my best answer. And by the way, Fern, you commented I think a while back about Fred's regular interest in the weather - a grown up boy's/scientific interest in meteorology... the importance for gardening... the immediate effect this had on daily shopping/walking/cycling - and I doubt that WWII radio broadcasts had forecasts to be overheard by the Lufftwaffe. Your present blogger seem to have inherited that interest too - and the Met Office has obligingly moved its HQ to just along the road from us and I have visited it - to Fred it would have been like entering the Tardis. Regards, Tony.

    1. Thanks for all that fascinating detail, Tony - much appreciated. It sounds as though Fred was a natural born teacher.