Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Dairy of a 14 year-old, 1948

Reading Virginia Nicholson's, Millions Like Us, (see my other blog, Engage Write Brain), about life in WW2 and the years immediately afterwards, prompted me to look out my mum's teenage diaries of 1948-1952.

A sample page of Mum's diary.

Although they don't have the detail of a journal, being only a small pocket diary, the brief entries still manage to give a flavour of life for a fourteen-year-old at that time.

My mum, Patricia Barton, aged 14

One February entry in 1948 reads: ...went with mom and dad to old folks concert where mom sang and dad played piano. My grandmother, Wyn, had been a professional singer before the war (there's more about her on my post, Strictly Music Hall) and 'Dad' is my mother's step-father, Bill Garland, a semi-professional piano player whom my gran married in 1946.

Other entries which caught my eye were:

  • Went to pictures tonight to see 'West of the Pecos' and 'If you knew Susie'. It was smashing. The list of films she saw is impressive. She went to the cinema virtually every week, sometimes twice. I recognised one favourite amongst the many, Random Harvest, which we watched with her years later on many occasion. Based on James Hilton's novel of the same name, it tells the story of 'Smithy' (played by Ronald Coleman) who is suffering amnesia after being shell-shocked in WW1. He begins a new life by marrying Paula (Greer Garson) until one day while visiting the city he's knocked over in the street. His memory is restored but in doing so, he forgets everything about his new wife and baby waiting at home. A tear-jerker which my gran loved, writing to the BBC regularly when we were children, begging them to screen it on TV.
  • Tonight mom had a quarrel with Grandpa. Mum, her sister and my gran had lived with my great-grandparents since the start of the war. There's nothing to say what the quarrel was about but a regular argument during wartime concerned Grandpa's habit of going into the yard to light his pipe during the black-out. The women were convinced the German bombers would see the light and that they'd be targeted. Eventually the worst happened and an incendiary was dropped on their house, but not, as far as I'm aware, while he was lighting up!
  • 14th March 1949. CLOTHES COUPON END TONIGHT. Clearly written with feeling as it's recorded in capital letters!
  • 1950. I visited London with the guides from school. We went for a week. The photo was taken in Trafalgar Square. On the back are listed the names of the guides, though sadly no surnames. Where are you - Miss Blanks, Miss Richards, Pauline, Brenda, Barbara, Mary, Vera, Joyce B, Joyce N, Irene and Edna?
Girl Guides, probably a Wednesfield group.

  • January 1951. Granddad not well. Pay day £6-6-10 monthly. By now Mum was working as a student nursery nurse at Woodlands Nursery (she would later move to Elston Hall Nursery School for 9 months training). She began work with the toddlers which she declared in her diary, was boring. A few months later she was moved to the baby section which she loved.

  • 1st February. Granddad not improved. Had doctor.
  • Granddad worse. Aunty Hilda coming. My great aunt.
And a few days later -
  • Stayed in. Granddad in deep sleep.
  • Thursday 8th February. Grandpa at the age of 90 passed away on his birthday. A couple of weeks later she admits, it seems strange without grandpa. 'Grandpa' was Jack Griffiths. In his younger days he'd played for Wolves football club, which I wrote about on a post Family Footballers
A poignant note on which to end, particularly because of the date of this post. Mum died 25 years ago today, at the untimely age of 54. I still miss her.