Meet Resident Eve
I’m 92 coming up to 93. I have been at Willows for 4 years and I like it very much and I am the second eldest of 6 children.
I was born in the heart of London in Camden Town. There were a lot of Irish in the area at the time and it had a nice market there. I went to school there and when I passed the 11+ I went to a school near Bellsize Park. I left school when the war came along and started working in reserved occupation helping the war effort packaging up the medical supplies and personal packs for those on the front line.
I stayed in London throughout the war apart from a brief spell. I remember the bombs falling, it was terrible. One day I was at work and a bomb went off and all I could think about was my mum, brothers and sisters and I ran home. A bus had gone down to the basement of the Mornay Arms the local pub, and sat upside down. I cried all the way home but mum was ok but a bit shocked, we went to Maple depositories away from the bombing as our garden wasn’t big enough for the Anderson shelter.
Then a landmine landed and everything shook but it never went off, if it had we would have all been killed, so we went off to another shelter. I can also remember watching the dogfights in the sky. My father was in the first world war but couldn’t go in the second as he had stomach ulcers that led to cancer eventually but was a night warden during the second world war. I can remember lying in the shelter on a mattress and the water coming in through the doors and that is when my mum decided we should be evacuated. My youngest sister at the time was 4 years old and I had to go with her to look after her. Unfortunately the person we went to didn’t really want evacuees, my sister was missing my mum and wet the bed one night and that was it, she called my mother and we were sent back. I didn’t like the lady!
By then I was coming on to 14 and went to work. My brother was older and he eventually went into the air force and he was shot down over Italy so he came home for a short time. His legs weren’t long enough to be a pilot so he became a wireless operator/air gunner. We were very anxious, he was 17 when he joined. The rations weren’t too bad as we had 6 children so we had more, although when my brother joined the air force his ration pack went with him. I really missed butter! I said that after the war I was going to have half a pound of butter in between 2 slices of bread! I was very fortunate as we had a lot of the firemen in the area and they used to give us goodies like a bit of tea or sugar and the Canadian soldiers were also close to us and used to throw cigarettes and chocolate at us from the windows.
There was plenty of dating during the war, plenty of boyfriends, we had a lovely time. They used to take us to the pictures and as it got to the end of the film we used to make an excuse and scuttle out. We went to dances and when the jitterbug started we all used to dance that. They used to throw us around – it was great fun.
I met my husband William (Bill) through work. He was in the forces but was sent home with an injury to recover. I worked with his father but he didn’t know we were seeing each other. Then he went back and his dad treated me like one of his daughters. When Bill asked me out, he said, ‘do you like dancing’, when I said yes, he said, ‘well I don’t’, so we went to the pictures. He took that we were going to get married for granted and said – do you fancy getting married? While he was away he made his dad keep tabs on me and what I was up to. We kept in touch while he was away, and when he came back he was a prison guard transporting the German soldiers to Scotland.
When married we moved to New Cross. My sister married his brother so she also became my sister-in-law. I have been widowed for 26 years but I never wanted to meet anyone else. That’s why I came to Willows as my son thought I had been on my own too long. I had one daughter, two sons and then twins, but unfortunately miscarried one. The Dr’s didn’t realise I was still pregnant, and my son was born early and was only 3lbs.
It was a real family effort keeping everything going. I used to knit all of the jumpers for the children. I have had a really happy life apart from when my husband died. I am happy here, I have company. I have the things I want, my ornaments from when I used to live in Spain. My husband’s health wasn’t good – he wanted to go to Italy but we couldn’t afford to go so we went to Spain instead!