Everybody has a story: Mom did her part when war was nearing

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Coming Sunday: Memories of Mom

Pick up The Columbian or visit www.columbian.com on Sunday for more stories — from sweet to silly to sad — from Clark County residents about their departed mothers.

I dearly loved my mother from a very early age, and I cannot remember it ever being any different. I had a sister four years my senior, and we lived in Southern England in a small village near Newbury where my father was a farmer.

In September 1939 when World War II was declared, my mother quickly arranged for my cousin who lived in London to come and live with us for the duration, since big cities were probably going to be bombed by Germany. The war “will probably over by Christmas” was a fairly common assumption. Little did we know!

A few days after the declaration of war, a bus full of children from London was evacuated to our village (as many were to many other small country villages). My mother had prepared a bedroom for two girls, but by the time my mother, my cousin and I arrived at the village hall, the evacuees had all found homes. Aware of our disappointment, my mother said, ”Let’s walk down to the Bath Road,” (the main road from London to Bath and beyond), and then she added, “They say the traffic is tremendous.” Lots of people were leaving London and heading for Devon and Cornwall hoping to find temporary homes for their children away from the cities.

So we all went down past Church Woods and quickly got to the busy Bath Road and sat on a grassy bank and watched the cars streaming by toward the west. Rarely did anything come by in the opposite direction.

We soon noticed a man and women pushing a tandem bike up the hill toward us and toward London. They stopped right by us to take a short rest, and we were soon chatting together. They were tired and said, “We are never going to make it today to London, where we live. Would you know of anywhere near here where we could rent a room for the night?”

We knew that would be a fruitless quest. My kind and trusting mother told them about the bedroom she had prepared for two evacuees, but did not get them. Then to my surprise, “You two could use that for the night if you can cope with a muddy farm and a mile or so walk there with us.”

They were very pleased, and we all walked back to the farm together. Our guests slept like logs that night and before leaving the next morning asked my parents if they could possibly return for a few days before winter set in. With an affirmative answer, they returned to the farm over and over every summer for years.

Over the war years, my parents offered relief to at least eight different groups of people. One elderly couple stayed for six months, and their furniture was stored in our barn.

After the war my mother was finally able, and glad, to slow down a bit. She took an annual seaside holiday and went over to the United States several times. She died at age 94.


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