Time to clear out the cupboard, where we have hoarded things for years, and needs to
be cleared out, a job I have intended to do for a long time.
I start with two china dolls which have been around since 1948, relics of my sisters
childhood, and my teenage years, memories come flooding back. One doll I put to one side
along with the many dolls clothes knitted by my mother and I over the years. The second one
I could not resist giving a quick hug before placing her on the bed and turning my attention to
the contents of the envelope that accompanied her.
1945, the end of the war, celebrations were over and I had started work. Rationing
was still in force, clothing coupons and coal....it seemed everything was as bad or worse than
1946 to 7 prisoners of war were allowed to leave their camp and were seen in parks
and the city streets. My friend and I were walking in the park on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Two prisoners of war spoke to her as we passed where they sat. She had been chatting to
them before, but had been afraid to tell anyone. They seemed nice young men, very polite,
from Germany. And on arriving back home told my mother about the chat we'd had. She
immediately said if we saw them again I had to bring them home.
This I did the following Sunday when we saw them. They spoke quite good English
and were a bit nervous at meeting my mother. She was warmly thanked for the teatime meal
called and accepted her invitation to return again the next week and bring two friends with
them. As the weeks went by, Sunday became their day. Dinner and tea for the four of them
plus our family of six. Gone were the Sunday mornings when we slept late. By 9 o'clock they
were knocking on the door, arguing whose turn it was to mix the Yorkshire pudding. They
saved their tea and sugar ration given to them during the week for their lunch break on the
farm, picked up pieces of coal from the road which had dropped from the lorries and gave it
to my mother.
Amongst the four of them...Manfred...we called him Fred, he was the youngest having
been conscripted into the army when he was 16. His 21st birthday was coming up. My
mother somehow got the ingredients to make him a cake. He was overwhelmed. Permission
was obtained for them to spend Christmas with us. They made slippers for my mother and I,
rope from washing lines for the soles and material tops with a pom pom. Push along toys for
my younger brother and sister, biscuits from Germany for my older two brothers. Christmas
1947 has always been one to remember.
January 1948, a parcel arrives for my sister from Germany, the doll I had first put
onto the bed, and enclosing a letter from Fred's parents. Her legs had been broken in the post
and she had a chipped thumb. The dolls hospital in Newcastle replaced the legs...which do
not match the body, but they couldn't match the arm. Fred was reluctant to return home to
Bavaria in the Russian zone but my mother persuaded him to see his family.
Correspondence finally ceased from him, along with the beautiful silk stockings which we
occasionally received from his family owned hosiery factory...we thought this probably due
to the fact that the Cold War was imminent.
Considering my father had been killed in an air raid in Bristol just before my 10th
birthday, alot of people thought the POW's should not have been welcome at our home in
Newcastle, we'd returned to in 1941. They stopped visiting! My mother's comment - "But for
the grace of God it could have been my sons!"
Both dolls will now be passed on to my grandchildren along with the letter from
Fred's parents, thanking my mother for making him welcome.
As for clearing out the cupboard? There's another day coming!