Saturday, 1 March 2014

Era's End

In the beginning of the war, the city of Liverpool suffered considerable and devastating bomb damage. As the windows blew in on the occupants of a small terraced house in Everton, the mother of the household picked up a heavy horse hair sofa and covered her children with it,
After the all clear the family staggered off to a neighbour's house. The mother heavily in shock, the teenage daughter shivering and silent, and the ten year old boy in his pyjamas , kept warm with a chenille curtain wrap and wearing a pair of ladies high heel shoes to protect his feet from the broken glass.
As children we were brought up on this story
The mother of the story was my grandmother. The girl was my mother and the boy was my Uncle Jim.
I learnt yesterday that my Uncle Jim had just died. He was in his eighties.
I have not spoken to my uncle for many years, I always sent Christmas cards, but ill health and family  spats and the fact he lived a long way off, meant that a close relationship was not really on the cards.
Having said this....I am truly sorry that he's gone.
His death has heralded the end of an era.
It has highlighted that the last tie to my grandparents has now been severed and a life in that devastated city three quarters of a century ago seems a little more distant and unreal.
Like I said
It's the end of an era.

50 comments:

  1. Just 70ish years ago, and the UK was being bombed. It hardly seems believable to us post war babies. But it does seem as if he shrugged it off!

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  2. It must have been so terrible for the people during those bombing raids - inlaws of ours came from Liverpool sadly not with us anymore but a china dish still remains apparently so the tale goes during a raid there was this almighty blast and the kitchen window shattered - the dish was blown through the window and landed in the garden - unbroken !!

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  3. A terrible time it was, my dad was a child then & had stories too, he was away from the bombings but the odd few were dropped here. The older people at church have some fine stories also. Anyway neither the time or place my sympathies to you, xx

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  4. My paternal grandmother died on the 3rd of May 1941 when the maternity ward of the Mill Road Hospital was bombed during a raid on Liverpool killing at least 79 mainly mothers and newborn babies (the exact number of fatalities is unknown as the hospital was taking in hundreds of casualties of the bombing still underway at the time and the area was treated with lime and concreted after the recovery as they couldn't get to all the bodies) and my father then a month shy of 13, carried his younger half-brother Trevor on his back through the bombing to reach his Aunt Alice and safety. Two years later, my father lied about his age and joined the King's Royal Rifle Brigade and was posted to North Africa. I met my grandfather only once in 1964 or 5, never met Trevor but knew Auntie Alice very well as we made it a point every time we were in UK to visit her and enjoy her outstanding steak and kidney pie. She died and my father soon after so that, for us, was the end of the Liverpool connection.

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    1. My great grandfather died in the same raid
      He was in a house shelter

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    2. John/Hippo My Mum (1917-2007) was a nurse at Mill Road maternity hospital bombed in May 41 . She rarely spoke of it but was trapped under the rubble with her patients (both dead and alive)for some time .Till her death she would not go underground if she had the choice.
      Our families put up with so much - I wonder if we could be as strong

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    3. Gill.... My grandfather was a volunteer fireman and saw some terrible things
      Many of the dead were left were they they were killed when shelters had direct hits..... Apparently concrete was sometimes just poured in

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    4. Ps thank you for commenting gill

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  5. I always find it ironic that my 1st cousin once removed and myslf (both UK born) each married people of German descent.

    The futility of war...

    This planet would be a better place if "selfs" ruled, not egos.

    My condolences on the passing of your uncle.

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    1. You and the queen have something in common!

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  6. When I started to read your post and came to the word "horse hair sofa", I expected you to tell us that you'd been keeping and using this settee for decades and have only now decided to replace it with a newer model.
    I found this post quite touching. It ties in nicely with my Mum's recent guest post on my blog: http://librarianwithsecrets.blogspot.de/2014/02/guest-post-by-my-mum-good-advice_12.html

    Sorry to hear that you had not spoken to your uncle in a long time. The feeling of "too late" is not a very nice one.

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    1. I have never thought of it before but I love the idea of a " guest post"

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    2. Funnily enough, my Mum's guest posts are much more popular than any of my own posts...!

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  7. Even though you were not close, it's still a sad loss.

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  8. it is so hard to imagine living somewhere where bombs were dropped. 9/11 was the closest we ever came to that. sorry about your uncle.

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  9. So sorry for your loss. The stories live on.
    Two of my father's cousins were sent from London to live with his family near Detroit early in WWII, and stayed.

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    1. Isn't Detroit a bit rough now? Perhaps they wanted to return?

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  10. Let's hope the bombs never fall again on Englands soil. My condolences on the loss of your uncle. It's hard to lose family, even family you don't keep in touch with.

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  11. So sorry about the loss of your uncle. I took a World War II class in college and it was so interesting to learn about all of these things.

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  12. Such a horrible time ...it is really beyond the scope of my imagination to think what something like that does to a human...a little boy..
    My mum would have been 88 yesterday...and your right ..the end of an era. Lives very worth remembering and reflecting on....

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  13. War is a bastard...sorry for your loss. Time is so precious as are family members. There is just no time to waste on spats. We are the old ones now.

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  14. That was like something from a book. I'm sorry for your loss. I don't believe that "functional" families exist...at least you stayed in touch.

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  15. So many stories untold because the people involved more often than not just didn't want to talk about it.
    Jane x

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  16. So, you are really on your own now, old chap.

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    1. Well that's made me look on the bright side

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  17. Yes indeed John, there are fewer and fewer of us left who remember the war.
    Interestingly relations of my first husband took their two children to school in Liverpool and on the way home , when the sirens went, they nipped into an air raid shelter. The shelter took a direct hit and they were both killed. My first husband's mother brought up the girl (she already had twelve children of her own!) and the boy went to an aunt. Both are still alive as far as I know.

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    1. When my grandmother recovered her senses she was informed that when the family were under the sofa... There was an unexplored bomb under the kitchen floor!

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  18. Even when you haven't had contact with family for years, it's still stabilizing just to know that they're out there. Jim and his story were an important part of the past on many levels.

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  19. Sorry to hear your Uncle Jim has died. Sadly sometimes it just is too late to change the lack of a relationship with a family member. He may have enjoyed your yearly cards and thought kindly of you but have gone for the easy option of doing nothing about it. It does feel strange when that last link with our own older generation dies and we assume that mantle!
    On a cheerier note I finally cracked and looked up the Margo Channing quote....all was revealed. Reminded me of my Dorothy Parker period in my 20s. I thought she was the business!!

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    1. Margo Channing
      A gay man in a straight woman's body!

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  20. People of that era seem to have been made from resilient stuff. Sorry to hear of the loss of your Uncle JIm. x

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  21. So many connections... My mother spent two days buried in the rubble of a house after it was bombed. To the end of her days the sound of a siren made her sweat in memory. Such a hard time for so many. Commiserations on your loss.

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    1. I would like to read her story

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  22. The loss of the last patriarch is a milestone of our own. Now we are that generation.

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  24. Although Canada sent many men overseas, the everyday fear and chaos was far removed from most of our lives. I can only imagine the effect on both the individuals whose lives were completely altered and on the country's collective memory and outlook. I am sorry for the loss of your uncle. Even when we are not close, those ties provide some connection to our past.

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  25. I was only thinking the other day that I should write down my memories for my grandchildren, as I was a war baby & we lived just outside London in Kent. I remember a doodle bug dropping across the road to us & waking to look at the sky! They would never imagine rationing etc.
    Sorry for your loss, John as you say the end of an era.




    Sent from my iPad

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    1. Thanks mj
      Chris tells me that the doodlebugs flew over his hometown of broadstairs

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  26. Born in 1962, the war seemed like ancient history to me - but I was born only 17 years after the end of the war. Cast your minds back 17 years from now. 1997? It feels like yesterday! The war must have been VERY fresh in our parents' minds. Poor souls.

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    1. 1962 was a good year to be born
      I was!

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  27. So sorry Johnny for your loss and I'm happy you told us the story. Your puir wee uncle....

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  28. I am sorry John, but - just in order to cheer you up a little - I must mention that I miss-read the title as 'Arse End'. Sorry again.

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  29. May I join you in saying farewell to Uncle Jim. We shall not see their like again. Will you be attending the funeral - partly on behalf of your mother? Or is it too late for that?

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  30. Sorry for your loss John. I also was born in 1962, I grew up on stories about the Blitz as both Mum and Dad lived through it. As a kid the stories were all very thrilling, I don't think for one moment we had any inkling of how it really was and thank goodness for that is all I can say. It's very hard when another member of the family passes away no matter how distant... I think it just reminds us of our current age!

    Jo in Auckland, NZ

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  31. I am sorry to hear about your Uncle. What a special memory you have of him and your family.

    cheers, parsnip

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  32. What a story. The strength of mothers for their children.
    Thank you for sharing and sorry for your loss. X

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  33. how can you lose someone when they live in your heart and mind as i am sure he will

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  34. Bless. It also means that you are now the older generation!! xxxxxx

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