Thursday, July 5, 2007

Bradford Sept. 1945: Post-War Penpals, pt 3

This is a transcript of a letter sent to my aunt from Bradford in Yorkshire, September 29, 1945. The original letter is in my possession. In the interest of security, should the author be living, this transcript may have certain details omitted. Also, some slang terms which are no longer appropriate have been corrected and appear in brackets. If you were the author or were involved in pen friends from this area please comment or email.

[street omitted]
Lidget Green

Dear "Bobbie,"

I received your most welcome letter this morning and am replying at once. I was very surprised to hear from you. One of my friends told me that she would get me a pen friend, but I thought she had forgotten. I suppose it was Ruth who got your address wasn't it?

I must now describe myself. I am 5'7" tall and weigh 9 1/2 stones. I am 16 years old in Dec, on the 20th. When is your birthday? I have dark brown hair and hazel eyes.

Now I will describe my family. It consists of Mother, Father, (who has three butcher's shops) Pauline, who is 17 years old, me, Alan, 13 yrs. and Anne Shirley, who is 6 yrs old. So you see we are a large family. Have you any brothers and sisters?

My hobbie is collecting pen-friends. I write to a girl in Texas, two in Indiana, a sailor in Chicago, a girl in France and a boy in Russia. Where does your Scottish boy live?

Please tell me all about your school, the subjects you take, and your town. I should love to know. Please also tell me what your "school chorus" is. Is it a choir or a dance team??? I should think it will be the former. Pauline was in the school choir before she left and I am in the Dramatic Group and Verse Speaking Choir.

I go to Grange High School for Girls. Pauline also went there until last term when she left. She is going next month to college to train for teaching. Her college has been evacuated from London to Durham and is going back to London this term. They are having to wait, however, until the roof, which was blitzed has been repaired. Alan goes to Grange High School, but he is in the boy's department, of course.

I have passed my School Certificate this year. This is the entrance examination to college and is similar to graduation. Pauline has passed her Higher School Cert: which is the entrance exam to the University. It is a very difficult examination. I am staying at school this year and am in the Highest form "The Sixth." We prefects have a study of which we are very proud and no member of the school is permitted there without permission. Some members of the sixth have forms which they look after. My form is 4 geographical. They are not a bad lot. Their form mistress is Miss Stone, and I like her very much. So I am quite content. My chum, however has got a set of rotters and is miserable.

What uniform do you have? Ours in navy and green. We wear navy tunics and green blouses. The sixth wear navy skirts, green blouses, and school ties. These are green and navy. Our blazers are navy, bound with green braid and with the monogram on the breast pocket.

On October 6th I am going with the school to Cherry Burton. It is a very small village 50 miles due East of Bradford. About 48 girls are going and four mistresses. We are going picking potatoes and onions. Pauline and I went last year to Lincolnshire picking "spuds." It nearly broke our backs but we got plenty of the harvest in. This year our school is going to a different site. It is a large house where we are to stay with five bathrooms. This will be some improvement on last year's camp, as all the girls scrambled for the one bathroom and there was a free fight, nearly every morning. Finally, Ruth and I washed outside in a morning, at the pump. Gosh! It was cold.

Ruth (this is not the one you know) and I are going this time, not as pickers, but as orderlies. We will be supervising the lower forms and helping in the preparation of meals. The lower forms are thrilled at the thought of going to camp. They will soon be disillusioned when they have been there a few days. It really is hard work. We get up at 6:30 A.M. and go to bed at 8 p.m.

Daddy has gone to York today to see the horse-racing. York has a very beautiful cathedral which is being eaten by death-watch beetles. It is extremely old.

Pauline, Alan and I have been to Newcastle-on-Tyne for a fortnight. We had a lovely time. From Newcastle we visited the coast. All the concrete defences have been taken away and we were able to go on the sands once more and eat ice cream (Ice cream was banned until December 1944).

What happened on your V.J. Day? All the lights were on in the city and the Town Hall was lit up. There was a band playing and everyone was very merry. I can hardly believe the war is over after all this time. I think that we were more relieved when Germany gave in than when Japan did for we knew that we would have no more raids. The worst of our raids was on Aug. 31st 1942. First the [Germans] came over with flares, then they dropped incendiaries and stirred the fires up with H.E.'s

My subjects at school are:-
Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Physiology, Anatomy, First Aid, Applied Maths, Pure Maths.

Last year, for school cert: I took:-
Biology, History, English Language, Maths, Geography, French, English Literature.

When I leave school I am going to train for physiotherapy.

Well, I think I have written enough for one letter. I will post this straight away and then I will have a reply sooner. I am sending you a photo. of myself (I really can't help it!!!)

Well cheerio till I hear from you again,
Marie xx

P.S. Please write soon.

H.E.s - High Explosives
Sixth Form - Previously optional secondary education for examination preparation
Death-watch Beetles - Wood borers
V.J. Day - Victory in Japan

Links to sites with more information about items mentioned in the letter:

The Blitz
Cathedral at York
Newcastle-on-Tyne (no link)

Link to posts in the series:

Personal History: Post-War Penpals, pt 1
Dumbarton July 1945: Post-War Penpals, pt 2
Dumbarton October 1945: Post-War Penpals, pt 4
Dumbarton Nov 1945: Post-Was Penpals, pt 5
Bradford Dec 1945: Post-War Penpals, pt 6

1 comment:

Scribbit said...

What a piece of history you have, if you get any responses I'd love to hear how this story ends.