“History may be written in the books of the famous – but it is created by the lives of everyday individuals”
THE STORY OF BILL
Just when I was going down to Deal, to place the little Boy on the Desk of the first Officer I met and tell him to look after him until I had found a home for him, things began to change. I went for a break with a Fellow-Marine and his German Wife and Child. They had been in the same married quarters in Wilhelmshaven, and we had kept in touch. He was a Corporal, older than Bill. And so we had not really seen too much of each other. Erika and Alan Bowker from HEBDEN BRIDGE.
Whilst there I answered an advert in the Courier which had asked for ‘help needed’. Rooms to let in exchange for housework. A long Story cut short (it is all in my life Story) I found us a home in LUDDENDEN FOOT. Sitting-room, small kitchen, bedroom and use of proper Bathroom. A Palace after what I had seen so far in England. The Sitting-room was really the breakfast-room in a 17 Room Victorian House, to be cleaned and looked after now by me.
Mr. and Mrs. Grenshaw, Ida and Cecil, were wonderful and we remained good friends until they died. We lived in their Cottage, I think, for about 2 years. ‘The Woodlands’ was a lovely home to come to as Bill was finally discharged. He was now a Civilian and Ex-Marine. Cecil and Ida lent us the money to go to Germany after Bill’s discharge, so that we could go for 4 weeks before he started Work. When his discharge money came through we paid it immediately back. And we had a wonderful Holiday amongst ‘OUR AIN FOLK’. Bill was entitled to that payment of £75, because he had signed on for another 3 years.
When we came back Bill started work immediately as a Mill worker. This Area existed and lived by its Textile Mills, hundreds and hundreds of them. He learned, and became a ‘Doubler’. It had to do with doubling, or twisting the Strands of Yarn into a 3- or 4-ply yarn.
Bill found it very hard to understand these West Yorkshire people. When he was asked by a Colleague to come with him to the Canteen for his meal. This was Sandwiches in those days and the cooked Meal in the evening at home. After they had eaten their Sandwiches Bill asked his fellow worker why they had chosen to sit amongst the foreign men. He had not understood a word they had been saying. He was told THESE were the English, the Poles, Russian, Ukrainians, Italians were all sitting in the other Canteen.
Oh, the way of the World. This Man, my Bill, was a Yorkshire Man, and tremendously proud of it. But this Yorkshire was so different than his in the North, the Shires and Dales. Agriculture. This here, in West Yorkshire were Mills and the people spoke Mill language.
“Get out of t’Gayt”, meant please let me pass in any other Language. And many, many such words, phrases, and meanings had to be learned. But, my Lad had learned German, why should he not be able to learn West Yorkshire.
His Father, whenever he came to visit, went for his ‘Pint’ alone when Bill was working. And when I asked him on his return, if he had enjoyed it, he answered with sorrow “eeh, Lass, it would have been nicer if I had understood what they were talking about”.
Bill stayed about a year at this Mill, managed the job well and liked the people he worked with. Then we heard about a Cottage (one up and one down, back to back). That was the name of that type of dwelling. It was up a Hill, just below a Church, called BLACKWOOD HALL.
It would become vacant as the Polish people in it were going to Canada. Their application for ‘the new World’ had been successful. They would emigrate. This Cottage belonged to another Mill and they wanted to let it to their own workers. Good workers were hard to get and such a Cottage was a good draw. And it was ‘tied’ which meant the men would not leave so easily. And as we wanted to buy one or two things from the Couple, which they could not take with them to Canada, they spoke up for Bill, and he got an Interview and then the Job. As a Labourer in the ‘Dewel Hole’, whatever that meant at that Moment. So we had, finally, our own four Walls. And the Toilet 25 yards away in an outhouse. Well, you can’t have everything at once!
A Cubbyhole under the Stairs, a living room and one bedroom which had no Ceiling but the Rafters. The first House in a Block of eight. Four to the front, four at the back. Your Sitting room and Bedroom Walls were the same with your neighbours round the Back.
Friends we had made, Phillis and Roy Hopkinson, helped out by giving one or two things, like Carpet and Rug, which they replaced in their own home. Good friends did these things spontaneously. And so, after about 2 years or so, we had our own Home again. We were poor, very poor, but also very happy, as we loved each other.
I have an entry in my Diary during these days where I write about missing my Bill so very much because he had gone back to work after a bout of sickness with a very bad Flu. He was Husband to me, Daddy to Peter, but he was much more than that under our Circumstances. He was MUM, DAD, SISTER, BROTHER, COUSIN and friend to me who was very homesick at the time. And in all these parts he was very, very good. I am not just saying this now, after his recent suffering. These Statements were put into my Diaries in those far off days. If he but knew it, he was 6 feet tall by all manner of things.
Bless you, for being an angel, just when it seemed, that Heaven was not for me.
Winston Churchill spoke of England and America as being “two great nations separated by a common language”. How about people from two parts of the great County of Yorkshire being unable to understand each other? How about that Bill was segregated among the Englishmen and still being a segregated as if he had been among the ‘foreigners’. Food for thought, indeed…
For myself, I hope that today’s post has, in some way, encouraged you – Dear Reader – to reflect on the life journeys you have and are undertaking.
As well as those undertaken by those who are near and dear to YOU.
You are who you are because of these journeys.
Where is YOUR journey taking you next, I wonder?
Oh, and by the way,
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