The next few days are all jumbled up, the house was strange and none of the familiar cups and saucers, chairs,or beds; the cupboards had none of the familiar buckets, brushes and dusters inside. One thing is clear in my mind, one morning my sister Jean and me and Mum got the tram into town to go to the Housing Office. A lot of other people, mainly mothers and children had the same idea. The year was 1943, the previous night had been one of the worst bombing nights of the war, Hendon the area around the docks was one of the most devastated areas. Shipyard workers lived close to their work on the river and the ships were the principal objects of the German bombers. The ships in the River Wear were the main source of the coal required by the industries in the south and the midlands which formed a large part of the war effort. My father had already been called up into the army as he was a very recent starter as a shipyard worker and the forces by this time were running very short of men.
My mother, my sister and I waited for what seemed a wearisome long time, at last our details were noted but no accommodation was offered. We caught the tram back to our relation’s kind hospitality. There was another matter to be sorted out, in September of that year I was due to start school, mother was looking forward to it almost as much as I was. The next day our little party was out looking for the nearest school, luckily within in few streets we came upon a large brick built school. The school yard was enclosed within a wall and the whole impression was of something permanent and solid. Mother looked at the nearby streets, were there any uncurtanned windows. Directly opposite the school she spied two blank windows upstairs, made brave by the cramped conditions of her present accommodation, she knocked politely on the front door. It was opened by a neatly dressed woman who assured mother , yes, there were three empty rooms upstairs. She agreed to let us have a look, the largest room contained a coal fire-place, the room at the back looked big enough for a double bed. There was a smaller bedroom at the front and amazingly there was a bathroom with an indoor toilet. In addition there was a back yard in which to hang the washing. Perfect! The woman had a son a couple of years older than me. Mother was reassured, clearly a respectable household.
Clearly some bureaucratic routines had to be gone through but some days later mother was given the key and our little family could move into our new home. I’m not sure how the furniture was obtained, I have the feeling some was our previous furniture and I think the council maintained a store of second hand chairs, tables and kitchen equipment. Soon we had beds and bedding, all the necessary equipment for family life to go on. A few weeks later mother took me into the school and suddenly there were lots of boys and girls filling a room. A pretty young woman appeared, sadly I don’t remember her name, she took me to a table, on the table was a piece of orange paper and a pencil. In my memory I began to draw perfect circles and squares. There is probably some fault in my memory, at the moment that’s what I have.
School was place I enjoyed, indeed I think the big idea was that children should be happy in school. I don’t remember learning to read or count, both were accomplished, it has to be said I was stronger on the words side and rather weaker on the numbers. My biggest creative achievement was playing the triangle, I was making my own special noise, music might be putting it too strongly! There was a huge chart covered in different coloured notes, memory tells me my notes were blue. The concentration required to keep time with the rest of the class was enormous and total pleasure. There was also singing, with my voice something seemed to be slightly amiss. Stories I loved, nursery rhymes too and most importantly I met my best friend. At first I didn’t know this kind blonde girl would become my best friend, I soon discovered it. To this day I remember her name, her first name was Joyce, her surname began with W, I think I will keep the rest to myself. I haven’t been in touch with her for over sixty years, however my memory is still bright.