| It Has Been A Rough Year |
I am adding this additional chapter to my introduction, because after I initially wrote the introduction, it was very difficult to come back to it and try to make sense of all that I have experienced through the various stages of my life and the trials that I have endured or overcome. I wish ...
| The Birth of Charles Leonard Wiggins |
The story has already been written for awhile on my blog "From the heart of Praise, Prayer and Perseverance. 0; Here is a link to that posting, Below are the pictures of the blessed event.
http://fromthehea rt-dotwigg.blogsp ot.com/2008/03/an other-2-prayer-re quest-answered.ht ml
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Alan's Story > Chapters > 11. Alan's War. 11.
| Date Range: 01/01/1940 To 05/08/1945 ||
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He came to the school to pick up two three containers full of kitchen leftovers. When we had turnips or 'pom' he would have four or five. He would take it back to the house and boil it up in a wood fired boiler that was in the outhouse. When it had cooled he would mix in some corn and other things and feed it to the ducks, geese, rabbits and chickens that he kept in the 350'x100' garden.
Can you imagine how wonderful it was? We had our own zoo. You could sit in the pens and play with the rabbits and the ducklins. We soon found out that you kept an eye on the geese and some of the chickens, but we were learning about places that we had never been to before.The garden was a veritable farmyard and the racket some morniongs was dreadful.
The chicken runs and rabbit hutches were along the side of the garden. In the center he grew vegetables in raised beds. These were to supplement the tomatoes, cabbages,beets, peas, beans, carrots and spinich and herbs that he got from a large allotment that he cultivated in the sidings in Goreham. The raised beds were made out of railway sleepers, what else! and at the end of them was a double row of rhubarb, which provided seemingly endless repeats of puddings and pies, until in the end you did have to say "Not rhubarb again!"
Bottling meant that we could have the red sticks December to December.
Taking a side road for a moment, how poor are those who did not have puddings and pies (almost sounds like a quotation from Dickens) and what a lovely word is Rhubarb. No wonder Monty Python like it so much. I can't remember if we had spam; probably wasn't invented then.
One bed was surrounded by herb plants, but mostly mint that were grown in sunken chimney pots which made a mint jelly when combined with apple. Thyme of course, and lemon balm from which Auntie made a tea, and sorrel which we hated. Tasted like soapy flannels but was supposed to be good for the blood.. Mine was red but Auntie kept trying to turn it green.
Uncle's day off, which were few, he would spend time at his allotment. If Auntie couldn't find him anywhere, she would ring up the signal box at the sidings at Goreham Junction, and leave a message for the signalman to look out for him. We were with him one day, weeding the rows of carrots, when somebody started blowing blasts on a trumpet or something. It was quite good; sounded like 'Come to the cookhouse door.' When uncle heard it he said "You boys keep on with the weeding and I'll bring you back a glass of lemonade each." and off he would stride through the shoulder high grass towards the signalbox.
We sat down because it was hot, but he was soon back carrying two glasses.
"Your Auntie wants us to pick up some blue bags on the way home and see if we can get some soap. Soap was rationed but some shops made their own and youcould tell them by the smell. Ghastly it was.
On the way back we went up to see the signalman, Mr Beckman, who uncle said had worked for the railway all of his working life which was thirty five years. He looked a lot older than thirty five, and he spoke ever so funny and I couldn't understand a word that he said. Uncle had to repeat everything. He was asking if we wanted a go on his bugle, and we had a blow but hardly stirred the grass. He took it off Chris and played 'Cookhouse' again and we then realised that it was all he could play, but it didn't matter.
When we left uncle said the Mr Beckman spoke a deep Essex dialect and that he couldn't understand half of what he said either. He found that if he just kept nodding and grunting and doing mime, that it usually sufficed. They did sound a bit like two grunting apes in a cage, but I'm sure somebody knew every word he said somewhere.
The nearest town of any size, apart from Sudbury, which was more a farmers town, was Colchester, and every now and again, and by that I mean perhaps once a month, aunt Edna and mom would
get uncle to drive them in on a shopping expedition.
They went to get the little extra's that made life bearable, but even so they could live fairly well without the big town and shops and their prices.
Every day the milkman and the breadman called at the houses in Railway Row. Aunt Edna baked a lot of her own bread, but there was sometimes a day when she was short and the breadman was there with his horse and cart about seven. The milkman arrived about seven thirty. Once or sometimes twice a week a man selling wet fish would stop outside the houses and ring a large hand bell. The melting ice from his cart would leave a large puddle mark in the dust which cats and flies found interesting. Another horse drawn van selling groceries would come past a couple of times a week, followed the same day, but in the afternoon, by one that sold everything from candles and washboards to mustard powder by the scoup to hair pins by the handful. If you were prepared to pay you could get an ice man to call, but as most people cooked every day and milk lasted longer if you boiled it, he wasn't seen often.
Eggs were fresh from the garden but at Romford we had a bucket of eggs that we kept in the dark down in the shelter. They were kept in a solution of isinglass which kept them from going bad but they had a peculiar taste. The eggs at aunties were at the most, a day old, and what we didn't use would sometimes go to neighbours.
A man called sometimes who was on a kind of motorcycle with a workbox built out over the front wheel. He sharpened knives and tools on a stone that was turned by a chain connected to pedals over the front wheel on a cross bar. He would open the front of the box and inside he had all sorts of tools and shoe lasts on which he would place your shoe or boot and put new soles or heels. He kept tin tacks in his mouth while he was repairing the shoes and taking one from between his lips, would drive it into the sole in the right place with one blow. We counted the tacks one day, although they were going as we were counting and I made twenty six and Chris made twenty.
He could also repair carpet sweepers and Singer sewing machines for which he carried spares. The sing on his work box was a Singer sign. It was shiny and was covered in a wax and we would stand there and scrape it off with our finger nail while we watched him work. He didn't seem to mind. He was a 'Jack of all Trades' my mother said.
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