My mother always said at twelve I was very mature and big for my age, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t nervous when I got off the train in Norwich to meet Mrs Ann.
I came from London where all the bombs were. Lived on Trans Road, aptly named because our little terrace house was sandwiched between two main railway lines. My mum was a seamstress, and my dad and older brother were in the army fighting for King and country. I attended Hammersmith Girls School in the borough of Skirt-on.
My mother had told me I was an evacuee, it was something to do with a special secret mission called operation Pied Piper. She had packed a few clothes in my suitcase, and I was told to carry my gas mask and identify card at all times. Mummy let me take my most favourite teddy called Bobby.
It was May 1942, America has entered the war, after Pearl Harbour and were definitely part of the East Anglia community. There were 50,000 US personnel stationed within a 30 mile radius of Norwich. They completely change the cultural fabric of the area. The bought with them coca-cola, popcorn, bubble gum, peanut butter, donuts, nylons, swing and the jitterbug. Norfolk would never be the same again…
Mrs Ann said we were going to a wedding. She told me to call them auntie Phyllis and uncle Barry but they weren’t my real relations. Uncle John and auntie Sandra was going to tell us at the reception about the American in East Anglia, Mrs Ann said he was an expert!
Mrs Ann told me to say hello to auntie Lana, who she hadn’t seen for a while, auntie Lilly-jane who was new to the our reception and to thank Auntie Lucy for bring in all her war stuff.
The food was great, Bobby liked talking to all the ladies who had dressed up, and all the items they had bought in from the war. There was even a pretend machine gun and a wind up radio with a kite as an aerial. Uncle John said it was called a “Gibson girl”, because it had the same shape as my waist!
Then the ladies had a fashion show and our photographer, Auntie Jules took pictures. The outfits were lovely and Mrs Ann said I should take part, as I had borrowed some clothes and jewellery from her.
There were 2 uncles and 24 aunties at the reception!
You know I’m sure some of the aunties were actually uncles, but Mrs Ann told me not to be so silly!