Tuesday, 8 May 2012
VE DAY, 67 years ago
I was 12 and I can remember thinking that now the war was over I'd be able to get the bus into Croydon and buy some red, white and blue striped ribbon. Shades of the 1936 Coronation, I think it must have been. But of course nothing would happen that fast so no ribbon that day!
All the parties passed me by - no being allowed to gad off into London to mix with Grown Ups... We didn't have a radio so I didn't hear anything of the celebrations and, of course, no TV. (I also missed the Glen Miller broadcasts.) Life went on as normal, rationing, shortages, just no air raid warnings. The first time I heard a factory siren I nearly fell off my chair. The war was over, why is the siren going???
I know we had a bonfire in the middle of the road although how enough unwanted items were found which could be burned I have no idea. Just the idea of a huge bonfire - and the light of the flames from it, after years of Not Showing a Light - was heady. There was a large patch of burned road surface but no-one cared.
Then there was the street party for the children. People didn't have cameras so readily in Those Days so this is a professional photographer's effort at getting everyone into the picture, taken from an upstairs window as you can see from the out-of-focus window sill. I'm sitting in the chairs which are facing the photographer, the second child on the left, with small plaits. How I wanted long plaits which were 'moveable' not the stubby little chunks I had! (I wanted patent leather shoes with ankle straps but never got those either - not long-lasting enough.) I can remember the names of lots of the adults but not that many of the children. The 'legs' in the top right-hand corner are standing about where my home was so possibly some of them belong to my family. No railings, all gone for scrap years ago. I wonder what the food was since everything was rationed?
(The photo is small because, somehow, I've done something to the camera which means I get an unwanted orange date stamp when I download to the computer. I don't know how to get rid of it, no instructions for that in the manual...)
About 15 years ago I used to sit in Aylesbury reference library and make notes from the bound copies of the Bucks Herald in 1945. I made an edited version of the newspaper which was published on 11th May. 'VE Day. Aylesbury goes gay in celebrating Victory in Europe' was the headline. Midnight dancing round the bonfire in Market Square....under cover of darkness someone had...painted the lions in red and blue respectively, the legs of Baron Chesham were painted white, the lions later had V signs added; but there was an undercurrent of restraint because the war with Japan was not yet over...
I can't find a photo of either Baron Chesham or the lions (only a very mini photo of the latter in a long view). Not having a very good day with illustrations. But no Elf and Safety, council or police restrictions on a street party.