Tuesday, 1 March 2011

My Mum ...in the 1940's

Marjory Isobel Bullock/Watt ...1917 - 2000

This decade was filled with mixed emotions for Mum It started with such promise …she was due to be married to her one true love but sadly John was taken from her before it could happen … she managed to survive this terrible time and took her mind off what had happened by concentrating on her singing and joining the world of work for the first time in her life …something that a middle class only daughter, in Scotland, was not expected to do unless it was volunteering to do a few hours for charity or in a hospital, or at this time, maybe War Work.

She lost close friends as many did …sang for the Polish soldiers who were stationed near by …finally left home for a spell so she could continue working and have some independence …this time on a military base in England … then discovered that her mother had sold up the family home and followed her to England. She met and was captivated by my father, a Canadian parachutist at the base … learnt that he was returning home to a wife and child so never told him that she was probably pregnant. In March 1947, she gave birth to me, which shocked the whole family, as she had told no one, only put on a few pounds and cycled everywhere up to eight months. Finally she let her mum find a flat, change Mum's surname, move in with us and then organize her life so that she could keep me and give me a home, forsaking old friends, in case they ever learnt the truth that she had never married. …. but then, to test her strength once more, she nearly lost me to Polio as the decade was nearing its end. (Written about in the post below )

This beautiful woman never looked at another man for the rest of her life and dedicated herself to making sure I was happy and had all that I needed. …it is now that I really appreciate what she did for me.

Thank you Mum.


This is not exactly family history because it’s me in the photos but it is recording a time that was important in my life …and it is over 60 years ago.!!

The first photo must have been when I was nearly one, early 1948, and the other, two years later. For the first three years of my life I lived with Mum and Nana, in the down stairs flat of a house that had seen better days, This was before my Nana purchased a Victorian terraced property, opposite a park, which was to be my home for the following 18 years.

I remember discovering a hole in the kitchen floor and peering in … and then a wooden chair being placed over it to stop me coming to harm. I remember Mum looking after the Lipmann’s cat and she and I having to go up to their flat, only to discover a pile, or as it seemed to me, a mountain, of stale and mouldy bread in a corner of their hall. I remember lowered voices when it was ever discussed..

It is only with retrospect, and age, that I now suspect why the ‘mountain’ existed. The Lipmann’s were always nice to Mum and talked to me too but generally kept themselves to themselves. It was the late 1940’s, their surname suggested that they were Jewish but although their clothes were showing much wear and tear, they seemed have a pride in their appearance. Putting all things together in my mind, I now wonder whether they had managed to survive a camp or similar hardship, where any food was rare and prized, no matter the freshness. The habit to treasure any crumb of food would have been hard to break and to throw anything away would have been almost impossible. … it really is the only explanation, as I remember Nana remarking on how clean and tidy the rest of their home was..

These things I remember, even though I was so young yet a two months stay in hospital, around the age of 18 months, separated from my mother by a glass wall, leaves me with no memories at all.

Between these two photos I fell ill … according to the doctor …with a cold or influenza at worst. My ex-Theatre Sister Nana was not satisfied and had me rushed to the nearest hospital …she was a force to be reckoned with when it came to medical matters and her intuition was right. Within a few hours I was diagnosed with Polio and put into isolation. It is believed that it was only her quick action that enabled me to make a complete recovery …well almost, as I walked like a penguin for the next three years and my feet would often take up the ‘quarter to three’ position when tired …even well into my twenties. Certainly there would never have been such a cute photo of me at nearly three but for her…many children who managed to survive the terrible epidemics around that time, remained paralyzed and those that were confined to a chair or walked with the aid of ‘leg irons’ were thought lucky.

Thanks for dropping by ...Take Care xx