By Janet Curme (nee Saunders)
I have many memories of Bibury as a small child escaping the bombs raining down on Portsmouth and going to live in Modena Villa with Will and Bee Adams who were friends of my Grandmothers from her time as a teacher at the local school.
I was a private evacuee staying with people who were very kind to me, Bee Adam was my 'second mother' and life at the garage business that Bee and her husband, Will, ran was very different from being an only child loving in city centre a flat in Portsmouth. When I left Portsmouth, I had two toys, a couple of dolls named Ann and Beauty. I remember my mother saying, "do you want to dress them before you go, as they only have their nighties on?". I said that I would take them as they are.
My parents drove me to Bibury in their Austen 7 car using some of their precious petrol allowance. They dropped me off and just disappeared, and I was told afterwards that my mother cried all the way home. My father was a Special Constable and after the war, when I visited the flat where my two Grandmothers lived in Portsmouth, I noticed a truncheon on the wall in place of a cuckoo clock. I recall that my father did a lot of Fire Watching during the Portsmouth Blitz.
Bee & Will Adams
I spent my first night on two chairs pushed together in the sitting room. The house had a big garden back and front with chickens, a large dog called Major and a mottled cat called Tiny who kept having kittens and hiding them. No-one took much notice of me and I looked after myself. At supper they got me to eat spaghetti saying it was worms and I was always given a small glass of cider. There was a Jewish family staying in the same house, who had escaped from Germany and an old man called Mr Botting. I got his name wrong and called him 'Mr Bottom’, but he did not seem to mind. I never heard him speak and he always sat at the head of the table at mealtimes. Nobody took much notice of me and I can't remember being unhappy.
I joined the village school and ran wild with Margaret Lees, Keith Beam and the evacuee kids from the Pike. Each morning the London evacuee kids passed the house and I was pushed in amongst them for the walk to school down Water Lane and past Arlington Row. I was good at jumping the gaps in the wall outlets to get to the river. When I go to the village school now, I notice the line in the playground where the boys' loos used to be. I'm in the middle row centre in the photo below.
On Empire Day we walked around the square behind the Union Jack with the villagers watching us; how proud we were. I remember names - Gwen Arkle and the Smiths, John Adams and his sister. My parents visited rarely as petrol was only meant for business purposes but when they came father would help with the harvest and Harold Adams repaid him with a pack of homemade butter and a fowl. My teacher was Miss Hearn who lodged with a lady just past the post office who had suffered a stroke.
The school was scary at first, I was only six and there were a lot of horrid boys from London staying in the village. I was able to read and had to sit on a desk with three horrid boys facing me on the opposite seat. They could not read and seemed to have no intention of learning. One of them was called Sid Smith and he was the ink monitor. Every week my mother would send £1 by post for my keep and a tube of sweets. In those days it was a real pen with a nib and an inkwell. This horrid Sid would give me an empty inkwell unless I gave him a sweet. I dreaded Mondays and worried the Sunday before. The first lesson was reciting psalms and I'd never heard of them. Children were picked out to recite and I was terrified it would be me.
Opposite Modena Villa was a large area of allotments fronted by stone mushrooms and a huge stone bath - which I was told was an ancient coffin, and which made a wonderful boat. Old George Adams from the Catherine Wheel came at 6.00pm every day to listen to the news. There was a camp of servicemen at the Pike and I remember dozens of soldiers sitting on the grassy bank outside the Catherine Wheel drinking beer. There was one bus per week to the nearest big town; 'Ciren' as we called it.
|Phyllis Adams - Policeman's Wife