Grow Old Disgracefully is a registered charity that has been running a national competition called the Over 90s Short Story Prize. The winners have now been announced and are shown on online at www.growolddisgracefully.co.uk. One entry was by Olive Mellors who now lives in Cotgrave, below her letter speaks of her childhood and growing up in Nottingham during World War II:
I was born in March 1930 in a little thatched cottage in Clifton, Nottingham. Dad went on his racing bike in a snowstorm to fetch the midwife. We later moved to Ruddington to live next to my Grandparents where Hazel, my sister, was born 18 months later.
Dad played trombone in the Ruddington band and most Saturdays in the summer we would all go with him to watch the band play at garden fetes. Each year they played on the village green at the Wakes. They always came after Goose Fair. I look at The Green now and wonder how all the rides and sideshows found the space.
When I was seven, we moved to North Road, Ruddington, which had a lovely big garden. Dad was a very keen gardener, he taught me a lot, which I still remember.
When I was 9, War was declared. being a small village, it did not affect us much. During a night air raid, we would get dressed by the light of the Ack Ack guns at Clifton.
Cookery was my highlight of the week at school on Kirk Lane, it lasted all day and I nearly always came top! I still love cooking. How Mum managed to find all the ingredients during rationing I will never know.
Dad went to the cattle market to buy 100-day old chicks which all, bar one, turned out to be cockerels. Once one pinned me in the pen corner, fiery little things.
Each household had to register with a greengrocer, as Dad grew so much produce, we did not have to. We kept goats which of course had Kids, that was the first animal I saw being born. Mum taught us to milk them, so we had plenty of milk. We would take them a walk-up Brook Hill where they would stand on their hind legs and eat the Copper Beach tree leaves.
We had numerous rabbits which kept us in meat, I still love rabbit. Mum cured the skins with Saltpetre which she stretched onto boards. When dry she would line Pixie hoods and gloves with the soft fur. We had chickens and ducks for eggs, Peg the dog, two cats and Micky the budgie who would say “Jerries coming, have you got your gas mask!”
A railway line ran at the bottom of our garden where a siding was added allowing trains to pull into whilst troop trains passed. The drivers would roll coal down the bank for us. Being rationed we were very grateful for it.
When the evacuees came, I had to go to the Church House for schooling. On the way home I would pass Mrs Gregory’s Fish & Chip shop, (still call it that). On Mondays, the window was full of crisp’s, I longed for some but had no money. Home I went for a slice of bread and jam with a glass of Corona pop. Got changed and started feeding all the animals as our parents were still at work.
Olive Mary Mellors nee’ Wright.