City Authorities would regularly send people (women with small children)
out of the City, into the country for safety. Mother would go with much
grumbling and complaining. She was a City person.
The train would be packed to the limit with American soldiers coming
and going somewhere. Every seat was taken, every foot of ground had
someone crammed into it. As a small child, I could not step over the
rucksacks or around the people, so the soldiers would pass me down the
corridor, from hand to hand, with my mother trying to keep up. And they
gave me chewing gum! I learned to say Any gum, chum? for
a stick of Wrigleys Spearmint gum.
Those yanks! I thought
they were the grandest, most glamorous people in the world.
Easy smiling, handsome, glamorous looking, movie-star sounding, generous
Yanks! With oranges and chocolate bars in their backpacks, silk stockings
in their hip pocket, chewing gum (Wrigleys Juicy Fruit) in their
hands. All to be given away, to us, if only we can get to talk to them.
If only your young and pretty aunt will go dancing with one, and then
invite him home for tea.
They aren't like us English. To be proper we must be standoffish, serious,
and quiet. (Children should be seen and not heard). And we shouldnt
want or take more than one of anything.
But the Yanks! Their uniforms are smooth and beautiful; their movements
are relaxed, spacious. They take up lots of space, just standing there.
They have wonderful accents. Sometimes hard to understand, but wonderful
to hear when they draaawl their words. It sounds soft, unthreatening,
friendly. They talk easily, loudly to each other - they laugh easily,
out loud, even in public places!
They like children! How astonishing - they actually like children! Talk
to us, tousle our hair, sit us on their laps, tell us were cute
(whats cute??), give us sticks of gum. And we dont have
to save it - we can eat it. Before dinner! And they dont get angry
if we ask for more. Or if we hang around them, stay close, touch them.
This must be what having a father is like.
Age 5 - in love. Head-over-heels madly in love - with Yanks.