This was found in a note book in the spare room at 146, Campkin Road, Cambridge, after Auntie Marie’s death (George & Marie Cruden were my great aunt and uncle- they lived at various addresses including Oxford Road, Cambridge and finally Campkin Road, Cambridge – George was my grannies brother [Connie Toller nee Broom]
A Garden of Memories by George Cruden
At the bottom of my garden are large trees; in my garden more trees, but these are fruit (the latter belonging to me, but not the former). Along this fringe of trees runs a stream, or ditch, which divided my bungalow from a cornfield at some time. Unfortunately the cornfield has gone, but we now have birds – birds of all kinds – birds which rob me of a good deal of fruit; in fact I never get a cherry from the cherry tree, which has thousands on it by early June. Alas, I have to be content with a pound of imported ones usually from the shop down the road. Realising after many years that it is necessary to compromise on some matters I have given in, but not without a certain amount of frustration, mark you; after all, does a bird really know what grows wild and what I cultivated? Perhaps they think we are robbing them of Nature’s food. Every time I have killed one of these birds in the past I have been filled with remorse. The dawn chorus, which during May and June begins about three-thirty a.m. also needs some re-adjustment of life.
However, I love my garden, and to potter about in the shade of the fruit trees, for instance, one remembers. One remembers, but does not plan; pleasant memories come crowding in of those years that have gone, of those people one knew, the places visited. For most of us, fortunately, we remember the most pleasant things above all, the sunny days especially. Why is it that we seem to have had March all summer years ago? I have to search my depths to remember fog or snow; it was there, certainly.
Being a Londoner, and having been born at the turn of the century I certainly can remember fog – those cobblestone streets, the smell of leather, horses, stables and blacksmith’s shops (I still love the smell of leather, of which we now see little.)
These letters belong to my aunt Joan Punter ( nee Toller ). These contain interesting home front information and political views of the war. They were written by my Great Aunt Marie to her husband George Cruden. ( both now deceased. )
In several of these letter Marie refers to George as Peter Precious- as she was a Catholic from Ireland and didn't want to introduce him to her family as George ( the English kings name) she called him Peter.
Saturday the 25th April. [c. 1941]
138. Harrow Road.
My Dearest and Best
was pleased to get your letter this morning, of course, and was unhappy at the thought of London being in such a terrible state. Fancy the Shell Mex House being down- heavens what a crash that must have been, and they had super-shelters under there to. Whenever is all this awful destruction going to stop. Jerry seems to get every damn thing his way, and the powers that be do not seem at all capable of being able to relise what to do about it. Its to be hoped there are no Quislings in the government or in Offices. The falling back from North Africa, and gradually being chucked out again from Greece is worrying me very much.
More so, when ther seems to be no effort on the part of the Government to explain it - and poor old General Wavel is thrown aside now for someone else. It seem preposterous that such a thing could be done after the galant and brilliant achievement in getting his troops to the north in that record time. I have said, and I still maintain, that he was not backed up with either munitions or men to hold those places and to have allowed Jerry to have landed in such hugh numbers and at such speed, is surely where someone is grossly at fault. The watch was not strict enough obviously, and even though troopcarriers were used to a great extent, ther was surely some means either from the Navy or the airforce there to have prevented to a very great degree. It worries me terribly. They are nearer now and look very much to me as though we shall be bottled up between the Meditteranean and the Suez. The Conservative Government have been traitorous without a doubt. Either their ambassadors or Agents have not been doing their job properly, but letting the Germans filter through all our possessions in a disgraceful manner, or on the other hand the government have been warned by their representations in other countries, but they have not chosen to take any notice of them but adopted the attitude that our financial resources could achive anything which they ( the government ) chose to bribe or act on. The most recent glaring instance of this, is the trouble in the Iraqi district. How come they to allow a coup d'etat to come off if they were so anxious to watch the Oil pipe line. And a rebel to be in charge there? Can you answer me that?
My word, you boy, if you were anywhere about, I reckon you'd say "hold your nagging row for goodness sake, girl I Don't know write Winston Churchill" Well, and belive me I'm so utterly fed up with the mismanagement of affairs that I feel I'd do that too!!!!!
Ha.... Well, that's off me chest, so now I'll proceed with the business of this letter. ahem!!!!
Oh, grateful thanks for the parcel!!!! Everything is just exactly what the doctor ordered. Hope you got my letter of yesterday with the P.O. in. Do hope you have not quite spun out, love, did you get paid yesterday? Could you do with a little more dough? Don't empty the post office treasury.
I was extreamly interested to read how you spent your day's work. You do not seem to have such a harassing time as at Hatfield. Nice to know you have the same officers, and not such a long day in working for them. However, do please take care of yourself, and for goodness sake R E S T - got that?, rest a bit, and dont go careering round sight seeing. Fancy Waller Road looking so forlorn and damaged like that. Its awful to think about.
Now look, here young man, what on earth am I to do with the following returns:-
1/12 scarves?????????????? which I didnt knit anyhow??????
Sorry but our credit department is now closed, but if you wish us to return in your next parcel, we will give same our very best and undivided attention, thanking you for past favors, trusting you are, as we are at present, we remain.... Oh dear I have just been doing some letters for Smithy, and quite forgot. By the way, he's got the job he applied for at the Midland Bank here, so now we are waiting to see the sparks fly,
Well please dont faint, but we're going to the pictures this afternoon. I asked Mrs W if she would like to come, and then Guy said she would also, so we are going to see "All this and Heaven too" sounds quite etheral, but have heard it is good. Hope I don't have a good cry and come out with a fat head - you remember how I used to, when we had been to see "a good picture"
Well, love, its just noon, so I want to get this off to you to-day.
Well, cheerio, darling, all my love, kisses and everything else, and keep to the country side. Darling.
ever your own little wiff.
These letters belong to my aunt Joan Punter ( nee Toller ). They contain interesting home front information and political views of the war. They were written by my Great Aunt Marie Cruden( deceased ) to her husband George Cruden( also deceased ).
Marie refers to George as Peter Precious in many of these letters, this was because she was a Catholic ( originally from Ireland ) and when they first got together she didn't want to introduce him to her family as George because that was the Kings name! Some of these letters are written from London and from Nottingham where she lived at one point and also from Cambridge where they finally settled.
Wednesday. the. 14th.1941
My Dearest and Best, x.x.x.x.x.x..
Just a few hurried lines, to day
we are alright, although we have had a hectic time here to-day. Jerry has ben over all day, doing his stuff properly, and had quite a scare about 2.30 after the siren had gone, still sat on here carrying on, all at once he skimmed the roof tops, machine gunning all he was worth.
He's dropped three bombs in the town again, and we have heard that he has been shot down a little way out. Phew!!!! talk about getting hot and bothered wasn't it. Hope you had a quiet night in London. The weather is one of those dull depressing days, trying awfully hard to rain but does not even wet the pavement. Had a letter from Gidd this morning and she is looking forward to seeing me on the 24th, and wonders if ther's a chance of your getting down too for a long weekend. By the way RWB says what an awful time they have had in London, the worst ever, he says. Jerrys has compleatly gone he told me, and all our trade in the city has ceased to function with the exception of Bradburys. Its ghastly and no mistake.
We are alright in London, but every window and frame has been blown to blazes. By the way, I mentioned to Arthur Smith about the travelling facilities for the wives of men in the forces, and he says they would only be issued to me if I were travelling to London to see you or any other camp where you may be stationed, and they would not be issued in a general way for use.
Anyway, perhaps you could find something very definiate about that. Really, on the face of it, it seems that travelling to see husbands in their respective camps would be the only logical thing for them to do, otherwise with some of the wifes they would be charged up with no end of expenses,
Well, darling, its five o'clck again,- really the time flies in every sense of the word. I do hope you are keeping alright, and will not have to go to Cardington.
Wish they would re-open Hatfield. Still, thats too much to hope for I suppose.
Well, cheerio, sweetheart, I haven't any news for you, and the time is getting on, but just thought I would drop these few lines.
All the best of love and hugs and thoughts,
Always your own,
Notes on Elsie by her neice Elizabeth Brown (nee Toller) - my mother :)
Elsie Elizabeth Ely (formerly Calino, nee Cruden)
Born: 1st July 1903 in London.
She was gran's (Ada Broom [formerly Cruden, nee Hatchman]) second child with her first husband, George Henry Penny Cruden. Gran was 30 when she was born. Uncle George (Cruden - Elsie's brother) was 3. Uncle Arthur (Cruden - Elsie's brother) was born when Aunty Elsie was 1 3/4 years and their father died soon after this, so Gran came back to Cambridge with her three young children. Gran married my grandad when Aunty Elsie was 7 3/4 and they were living in Newnham. They soon moved to 76, Russel Street, Cambridge and gran had three more children (here, and the first in Newnham). Aunty Elsie had dancing lessons and was trained for the stage so, after a brief time as a young nanny, she left for America with her new husband Processo Calino, a Philipino man. The family all loved Cesso.
Cesso and Elsie parted; both remarried and he lived in a bungalow in Kenny (Elise's second husband) and Elsie's grounds for years. Uncle Kenny wrote to me after Elsie passed on in 1993 I think he wrote, then he became very ill. He said she never aged and the vast age difference never mattered to him: 30 years.
When Auntie Elsie left the theatre, she rescued dogs, at one time in the early 1960's, having many German Shepherds. They shared the couple's 'sunken bed'! She rescued one little dog called 'Nellie', who had been tied to a tree. The owner didn't stop her from taking Nellie, who had bitten Aunty Elsie in an effort to attract her attention she believed. The collar was cutting into Nellie's neck. Aunty Elsie and Uncle Kenny loved dogs so. He wouldn't leave his dog after she passed on and so he did not come to Cambridge again.
Aunty Elsie did not 'come home' until 1957 when she was 53 3/4. he came again in 1961 and 1970 then brought Kenny with her in 1979; the last time we saw her before she passed on in 198?
Aunty Elsie and Kenny married in America, in a church with two tramps as witnesses!
Recently discovered that Elsie had worked for Mr Porter of Little St Mary Lane at the Half Moon as a cook/domestic, after her marriage to Cesso in 1923 (aged 19) but before America.
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