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.
At 95: [ Oxford Road Cambridge ]
My Dearest x
Thanks for your letter, & it was certainly a gruelling journey- pity they don’t put more corridors on- what a life at London Road- that’s some billet- guess the sooner they decide about some other places the better for all concerned- as the a.m. people must be getting fed up with it too. They say on the wireless that they’ve got so many airforce personnel they are drafting them into the other two forces- particularly the army- as that is where they are wanted, seems such a daft arrangement, although they add they are continuing to take recruits. Do you think bringing up the matter of remuster has brought about the recent change about for you & those other chaps? Went to the pictures by myself on Monday night- mother dosen’t care for pictures she says- Monday 6 p.m. I did the front garden by cutting the grass, clearing the beds of toffee papers, rags & other odds & ends, & mowed the back lawn- but I’m scratched to bits for overlooking the rose trees, & plonking into the taller ones. The weather keeps nice, that’s one thing in it all. Yesterday we went to the Botanical gardens. Con & the children. They enjoyed it…can’t seem to think of anywhere nice to go except to Frenches & Brittans..It would have been nice by the sea this weather, wouldn’t it? Uncle Harry turned up at teatime last night- he does look so thin & ill- but he says he couldn’t stand life in that Linton institution any longer & has come back to the lodging house here- I got that tea tin open & passed it on to mother- its best to do that think, don’t you- Well dear, did your washing yesterday ( what a pile ) & hung it out, if she doesn’t do it on me , I’ll iron it. Well cheerio, love. Hope you are feeling better & looking forward to seeing you x Your own loving Marie xxxx p.s. Had a warning Monday night.
As written by my aunt Val Burroughs ( nee Toller ) March 2005.
During the war we didn't go away for holidays.
We used to walk from Oxford Road [Cambridge] to the 'Backs' - the backs of the collages, sometimes pushing our dolls' prams. We would enjoy the crocuses, daisies, lingcups etc. Occasionally when uncles were home on leave we would go as a family. When Uncle George was home, he and Auntie Marie would take us to the Botanical Gardens in Bateman Street.
My mother and my granny used to take us to the Folk Museum, one of our favorite places. We would admire the wax dolls in their dolls' prams especially. ( Enid Porter, the curator was a friend of my Auntie Marie in later years though, as far as I know ) We used to climb Castle Hill opposite the Folk Museum.
As written by my aunt Val Burroughs ( nee Toller ) March 2005.
Food and Clothing
My uncle Bill had allotments where he kept pigs and poultry ( chickens and turkeys ). We therefore had veg and eggs. Chickens was a treat. Sometimes Uncle Bill would kill a hen that had stopped laying and it was cooked in a saucepan as a "broiler".
We brought rationed fish from the MacFisheries and rationed meat from Roses the butcher in Petty Cury [Cambridge].
At Richmond Road School, I was one of the children who was selected to recive cod liver oil of malt, administered daily by the spoonful to each child as we queued. A crateful of sm bottles of milk stood warming in the hearth in Miss Chandlers classroom.
At the end of the war we relished the idea of fruits we hadn't had before, like bananas. At our Victory party in Richmond Road we were given ice-cream for the first time, although a neighbour who worked in a hotel did used to bring home small bars of yellow 'ice cream'.
A neighbour, Mrs Kidman, used to spend some of her sweet coupons on me and would give me turkish delight. At the end of the war, the first influx of sweets included 'wrapped soft-centered fruit sweets from Poland-an inch and a half long with pictures of fruits on the paper wrappers.
At Easter my mother would make me an Easter egg. She would melt chocolate and pour it into two bakelite egg cups. I remember sitting by the radio, watching these set, placed in front of the radio. They would be stuck together when set.
We would go to the clinic at the Methodist Church on Castle Street where we recived concentrated orange juice that you would mix with water.
Clothing rationing, combined with low income meant that families were glad of second hand and refashioned garments and bedding. We were thrilled when the Red Cross gave my sister and me a cardigan each because our father was a solider, ( my mother recived a bedspread ). Our wardrobes were never full like they are now. Our blankets had to do for several years and would be passed from one generation to the next. Some of them were thin with no fluff left and often bore the utility mark. Overcoats would be piled on top of bedding to add extra warmth.
Coal was rationed. We would awake to frosty fern patterns on the inside of the bedroom windows. When I was confined to the front bedroom for weeks with Scarlet Fever, I remember Miss Chandler bringing some of my class-mates to wave to me from the other side of the road. Mrs Fletcher, the milkmans wife, gave me some jelly- an unobtainable treat!
All scraps of food like vegtable peelings were collected in the pigswill bins that were found at intervals along the kerb-side, ours was next to the telegraph pole outside 112 Oxford Road. As Uncle Bill kept his own pigs and chickens, scraps also went to them. I remember the smell of potato peelings boiling on the gas cooker and then they would be mashed into chicken food that looked and smelled like bran. My auntie would carry it to the allotments each afternoon in buckets.
A well provided water and I warned to stay away from it. Horses and carts delivered milk, vegtables etc. The milk came in bottles with cardboard tops. If you pressed out the centre you had a ring on which to wind wool to make a pom-pom to decorate clothes or to play with. I remember watching the greengrocers horse eating from its nose-bag outside our house and then tossing its head to reach the remains at the bottom of the bag.
Val Burroughs ( nee Toller )
This is my great uncle arthurs wife Violet. They lived in Oxford road in Cambridge. This is a picture taken on a day out at Histon.
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