Monday, May 14, 2007

Pen-friends - 1950

Pen-friend June from Dundee

How did we pass the time?

Those of us who were too ill to receive lessons from Miss White found our own methods of entertaining ourselves.

Twice a day a trolley came around and we would buy comics.

Horror comics were particularly popular and I remember frightening myself silly over one story. Even today I cannot look at a coach load of people without remembering that scary story of a young girl who got on a bus in the depths of the countryside one evening only to find that everyone on the bus was dead. She had to sit next to these corpses; and they looked so lifelike.

Most of the time I read. Or wrote letters. I had lots of pen-friends, names collected from the back of the weekly Childrens Newspaper.

These girls would send me photos of themselves which I would carefully stick in my photograph album. One was June from Dundee.

I was very proud of this photo because unlike my other pen pals photos which showed only their heads this was a portrait.
June had a ribbon in her hair that matched her dress. She sat on a sofa with soft cushions clutching her dog, and she had ornate curtains on her window. It was a glimpse into another world.

What did I send her in return? What kind of a picture, as a 9 year old, did I paint of life inside Ward 2?

I can only hazard a guess. Would I have told her about the morning Sister Morgan pulled the curtains across the glass door so that nobody would see the little ritual, the “mark of respect for the dead” , except the curtains were not fully drawn and I got to see.

Two porters stood there with a stretcher containing a dead body from Six-Bedder and they stopped outside Ward 2 while Sister Morgan rushed in and picked up a bunch of fading flowers from the table in the middle of the Ward and placed them on the dead woman’s body.
I saw it . Would I have written about it to my pen-friend?

The morning post with letters from my pen-friends was the highlight of the day. They told of a world outside of which I knew nothing, for these were city children not from a country background like myself.

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