zaterdag 28 juni 2008

Molly's Tale Chapter 11 - Molly's charity work and war effort

Molly’s car was in demand, and around 1936 she was asked to join the Ladies Sewing club. The club made babies layettes, operation stockings and maternity gowns for the Princess Mary maternity Hospital in Newcastle. Molly would go once a month to the hospital with Aunty Mart, Uncle Peters wife (a Londoner) Dad Elliott’s half brother. (I cannot find any reference to Uncle Peter in the family tree so I am not sure if this was Martha Todds husband. Martha Todd was Molly’s fathers half sister). The two of them collected bundles of fabric to make up into baby clothes, or to hem batches of two dozen napkins. Molly kept the sewing machine in the wee alcove under the stairs so whenever she had time she worked on this sewing. She did this work for about two or three years, but as Molly herself wrote:

“War broke out and we had sheep on the golf course and now we had Jess the sheepdog.”

It’s a bit cryptic, but the sheep kept the grass short, as well as getting fattened up for the butchery, and Jess was used to drive the flock from the golf course in Tynemouth up to New York to slaughter.

Molly had herself joined the golf club just before war broke out but although she won her first cup at Hexham that year, she gave up golf during the war years. She writes:

“Baden still managed his golf but I never seemed to have time with all the activities in new York.”

She became deeply involved in organising a lot of wartime activities in the area. This was probably a combination of Molly’s hard working attitude and unquestioning capacity to serve others and the fact that the Thompson’s still had the only phone in the village. Everyone called to use it, or ask one of the Thompson’s to use it for them. Eddies Thompson’s garage located behind the butchery also used this phone, and Molly would have to take all the calls for Eddie, then run out with messages to him in all weathers.

Just before the war in 1938 she was involved in setting up the YMCA in New York, even helping whitewashing the walls along with the Adie Bros, who had volunteered their services. She cooked the dinner for the opening ceremony and helped run the club until about 1950.

By 1940 she had helped set up the New York knitting party and the New York Branch of the Red Cross. These two organisations continued all during war. Funds were raised by running a regular “Housey” meeting ( sort of Bingo) in the upstairs Concert Room at the Working Mens club.

The two organisations met every Monday in Molly’s front room, having a Red Cross meeting one week and the knitting party the next. The purpose of the knitting party was to provide every homecoming soldier with a pair of home knitted socks. The wool was bought from the “Housey” funds, and the women were very good knitters.

Throughout the war Molly and the Red Cross organised Friday night dances in the School and Working Mens Club. Molly lent their piano to the school but still had to pay a small fee for the use of the School Hall. The dance closed at 10 o’clock but the lady organisers had to sweep the floor before leaving.

In 1941 Molly became the war savings organiser for New York and in 1943 started a Branch lending library in New York School. It was part of North Shields Library. The library cards were all kept in a box at Pretoria House and a Librarian from North Shields called for them every week, on her way to open the Branch.

The war was a daily presence in New York. The Thompsons had a brick air raid shelter built in the garage yard, and the three children slept on bunks while the raid was overhead. Molly often told me that she would be under the stairs during air raids, I think this was so she could keep busy, knitting or sewing. Baden refused to move out of his bed, and a few times when there were big raids, all the windows would blow in. Molly would have to go upstairs when she heard the "All Clear" siren and sweep the broken glass off Baden as he lay under the covers.

Chapter 12

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