Thursday, September 03, 2009

I was Alice Cooper’s Bridesmaid


It was posh wedding for Rossendale: the men wore cravats; there were four junior bridesmaids and three senior ones. The big girls wore Marina green dresses (named after Princess Marina – the new Duchess of Kent) and we little girls wore gold. The satin was so heavy you could tell it didn’t come from the market. Alice only lived on the avenues in a council house but you would never have guessed – she was like Royalty and her father looked like he could have been a Romanov. The groom – Melvyn was a most gentle man – a solicitor from Rochdale.


I loved my dress and was allowed to wear it for chapel and Sunday school. Seventy years ago today it was a Sunday a few weeks after the wedding and I have a photographic memory of looking down at the frills on my dress standing in front of the wireless and listening to Mr Chamberlain - our prime minister say about the Germans –

‘…unless we heard from them by eleven o’ clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany.’


That was it then. With the insouciance of children all we felt was excitement and after tea, when our gang met under the lamplight in the lane I told them we wouldn’t be evacuees- we’d be refugees and end up in America. Our face lit up as we contemplated a life in Andy Hardy country with white picket fences, drugstores, candy and proms. Later when reality and the horror began to seep in I had a mini breakdown. The war went on year after wearisome year. You wouldn’t want to go through that again but we kids understood there was a monster abroad and he had to be stopped. Life was never quite the same again

30 comments:

Queenie said...

Pat, how fascinating - I love seeing the 20th century through the lens of your life, and your unique perspective. You make it come alive.

PI said...

Queenie: I always forget it was the 20th century. Seems like last week.
Thank you:)

Jimmy Bastard said...

I feel as though I have finally struck metal on the hidden box of treasure stashed away snugly in your memory.

Pat, reading this post has put a smile upon my face. Thank you.

PI said...

Jimmy: a smile on your face? Then my work here is done:)

R. Sherman said...

I recall some of your earlier posts regarding the war. I hope you repost some of them.

Cheers.

Leah said...

Pat, this is incredibly moving. I really don't know what to say--I am well and truly choked up.

I'll show this to Sarge when he gets home from work.

PI said...

Randall: it's very restrained of you not to say - 'that old stuff again.' And sweet:)

Leah: I guess it's just how it was. Mostly we were very lucky - one couldn't grumble when one knows how others suffered.

Charlie said...

I love reading your snippets of personal memories, Pat, just like I do Jimmy B's. Some are happy, some are sad, and others are bittersweet—like this one. But that, of course, is life.

And you were a beautiful bridesmaid, too, as were the other little girls.

keithsramblings said...

I heard that 4 minute statement on the radio this morning. It was the first time I'd heard any more than the opening lines. And all day today I've heard snippets of people remembering what it was like to be a kid back then. For some it was one big adventure, for others a nightmare. Thanks for your thoughts on this today.

Madame DeFarge said...

It's enlightening to hear about this from your perspective. My grandparents (now both deceased) were in their 30s when war broke out and so saw it from a different perspective. Good to hear about this.

Cinnamon said...

I've been hearing it on the radio too- but it means so much more to hear your own memory.

War changes things forever and many ways.

savannah said...

i read this as if we were all there together, sugar! xoxoox

Eryl Shields said...

You are the only person I know who can link a wedding and a war so seamlessly.

I remember dreaming of white picket fences and drugstores as a child too.

PI said...

Charlie: thank you. I'd like to read some of yours sometime. I'm sure you have a lot to tell.
I did worry being a bridesmaid three times that I would never be a bride - but I was. Twice.

Keithr: I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Madame D: so your grandparents would be about the age of my parents but my calculating skills dry up after that:)

Cinnamon: its strange how one trigger can start up the recall and it seems so short a time a go.

Savannah: it would have been a pleasure to have you around then.

Eryl: it's my butterfly brain what does it:)

john.g. said...

Ooops! Wrong Alice Cooper!

Guyana-Gyal said...

That war affected life here too, the way my mother tells it, this was a Brit. colony. Ohhh, the shortages. My mother still saves things. I say to her, WW2 is over, mummy.
She tells me the most fascinating tales. She treasures all her books on WW2.

Leigh Russell said...

When my daughter was about four, she was a bridesmaid. She wore a very pretty very frilly very pale pink dress - with little BELLS in the hem! Whenever she skipped and hopped and danced the bells tinkled. I'm not sure that she's ever been happier than she was then.
La vie n'est que quelques joies trop vite efface par d'inoubliable chagrin. Ce n'est pas necessaire de le dire aux enfants. (Marcel Pagnol)
Sad, but I sometimes think it's true.

Edelweiss Transplanted said...

Oh Pi, I loved this. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. Makes one stop and think about all the children in Europe at that time, having to live through the awfulness of war. I'm so glad you made it through.

PI said...

Johng: gotcha!

GG: I'd love to have a cup of tea and a chat with your Mum.
There's a wonderful post at Leah's
(sidebar) about a Chinese woman who kept EVERYTHING and her son has made it into art in the Museum of Modern Art in new York. Take a look:)

Leigh: Oh! I didn't have bells. It always clutches my heart when I see little girls do a little skip. How she must have loved them.

Edelweiss: we were some of the lucky ones. One of the girls I nursed with had escaped from Germany with just her brother and my late SIL escaped from Austria with her family and left their home and most of their posessions behind. When they reached England they were going to have to live in a detention centre so they went on to America.
It does make you quite sick of wars.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Nice to have made your acquantaince, Ms Pi, sorry I'm a bit late to comment on the 7 quirks thing. Kids have interesting reminiscences of war - often good ones, bizarrely, based on getting out into the countryside and eating properly - and yours is a particularly poignant one.

PI said...

Gadjo: Hi and welcome. Comments are always pleasing to receive even though Blogger makes a pig's breakfast of them sometimes and omits some and repeats others.

rashbre said...

Great post.

The way it covers so much of what was happening, flashing from wedding, war, evacuation and America. And it still has a currency and vividness.

PI said...

Rashbre: thank you for that:)

PI said...
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Kim Ayres said...

After you posted the "School's Out" video recently - just for a moment... :)

PI said...

Kim: would I try to fool you?

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

It certainly was posh for Rossendale. Nowadays you're lucky if they wear a clean tracksuit. And as for the groom ....


; p

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Indeed, Indeed, Pat. I cannot imagibe what life must have been like living there in the UK with all the bombings--The Blitz, etc.
I know it could never possibly be the same. ever ever.

When I read the Title of this post I thought 'Oh. Alice Cooper, the singer...WOW!'....Little did I know, my dear, that you were referring to a different Alice Cooper, entirely. Your vivid memories of this are wonderfully painted with your words.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Pat, you'd so enjoy talking with her, she's a wonderful raconteur [is that how it's spelt?]

PI said...

Daphne: and yet they seem to still spend an average 10k which I think is so uncool.

Naomi: we had it ingrained in us never to waste ANYTHING and it makes me quite cross now when some younger people lecture me on how to save the planet.
Alice Cooper was her name but I confess I hoped to fool you for a moment:)

GG: she sounds a great gal. I hope to get to know her better.