These memories were written by Mrs Elizabeth Ewen (nėe Cave), at the request of her family, so that details of her life and times would be recorded. Here she remembers the war years.
It was hard in the winter evenings after sunset when it got dark early, trying to find our way home after having been down to Chirton for the afternoon. To prevent lights being a guide to enemy aircraft, there were no street lights on, and no-one was allowed to have any lights visible from the outside. So if we missed the bus and didn’t get home before blackout at dusk, there were no lights to see where we going. We often found when a car came along with its lights on very low, that we had been walking in the middle of the road when we thought we were on the footpath.
There were constant queues for everything, even for things that were not rationed but were in short supply, or something seldom seen. Some people would automatically join a queue before they even knew what the queue was for, and not find out until they reached the counter; then find it was something useless to them. People used glycerine in place of butter or margarine to make cakes, but I believe it played havoc with their bowels. There was British Restaurants set up at different places where one could buy cheap meals to make the rations spin out. There was one at the Haymarket in Newcastle, where Jack and I went sometimes. We could get a dinner for sixpence and a pudding for threepence. A cup of tea cost a penny. Many people used it. The children at school could also have a dinner and pudding for sixpence.
The Government also employed women to show others how to ‘Make Do and Mend’ their clothes to save their clothing coupons; how to make new clothes out of old; how to turn coats, suits etc. inside out and give them all a new lease of life. I made several things for Jack out of my things; a dressing gown out of a coat lasted him for years, as well as an overcoat, trousers etc.
With thanks to Cissie Ewens' family for allowing us access to her memoirs.
© Cissie Ewen's family 2007-8