Issue: July 2019
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Next deadline: August 29

MIDDLESBROUGH ARRIVAL

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Published on January 2018

Our escort introduced us to each other.  She was returning to St Albans near London and me, of course, to Middlesbrough.

In his car he took us to a huge building which I guessed was the same one where we twenty-six children lodged overnight four years previously.  After a light meal we, the girl and I, were shown to the sleeping accommodation which was separate, ie: male and female.  To my surprise it was a 24 bed dormitory plus bathing and bathroom facilities.  I was expected to bed down all by myself in a male part which I did not particularly like the idea, all alone with 24 beds.  Suddenly, there was a knock at the dormitory door and as I opened it there stood the girl who was returning home to St Albans.  She was in her pyjamas and ready for bed.  “You are as bad off as me,” she commented, “alone with 24 beds and I don’t fancy it.  Do you mind if I join you in one of the beds?”  I agreed and so we chose a bed each on opposite sides of the dormitory.  At least now we had someone to talk to.  We exchanged comments of our stay in Canada and what we were going to do when we arrived at our destinations.  The same thing we had in common was that we both did not want to leave Canada.  I did not sleep well that night nor do I think she did.  After breakfast together we were taken to the Lime Street Railway Station where she boarded the London train and I was to board the train for Darlington and change for Middlesbrough.  That was the last time we saw each other.
After leaving Liverpool my train destination was Darlington, Yorkshire and here I had to change trains for Middlesbrough.  On leaving Liverpool I journeyed alone with just my ticket.  After 40 minutes, I arrived in Middlesbrough station, such as it was, after more than one German Air force bombing attack.  However, I found my way from the station to the town centre and went to catch a bus outside of the town hall.  My first mistake was in waiting for my North Ormesby bus on the wrong side of the road until it dawned on me that here in England traffic drove on the left side of the road and I was waiting on the right!  Puzzled, I waited and waited until asking a passer-by, who indicated that I should cross the road to get my transport. 
 Arriving in the suburb of North Ormesby I found the street where my parents had moved to.  The house was located and I knocked on the front door.  Within a few minutes my mother appeared and my welcome was, “Hello, so you are back then.” She led me upstairs and indicated my bedroom where I emptied my suitcase and returned to the living room.  “Your father is at work today” she said, “and he has to go to Newcastle Infirmary tomorrow, and he would be very pleased if you were to accompany him by bus.”  This prompted a question.  “Why is he going there?” I said.  “Well”, Mam said, “your father has been very ill with throat cancer and he has to go for checks every week.”  Later, Dad came from work.  He looked very thin in the face and pale.  He shook me warmly by the hand and was surprised how I had grown.  Next day I agreed to accompany him on the bus to Newcastle.  He did not talk much, no doubt on account of his recent throat operation which the news of came as a surprise to me.  On one occasion, whilst living in Mount Uniacke, Bessie and I received a photo of Mam and Dad and at the time I thought that he looked thin in the face and in fact he did not look well at all.  This is about 4 years since we had seen them both.  My first evening at home in Middlesbrough passed slowly with Dad going to rest and Mother just asking questions about my four-year sojourn in Canada. 
Next day I dressed casually and had a walk around the local shops and could not resist a look into the Mole’s Butcher’s Shop which, as a lad of 12 years old, I was a butcher’s boy and general help in the shop. Of the 2 brothers, Albert and Jim, Jim had passed away.  The huge air raid shelters which were started before I left England four years ago were still in existence.  This was where my Mother was an Air Raid Warden.  
My Dad used to cycle to work when he could, but had to give it up due to poor health and when he was able would make use of the electric trolley bus.  Subsequently, I was able to use his cycle to get about.  During a ride I inadvertently ended up one day at what the locals called Ormesby Bank.  Off the road I followed a wooded path and before long I was accosted by an American Soldier Policeman who wanted to know who I was and where I was going.  After I presented myself correctly we talked together and what a thrill it was to speak in the same accent.  He would not explain where the path was or where it went to…….

Uniacke Newsletter
2018-01-13
https://www.uniackenewsletter.ca/stories/middlesbrough-arrival