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Open Features: Family Life: Six - Family Ills

Lucy Oates, continuing her life story, recalls family ills at the outset of World War Two.

To read earlier episodes of her story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/cgi-bin/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=lucy+oates

Time moves on. We were able to go away on holidays, Alice and I went to Scarborough, Isle of Man, and, Whitley Bay. Hilda was courting with Frank Turner and they got married in July 1938, having got a little house at Cinderhills which they made very nice.

Aunt Edith and Uncle Wilfred in the meantime, had lost four babies at birth, so they had adopted a girl from a local children's home whose parents had died. They hadn't room enough to take her brother as well, but they always kept in touch with him.

By this time things were beginning to look very grim in Europe, with Hitler trying to take over. At home by November we knew Hilda wasn't very well as she was losing weight and she went into hospital on December 27th. Six weeks passed before they were able to diagnose TB in the kidneys. A kidney had to be removed immediately. This was done by our family doctor Dr Galloway who had got his surgical skill in the first world war when he was newly qualified. About this time he sold his practice to Dr Davy, and he was the one who sent Alice into hospital to have a sacral abscess lanced so they were placed in the next bed to each other, Hilda laid on her back and Alice on her tummy, which made us all smile.

We had realised that all was not well with Frank, so as Hilda was very weak and couldn't get upstairs to bed we had a bed in our sitting room for her. Alice and I didn't know at the time that Hilda's illness was terminal but my parents knew. In the March the doctor arranged for Hilda to go to Scotton Banks Sanatorium at Knaresborough, and she seemed to regain her strength there.
However, the previous autumn Neville Chamberlain had returned from a meeting with Hitler and had got an agreement from him that he wouldn't invade Poland. It was soon obvious that Hitler wouldn't keep his word. However Britain was given time to prepare for war. The director of Scotton Banks was told to empty the hospital.

Hilda arrived home at 9 pm on Friday, September 2nd, having travelled from Knaresborough carrying her suitcase. It was soon obvious that this had not done her any good and Frank's behaviour didn't help.

There was a bad winter that year. Hilda caught a chill, which caused severe inflammation of the bladder, Scotton Banks had been upgraded from 200 to 600 beds, so she and a lot of other patients were able to return there after Christmas. She stayed there for another fifteen months before coming home for good.


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