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The Day Before Yesterday: 81 - Heavy Snow

...Sure enough, his arms were full and I couldn't get a look in as two little boys couldn't wait any longer to see what was in their parcels. Daddy had spent his last weeks making wooden trucks for the boys. The bottom of each was fitted with building bricks. Alan's was painted blue and quite large, Rodney's was red and just a little bit smaller. He couldn't have made them anything better. They hadn't seen toys as grand as this before. They were so sturdy and lasted for years...

Gladys Schofield's husband, Cliff, finally comes home for good at the end of the war.

To read earlier chapters of Gladys's autobiography please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/the_day_before_yesterday/

Cliff came home at last, almost seven years from the day war was declared. The children were excited as Daddy had said he would be bringing presents. He had been able to slip home more often since the end of the war and this was helping to smooth the way and help the family adjust to living together permanently again.

Sure enough, his arms were full and I couldn't get a look in as two little boys couldn't wait any longer to see what was in their parcels. Daddy had spent his last weeks making wooden trucks for the boys. The bottom of each was fitted with building bricks. Alan's was painted blue and quite large, Rodney's was red and just a little bit smaller. He couldn't have made them anything better. They hadn't seen toys as grand as this before. They were so sturdy and lasted for years.

Alan was going to be six in a few days time, so you can see what a large piece of life a war can steal from you. I had made all the decisions for so long. It would take a while to get back to sharing the responsibilities again and the men were the same.

Taking on the role of husband and father after so long with only themselves to consider caused a lot of upset in many homes. Some could not settle at all and would take every opportunity to spend time outside the home. Hadn't Mum done a good job so far? She was used to staying in with the family.

Lots of couples drifted apart in the first two years of peace, not always the fault of the man. I know of one man who wentto war leaving a wife and three children. He arrived home after the war and found his family had increased to six, the two youngest were half cast, lovely children but this was too much for this man. He was reported missing, his body was found some days later, hanging from a tree in the woods.

So that's why I wonder who wins in a war. Everyone suffers one way and another and peace creeps very slowly into people's lives.

It wasn't long before I found the gypsy's prophecy was true. I loved children but the timing was bad, with food still strictly rationed and my friend, miles away. I would be locked in my little bit of paradise forever.

Cliff went to see his old boss and they wanted him to start back at his old job as soon as possible, so he was soon back in the old routine, walking across the golf links but not quite as early as before. They had started the forty hour week and all hours worked over that amount were classed as overtime so this would put a little more into the pay packet. The textile holiday week in August began to be paid for about this time.

Cliff joined the local soccer team and seemed to get more injuries with that, more than he did throughout the war. Although, he did come off his bike on the first day of peace, cutting his lip and grazing his face, so we could say he had war wounds' after a fashion.

He would always come home limping after a match. Why he had to tackle so hard, was beyond me as they got no compensation for injuries. It would take all week for him to feel alright again, then off he would go on the Saturday and it would be the same again. All that for a chance of winning a tiny cup at the end of a season.

That first Winter we were all together, quite a few matches got postponed. The snow came early in the New Year and it was even heavier than the 1940 one. Thank goodness the men were back to help to ciear a footpath, A few brave people cut a single track across the fields to the stores. It looked like a wonderland on the branches of the trees, even the old houses looked beautiful with an ample coating of snow on each roof and drifts at the sides of the houses reaching the roof in some places. It stayed like this for weeks.

The children had extended holidays as the little ones could not get through it to attend school. Sometimes the heating would fail so the school would be closed again. We couldn't rely on the radio to give out these messages. News was passed from house to house. We even fetched the milk from the farm at one stage. That wasn't so bad, as the farm stood just at the top of the hill behind our house. All this was part of life and we were quite hardened to it. My only problem was the baby I was again expecting, just as in the early war years.

The children loved the snow. They built igloos and snowmen stood in every garden. We could gather the holly branches for decoration at Christmas as they grew in the hedges and looked lovely at this time of year.

The snow hung about until April when another heavy snow storm seemed to take it all away, as it slithered into rivulets of squelchy mud and disappeared further down in the valley. The sun was getting warmer and soon began to change the colours of the countryside. The pussy willow catkins bringing a blaze of gold onto the long sweeping branches of the willow tree and touches of fresh green buds on the tall horse chestnuts.

How I loved this time of awakening, as there was something new to see each day. Even the hens would get the feeling as one by one, they deposited their eggs in the nest boxes, coming away with a noisy cackle to let us know they had done their bit for the day.

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