Dear Family and Friends,
I just finished reading a book about the area of Chelsea where we live. World's End: a memoir of a Blitz childhood is Donald James Wheal’s story of growing up in World's End, Chelsea, during the Blitz years.
Let me quote Donald James Wheal’s from the first page of the book:
“I grew up in that riverside enclave of central London known as World’s End. The area takes its name from the old World’s End Tavern on the King’s private road through Chelsea, a tavern which has stood in the same spot since at least the seventeenth century and was rebuilt in Victorian times as a big roomy pub. Very roughly, World’s End as an area was, and remains, the lower reach of riverside Chelsea, the furthest point in the King’s Road from Sloane Square. Its southern limit is the river. In the 1930’s what locals recognized as the World’s End covered the streets and houses on both sides of the King’s Road and here the Chelsea of artists and aristocrats began. A Chelsea distinguished by a difference in accent from ours, by freshly painted houses, by art galleries and expensive antique shops, the ownership of motor cars and the employment of hundreds of cleaning women- from of course, World’s End.”
Donald James Wheal’s world was one of poverty. It was a hard life but a happy childhood until he was eight years old and the war came. He writes, “Some children spent the last month of peace running through grass meadows or swimming in shaded ponds. Some rode pony trails on Dartmoor or built sandcastles on the beach at Frinton. We had read about children like this in our comics. Some, no doubt, even played throughout that hot August unaware what was approaching. In the World’s End, we knew. There were the gas mask fittings, of course, when St John’s church hall reeked of the black rubber masks forced over our faces.”
Donald was among the children who were evacuated from London but later returned to live through the blitz and see his home and those of his friends and neighbors destroyed as the German’s tried to bomb the nearby Lots Road Power Station.
The station still stands today. We took a Sunday evening stroll by it and the newly developed upscale area called Imperial Wharf.
What a fascinating book! I loved reading how Donald and his friends, in those terrible war time years, had time for play in bomb-damaged homes and invented fantasies about Nazi spies.
We have a patron at our Centre who comes in nearly every day. He is putting his family history on a “memory stick” for his only grandchild. He is in his 80’s and and lived in London during the blitz years, having some of those same adventures. I asked him what he was going to do for the weekend and he told me it was his annual “walk- about” with his friends who had also lived through the blitz. I was telling him about Donald James Wheal’s book and he said, “I don’t have to read that, I lived it.”
We have had a very busy week! We worked Saturday of this week so are looking forward to our P-day on Monday. I think our adventure for the week will be to clean the flat although we will go into the church for our Senior Missionary Family Home Evening Monday night. On Friday, Elder Allen F. Packer and his wife and Elder Patrick Kearon and his wife visited our Family History Centre. They were here representing Elder Boyd K. Packer for the Society of Genealogists meeting held this weekend. We had a luncheon for them at the church.
Senior missionaries: Sister Marilyn Crandall, Sister Barbara Robertson and Sister Cheryl Fugal.
As I mentioned, we worked Saturday and we had a Jamaican group come in to learn how to do their family history. We have a member, Sharon Tomlin, who is Jamaican and is a volunteer at the Centre. She is a skilled researcher. One of my jobs is to schedule and orient the groups that come in to our Centre. So I did the general orientation and Ken gave the ending-‘Why we do this’. Then Sharon took over to teach the class. Afterwards Sharon said the the Jamaican people were very much touched by Ken’s explanation of why we do family history work. As Mark would say, Ken has caught the Elijah virus!
Two of the sweet messages we had from our message box this week:
To Mom- You’re the best Mom ever!
To Dad- If you can’t sleep, don’t count sleep. Talk to the Shepard.
We love those messages!
Our best to all of you!
Love, Elder and Sister Fugal (aka Cheryl and Ken, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa)