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More Stories - The Way We Were
Hilda Graham tells us a true Easter
Unforgettable Easter Sunday
I remember Easter Sunday when I was 17 years old. I had attended mass with my family and on the way out I caught up with my best friend. We were both wearing new Easter outfits (there went a big portion of my clothing coupons). It was a lovely day and we decided it would be nice to go to the park; we really wanted to show off our new clothes. We were given permission to go to Wicksteed Park in Kettering about 7 miles from where we lived, this all sounds so simple but first we had to go to the Village to catch a bus to Kettering, which was about 3 miles from the church. We were used to walking so off we went.
On arrival at the bus stop we realized we would have about a 45 minute wait for the bus because it was late. But we were young and had all the time in the world. The bus finally arrived but it was so full, however we did manage to get on. It was a double Decker and we managed to get up the steps and squeeze in a seat together; thank goodness we were small. My dress had a full skirt and I was afraid it would get all creased being so crowded in the seat, but not much I could do about it. Finally we arrived at our destination and as we were descending from the upper deck down to a little area where the bus conductor was standing, a sudden gust of wind came and lifted my skirt and it came down over the conductors head. Oh, the embarrassment! I was so flustered all I could do was mumble "sorry."
This was to be the least of my worries. To get to Wicksteed Park was another 2 to 3 miles and the buses were running short, especially on Sundays, so another couple of miles to walk. Finally we made it to the park which was also crowded, being a pretty day and it was Easter. We found a little refreshment stand and had a cup of tea and a sandwich. I might add we were lucky; because of food shortage it was hard to find cafes, etc. They were few and far between. We walked around for a while hoping to be noticed in our new clothes. We thought we looked extra special - oh, to be young again.
We decided to go for a boat ride. There was a small man-made lake where they rented the rowing boats. When we got there and noticed a couple of GI's giving us the eye, they came and asked us if we like to go for a row, and we accepted their offer, (BIG MISTAKE).
We got into the boat, which was no small feat trying to be so ladylike without falling flat on our faces. After a few minutes on the lake we realized these men had probably never rowed a boat in their lives for neither of them seemed to know what to do with a pair of oars. The decision was made that we would trade places and my friend and I would do the rowing. We made it to the edge of the lake after what seemed eternity. As we pulled along the edge of the lake my friend and I managed to grab a rail which ran around the lake. Our intention was to pull the boat up and the men could hold the rail until we could change places. This was not to be, for as we girls were hanging on, here we go again - another gust of wind came blowing through and the boat started to drift out into the lake so we either went in head first or jump into the lake which thank the Lord was not very deep.
By this time I was laughing so hysterically I could hardly climb onto the shore. We managed to get on land and to my horror my dress with the beautiful skirt had shrunk almost to my waist, it seemed. The dress was made of crepe something or other, anyway, it shrank.
Now picture this: we are about nine or ten miles from home and had to ride buses to get there and here I was with the first mini skirt, only shorter. The two gentlemen(?) wanted to help but there was nothing to be done and they could not restrain their laughter. My friend was laughing so hard she was no help either.
When I finally calmed down I tugged and tugged at that skirt, but it was not going to cooperate and decided to stay where it was. Others around were enjoying the show but this was too much. I don't know if it was embarrassment or the loss of my clothing coupons which upset me the most. I was ready to cry. A lady who had her baby in her pram offered to loan me one of the baby's blankets to try to dry off; it did not help much.
Now the time had come to try to figure out how I was going to make it back home in this horrible condition. Well, my friend and I decided there was nothing to do but start walking back to the bus stop. The two GI's did offer to walk with us (I must admit that was kind of them but decided against that idea.) As we started out of the park I got all the attention I had wanted when the day began, and a lot I didn't. Now you think this is over - well, I have a little news flash. Fate wasn't through yet, for as we were walking out of the gate I caught my heel on a rock and it broke the heel of the shoe in half!!!!!!
Oh, now what? Just a mere couple of miles to the bus stop, me with one broken shoe and a mini skirt. I wanted to die of shame but I held my head up and managed to cripple to the bus stop in Kettering. (If anyone reading this knows where Kettering is you will know the bus stops are by the big Library, at least they were then.) We got there just in time to see the bus leaving, and had to wait over an hour until the next one. We sat on the steps of the library and dwelled on what a day we had experienced. I failed to tell you my friend was wearing a cotton dress and was able to get out of the lake before myself; she did get wet but her dress did not shrink.
The bus finally arrived and we got back to our hometown without any more incidents. Then there was the very long walk from the bus stop home. I was worrying about what my parents would say; I needn't have, for they showed me no sympathy, and they too laughed so hard. Well, I guess this is where I end the story.
PS: My family got together and managed to come up with more clothing coupons to salvage my self esteem.
LOL Hilda (Always in trouble) Copyright Hilda Graham 2004