Interview with Patricia Cook


Interview with Patricia Cook


Patricia Cook was born in Lincoln, one of eight children, during the Second World War. She recalls having to sleep four to a bed and having to share their house with complete strangers. They had the Morrison shelter table in their front room. The family dog would climb under the table just before the siren sounded which prompted her mum to know that the siren was about to sound and gather the family together. Just before the all clear the dog again seemed to know and wandered back to the fireplace before the humans heard the siren. Pat’s brother joined the Navy and was killed at sea. Never having a body meant there was no closure for the family. Her mum did not tell her other serving brother until he returned from service that he had lost a brother and a sister, who had a failed operation on her legs and was confined to a wheelchair before dying.
She left school at fourteen and worked in an office until she later became the first woman to drive ambulances in the city.
She recalls having to eat horsemeat and whale meat due to the rationing regime and speaks of the large number of cinemas in the city.
She was engaged to marry an RAF serviceman who arrived at her work and told her to be at the church later that evening to get married as he was going to Berlin the next day to take part in the airlift. Moving to Germany to be with her husband, she discovered that tea was in short supply and had it sent from England to sell. She recalls that some of the exchanges were in dubious locations and were frightening.




Temporal Coverage





00:47:53 Audio Recording


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ACookP230912, PCookP2301


DE: I’ll just check that’s recording. So, this is an interview for the IBCC Digital Archive. My name is Dan Ellin. The interview is with Patricia Cook. We’re at her home in Lincoln and it’s the 12th of September 2023. Patricia, Pat, thank you for doing the interview with me. Could, could you start by telling me a little bit about your family and your childhood and where you grew up and those sorts of things?
PC: Well, originally I was born in Bracebridge. In Ellison Street. I was the youngest child of eight. And then we went to live at Bracebridge Heath. We had three different houses up there. Move. Move. Move. Oh, they were the old Air Force officer’s [pause] I can’t see it. They were the houses, or they weren’t, they were bungalows and in the First World War they were built for the officers at the Waddington.
DE: I see. Yeah.
PC: Yeah.
DE: Yeah.
PC: And we had one of those. We lived in there. Yeah. Then we moved. Moved down to Melville Street and moved up to Belle Vue Road and that’s when the war started.
DE: Why did you keep moving so much?
PC: My mother. If the war hadn’t have started we’d have been in Canada now. She, she just liked moving.
DE: Oh, I see. Okay.
PC: Poor old dad didn’t.
DE: What did your father do?
PC: He just worked at Ruston’s and Hornsby’s just, you know, a machinist.
DE: And was it, was it brothers or sisters that you had?
PC: You what love?
DE: Brothers or sisters that you had. You said you were the youngest.
PC: Oh, I had Chris, my sister. Charles, Gertrude, George, Nora, Ron, Margaret, me. There was eight of us you see. I spoilt it because I should have been a boy. Because you went girl boy girl boy.
DE: Oh [laughs] yes, because there was a pattern. Yes.
PC: You see, and yeah, we all, we all we used to have to share at least three in a bed.
DE: Really?
PC: Oh yeah. At least. Sometimes four. And being the youngest I used to have to sleep at the bottom of the bed, you know and I used to get into trouble because I was never still. Yeah. Even the men had to share beds and during the war you had if you got a fairly large house, we had four bedrooms you had to take lodgers in, you know. People came to work in Lincoln and you had to take them in as lodgers. A man used to come around and say, ‘Mrs Dickinson you’ve got so many. You’ve got, you’ve got room.’ And sometimes we used to have to share with complete strangers. Had to share a bed.
DE: Wow. Okay.
PC: Yeah. You had. I mean double beds they were and as I say we slept three to a bed and yeah, yeah you had to. Oh, that was another thing. We’d, we’d no, no bathroom at all. You just didn’t have bathrooms in those days. You had a tin bath. Have you seen them?
DE: I’ve seen them. Yes.
PC: Yeah.
DE: Yeah.
PC: Well, you had a tin bath and you had to have a bath in the kitchen and take the water from the, the gas boiler and you just had a screen around you. That was it. I mean my brothers used to be horrible. They used to get cold water and throw it over as you were sat in the bath. Things like that you know. The toilet was, it was a longish kitchen but you had to go out the door, down around the back of it and it was an outside toilet and it was one of those with the wooden seats right across. You had to empty, you know. Empty it afterwards.
DE: I see.
PC: That was my dad’s job. And you had a candle and matches on the side so when you went in you just lit the candle. Oh, and you didn’t have toilet rolls.
DE: No.
PC: You got the, you got the Echo every night and once it was finished dad used to cut it into squares, put some string through and tie it up. Really slidey stuff. It was horrible. Yeah. And as I say that’s the reason we used to get the Echo.
DE: Right. Okay.
PC: So you’d got some toilet paper [laughs] Yeah. So what else do you want to know?
DE: Well, you said you moved from Bracebridge.
PC: Oh.
DE: To Melville Street, was it?
PC: Belle Vue Road.
DE: Belle Vue. Right.
PC: That’s at, do you know where the Lawn is? Yeah. Well, that’s that. That’s Belle Vue Road and we were in the first house there. Anyway, it’d been in the news the war was going to start and we’d got, we’d got gas masks before actually declared. Do you know what I mean?
DE: Yeah.
PC: Anyway, the, they did a kind of a siren. They said we’ll you know, put on the radio because there was no television, we’re going to try the sirens and take you know you’ll know what’s happening. Anyway, the sirens went and mum said, ‘Come on. We’ll all go in the street. See what’s happening.’ We all walked into the street and people were coming out of the houses and an old couple lived next door and they came out with their gas masks on. ‘Are they bombing us yet?’ Yeah. Yeah, they thought war had started there and then. Yeah. Aye, so anyway it was and then it was call up wasn’t it? Called them up. My eldest brother he went. He went in the Coldstream Guards.
DE: Oh really. Okay.
PC: Well, he was tall. He was like me. He was very tall. And they put him in the Coldstream Guards. He was with Monty’s lot. Can you remember Montgomery?
DE: Yeah. In the desert.
PC: Yeah. Well, he, he was over. Overseas all those years with Monty’s lot. My middle brother didn’t go in. They wouldn’t accept him because he’d got bad varicose veins. And my youngest brother went in the Navy but he was what they called a chief stoker on tank landing craft.
DE: Oh right. Okay. Yeah.
PC: He was on one of those big ones that came right down from the north. Anyway, I remember I’d be about fourteen, I’d started work and it was a Wed, it must have been a Wednesday because we got Wednesday afternoon off and we got a telegram at the door and it said he was missing at sea presumed drowned.
DE: Oh dear.
PC: That killed my mum. Yeah. He, because he was lovely you know. My brother Ron. He was Whistling Rufus. Always used to be whistling and happy and yeah and he was lost at sea and of course —
DE: That’s awful.
PC: They never found him again of course.
DE: No.
PC: You know, there was no closure you see was there?
DE: No.
PC: You didn’t bury a body. And my sister, sister Nora, she was ten years older than me and she was a cripple, you know. She’d, what it was was when she was young she had knock knees. You know, like that.
DE: Yeah.
PC: And this is what mum used to tell us some doctor said, ‘If we break them we can set them straight.’
DE: Right.
PC: They broke both her legs and of course they never. They never mended. So she was in a wheelchair.
DE: Oh dear.
PC: And I would be about ten, nine or ten and I used to take her out and in those days the wheelchairs only had wheels that big.
DE: Yeah.
PC: They weren’t like they are now.
DE: No. They were quite small ones. Yeah.
PC: Like that big and I could just see over the top. I remember once she wanted to go up Bracebridge Heath to visit her friend because we used to live up there you see. And I started pushing her up Cross O’Cliff Hill. Well, I got about halfway up and I couldn’t do it and I thought [pause] and anyway, a young man came and said, ‘Do you want a hand?’ I said, ‘Please.’ And he pushed it up to the top for me.
DE: Yeah. That’s a big long way isn’t it that. Yeah.
PC: Yeah. So anyway, I got her up there but I used to like to going up there you see. On Main Avenue. We lived down, we used to live down there you see and the woman she used to visit her daughter had a little bike and so I I used to take this bike and I taught myself to ride up and down Main Avenue.
DE: Oh crikey.
PC: Yeah. At five years old. I always remember that. Lovely. Yeah. So yeah. Like I say my brother went off and I told you when my brother got lost at sea just a telegram. No closure. No. ‘Don’t write and tell your brother.’ You know. Of course, when my brother came home from Africa he’d lost a sister and a brother, you know.
DE: Oh, what happened to your sister?
PC: Well, my sister Nora, the one with broken knees.
DE: Yeah.
PC: She got kind of a pneumonia.
DE: Oh.
PC: With being an invalid she, she just died of it.
DE: Oh dear.
PC: Yeah. That was another thing. During the war I mean now they’d take you. That’s it. But she was laid in the coffin and it was in the front room on a, on a table and it was there for about, I should say it seemed [pause] it seemed like a week. It might have been five days. But I’ll never forget that smell. If I walked into a house and I smelled that later on, you know in my job I’d have said, ‘Somebody’s dead here.’ Or, ‘Somebody has died here.’
DE: Oh dear. Right.
PC: It’s a funny smell. You can’t describe it unless you smell it. And as I say she was laid out there on the coffin until the funeral. Then she was buried at Bracebridge Church with my relatives. Things like that. Aye.
DE: So, but you didn’t tell your older brother until he came home.
PC: No. Mum said, ‘Don’t write and tell, you know, Charles because it will upset him.’ And so when he come home he’d lost a sister and a brother.
DE: Oh dear.
PC: It was terrible that.
DE: Did you, did you manage to write and get letters from him very often then when he was away?
PC: No. No. I can’t remember. Occasionally. Occasionally you would but, but I can’t remember much. I mean, I was still at school, wasn’t I? Yeah. Oh, that’s another thing. At school if the sirens went we had brick built shelters in the playground and you had to go in these shelters you see. We went in these shelters. We were all kind of hoping we’d be in there for an hour because if you were in there an hour the teacher had a jar of sweets. You got a sweet.
DE: Oh right [laughs] okay. Yeah.
PC: We all said, ‘Don’t let the all clear go yet,’ you know because and then she would pass a sweet around to everybody who was in the shelter. Yeah. Daft isn’t it but —
DE: Well —
PC: Yeah. One of those things you [pause] yeah.
DE: And what if the sirens went when you were at home?
PC: Oh, if the sirens went while we were at home we had a, a big table made of iron. They delivered it, you know and it was iron posts and an iron top about, about that thick.
DE: About a half an inch. Yeah.
PC: Yeah. And mum put a couple of mattresses underneath and then if the sirens went she used to call us downstairs and we all went underneath there. But our dog Paddy he would sit there. If we, say we hadn’t gone to bed and suddenly he’d sit up and he’d go under the table on the mattress. Mam used to say, ‘Siren’s going to go.’ A second later sirens went.
DE: Really? Okay.
PC: How did he? He must have sensed something. There must have been something there that set something off in his ears wasn’t there? Then we’d be under there for how long the raid was on. Then suddenly he’d get up, go back and sit in front of the fire again. Mam used to say, ‘All clear’s going. Come on.’ But I could never understand how he, what triggered —
DE: Yeah.
PC: What triggered him. He must have heard just something. A little something just before the sirens started.
DE: Maybe he heard the sirens further away.
PC: Yeah.
DE: I don’t know but yeah.
PC: But he did. And he used to go underneath. Yeah. And we had this as I say this big iron table we all used to have to, mum used to call us down, ‘Come on. Sirens have gone.’ And we used to have to get underneath and try to go back to sleep while the, you know.
DE: Did the whole family fit under there then?
PC: No. Mum and dad didn’t go underneath unless, but it was very rare we heard. I think we got more trouble from our own planes dropping. I know we had something in Dixon Street and something in St Mary’s Street but I’m not sure if that was one of our own planes crashing.
DE: Okay.
PC: I can’t remember. It was a long time ago isn’t it? But there was something. But no. Unless, unless you heard it thump, you know you could hear a thump thump because you see we had so many aerodromes hadn’t we?
DE: Yeah. That’s it. Yeah.
PC: We had so many aerodromes around us you know. And that, I think that’s why the Germans you know were coming for us.
DE: That or the factories, I think. Yes.
PC: And the factories. Yes.
DE: Yeah.
PC: Yeah. Dad, dad was working on a Sunday at Ruston Hornsbys and he was walking down Kesteven Street and there used to be brick built shelters in the streets and they came over and one strafed.
DE: Oh crikey.
PC: Dad dived in to this shelter you see. So when he got home he told mum. He said, ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘I got strafed.’ She said, ‘Well, they didn’t get you in the First World War. They’re trying now.’ But he got shot in the wrist during the First World War. He was in France, yeah and he got shot through the wrist but, no. But it was weird but as I say at school you just sat there and if the sirens went you’ all used to go out very quietly and you kept thinking I hope it’s over an hour so we get a sweet. Oh.
DE: So you were more worried about that then about bombs dropping or anything.
PC: Yeah. Yeah.
DE: Yeah.
PC: Daft wasn’t it but I don’t think at that age you realise how dangerous it was. Yeah. And I, I can remember but I can’t find out if it was true. You know Whitton’s Park?
DE: Yes.
PC: Well, do you know where Queen’s Crescent is? Queen’s Crescent. Where are we? Go down Yarborough Road and there was like a –
DE: Oh, I know. Yeah. Yeah.
PC: Yeah.
DE: Yeah.
PC: That was Queen’s Crescent and there was a, like a little pathway from Queen’s Crescent through to the Common.
DE: Yeah.
PC: To the path going down. Right. Down there. I can remember it. There was a dugout shelter there but nobody else can seem to remember it.
DE: Okay.
PC: But it was so black. We used to run from the park if the sirens went and dive into this shelter. We all sat near, near the door. Yeah.
DE: Because it was so dark. Yeah.
PC: Yeah. And I always remember once we were on, we were on the Common or going down. We were near this shelter and there was a woman who lived near us, you know. Used to live near us and she was kind of all [pause] you know all flustered and I said, ‘Hello Mrs Baker.’ Whatever her name was. She said, ‘Hello dear.’ I said, ‘Are you alright?’ You know. She said, ‘No, not really.’ I said, you know, ‘What’s the matter?’ I’m kind of looking around thinking what’s the matter. She said, ‘I don’t like to tell you this but —’ she said, ‘This young teenage boy just run down there.’ She said, ‘He ran up to me, unzipped himself and showed himself.’ She said, luckily she said, I said, ‘Young man I was a midwife all my life and I’ve seen babies with a bigger one than that.’ [laughs] She said, ‘He gave a sob and ran off.’ [laughs]
DE: [laughs] Okay.
PC: Oh dear. I don’t know. It was funny. Another time when I was on the ambulances I got called to Hamilton Street. I don’t know if you know it. Down where Cross O’Cliff starts.
DE: Yeah.
PC: Off Newark Road. Hamilton Street. There was some big houses there and they had great big windows you know and if you look now. Anyway, we got a call out. Of course, I’m on the ambulances now. Got a call out there and there was this, this man and he was, he was like this you see with his hands.
DE: Shaking.
PC: So I said, ‘What’s the matter?’ You know. He said, he said, ‘I was working on that window,’ he was doing something like at the bottom of the window and the sash cord broke. Trapped his fingers. So he said, ‘I’m stood there with my hands trapped. Can’t lift it up.’ Because it’s a big, you know the big windows. Sat there so he said, ‘I’m thinking what the hell.’ A woman walking past and he banged on the window with his head and she looked. He says, ‘Here.’ And he looked down and his fingers were there you see. She went, ‘You dirty man.’ And walked off [laughs] She thought he was —
DE: Yeah.
PC: Anyway, he said a workman came past and he did the same and he came in and lifted the window and we had to take him in then to see if he had broken any of his fingers.
DE: Broken his fingers. Yeah.
PC: Oh God it was funny. She said, ‘You dirty man.’ [laughs]
DE: So —
PC: What’s that? I do go on.
DE: No, it’s fine. It’s fine. If we, if we can I’d just like to go back, back a little bit. So, you said you got a job when you were fourteen.
DE: Oh yes. In the Co-op offices in Free School Lane and it was called the cheque office. You won’t remember but when you bought from the Co-op there was three layers with that blue paper in between and it gave you a number. You got the top cheque and the second lot of cheques came to the cheque office and they were all broken up into, and we had to, with a big thing like that with all these holes in and you had to sort them out into —
PC: Oh yeah. Into –
DE: Into the cheques.
PC: Into pigeon holes. Yeah.
DE: Yeah.
PC: Then they went upstairs and then they were logged in how much money they’d got and then —
DE: Yeah.
PC: They got a dividend you see off it. Then twice a year we had Free School Lane was opened. You came in with a cheque, you know a cheque and things and then you got your money. Your divvy.
DE: Yeah.
PC: Yeah. My first job at fourteen.
DE: Was that straight from school then?
PC: Yeah. I was fourteen in the December. I started the first week in January. Didn’t get much holiday.
DE: No.
PC: Yeah. Yes. I was there for a while. But [pause] I had some jobs as well. I was always changing. But then the ambulance was the best job. I was thirty years on that.
DE: Yeah. When did, when did you join the ambulance then?
PC: I can’t remember what year it was. They only employed men you see as I told you. They only employed men. Then they said you’ve got to start employing women. I saw it in the Echo and thought ooh. So put in an application for it and I went in this room absolutely full of women, men and women and so I thought oh God, I don’t stand a chance. But, but in between that you see before that I’d been driving and I took my advanced driving course. I was always trying things out and I took my advanced driving course. I passed it and so I got my advanced driving licence. Yeah. Do you know that was a lot easier than the ordinary one and you went about fifteen miles around Lincoln and you’d say, ‘What was the last signpost we passed?’ ‘What was that lorry?’ ‘What was – ’ so and so. It was all you know, ever so easy. Yeah. But so anyway they advised, advertised in the Echo and I though ooh that sounds a good job. Yeah. So I went to apply for that.
DE: Yeah.
PC: And I got it.
DE: Yeah. Well congratulations. Yeah.
PC: Because I thought oh I’ll not stand a chance. All those men and women there. And I went shopping and when I got home the phone was ringing and I, ‘Hello.’ Yeah. ‘Mrs Cook, we want you to come down to South Park and –‘’
DE: Yeah.
PC: Got it. Oh, that’s another thing. I do go on.
DE: No, that’s fine. That’s what we want you to do is –
PC: We had an ambulance. They were old ambulances don’t forget.
DE: Yeah.
PC: We had an ambulance and two seats were in the front and then there was just a kind of a little slide back window where you could talk to the driver if you were in the back with the patient.
DE: Yeah.
PC: Anyway, I was on one day and there was this young lad had started, you know and so my boss said, ‘Oh, take him. You’ve got to go and pick this body up.’ So I picked this body up and put it in the back. I said, I said, ‘It’s alright. You needn’t stay in the back with him because he’s dead anyway.’ So we went. We had to go when we got to South Park I had to get a paper to take up to County Hospital. So I said to him, I said, ‘Oh,’ I said, ‘Go get this paper,’ off the leading, you know ambulance man. So he went in. In between time one of the lads who was sat in the restroom got in and got in the back and when this lad got in and sat down again he opened this little slidey window and tapped this lad on the shoulder [laughs] Well, he just screamed and fell to the floor. He ran out and he wouldn’t come back. Yeah. So my boss said to this other lad, he said, ‘Right, get up to the mortuary with him.’ He said, ‘I’m talking to you when you get back as well.’ This lad went home and never came back anymore.
DE: Really? No.
PC: No. Well, they used to do things like that you know. I mean like in the mortuary you took them into the mortuary in those days. You don’t do it now but you took them in to the mortuary and the mortician oh he was terrible. He would, if somebody had had a bad accident on the head he would take the top part of the crown off so he could see inside. He’d do that to some people and you know they’d pass out. And then one day there was, he was here and then there was a kind of a coffin there where they left the bodies and they sent this young lad in. They said, ‘You’ve got to go and confirm it was the person you picked.’ But they’d put a coffin there and this mortician laid in it with a cover over him and as the lad pulled the cover back he cried. Another scream.
DE: I bet. Wow.
PC: Oh, he was awful.
DE: Yeah.
PC: They were wicked.
DE: So, when, when were you driving ambulances then? Was this, I don’t know —
PC: When was I driving it? Oh God —
DE: ‘50s, ‘60s or later.
PC: No, it must have been ‘50s ‘60s. ‘9. ’49. About yeah.
DE: Yeah.
PC: Do you know I’m old.
DE: It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter.
PC: I’m terrible aren’t I?
DE: [unclear].
PC: My brain’s going.
DE: Dates are really hard to remember.
PC: Yeah.
DE: So, can we go back to Lincoln during the wartime a little bit? What was it, what was it like in Lincoln during the war?
PC: Well, it wasn’t bad. You had as I say there was shelters in the streets et cetera. High Street was all street you know. You could –
DE: It wasn’t pedestrianised no.
PC: Oh no. You could up and down cars. Up and down everything. All ways. Even the Stonebow and I seem to remember I don’t know if it was true that I used to think a double decker bus used to go through the Stonebow because there used to be a policeman at this side and a policeman at the other side and they would work together to bring traffic up.
DE: Yeah.
PC: Through the Stonebow and around. Yeah. But there used to be what they called the Still. Then there was a big hotel and then there was Woolworths come down. Then there was the High Bridge.
DE: Yeah.
PC: You know. But yeah, then you went down there was Marks and Spencer’s. What did we used to call the other one? Oh God. Woolworths, Marks and Spencer’s [pause] not home stores. Or was it British Home Stores? No, I can’t remember. But there were three great big. Yeah.
DE: Did you do a lot of shopping? I imagine lots of things were rationed weren’t they?
PC: Oh yeah. Rationed. Yeah. Yeah. That was another thing. You know, I told you we lived at Belle Vue Road.
DE: Yeah.
PC: Up near the Lawns. Mum’s, mum had two friends and the husband worked down Ripon Street. Do you know where that is? Monson Street.
DE: Yeah.
PC: Ripon Street.
DE: Yeah.
PC: Right. I’d be about nine. Nine, ten, and she used to send me with a pound note and I used to walk all that way down there and I used to have to stand and wait ‘til all the queue had gone and then Uncle Frank we called him, he wasn’t, he used to fill my bag up. There would be joints of meat and pig’s trotters, tripe, bacon, and I used to walk all that way back up the hill to Belle Vue Road. Nine years old. Can you imagine doing that now?
DE: No. You wouldn’t do that now. No.
PC: No.
DE: No.
PC: And this you know, ‘Make sure you don’t lose that pound.’ ‘Yes mam.’ [laughs] Yeah. Yes. Because the sister next to me yeah it’s alright it’s Fiona seeing if I was alright. Sister next to me she was, she wasn’t barmy but she wasn’t all there. Do you know what I mean? So she was slow.
DE: Right.
PC: Peg, they called her. She’s on that picture. Oh, that’s another thing. When we lived at Bracebridge Heath there was a woman there she was taking pictures all the time and she took that one of me there with the goat.
DE: Oh yes. Yeah.
PC: And she put it in the Sunday paper and it said Mary had a little dash dash dash. Yeah. So that was in some Sunday paper.
DE: Oh smashing.
PC: I can’t remember which one it was. Yeah. I always remember that goat it went and butted me.
DE: Oh really? [laughs]
PC: Frightened the life out of me. Yeah. We all there, oh there was quite a few of the family there.
DE: Yeah.
PC: In that one. Aye but [unclear]
DE: Now you’re doing, it’s wonderful from the things you’re talking about so [pause] do you have any, any stories about rationing?
PC: As I say meat and everything was rationed. Oh, did I tell you about that time when we got I don’t know it, get, it wasn’t from the proper butcher? What do you call them when they were black, no not black.
DE: Black market.
PC: Black market. That was the name. Yeah. You’d get horsemeat.
DE: Oh.
PC: Mum sent me to this place and I had to get this horse meat and she made, and I couldn’t, I couldn’t eat it. Horse meat. You know, I thought oh that poor horse.
DE: But you were okay with tripe and pig’s trotters and things.
PC: No. I didn’t like —
DE: You didn’t like those either.
PC: No, I didn’t like them. No.
DE: I don’t like tripe.
PC: I was, I was awful choosy. Yeah. But this horse meat. And another time we got whale meat. Yeah. I don’t know where we seemed to get that from. Take me for this whale meat. Oh, that was when Vera Lynn, can you remember she used to sing, “We’ll Meet Again.”
DE: Yeah.
PC: We started singing, ‘Whale meet again,’ [laughs] Yeah. But yeah, during the war it was funny. But I used to oh, the pictures at the cinema. If the queues, do you know the Savoy? It was —
DE: It’s Radio Lincolnshire now, right? On Newport.
PC: No. Radio Lincolnshire is up the top, isn’t it?
DE: Yeah.
PC: No, this is down near Free School Lane.
DE: Oh right. Okay. Yeah.
PC: The Savoy Cinema —
DE: Yeah.
PC: Was there and the queues used to go right down. Right down. Oh, ever so long. Really long. You’d be stood there for hours waiting to get in. Anyway, then you’d get in and there used to be an organist used to come up and play before the picture started. Anyway, you’d be sat there and then there would be, I can’t remember if it come on the screen or if somebody spoke it. ‘The sirens have sounded. If you want to you can leave now or you can stay.’ So we used to say, ‘Might as well stay.’ What’s the good of going out? Yeah. And they used to say like you know the sirens have started. Yeah. Radio Lincolnshire was at, up on Newport. At that time we had about eight cinemas.
DE: Yeah.
PC: Didn’t we?
DE: Yeah. Yeah, I think that was —
PC: Must have been.
DE: The Radion wasn’t it on Newport?
PC: There was a Ritz wasn’t there?
DE: Yeah.
PC: The Ritz. We called it the Exchange. Exchange Cinema on the Cornhill marketplace. The Regal. The Central. The Savoy. The Plaza. The Grand. The Radion.
DE: Wow.
PC: Oh, there was eight. Eight cinemas we had.
DE: What sort of films did you like watching then?
PC: What was that one used to be on a lot? Oh I can’t remember. We used to go in watch whatever you could get in actually. Yeah. And I can remember when the Exchange Cinema when we were kids you know and we used to go around asking people, ‘Have you got any bottles you want taking back?’ Because you got a penny back off the bottle.
DE: Yeah.
PC: And nobody else can remember it but I can. When you went in the Exchange Cinema there was like wooden seats at the front. Benches. Then there was wooden, ordinary wooden seats before you came to the proper cinema seats. But they were like tuppence, fourpence or a shilling for the —
DE: Wow. Okay.
PC: So we used to get the tuppeny ones.
DE: Yeah.
PC: And sit there like this looking up at the —
DE: Yeah. Craning your neck because you were near the front.
PC: Yeah. Sat there watching. Yeah.
DE: Yeah.
PC: But yeah, we had about eight cinemas. I’m sure of it. Gosh.
DE: Did you listen to the radio much as well?
PC: Oh, in them days. Oh gosh yeah. Oh, mum used to have it stuck on all the time and especially anything to do with the war. Yeah. With, you know brothers being in the forces.
DE: Yeah.
PC: I can remember that day. I know it was a Wednesday because I was off when the telegram came. My brother was lost at sea. Oh, my mum. And she said, ‘Don’t tell anybody until they’ve had their teas.’ You know. And I couldn’t stop crying. I went. I went upstairs and then she told the others when, after they’d had their teas Ron had got lost. Oh dear. She was always hoping that he, you know he would be found. Of course, he never was. Therefore, there was no closure was there?
DE: No.
PC: You see. No body. Yeah. Shame. And he was such a lovely lad. Whistling Rufus. Aye. He used to work [pause] are there any photos up there? Some photos there was. Oh no. That’s [unclear] that was my mum during the war.
DE: Oh smashing. Okay. Yeah.
PC: Dressed in her red, white and blue.
DE: If, if it’s okay with you I’d love to take proper copies of some of those but we would have to do that another day.
PC: Do what? Sorry?
DE: To make copies of those. Of the photographs.
PC: Yes. You can help yourself love. I don’t know what there is. That was my brother Ron. That was at Jersey before the war started.
DE: Oh okay.
PC: He used to go every kind of season.
DE: Yeah.
PC: And go potato picking. And then they’d get paid you see and then he would be away while potato picking was on. Then he’d come home. Yeah. But that was at Jersey. That was my mum as I say during the war in her red, white and blue.
DE: Do you remember VE Day?
PC: Oh, gosh yeah. Oh yeah. VE Day. Oh, everybody went mad. All the High Street was full. You know, everybody shouting and kissing and the old Yanks. The Americans.
DE: Yeah.
PC: The Yanks. They, oh the women were all over them and you know. Yeah. But then we had a VE party. The streets all had a parties. Right. We had one in the Ripon Arms in Monson Street. The Ripon Arms. We had it in their kind of yard.
DE: Yeah.
PC: Garden. I was fifteen. Too young to sit with these children. Too, no too old to sit with children.
DE: Yeah.
PC: Too young to sit with the adults. So us fifteen year olds we just went around and picked any bits that were left over. But I mean you couldn’t sit with the kids.
DE: No.
PC: Because they had their little party.
DE: Yeah.
PC: You couldn’t sit with the adults because you weren’t old enough. Yeah.
DE: No such thing as teenagers then.
PC: No.
DE: No.
PC: No. That’s the barge we used to own.
DE: Oh really. Okay.
PC: Yeah. Bought that for a hundred pounds.
DE: Oh crikey.
PC: Yeah. Brought it up from [pause] oh right down the Witham. We used to go [pause] that’s my nephew, Peter when they were building Bracebridge Heath houses. Sat in this [pause] That was one of the houses that belonged to the RAF.
DE: Right. Yeah.
PC: You see. There’s me and my sister. Yeah. Oh, that’s the old Brayford. Oh Russian. Oh yeah. We went to Russia.
DE: Oh really?
PC: Yeah. Me and my husband went.
DE: Okay.
PC: On a trip to Russia. Yeah. I’ve got a book there full of them. That was my nephew. He lived in London. He was in the Air Force during the war. And my cousin she was in the Navy.
DE: Did you, sorry did you, did you see many service personnel around Lincoln then?
PC: Service.
DE: Yeah.
PC: Oh yeah.
DE: Yeah.
PC: Yeah. Especially Yanks.
DE: Really?
PC: Americans. Yeah. They all used to be [pause] what was that big hotel near the Stonebow? This side of the Stonebow. Woolworths and that big. There was a big hotel.
DE: Yeah.
PC: And they used to stay there. Most of them did. Yeah. Because we used to go up and, ‘Got any gum, chum?’
DE: Really? Okay.
PC: Yeah. ‘Got any gum chum.’ Yeah. And they used to say, ‘Have you got any older sisters?’ Yeah. [unclear] Oh, we did save some junk. That were Germany 1952. Got sent over to Germany, my husband did on the Berlin Airlift.
DE: Oh really. What, what did your husband do then? Was –
PC: Hmmn?
DE: What, what did your husband do?
PC: Oh, he was air frames.
DE: Right.
PC: You know, worked on air frames. And 1952 we got married. That was another thing. I was at work January the 8th 1952. Right. At work. My fiancé came down to where I worked and said, ‘Hurry home. We’re getting married at half past five.’ ‘You what?’ He said, ‘Yeah. I’ve got to go to Germany tomorrow.’ And he, he got my dad and that to St Peter’s Church. We got married at that time of night.
DE: Wow.
PC: And he went to Germany the next morning and I went back to work.
DE: Crikey.
PC: Honestly. Then of course 1952 I went out there to join him. Stayed there. That’s another thing. I’d never been, you know on my own travelling and I went over on the ship and then we had to get a train to somewhere near Fassberg. A big town. Anyway, this German he come on and I was sat in this carriage. I was on my own and he come in and he said, ‘Get up.’ I looked at him you see. He went [unclear] And I thought how I dare to do it but I said, ‘Listen.’ I said, ‘You started the war. We won it.’ I said, ‘So just mind your manners.’ He looked at me.
DE: Oh.
PC: I thought oh God. Yeah. Oh, that was another thing. In Fassberg people there couldn’t get tea or what was the other thing? Tea. There was tea and something else you couldn’t get. So I asked my mum to send some over. And so my husband said, ‘I’ve got to work this evening so will you go to the old aerodrome, take this tea. There will be a German waiting there for you. Get the marks off him.’ Well, I went to this old aerodrome. There was all hangars with great big holes in them. I was scared stiff and I saw this man just stood there. Oh, he was like something out of Harry Lang. Peak cap on.
DE: Yeah.
PC: So, he said, ‘You’ve got tea?’ I said, ‘Yeah. You’ve got money?’ ‘Yeah.’ He gave me money, took the tea. God, I ran like hell. Frightened to death. I mean a young girl sent to a [pause] and all the hangars had great big holes where the shells had come through. Yeah. There was a big American, he was, I had a photo somewhere once of him. In fact, he, I think he’s still alive and he was on that squadron. He was very nice actually. We had tonnes of stuff and I don’t know what somebody’s done with it all but [pause] there we are. Anyway. I do go on. There’s, that’s my mum. Mum there you see. I mean she was only in her fifties. She looks like an old woman doesn’t she? Yeah. I don’t know if there is anything else on there. No [pause] no. Yeah. So —
DE: No. That’s wonderful. Let’s have a look.
PC: I haven’t finished my tea.
DE: No. You’ve been talking for forty six minutes so yeah.
PC: I do go on.
DE: I think it was, I think it was post-war but before I started recording you had a story about, was it Peter and a green ration book.
PC: Oh gosh. Yeah. Did I tell you that?
DE: Yeah. But you can you say it again for the, now we’re recording.
PC: Right. Well, the fish and chips weren’t rationed so you could get them and I can’t remember how many was in the house. About seven or eight of us. My mum sent my nephew Peter to the fish and chip shop you see. Anyway, five minutes later he came rushing back. She said, ‘Aren’t they open?’ He says, ‘Yeah. But there’s ever such a long queue. Can I borrow Auntie Joan’s green ration book?’ The pregnant woman’s ration book [laughs] Oh God. She sent him off like.
DE: Yeah.
PC: She couldn’t stop laughing. Can you imagine going in there with a green ration book. Yeah. If you were pregnant you could go to the front of the queue you see.
DE: Yeah.
PC: Poor old kid. Yeah.
DE: Okay.
PC: Yeah.
DE: Right. Unless you can think of anything else to tell me I shall say thank you very much and stop the recording.



Dan Ellin, “Interview with Patricia Cook,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 24, 2024,

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