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Growing Up in World War II

Anita Lewis

Anita Lewis recalls moving and growing up in Brighton in World War II.

I was born to Jewish parents whom had a ladies clothes shop in Kensington Gardens (The Lanes) my Father died in 1941 [the family leave and live in Brighton]. My Mother, now a very young widow, decided she wanted us all to live above the shop because of bombs etc. It had two rooms upstairs which we used as bedrooms, a small room we used as a dining/living room, with gas fire, which she told us if the Germans invaded we would sit in front of it and turn it on - she was terrified as we were all girls and Jewish! There was NO bathroom, we went once a week to the public baths: how Awful UGH!, Toilet outside in the yard next to the coal cellar, kitchen downstairs, real spooky, I remember running to the air raid shelter during the night, which was around the corner in another street, everyone took something down there to eat, it was like a picnic, we eventually got tired of that, stayed in bed and hoped for the best.

I remember the butcher, grocer, fish and chip shop, and a few other shops and oh of course the sweet shop, and the rationing books coupons for everything. I use to dream of when the war was over and I would go and buy such a lot of sweets and just eat and eat, Ha Ha! I haven't done that yet! I remember going to the pictures, the serials we all looked forward to, and when an air raid warning was shown on the screen, a lot of people left, but my Mother always told us never leave - go under the seats, as people panic and we may be trampled on.

Of course the beaches had barbed wire all across them , so we couldn't go to the beach, we didn't go swimming at all, school wasn't too bad, but I never did like it. The Hippodrome Theatre was opposite the school where we took shelter during Air raids, we all had to stay in lines and walk across quietly. At first it was fun missing lessons, but teachers got clever and took work down with them.

After the war we use to go tea dancing at Sherry's, dancing at the Regent, although I was still very young, I loved jitter-bugging.

After a few years living above the shop, we moved to a house in Hove, we had a Anderson shelter (I think it was called that) in our lounge; an Iron shaped contraption with a gate in front, where we use to sleep, because of the air raids, it wasn't big enough for five of us so my Mother and I slept on top, which wouldn't have been much help if a bomb would have hit our house, when I grew up I asked her why she had me sleep on top with her she said she had no idea why, we use to laugh at this.

August 1947 my Mother Emigrated to South Africa with her 4 daughter's of course, she actually regretted emigrating and wished we had stayed in UK, she unfortunately didn't have enough money to return so we stayed, I married had children who mmigrated to America, so that is where I am living now. I still feel very British and always will be.

Shared on 22 September 2007 by Anita Lewis.

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