They were all wearing tattered suits, and they’d been living in a tent together for three months.”
They’d been sleeping on the floor in the middle of a field as the first frost set in. It wouldn’t be long before another winter arrived. “The tents were always packed away,” he recalls. And they’d been living off the land since they’d come to the British Isles. In the last year, on top of the food shortage, they’d started working on a couple of farms in Suffolk. And yet, despite the stress, they’d managed to stay alive. His cousin and sister had given him a few of the old-timey raggedy clothes that were just about as comfortable as a sleeping bag. They’d also given him a few of the new-age clothes and a pair of mittens. “It’s so lovely,” he sighs as he pulls a pair of old woolen boots out of storage. He could feel the heat coming on as he picks them up. The warmth they received helped to keep them warm even when they’d been living in tents.
It took them a while to get their first house and to get a job. They’d taken the chance to be the “woke up people” and so many of their friends from back home were in a different community. Their relatives had started to work in the fields at the same time as they’d been studying in school.
He wonders what they thought when the war began in 1914. There was a certain sense of humour, but nothing like the humour and irony of today’s generation. He remembers going to the movies with a group of friends in the late ’70s and being amazed by the quality of the performances from actors like William Shatner, Robert Stack, Patrick Stewart and, of course, Leonard Nimoy. “There’s another reason why we went into service. You never know when you’re going to get an opportunity to go to war, you know? They were the only people in the world who really understood how to fly and they knew all about guns.”
After that, the war was over. “It was like you had completed a job,” he says. “You could get out of the house and go to bed, but you had to keep your legs crossed that you weren’t going to the front. It was a real shift. I wanted to get back to my roots. I was in a real hurry. I’d lost my house, and at the same time I couldn
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