My mother told us stories about my father and her going to America for a year in 1946 aboard a war time troop carrier. It was an uncomfortable experience, evidently. And coming back was equally entertaining.
They had many adventures in America – my father studying and my mother touring, giving talks on South Africa.
In 1946, I was two years old.
My sister and I were separated. She was boarded out with friends and I was put in an orphanage.
I have no memory of the orphanage, but the family myth was that I loved it – and I loved my cot.
But I DO remember stuff. I remember staying at my granny and grandpa’s at the weekend. Well I don’t remember ‘the weekend’ part. But they ran the local YMCA in an old Victorian building.
I remember the ornate sweeping wooden balustrade going up from the ground floor entrance to the upper floor. I remember the SMELL! It was of men’s pipes, cigars and cigarettes. And the SOUND of billiard balls smacking into each other and dropping into pouches. And men talking and laughing.
In my memory I was put to bed there, not in my orphanage cot – but in a small bed next to a wood panelled wall where the sounds and the smells lulled me to sleep.
I don’t remember my sister. And grandma and grandpa are vague impressions. I don’t remember hugs and cuddles.
Those sounds and smells and the men/man atmosphere comforted me in my desolation.
I think that’s why I like men/cigarettes/pipes/cigars and snooker – masculine stuff! Men have never been MY enemy.