Friday, 22 January 2010

Interview: Earliest Childhood Memory

Betty Smith was more concerned about missing maths class than the threat of air strikes.

Growing up as an only child in Ripley, Derbyshire, she taught herself to read by the time she was four and half.

She looks back proudly on her earliest childhood memory - starting primary school at the top of her class.

After moving to Derby aged nine, Betty was diagnosed with diphtheria– a respiratory disease common amongst children during the early 20th century – and had to be hospitalised for many months.

Yet just two years later she was awarded a scholarship to the local girls’ grammar school and when World War II broke out in 1939, Betty remembers being ‘very disappointed’ that the schools were closed for several months.

Like many children during the war, Betty was evacuated from home, but was only sent 10 miles away as she moved back to Ripley to stay with her old next-door neighbours.

She distinctly remembers feeling very homesick and not enjoying her time there, so after just two weeks her father came to collect her and take her back home.

Back in Derby, Betty lived above a shop and remembers her entire family having to squeeze into the cold, dark cellar whenever the bomb sirens sounded.

Betty still lives in Derby with her husband George and turned 81 on the 10th of December.

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