Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Mom's WW2 Stories: Air Rides, Bicycle and Dugouts

When the war started, grandma sewed little backpacks for her daughters and put some sets of clothing to change, food rations and water into the bags. Whenever an air raid started, they all took their backpacks and ran to the nearby bunker which was also a bomb shelter. On weekdays, when grandma was at work, in case of an air raid, the girls had to go the shelter without their mother.

One day mom was at home on her own as her two years older sister had gone out to play. Suddenly, the air ride sirens took off, it was time to rush to the bomb shelter again. But mom, a few year old girl then, was on her own. She did not know what to do. Her sister was not in, and they were supposed to go and hide together! Mom was scared. Not only because she was afraid of the shelling, but also because something terrible could happen to her sister Zenia. Mom took their backpacks and ran out of the house. Bombs were falling down from the sky. Mom cried, she was horrified. Where is Zenia? Instead of going to the shelter, she was trying to find her sister. Despite the bombs exploding everywhere, she ran around the house, calling her sister's name: “Zenia! Zenia!”.

Finally, mom did find her, on the hill behind the building. Zenia was sitting in the dugout which the girls and their friend had made together. Mom was relieved and happy that Zenia was fine. Nevertheless, she was still terrified because of the bombing. She moved the board pieces which were covering the dugout and jumped into it. The two girls sat there together till the end of the air ride.

Mom, a little girl then, could not ride a bike. One day, Zenia and their friend (who was their neighbors' daughter), decided to teach mom how to ride. They did not have their own bicycles but it was not a problem! They took the one which was placed at the house wall by its owner - Mr. D. the landlord.

At first, everything went fine. Mom's sister and the other girl were holding the bike at the back to keep it straight and mom enjoyed her very first bike ride going down a little hill. However, at some point, 'the instructors' assumed mom had already learned how to ride and stopped supporting the vehicle. When mom realized she was riding on her own, she lost her balance and rode straight into the wall of one of the wooden storage places which were not far from the house. The girl fell off the bike. She was alright, but the front bicycle wheel was not. The impact turned it into something which more reminded an 'eight' instead of a circle.

The three girls got nervous - it did not look good. What if the landlord will catch them dealing with the destroyed thing which no longer reminded the machine it used to be? So they took the bike back where it was before they started the riding lesson and hid in the dugout made by mom and her sister's girlfriend's parents. Not long after that, Mr. D. came.

He found the girls in their hideout and ask them: "Do you know who destroyed my bicycle?"

"No, we don't!", the three ones shouted altogether in reply.

The landlord turned back and went toward the house mumbling something about the hooligans who ruined his machine. Probably he very well knew or at least suspected who those mischief makers could be. Anyhow, he said nothing to the girls' parents and they did not tell about what had happened to anybody either. Well, at least for some time.

Mom, Zenia and their parents - Hel, 1938

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