Mum turned 21 in March 1944, during the world war which had taken her brother’s life two years earlier. It can’t have been an easy time, but she seems to have made the most of it. Amongst the gifts she received is this golden key, which I often played with as a child. Also pictured is a letter she wrote to her estranged father the following June, in which she describes the occasion:
“Before March 16th I had the firm opinion that 21sts were very much over-rated, but it has been one of the happiest days I have spent. I even woke up feeling different – feeling that from now on everything would be wonderful and that feeling still persists, though there have been a few ‘off’-moments here and there…
On my birthday I had lots of wonderful surprises at home and at work. Mummy gave me a lovely gold watch and handbag, I had two lots of flowers, a silver necklace, two ornaments, a picture, lots of little presents, including a birthday egg. At the office they gave me money which I haven’t bought anything with yet. Bob, a very nice boy, insisted on taking us to the theatre and out to dinner afterwards. He produced a key from his parents. It is a lovely thing in metal which has been gold lacquered, it is something like this [sketch] and I shall be able to look at it in 90 years’ time and remember the good or bad (?) old days of 1944.
Well D-Day has come at last and one can’t help feeling excited about it despite knowing that so many poor lads will not come home.”
I don’t know who “Bob” was, presumably an admirer, as the key is such a special, personal gift. And memento: although she didn’t live another 90 years, I hope that someone in the family will be able to look at it in 2034 and know about the person it was made for.
All contact with her father stopped not long after this. The story of how I came to have her letters to him will be told in another post.