Today is International Women’s Day. I have recently been looking through a tattered old photograph album from my mother’s youth, and was curious about these photos. She must have taken most of them as she is in only one, as a young woman, and I didn’t recognise any other faces. Then something clicked, and I remembered how she had travelled to Czechoslovakia (as it was then) soon after the second world war, I think with the Young Communist League, to help with reconstruction work. Sure enough, when I gently prised the photos loose from their yellowed cellophane corners, I found the information I needed written in Mum’s handwriting on the reverse:
It’s amazing to see these confident young women, including my mother, boldly fulfilling the post-war principles of international co-operation and solidarity. There are photos of the local scenery too – this one is captioned “Summit of Tromsky Mountain”
– and this picture, according to Mum’s notes on the back, shows her friends “at the village bathing pools, these are in very lovely glades. Belong to community & cost nothing.”
I know that Mum had a wonderful time on her trip (as did my Dad when he visited the same country 3 years later, before they met). I wonder who the other women in the photos are? Not to mention the young men – like the chaps sitting with Mum in this photo:
…and the mysterious Abdul:
Written in pencil underneath this inscription, like an afterthought, Mum has written “Abdul in particular.” I would love to know who all these young people were.
I’m so proud to see my mother, or Eleanor Lane as she was then, a strong and confident young woman of 24, working to help her comrades abroad. My Mum: International Socialist.
Happy International Women’s Day, Mum!