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Hawthorn Road, Castle Bromwich.

Edward and Daisy JOHNSON rented a house in Hawthorn Road, Castle Bromwich (1940-1947). The house must have seemed huge to them compared with the small Victorian houses they had  both grown up in and shared with several siblings, Edward loved having his own garden and soon had a vegetable and fruit garden planted and there was still room for Daisy's washing line and a lawn outside the French windows. Hazel was born in the house spending her first days between the house and the air-raid shelter belonging to the next house which was owned by the Davies family, The master bedroom  had a bay window which looked straight down to the Chester Road, there was just one house on this short linking road that of Dr Chitnis.

They had furnished the house with items bought in “The House That Jack Built” their blankets were marked with the utility mark. Edward's sister Winifred worked in the curtain department of Grey's store in Birmingham and was able to make all the necessary black out curtains at a discount.

Being war time Edward had sold his Jowett and they both used bicycles to get around. Once there was an air raid while Daisy was out she made for the nearest shelter but saw a small border collie obviously confused by all the running people and noise of the moaning minnie siren so she picked it up and took it into the shelter. After the raid she thought it would soon find its way home but it made no attempt to leave her side. So she took it to the nearest police station the police weren't able to keep the animal and suggested if she was able to look after it she should take it . She put notes in shop windows and vets near where she had picked the dog up with no luck so the days past and then weeks and Rex was now part of the family. He used to sit in the bay window watching for Edward coming home and as soon as he turned in off  Chester Rd Rex would jump out of the window and race to greet him, once even from the bed room window.

The family home in Hawthorn Road showing the cherry tree  Photograph by B Brown

When Daisy lay in bed after her daughter's birth she enjoyed eating a bag of cherries throwing the stones through the window, we were not surprised when we saw a big cherry tree in the garden when we visited the house in the late 1990's! Hawthorn Rd lead into Hazelhurst Rd and that probably influenced Daisy when after several days of indecision,(the mid wife used to say “and what's her name today?”) she settled on Hazel for the baby's name.

The room  above the garage was Hazel's play room and occasionally a guest room, above the door is the bath room. There were two more bedrooms at the back of the house Down stairs there was a door from the garage into the hall. At the back of the house was the kitchen with a back door into the garden and a good sized dinning room with french windows this was the most used room., the front sitting room was kept for visitors and special occasions except for a short time when Daisy’s sister and husband lived with them. The gate on the Davies’ side of the house lead past the coal house and outside toilet to a lovely long garden. The Davies’ lived in the house to the right of ours as you look at the photograph.  

The first party was very hurriedly arranged. There are very few  men in this photograph they were probably preparing the games and sports which were held after the feast. The highlight was the huge bonfire lit on the road! It melted the tar but as there were very few cars around and everyone was happy no one moaned at the damage!

In this photograph Hazel was sitting on the dark chair nearest the camera it’s her hat on the floor! You can just make out Daisy’s dark curls behind the lady who is leaning over the child by the flags. Notice too the very useful orange boxes. Four of these boxes were sanded down and fixed together then the addition of an old curtain on a spring was used for many years to house toys books, jigsaw puzzles and so on in the playroom.

Street parties War was over!

There were two parties one to celebrate Victory in Europe, VE day 8 May 1945 and another to celebrate Victory in Japan VJ day 15 Aug 1945 four days before Hazel's 3rd birthday.

The night before the first party VE Day Hazel was woken up by a man knocking on the door he asked that all our chairs and tables be put into the street with any spare food to give the children a party to remember. If you look closely at the photo you can see they have made the children hats out of news paper and planks have been placed between chairs to give additional seating.

The second party was slightly better prepared as you can see from this series of photographs. Hazel can remember standing in the bay window of her parents bedroom on August 15th 1945 watching people preparing for the V.J. Day street party while Daisy put red white and blue ribbons in her hair. The table was set up on the verge outside our neighbours (the DAVIES') house which was decked out with bunting.

In these photograph Hazel is the nearest little girl with ribbons in the centre on the right of the table Daisy (with dark curly hair with a bow) is leaning over the next little girl.

In this photograph Daisy is on the right of the lady holding the child, Edward is under the small rectangular window and Hazel is the third from the left of the photograph.

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