Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Bio #43- To Canada on the M.V. Georgic

Getting ready to leave Canada was a big job. We decided in January of 1953, made all arrangements, papers, etc., and then the real work started. But before anything else was done, I had to go into Huddersfield Infirmary for a prolapse operation, as the doctor said I couldn't travel in my present condition. So I got over this operation in early February.

For five weeks, I packed a trunk a week. Ron had tools to pack. This was a heck of a job, knowing what to take and what to sell. The last week we sold the things off, and Bob slept in a bottom dresser drawer and Linda with us. Ron sold his Norton and when it and the baby pram were sold I cried. They meant a lot to us. It was easy to sell the other household things, but not the pram and bike. As it was, we had half a ton of luggage, and off it went one day on a big van. We were sorry to say goodbye to all our friends in Huddersfield, Ron's cousins, and my sister and family who came down from Stanley to see us off. We left 26 Cross Lane on March 28, 1953. We had one week in Ilford with Ron's Gran, Auntie Blanche and Uncle Jack.

Bob, Me and my Great-Auntie Blanche in Ilford, Essex.
Then we set sail on April 11th. We left Southampton on the Motor Vessel Georgic, a big ship that had been a troop ship in the war. History has it that she laid on the floor of the Mediterranean, near Alexandria, Egypt, for three years, after a hit down one of her two funnels. She was raised up, cleaned, and used as a troop ship again.

The MV Georgic as it originally was before being bombed.

The Georgic after bombing. Later refurbished.
What Letty heard about the Georgic was true, although before it was a troop ship, it had been a classy passenger liner. You can read more about it here. It was scrapped in 1956.

When we got on her, she was turned into a passenger ship, for immigration purposes. We stood in line to get our papers checked, a nurse saw me holding Bob, came over and took Bob and Linda on board to the nursery. This was a relief to us all, and when we finally got to our cabin we went down to get the kids. What a sight met our eyes. There were about thirty babies and small children there, and a half dozen nurses. Cribs lined one wall and Bob was one of the kids sleeping there. All the cribs were full, and Linda was playing in the sandbox with others, having the time of her life. Every day she was down there for an hour or two.
Nursery of the M.V. Georgic
Bob got sick the first day at sea and had to have the ship's doctor and nurse to him a few times. He spent the whole trip in bed, and Ron and I had to take Linda in to meals alternately. Linda thought it was fun and enjoyed the trip. She was so "Yorkshire," we had to laugh. meaning my accent

After eight days on board ship, we docked at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on April 18th at 8 pm. There was a special reception center there (and a "welcome home" cable from Ed and Margret,) run by the Red Cross. It was very cozy, so we left Linda in a big easy chair near our suitcases, and told her we had to see to our other luggage and we would be back very soon. There were nurses and other staff there, and lots of people. But Linda wouldn't move, or eat cookies, or drink juice. Poor little girl, she was so scared. We took Bob with us as he wasn't well. Oh, what a trip! Two hours later we got back, poor Linda thought we had left her for good. She was starting to cry when we came back, so I took her on my knee and loved her, and I cried too. For two things, her feelings, and because I was glad to be back in Canada. Bob was with Ron, so then we got on the train, put the children to bed and went there ourselves. We were all tired out, but I couldn't sleep for hours. I was in the top berth with Bob, and Ron below with Linda. Poor little lassie, she was worn out, and scared we would leave her again. At 11 pm the boat and train exchanged whistles, and we were headed west for Calgary. It was sort of a sad sound.

My four year old's memories of the trip include a visit to Regent Park Zoo in London, where the huge snakes terrified me, a visit to a playground with my father and Uncle Jack, during which Bob got filthy, to the disgust of the two women, standing in line to board the ship, and watching the flying fish during the voyage. It was near the time of Queen Elizabeth's coronation, so the ship's tuck shop sold all kinds of souvenirs. My mother had a toffee tin from that era until her house was sold. Pier 21, the immigration center in Halifax, is now a National Historical Site.