Edinburgh, 1929

This story was written by Isobel Maher, and can be found on her blog.  

Picture a small, white-washed cottage nestled in Scotland near Edinburgh. 

My mother was lying in bed in labour.  The midwife was standing, pleading with my mother to push harder.  Mother screamed and pushed with all her might and I finally emerged, a fourteen pound baby girl born on December 29, 1929.  With the grace of God, we survived the ordeal.

My father was a stretcher bearer in the first World War.  He rescued the soldiers from fields ridden with gas bombs.  He later received a war medal for his bravery, but died at age forty due to his exposure to the gas bombs.  The widow’s pension from the army was only 4 shillings a week, which was hardly enough to put food on the table.

My mother opened a sweet shop in the cottage which helped us survive the hard times.  I longed for adventure, but I was too young to enlist in the war declared against Hitler.  The bombs were dropped in England.  On the way back to Germany, the planes passed over head and were illuminated by searchlights.

Churchill was a strong leader.  He kept our spirits up during the war.  Saying we would never be defeated.

The war ended when I was 19.  I decided I would immigrate to Canada in 1949.  My mother and sister came to the Liverpool dock to see me off.  I climbed aboard a freighter bound for Montreal with 12 other passengers on board: the sea was rough and stormy. 

Meals were served in the dining room where plates were anchored down.  After dinner, I made my way down to the cabin at the bottom of the ship.  I looked out the porthole remembering a story that was published in the newspaper where a girl was murdered and her body thrown through the porthole.  I shuddered, then went to my bunk.  The sea was rough.  I rocked back and forth as the ship crashed through the high waves.

Suddenly, there were heavy breathing sounds in the darkness.  A figure moved toward me: I could not tell who it was.  Stron arms were around me, ripping my nightdress from my shoulders.  My fear was so great, I could not scream.   Then it came.  A piecing scream.  The man released me and fled.

I spent the remainder of the voyage terrified.  I did not know who he was and was too ashamed to report the incident.  I was 19 and a virgin: thank God I was saved.


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