Readers of one of my favourite books 84, Charing Cross Road will recall that Helene Hanff sent parcels of food ordered from New York to the staff of the London bookshop from the late 1940’s. She did this because she was aware of the severe food shortages that England faced for many years after the end of WW2.
Today, during another session of scanning old documents, I came across the inhouse magazine of Chiswick Products – the makers of Cherry Blossom Shoe Polish in London. It was the Winter 1947 issue in which our grandfather was farewelled on his retirement after 40 years as one of their Lithographic Printers. Three other members of the family also worked there over several years.
I was very moved to read the story of how the staff in Australia and South Africa wanted to send food parcels from each member of their staff – 79 from Australia and 165 from South Africa to the staff in London. As there must have been many more staff than that number in England, it was decided to put in the names of all staff with 10 years service who had been there during the war and balloted the required number to receive the parcels. I bet there were very mixed feelings that day in the factory as some received food they hadn’t seen since before the war and others went home empty handed.