Between leaving school and meeting my future husband, I once again became friendly with Lennie Waring from my days with Aunty and Uncle in Blackpool. I must have obtained his address from Aunty, and by now he was serving in the Army and stationed in Trieste, Italy.
We began writing long letters to each other , which inevitably became love letters. We would make pacts to look at the moon, at the same time, on the same night and we also exchanged photographs.
These were the photos we exchanged
One time he sent me a beautiful pair of pure silk stockings (nylons had not become available yet), and I showed them to Ruby, who was green with envy. Unfortunately for Ruby, no amount of money could buy silk stockings: they weren’t available. How she begged and cajoled me to let her have them. She made a fantastic offer of two pounds ten shillings (£2.50) for them, but I was adamant. How could I ever sell a token of love, even though I had no intention of wearing them! Lennie at last got leave, which he spent at his home in Bolton, Lancashire. We arranged to meet fleetingly as he passed through London on his way back to Trieste. We were to meet each other on the platform of Charing Cross railway station, before he was once again whisked out of my life. We only had a few minutes together and I got my first, long awaited kiss from him. It was also my last. We had no time to talk as the train was already filling up with soldiers and ready to leave. I stood and watched as Lennie and the train disappeared into the distance. A few months later the romance fizzled out. I was probably a lot younger and less experienced in life than he thought, and we gradually stopped writing. I never saw him again, but have often wondered what became of him. Someone once told me he worked for the Evening News in Bolton, but I don’t know in what capacity.
Because I had led quite a sheltered life as far as boys were concerned, I had never learned to dance, and had never been to a dance hall. This was quite a handicap to me, as a teenager. Most young people met on the dance floor, and it was one of the most likely places to find a boyfriend. As Mum and Dad didn’t like the idea of their daughter frequenting dance halls and getting ‘picked up’ this option was not open to me. I was almost sixteen when my friend Doreen suggested that we go to a place she had discovered where they taught you to dance. For me, it killed two birds with one stone. It was similar to a social club, where you could meet new friends, but I could also learn ballroom dancing. As it turned out, it was the most momentous thing I ever did, and it changed my life forever.
I didn’t know what to expect as I joined Doreen’s group of friends in the Lady’s Cloakroom. The conversation, amidst lots of silly giggling seemed to be mainly about this male they all fancied, and who’d playfully taken one of the girl’s headscarves home with him the week before. Since I didn’t know the girls, or the boy that they were talking about, I felt rather left out of the conversation.
Doreen said: ‘Let’s all go into the dance hall and wait for him to arrive.’ Having put on their lipstick and straightened their stocking seams, all the girls streamed back into the dance room to await this 'dreamboat.'
In due course, he walked through the door and the girls started giggling and nudging each other again. He walked over to our group and said hello. He was a couple of inches short of six feet tall, very slim and showing off the most wonderful suntan that I had ever seen. The two things that I noticed first about him were his eyes, which were very dark brown and fringed with thick lashes, and his long, slender fingers. He was dressed in a silver-grey suit, which showed off both his glorious tan and his broad shoulders. ‘Yes,’ I thought, ‘you are quite dishy, after all.’
The dance instructors separated us all into two groups, male and female, to learn our respective steps. A bit later Dorrie, the instructress shouted ‘Find a partner.’ Miracle of miracles, ‘dreamboat’ came over to me and asked: ‘Shall we?’ As we took to the floor, he introduced himself.
‘ My name’s Arthur, what do they call you?’
We danced most of the evening together and later, after we had said goodnight, I went home floating on air. I didn’t know if he would be interested in me, but I was jolly well going to try and make him so. I was nearly sixteen. I had never been out with a boy and all this was very new and exciting to me.
This is a photo of Arthur , taken just before I met him. He's the one in the foreground wearing sunglasses.