John has been inking the ribbon in our public typewriter. This little machine draws a host of memories from museum visitors.
As mature fingers tap out ‘The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog’, memories are shared of gradually moving up the skills chain from manual to electric to keyboard.
Sometimes, our skills throw us into unfamiliar places: places we might not have otherwise gone...
The sergeant’s offer of a good slug of port had been kindly meant but accepting it unwise, my Mum thought. And a single travel tablet is not going to be enough, but how was I to know it would be a troop carrier?
Coarse webbing crossed her chest and around her stomach, securing her to an undersized portion of unpadded bench which lined the aircraft.
She had never experienced anything like the waves of sound which reverberated off the metal fabric as engines revved for takeoff.
Opposite, soldiers joked and guffawed, but she couldn’t hear their words (fortunately).
Her whole body vibrated. As the plane lurched into high altitude it settled into a banshee wailing as wind found every gap in the fuselage.
Holding grimly to the parachute she’d no experience to operate, Mum’s gaze dropped to substantial boots set stolidly either side of her.
In the unheated hold, she felt grateful for the warmth of scratchy army trousers pressed against her civilian-skirted thighs.
As the plane shuddered, dropped and rose again, saliva filled her mouth.
A bag was thrust into her hand. “Still another two hours to Berlin, sweetheart”.
As you can tell, my Mum vividly recalled this experience, even 65 years later when I recorded her stories.
From a small Welsh village she moved to bustling London, survived the Blitz, was flown to Germany in 1946 – her first flight and her first overseas anywhere.
War brings all sorts of pressures and prospects to bear. Mum broke her engagement to a handsome Scot after meeting another man in Germany she would later marry.
Is it fanciful to think these opportunities were brought about by her really excellent secretarial skills?
When you come to the museum, tap the keys, dial the phone, chalk the board; it is the stories waiting to be shared, that are the very reason for our being.
M Thompson © firstname.lastname@example.org 389 words.
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