John Patterson is in a group of people who lived in the Crawcrook village, back in Geordie land in the UK. They are in regular contact with each other via the internet. I loved this story which went up in the past few days. It says a lot about communities:
Following on from previous stories about Hector Marchetti I am stretching my memory back to a story told when I was a young lad in Crawcrook at the beginning of the 1940s, so I hope I’ve got it right. During the miners’ strike in the 1920s Hector had a grocery shop on Jubilee Terr, beside Fred Strong’s shop, as well as his ice cream shop.
The pitmen weren’t working and money was tight so Hector told many of his customers they could pay for their groceries when the strike was over.
Apparently when the men did get back to work, some of the families were in a very bad way financially, so Hector wiped their slates clean. June 1940 Italy came into the war, on Germany’s side, making all Italians living in Britain very unpopular. A gang of men attacked Jo Saparelli’s shop in Blaydon and wrecked it. Someone from Crawcrook was in Blaydon at the time and heard some of the men saying they were going to Crawcrook to wreck Hector Marchetti’s shop next. This person got the first bus back to Crawcrook, and went to the Big Club and told the men what was happening.
All the men in the club went over the road and formed a cordon around Hector’s shop. When the Blaydon gang arrived, they soon got the message to head off back to Blaydon. The pitmen remembered what Hector did for the miner’s families during the big strike. Hector and his family belonged to Crawcrook. As the saying goes: – You are remembered for your deeds. Hector was one of us.
When he sent this to me John added:
This was how the men in two close villages acted in war time, and I don’t make any judgments. There were different circumstances in different villages at a time when people felt threatened. In a different way I can see this happening now with this new virus.
I was in the RAF when the Asian flu came in 1957. We were in billets with 20 men to a billet. The sergeant came in to tell us that the MO has ordered that all the windows have to be open at all times then he said ‘if you get this flu you might get better, and you might not’ then left. You couldn’t argue with that, he was right, so why mess about.