‘After the war’ was a phrase often repeated as in, ‘after the war the sirens won’t sound anymore and the lights will all go on’ etc. When the end of war in Europe came in 1945, the main feelings were relief and sorrow. I don’t remember any scenes of wild rejoicing in our area, just thankfulness that it was over and sadness for all the people who were grieving. When the terrible conditions in the ‘enemy countries’ became known there was no ‘serves them right’ attitude among most people. All had suffered and all deserved help. The war with Japan ended in 1946, an unbelievable ending. Many people hoped the world would be peaceful in the future, but seventy years on the hope has faded somewhat. Rationing still went on but gradually things were unrationed until we were able to throw away our coupon books in 1955. During the war, the only unrationed ‘takeaway’ food (an unknown term at the time) was fish and chips. Always enjoyed, even if the fish had funny names like snoek, and certainly a big help for those feeding families.
All the Sinclair and Stroud cousins who served in the Forces were able to return to their various countries and live out their lives. We had moved to Greenock before then, and Annabel was at the High School. I was in Kilmacolm every day for work. When Annabel was in her early teens she went with her friend Pearl to the Ardgowan Methodist Church Youth Club to join other friends there. She came home one evening and said she had told Mrs Ackroyd, the Minister’s wife who helped at the Youth Club, that I would come in next week to help the girls cut out patterns to make blouses. I was quite annoyed! I was then attending the Episcopal Church in which I had been baptised as a baby. However she was very persuasive and, as usual, I capitulated. So my wee sister changed the course of my life that night, for which l have always been grateful.
After a couple of weeks, I began to feel very much at home with the Youth Club and the helpers. Mr and Mrs Campbell, who had a daughter aged somewhere between Annabel and me, were always there. Mrs C asked me if I’d like to come along to the Sunday services. They were all so friendly, and up till then nobody at the Episcopal Church had spoken to me. It was very formal and the Minister and his wife bowed to the altar when they came in. So I went the next Sunday, and found my spiritual home where I was welcomed and given a job to do soon after. I became the JMA Secretary (Junior Missionary Association). The Sunday School children collected pennies, or more, from the grownups and had a little book to enter it all. If they collected £5 in a year, they received a medal with a bar for it in following years. There was a competition for all the Methodist Churches in Scotland and our group won it twice, keeping the Shield for each year.
I found myself being Secretary quite unwillingly to start with. Mr H Derry Osborn was Income Tax Inspector for the area and much respected. I didn’t like to say no when he suggested I might like to take over from the girl who was leaving to marry a Church of Scotland minister. Then he told me that to be a Church Secretary one should be a member of the Church. So l went to a class taken by Mr Ackroyd, the Minister, who was a kindly man, and before long I was up at the front of the church on a Sunday morning feeling terribly conspicuous and making vows and shaking hands with the Church stewards and just about everybody else. I was roped in to the Sunday School and became a teacher in the Junior Department. I also enjoyed the Wesley Guild, but was quite dismayed to be asked to do the vote of thanks ‘next week’. Fortunately I had a whole week to think what to say! At various events I got to know the young people from the Roxburgh Street Church too, and eventually was invited by Sheina and Lily to come to their Youth Club.