The Tom Farrell Letter  (August 2013)

From:         Tom Farrell - 1943 to 1951
Subject:     Spud Picking, the Evacuation to Bangor and School Dinners

Dear Webmaster,

Further up the list of your COB letters, you can see my previous communication regarding a the book I had written about my evacuation experiences, 'Tim Oliver, Evacuee', which ended with my return home and start at the Collegiate School.

I'm now starting to write a sequel, just for the record, and am trying to gather information about the pea and potato picking outings from the school, in which years, which forms, which farms, (in Ormskirk?) etc., and would value any personal reminiscences, anecdotes etc., which members can call to mind.

The same thing applies to the school's Evacuation to Bangor;  and, I must confess that School dinners are also a bit of a blur in my memory bank.

Any help would be much appreciated, particularly from ex-classmates, who may well have the odd yarn from their memory of me in my formative years.

With kind regards,

Tom Farrell

Hi Tom,

To save myself some typing, I am placing a copy of the answer to your previous letter, at the bottom of this page.

I do remember the "Spud Picking" (vaguely) with very little detail, except that it was a week of back-breaking work for Six Shillings a day (which was a small fortune to me).  I had to miss one day (which was a tragedy).  We had to bring our own packed lunches.  I think I would have preferred the school dinners!

We were picked up outside the school front door (at 8.45, I THINK) and driven down to Kirkby, on the back of an open lorry, IN THE WINTER. The Farmer thought that we were rubbish.  We thought he was a miserable "B*****D".  The farmer's helpers were POWs who insisted that they were NOT Germans, but Ukranians, and not really enemies.  I THINK that we worked till five O'clock.

We were each allocated a section of ground about 15 paces long and the tractor drove past, turning over the ground and slinging the spuds up in the air a couple of feet or so.  You were very, very, very hard put to pick up all the spuds in your section (and put them in the 'skip') before the tractor returned to cover the next stretch of ground.  The Tractor seemed to go faster and faster (through the deep mud) in its circuit down the line of us pickers.  I hated it!

As for school dinners, this was one of those things that makes me wonder whether I had a deprived childhood or that it was simply a matter of the there "being a war on"!  I hated the meals (possibly) because my Mum laced our food with lots of sugar and the school didn't. Some my favourite foods(at home) were refused, point blank, by me, inschool.  On the other hand, some kids stuffed down their throats, all the food from everyone sitting around them.  I sometimes wondered what they were fed at home!

BTW - If you weren't happy at Shaw Street, just consider the Prep Kids, who, (for a year or so) had the dinners at Holly Lodge in front of a pile of giggling schoolgirls (I hated that smell of coffee, for many years afterwards) - Later on, we had SAM HARRIS helping to serve our dinners, in the pavilion.  We had to take it in turns with the washing up (Surely you remember that).

I would like to repeat my previous request for any other members to write in, with memories of their evacuation etc,

Cheers - Webmaster

Hi Tom,

I remember you, in the Prep - always cheerful and bright - good at games, especially Rugby (if my memory is correct)  - cleverer than me (but who wasn't?) - You did mention that you were no relation to the Everton Team Captain, at that time (Many times!).

Some may remember Tom for representing Britain, in the Olympic Games!

Other COBs may remember Tom doing an Act in a "N****r Minstrel Show" that Mr White (the Music Master) arranged.  All the performers wore overalls and wide straw hats.  Tom had an Act that involved a performing flea, that did all sorts of marvellous tricks.  Mind you, as the flea was so small, none of us could actually see it.  I would like to challenge any other COBs who can remember this act, to write in and tell us how Tom finished his act.

In the same vein, we have made a request for any other members to write in, with memories of their evacuation - COME ON now, let's be 'aving youse lot!

Cheers - Webmaster