“I remember looking out the window and seeing a newspaper boy delivering his papers, and he had a Union flag wrapped around his bike”.
This memory from the end of the First World War is one of the most prominent for Dorothy (Mary) Thompson, as she reminisced for her 100th birthday last Saturday.
Mrs Thompson was born on March 15 in Freiston Bridge the year the war broke out and was four when it ended. She said she can remember zeppelins flying overhead and her father coming home from Germany.
She remembers a childhood of no cars and where village dances were big events.
Mrs Thompson went to Tower Road School, and then to Boston High School where she stayed until she was 18.
She then became a teacher at Fishtoft, Wyberton and Old Leake Schools, finishing at Leverton. She retired aged 62.
She said: “They were all county schools. The children were all so friendly. They were good children.”
During the Second World War, in which her husband Lionel fought, and following the birth of one of her two daughters, Mrs Thompson worked for the tax office temporarily, but before she left teaching she saw a number of evacuees come to the area including two teachers.
She said: “The two teachers who came with them went to Fishtoft School with me and we used to take it in turns having the school in the morning and the village hall in the afternoon.
“When there was an air raid we had to get under the tables. They tried to get us to go in the garden next door but it was full of nettles.”
She described how people learnt to distinguish between the planes by the sound they made and the time of day or night they flew overhead.
When her husband came home, she said, she was very happy, and remembers rationing being part of the ‘make do and mend’ generation.
Mrs Thompson got married to Lionel at Fishtoft Church, and said they made their own cake and she wore a light blue dress and coat. They then honeymooned in Swansea, where Lionel was from.
She described how when they arrived, the town had been bombed and how there was debris everywhere – including some blocking the air raid shelters.
Mrs Thompson celebrated her birthday with a ride in a horse-drawn carriage to the Mill for a meal. She described the day as ‘beautiful’ and thanked her family. She said there was no real secret to long life, but just to ‘live day to day, and keep going’.