CARE Then and Now: “My mother wept with joy”

Daddy, Mummy, my brother Keith and I

Isabelle Robinson lived in Hove, Sussex. She told us:

I heard your interview on Radio 4 this morning. Yes, I certainly do remember those valuable parcels!

I was born in 1940 so I was smallish when they started arriving and they were taller than me!

I can’t say exactly which year it was. Apparently, our name was passed on by our family doctor, Dr Bamford, who knew my parents well, as my father was the Rector of West Blatchington in Hove, Sussex. The kind Americans who posted to us were friends of our doctor and had asked her for five families to send to regularly. Their name was Fussell, and they owned a large department store near Miami.

I think that my mother wept with joy when the first one arrived – at any rate, I have that impression, but I was only five or six.

I remember there being big packets of ‘Sun Pat’ raisins, peanuts, big tins of ‘shortening’ for making pastry. (It was yellow so it must have had butter in it.) There were packets of rice, biscuits and lots of tins of meaty things such as Spam... as well as sweets and ‘Chiclets’ CHEWING GUM! ( I became very popular at school!)

Sorry that I can’t be more explicit about the foodstuffs. Children are only interested in what's on their plates and not where it came from – but I do remember those things – particularly the raisins, sweets and chewing gum!

These parcels continued for several years and we not only received food in these cartons but amazing presents too.

There were pretty dresses for me and check shirts for my brother; a doll with ‘real skin’, (rubber) and toys for my brother too, I remember.

My first ever pair of stockings came from America, nylons! I still have a hairbrush from a parcel and a red and white spotted SILK handkerchief to this day!

Also I believe we still have a ‘View Master’ 3D viewer with loads of American disks, National Parks and the like, and everything was new, from their shop. My brother still has the viewer and says that it still works! He also remembers getting snow suits, but I don’t remember that.

Mrs Fussell wrote regularly to my parents, those blue airmail letters, and one day she telephoned from Dr Bamford’s to say that she was passing through England on her way to Sweden (?) and could she please visit. She came and my mother served a traditional, British, afternoon tea with scones and cake, as one did at the time.

My parents were very pleased to be able to thank her in person for all that she had done.

She was a very nice, friendly person and I found her hypnotic with her American accent (which I, of course, copied for a few weeks, I’m ashamed to admit!)

Share your story

If you or your family or someone you know received a CARE package, please get in touch to tell us your story:

  • fill in the form below
  • call us on 0800 320 2233

We’re very happy for you to just share a few memories or your full story – as much or as little as you want to share. And if you have any photos or other memorabilia to go with your story, please let us know. We’ve created an online home for memories about the original CARE packages (and we feature longer stories on our website too). We think it’s important that the stories aren’t forgotten and that future generations can share them.

CARE's picture

News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.