Then and Now: The box labelled with CARE

Pat Leslie as a child (as featured on a Scottish TV report about CARE packages)

Pat Leslie, now 81 and living in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, was six when the Second World War started. At the time her family lived in Glasgow. Her mum was quite sick at the start of the war, so they did not try to leave the city at first, but after her school and home got bombed, they were evacuated to Kirkcaldy, where Pat has lived ever since. Pat told us:

I remember the excitement of receiving the big brown cardboard box with the bold black letters spelling CARE USA on the side.

She does not remember all of the contents of the box, but recalls that there was a tinned chicken in the first parcel her family received. They were all beef eaters, and didn’t know what to do with it. Her mum asked a neighbour for help, and they decided to stick it in the oven. But it turned out that the chicken had already been cooked and placed in jellified stuff before being tinned, so it came out of the oven all brittle and inedible.

Pat also remembers receiving a packet of dried flaked banana, which smelled like banana, but didn’t look like one. “We thought this was very strange, and didn’t know what to do with it, so we gave it to someone on a special diet,” she says, adding that they appreciated it very much, as food was scarce, let alone special food.

She also remembers receiving sweets, which her mum decided to share among all the children in the neighbourhood. “We just all dived into the sweets,” she recalls.

“There wasn’t much in the box for me,” says Pat, but despite that, she remembers how exciting it was to receive the boxes. Her father had been injured while serving in the Navy, and their family were quite hard up, so it was also a great help.

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:

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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.

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