Do you remember Archie? Well, a funny thing happened at the weekend. I was searching for treasures amongst much trash when I happened upon this little fellow …
His name is Wilbur and my first thought was that he looks remarkably like my old friend Archie. I took Wilbur home and over tea and ginger biscuits we chatted and I explained that I had been drawn to him because of his uncanny likeness to an old friend now happily living with a lovely lady with a penchant for terriers such as he. Wilbur was intrigued and so Archie’s photo was found and a gasp could be heard. Twas indeed a good likeness and for good reason – Archie is Wilbur’s long lost cousin!
The story goes that Archie and Wilbur’s mothers were close sisters (Esther and Olive). They both lived in the city of
in a modest but comfortable abode and each had just the one son. At the outbreak of war, the city became a dangerous place for the two boys who loved to run and play outside. After much soul searching the heartbreaking decision was made to evacuate the two boys to a safer place in the country. London
Despite desperately trying to secure a place together the boys were parted, with Archie going to stay with a kindly lady called Peggy who lived near the sea, whilst Wilbur was sent to live with the Hibberdy family in a small house nestled in deepest Dartmoor.
Sadly, at war's end the boys were confronted with the shocking news that their dear mama’s both met their end during the final night of the Blitz. The broken hearted boys were assured that the demise of dear Esther and Olive was quick and, together at the end, they would not have suffered. Both boys remained in their lodgings but it was at this point the boys lost contact, for the Hibberdy’s turned out to be a nasty lot. Machiavellian tactics oft employed, bullying and taunting the norm. Poor Wilbur was neglected, always hungry (hence his small stature) and left to fend for himself. He sent letters to Archie begging him for help and couldn’t understand why Archie didn’t reply. Eventually, when it was all too much he ran away, scarred and emotionally beaten, to nearby
Somerset, where, after several hiccups he was eventually taken in by a homely woman called Margaret. Finally receiving the love and care he deserved, he stayed with Margaret until the day she breathed her last breath. Her family were a good lot but none had room in their life for Wilbur and so he was confined to the ever growing pile of boxes marked ‘garage sale’. That was where I came in.
As for Archie, he stayed with Peggy for many years until she passed away.
In the brief time that Archie stayed with me we talked a lot about the past and I was able to quickly put Wilbur’s mind to rest about the letters he sent to Archie. I remembered Archie telling me about a cousin he lost touch with - he wrote to his cousin many times but never received a reply – it seems the cruel Hibberdy’s never gave Wilbur the letters and didn’t post the letters from Wilbur to Archie either.
Archie took to travelling the country far and wide by locomotive (always in first class, as Peggy had left him a sizeable inheritance) which was something he had always wanted to do.
When he finally tired of life on the move he finally decided to stop in the county he had found the most charming and beautiful … Somerset (of course). He became a constant and much loved companion to an elderly, portly gent called Harold, an English eccentric with whom he shared licorice sticks and beef tea every evening. Sadly, as sometimes happens, Harold had a quick and sudden death inducing seizure one fine Spring morning and, just like Wilbur, Archie was confined to a box of bric-a-brac, sent to a sale and rescued by me.
Archie was still in fine fettle, a dapper chap. Wilbur had not fared so well, but, after a warm soapy bath and a pampering he’s doesn’t look too bad, all things considered. He still stands tall, four-square, tail erect. Scars inflicted by the Hibberdy’s are still visible on his ears but they are superficial. He’s happy of mind now and so glad that he is back in touch with his dear cousin and childhood playmate Archie.
I do hope their remaining years are happy, carefree and filled with love.
As a final note, Wilbur brought this with him ...
... a poignant reminder of the loss and hardship many children experienced.
Some time ago there was talk of taking the teaching of the First and Second World Wars off the school history curriculum. I pray this never happens - we must never forget ...