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Joe Messenger, Air Raid Warden


Posted By: JCGS Volunteer
Date: 2/2/2021 at 08:41:05

Former Newton Man Serves As Air Raid Warden In England
Joe Messenger Suffers From Exposure While On Duty, Wife Writes
A former Newton family now living in England writes regularly to relatives and friends here, reassuring their local correspondents that there is plenty to eat in Britain despite rationing, and that so far they have fared well on the bomb-scarred island empire.
Bombs have rattled the windows of their home and their food – although they say it is sufficient – is far from the standard of peace time, yet Mr. and Mrs. Joe Messenger and daughter, Dorothy Joyce, 14, explain rather than complain as they send back word to relatives and former neighbors in Newton.
Mr. and Mrs. Joe Messenger, who lived here for over 10 years, and their daughter, born here in 1927, returned to their native England in 1935 and are now operating a truck farm they call “The Retreat” on Godnow Road near Crowie, Lincolnshire, in the Midlands.
Relatives Here
Mr. and Mrs. Messenger met on a passenger ship when they came to the United States in 1922. Mr. Messenger lived in New York for a while, then came to Newton to marry the English girl he had met on the sea voyage and worked in the former One Minute Washer company here.
Although their daughter is a United States citizen by birth, the Messengers never took steps to become citizens since Mr. Messenger had interests in his native country.
Mrs. Messenger is a sister of Mrs. Ed Siddall of Newton, a niece of Mrs. Hugh E. Smith, and an aunt of Charles and Frank Siddall, Mrs. Horace Brooks and Mrs. Kenneth Wheeler. She is also a close friend of Mrs. Charles Butcher and Mrs. Ted Wolfe, who were her neighbors when she lived in Newton.
Air Raid Warden
Mr. Messenger who served with the British armed forces in India in the world war, is now serving as air raid warden. One side of his face was recently paralyzed from exposure in wet weather while he was on air raid duty – the major hardship experienced by the household since the Nazi bombing of England began.
“Joe’s eye seems a little better,” Mrs. Messenger wrote in the most recent letter to be received here by relatives. ‘Some days he doesn’t wear a shade, although it still doesn’t close, so he has to keep it protected from dust and wind, etc. It isn’t nearly so painful, so that’s a lot to be thankful for.”
“There are lots of different foods that we are unable to get now and this last week we couldn’t even get any sweets at all” she wrote, “so I did a bit of juggling and made a few.
Lard Substitute
“Last week I made some eggless, milkless and butterless cake from a recipe out of the Newton Women’s club cook book. I couldn’t get brown sugar, so I used a cup of golden syrup and then made up with white sugar.
“This week I made tea cakes with half lard substitute and half beef suet melted. They turned out fine. It’s surprising what a person can do if you have to, isn’t it? Of course we are rationed for meat, but I manage to get some good bones every week and usually get a bit of brawn, a jar of dripping and good soup out of them, so altogether we keep getting plenty – if it isn’t one thing, it’s another.
“I don’t mind telling you, though, that I can’t look a cow in the face. Dorothy has her dinner at school for six pence (about 12 cents) a day, so that helps out a lot. She also gets 1-3 pint of milk a day for a half penny (about one cent). Believe me, they must lose money on her dinners at six pence a time, for she has a real healthy appetite. She’s almost as tall as Joe now – five feet, six inches.
Hitler is ‘Old Nasty’
“Well, Fanny (Mrs. Ed Siddell), it is now March 2, so I must try and finish your letter today if possible. We are getting a bit of March weather too. It’s been very windy now for several days. We shall all be glad when the warmer weather comes.
“Have had several raids in this district this last week. Our windows sure rattled last night about 9:20 o’clock. Haven’t heard where the bomb were dropped, may be 20 miles away. It’s the first time our windows have rattled, but still there’s a first time for everything I guess…”
Mrs. Messenger made but one reference to the enemies of England in the letter. In referring to the health of her mother, who makes her home with the Messengers, she wrote: “Poor old lass, she’d sure put Old Nasty (Hitler) through it if she could get hold of him.”
Source: Newton (IA) Daily News; May 14, 1941, page 1


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