I would not normally include the children’s work in these letters but this speech addresses Cec’s war experience, one of the few times we, as children, ever heard him talk about it. There was a picture of the H.M.S. Indomitable on the wall, some musty smelling epaulettes and a hat with a tropical white cover in the basement, and that was all we knew. In fact, until my husband and I visited 30 years later, I had never known him to tell anyone details about his service- and he didn’t talk to me, but to Pat. There certainly was a lot of parental input into our speeches- Linda’s was based on one of Carol’s childhood experiences, as told by Cyn- but given that this was all happening while Cyn was in hospital and then home recovering, Charlie’s success was a commendable effort!
My father had a Faithful Friend on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This friend was a little monkey called Stoopid, who was so small he could sit on a man’s hand. He had greyish fur and a beautiful long tail. But his eyes were sad and he had a little worryed face.
Every morning my father would take him into the shower and give him a good scrub. Stoopid didn’t like this and scolded when he was getting dried. He was friends with everyone except the ships cats. He would sneak along and pull their tails then run away as fast as he could, climb over the edge of the ship into a port hole, and sometimes come up with a pen in his mouth. He used to like to visit the officers’ wardroom where there was a notice board. Stoopid thought the notices made lovely parachutes. He jumped at them and rode down as they tore. He liked to look at the letters and sorted them out as he thought, with some in the wrong places and the rest on the floor. The officers had a terrible time finding their mail.
Every morning when the smell of breakfast was around Stoopid would go to the table and sit on my father’s shoulder and wait for his food. One day there was a bowl of fruit in the middle of the table. After everyone had left the room Stoopid jumped up on the table, grabbed a banana, and ran away behind a coil of rope to eat it. When he was finished he through the peel on the deck. Soon the captain came along deep in thought. Suddenly there was a crash and all 250 pounds of the captain was sitting on the deck. The captain was furious and wanted to keep Stoopid locked up in a cage but my father said he would keep an eye on him.
One day the captain saw him running along the deck and said to a sailor “You know how to knit?” And the sailor said “Y- yes sir” “Well, said the captain you had better get busy and knit that little monkey a sweater.” He looked so sweet in his little red sweater and cap when they sailed south into wintery weather.
Stoopid was a very sad little monkey when my father had to leave. He was well looked after by the other men, but to no one else was he such a faithful friend.