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Just after the World War ended, things were very cold, grey, dreary and tough in Britain. Food was scarce, clothing was almost impossible to buy, and money - especially for people like my hard-working mother, who was bringing a child up on her own - was extremely short. The bottom line was - that Mum and I were very poor, so poor that I had no shoes of my own. On two occasions I was forced to wear my mother's old footgear after the heels had been ripped off. I earned the name of 'Sparky' - for as I ran along the wet pavements of Liverpool - the metal 'sprigs' or nails that had secured the heels - created a plenitude of entertaining sparks!

One grey day a parcel arrived festooned with bright, colourful, American stamps. The package contained - Yes! You've guessed it! A pair of new shoes! Further investigation revealed sweets, (cookies) children's clothing, food, and kid's books etc. The sender was a young American woman from El Paso in Texas, USA, and her name was Lily Chavez.

She had obtained of our address from some Aid Organisation I think. She was a lovely lady. The parcels continued to arrive for some considerable time. Lily was a practising religious Catholic, which is I suppose typical of Mexican Americans, and I have a feeling that her generosity and warmth sprang from her devout feelings and Christian commitment. I was only 10 or 11 at the time but I wrote to her for about a year. My letters must have seemed very childish to her (she was 16 at that time) Eventually I received an invitation to her wedding - not that there was ever any question of me being able to go to Texas - for we didn't even have enough money to pay for the bus to central Liverpool - we used to walk! I am sure that she too realised that I could never go to the USA - and who wants some snotty-nosed British ragamuffin at your wedding anyway! After she married, the correspondence died off - for perhaps understandable reasons.

It was not until much later in life that I fully realised the extent of her generosity and kindness. Eventually, when I was about 24, I wrote to the El Paso Times and asked them to publish a letter in which I asked her to contact me. I never got a reply, and I don't even know if they published my missive. I once met an American sailor whose name was Chavez on the floating nightclub berthed in the Liverpool docks that I owned in those days called 'Clubship Landfall'. He told me that the name Chavez in Spanish is just as common as Smith is in English, and said it would be very difficult to find her.

A short time ago, I thought that now that I have the time to do it, I would try again, and send a couple of letters to El Paso newspapers and perhaps a Radio Station if possible. I just wished to thank her appropriately - in an articulate way - if she was still around. So, that is what I did.