What both Kirsten and I were able to take away from this project was a sheer appreciation for the personal history that lives on around us. This was particularly highlighted to us by our second interviewee, Sonia Howard, who highlighted the importance of one’s relationship with their grandparents. Having missed out on this herself she was really keen for us to make the most of it ourselves, while we still can. In listening to both interviewee’s and their stories, we were able to recognise that if we stopped to ask our own grandparents they too would be able to give us interesting insight into the past and their own lives. I am certainly guilty of taking my grandparents for granted, but are we not all?
Indeed Shirley Myerson, our first interviewee, provided us with some lovely stories of her enjoying summer holidays in Sheffield with her own grandparents. With the Sheffield family business being a grocery store we were able to learn about how the rationing affected ordinary people. Too often with history we learn about the big political figures and significant acts but fail to appreciate how they affect those ‘on the ground’. Shirley’s account of the Blitz and how her family synagogue had been bombed, was clear evidence of just how widespread the impact of the war was on British citizens – disrupting their daily life.
Sonia Howard, was able to reveal to us some of the difficulties of growing up Jewish in Sheffield. Saddened by the prejudices she has had to face simply because of her religion, she wondered whether the world needed more acceptance. Both interviewees, talked about the shrinking of the Jewish community and how it is our human nature to feel more comfortable among ‘our own’.
We have both enjoyed being a part of the Witness Project and interacting with the wider Sheffield community (outside of our own studenty bubbles). This has been a really interesting and valuable experience, thank you!
Interviewers: Sarah Dewhirst and Kirsten Lenaghan