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As bombs rained down around them, Pictou County woman’s parents fell in love

Clyde Macdonald, right, along with Art and Hazel Palmer, owners of Palmer Photo and Framing have compiled artifacts commemorating Canada’s involvement in the First and Second World War in the window of the Palmers’ New Glasgow business. Included are some medals from a relative of Macdonald’s who fought in the war as well as medals that Hazel Palmer’s father earned.
Clyde Macdonald, right, along with Art and Hazel Palmer, owners of Palmer Photo and Framing have compiled artifacts commemorating Canada’s involvement in the First and Second World War in the window of the Palmers’ New Glasgow business. Included are some medals from a relative of Macdonald’s who fought in the war as well as medals that Hazel Palmer’s father earned. - Adam MacInnis

New Glasgow, N.S.

In the window of Palmers Studio in downtown New Glasgow, there are many artefacts on display this week commemorating Canada’s involvement in the First and Second World Wars.

There are replicas of photos that hang in churches and community centres of men who served and died, pictures of boats loaded with soldiers departing from Halifax and even a painting of a battle given to retired judge Clyde Macdonald from a college friend.

But for Hazel Palmer, perhaps the dearest to her is a picture of her father, Loran Geitzler.

The Pictou County man fought not only in the Second World War but also in Korea. In the display, she has included the medals he earned for serving in those wars.

It was actually as a result of the Second World War that Palmer's parents met and fell in love, married and had her, all while war raged on around them.

Palmer knew bits and pieces of the past previously but has come to know more in recent years from talking with her brother. She learned about her Scottish mother Tomina travelling to work in London and staying in the Warwickshire House, which served as a residence for the single women who worked at the department store known as Bourne and Hollingsworth in London. In the 1940s, the area was damaged by bombs and Palmer says her mother was trapped for two to three days. A small travel clock was her only source of comfort.

"She could see the time going and thought, 'I'm still alive.'"

Palmer recalls seeing the same clock on her mother's bedside table years later.

Sometime later, thanks to mutual friends, Palmer's parents happened to be at the same house when firebombs began raining around the thatched roof. Their introduction was spent throwing water on the roof to prevent it from catching fire. Somehow, they managed to find time to talk and later married.

Towards the end of the war, their daughter Hazel was born in an ambulance while the Germans threw the worst bombs they could muster at Britain.

"There were terrible things coming down," says Palmer.

She believes it's important to never forget the war and those who fought, which is partly why she enjoyed putting together the display with the help of some artefacts supplied by Macdonald.

"We will repeat, if we don't remember," she says.

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