In Their Own Words: Pure Hostages
The white boot was a favourite of many women, both young and old, in the seventies, and that is the link between today’s recollections In Their Own Words. Our storytellers today were, with one exception, children or teenagers at the time, but their memories are as clear now as the events were then.
We start with Jen – she was living in Liverpool in the early seventies, with her older sister and her family, when her story started…
I remember the day – it was September, and despite the wind blowing up the Mersey Sally and I had gone into the town to do some shopping without our coats. I was fourteen, and had on a white long sleeved jumper, a blue pleated mini skirt and knee length white leather boots which laced up the front. My hair was in two bunches, while Sally had her long hair loose, falling over the shoulders of her purple pinafore mini dress and the black jumper underneath. She also had on tights and flat black shoes.
We went to the docks for a while, looking out over the river, before we decided to head to a café a little bit further into town to get a hot drink. We walked in, bought two coffees, and sat down – but the girl behind the counter seemed a little nervous, and kept looking to the back of the store.
Just why we didn’t know – until a man came in, with a balaclava over his head, and said “what are they doing here?”
“I’m sorry,” the girl said, “I thought the door was locked, but they came in, and you said to act natural…”
Sally gasped as we saw him point a gun at us, then walk over and lock the front door, putting the sign to CLOSED and saying “all three of you – in the back, now!” We followed the girl, who was wearing a blue checked pinafore over a yellow jumper and skirt, as we raised our hands and walked into the back room.
Two more masked men were in there, looking at us as one said “damn – put them over there and keep them quiet.” He threw a roll of packing tape over, as the man with us said “face the wall and put our hands behind your back.”
“do as he says” Sally whispered, as we looked at the bare stone wall, the waitress crying softly as my wrists were taped together, then Sally’s, and then hers. We were then ordered to turn round and sit on the stone floor, as the man taped our ankles together.
And I will admit, my thought was what that tape was going to do to my boots. I tried moving them, giggling at the squeaking noise they made – and then as he pressed the tape over my mouth, I made funny noises as well. It was my way of dealing with the fear I had inside me – and Sally understood as she made the same sort of noises.
We had to watch as the men left the rear of the café – and then returned a little while later, carrying bags which I could see money in. They then left – and I twisted round, trying to get free as the waitress just stared ahead. Sally looked round, then managed to shuffle over to where a pair of scissors had been left out.
When she cut us free, we called the police – they had robbed the pawnbroker next door, and got in through the back alley. I was just glad we got through the day…
The adult in our tales today is Eleanor. She tells of an afternoon when she and her family were held hostage until her husband did something…
Of course, I remember the day – Betty was four and Tommy eight. It was a couple of days before Christmas, and we had been shopping. Betty had her dark hair cut short, and was wearing a blue dress with a red top and puffed sleeves, as well as flat black shoes. Tommy had on a pair of jeans and a striped shirt. As for me – I had a sleeveless white vest top made of wool, over a long sleeved red jumper and a tartan skirt, with knee length white lace up boots.
Anyway – we were sitting in the front room, the kids having some milk and cookies, when I heard the front door bell. I went to answer it – and then stepped back as two smartly dressed men came in, one carrying a pilot’s bag and the other a gun in his gloved hand as he pointed it at me!
He told me to be quiet, and asked who else was at home. I whispered it was me and my children – and then pleaded with him to leave them alone, they could take whatever they wanted. Both men wore hats and dark glasses, as well as leather gloves.
The second man walked into the front room, and I heard Betty and Tommy call out before their voices are muffled. The man with me took me in as well, as I saw they both had been hand gagged as the second man held them.
I spoke calmly, and told them not to scream or shout out, and we’d all be together for this. The children were then told to sit in the chair, and put their hands on their laps, as the man opened the pilot bag – and took out some lengths of cord. Passing one to me, he told me to tie Tommy’s wrists together in front of him.
I stared at him, and then nodded as I told Tommy to put his hands together, and then tied the cords tightly round them, talking all the time to keep him calm. Betty was crying, so I hugged and kissed her, telling her everything would be all right before I was forced to tie her wrists together as well.
They then made me tie their ankles together, before my own hands were taken behind my back by one of the men, and I felt the thin cord as they were secured together. They looked at me as the man then made me sit in a chair opposite, and tied my ankles together as well, before he made them sit back to back and bend their knees so that the soles of their feet were on the seat itself.
I had to watch as he used more rope to tie them together at their waists, and then tie their legs together above their knees, then tie their wrists down to the knees. Finally, he tore strips from a roll of sticking plaster, and pressed them over their mouths, before he covered my mouth with a strip as well – then tied my legs together below my knees, before they stood and waited.
It was nearly seven before my husband came home, walked in, got to see us -and then was marched back out by one of the men as the other sat, and watched all three of us. An hour later, the telephone rang once, then three times before he answered it as we looked at him.
He then pulled the phone from the wall, and left us alone as I started to struggle, managing eventually to free my arms and untie myself. Untying the kids, I hugged both of them and then called the police…
Eleanor’s husband was forced to empty the safe at his office, and left tied and gagged there.
From the oldest to the youngest – Cissy was only three when this happened…
I remember a little of it – we had been out for lunch with my parents and my older sisters. My oldest sister had on a brown blouse with a sleeveless jacket and bellbottom pants made of white denim with brown patterns, my older sister a white sleeveless top, green pants and black shoes, and I had on a short purple dress with a sleeveless white over dress, and baggy white knee length boots. Mom had on a purple short sleeved top and pants, and Pops a brown shirt over a white vest and brown striped pants.
We lived in a big single storey house – and as we walked in, Mom screamed as we were grabbed by a group of men in orange jump suits. Mom and Pops were taken away by two of them, while the other two told the three of us to kneel in front of the couch, and put our hands behind our backs.
My oldest sister said I was only three, so they made me sit with my back to the couch, as I watched them use silver tape to keep my sister’s hands behind their backs, and then taped my own wrists together in front of me, before the tape was wrapped round us to keep our arms by our sides.
They were then able to sit either side of me, as the men taped our ankles together, and then our legs above and below our knees, before our mouths were covered with some of the tape and one of them turned the television on.
We had to sit there as the four men – Mom and Pops were somewhere else – ate out food, and then stole our car. We had to sit there until Grandma came round – Mom and Pops had been taped upstairs…
A short tale, but a real one. Comeback after the break for an after school special…
Welcome back – for our next story, seventeen year old Amy was a high school senior, when she walked in on an intruder at her home – and had a new experience…
I had been having my photo taken for the yearbook, so I was wearing a lilac roll neck sweater and mini skirt, and knee length front laced white leather boots with a stack heel. I wore glasses at that time, and those had rectangular brown frames.
Mom and Dad were working late, so I let myself into our apartment and put my books down on the table, before going to the kitchen to get something to drink. I didn’t notice the window to the fire escape was open…
I then went into the front room – and was grabbed from behind, one arm round my waist and a hand over my mouth as I reached up and tried to pull it away. I heard a young man pleading with me not to struggle, so I took my hand away, and nodded when he asked me not to scream.
Letting me go, he took my hands behind my back, and I asked him not to hurt me as he tied my wrists together with rope. He was calm, and assured me if I did as he said, I would not get hurt – as he pulled the rope between my wrists, and made them firmly secured.
I turned round and looked at him – he wasn’t much older than me, wearing a denim jacket and jeans, and he apologised for the fact he had to stop me raising the alarm. He then picked up another length of rope from a bag on the seat, and wound it round my arms and upper body, forcing them into my sides as he wound it in two bands which framed my chest.
The feeling I had as he did that was a little strange – especially when he passed the rope under one arm, up and around the back of my neck, and under my other arm before he tied it off. It felt snug and nice and comfortable – even if I was still scared.
There was something else – as he did this, his hands stroked over my chest, and I felt a little shiver as well. He must have noticed this, because he took another length of rope, and tied it in front of me between my breasts, bringing the bands together on them.
I asked what he was doing, and he said he was making sure I was distracted from raising the alarm, as he let the long rope drop to the floor. I wondered what he was going to do as he walked behind me – and then I found out, as he reached between my legs, and pulled the rope through and up. That did two things – it made my skirt hike up, and it made me shiver at the feelings it gave me…
Feelings that only intensified as he made me walk into my bedroom, and then sit on the side of my bed as she secured my ankles, and my legs below my knees, with two more bands of rope. He then went into my drawers, and took out a pair of my panties, folding them into a pad. I wondered what he was going to do with them – and then he told me to open my mouth.
Well, what else was I going to do? I clamped my lips shut – and then he pinched my nose, so when I opened my mouth to breathe he pushed the panties in, and then used one of my headscarves as a cleave gag between my lips. I could only mumble as he made me lie on my side, pulled my ankles back, and tied them to a rope.
As I discovered when I tried to move, he tied them to the rope between my legs. I was shocked as he left me there, desperate not to move, and yet curious as to why it made me feel the way I did, as I moved my feet to and fro…
Amy was found by her parents a few hours later, sweaty but unharmed.
Now for a story of a family held in a holiday chalet, in which eleven year old Bernadette played a role…
We had booked the chalet for a family weekend away – me, Mum Dad and Granny. It was in the highlands, and the winter, but part of the deal was a big New Year’s Eve – or Hogmanay as they call it up there – party, which we all went to.
Dad was wearing a dark red velvet smoking jacket, frilled shirt and trousers, as well as the biggest bow tie you have ever seen, while Mum was wearing a long sleeved maxi dress. The top was chocolate brown with a scoop neck, and a pattern of decorations on the front, while the skirt was a patchwork of peach and red patterns.
Gran had on a grey and white patterned top, with a large white bow at her neck, brown velvet pants and black shoes. Me? I had on a new dress with elbow length sleeves, with a peach tartan pattern and a thin red belt, pale tights and white knee length leather boots with a strap at the top.
The party was great – it was what happened after midnight, when we had sung Auld Lang Syne and went back to our chalet, that the night went very different. We walked in – and we were not alone. There were two men there, wearing blue boiler suits and masks over their heads so that we could only see their eyes and mouths. One of them was holding a shotgun in his gloved hands – and the other hit Dad over the back of the head with a club, sending him to the ground.
Mum was going to scream, but he ordered her not to, and made us all kneel in front of the wooden couch, our heads down on the seat cushions and our hands behind our backs. I looked to the side as the man with the gun handed it to his partner, and then took from his pocket some lengths of rough cord.
I bit my tongue to stop myself crying as he pulled my hands behind my back, and used some of the cord to tie my wrists together, pulling it tight as it bit into my skin, and then taking it between my arms as well. Mum told me I was very brave, and not to worry, as he tied her wrists, and then Granny’s as well – then did the same to our ankles, so that we could not move them apart.
As he started to do the same to Dad, the other man put the gun down, and made us sit next to each other on the couch, before he made us all open our mouths and pushed a cloth in. The ends were sticking out of my mouth, but one look from him told me to keep the cloth in there, so I just closed my lips over it and watched as they pulled Dad into one of the bedrooms.
Thing is, I had no idea why they were doing this to us – we had no money, and no real jewellery beyond what Mum and Granny were wearing. They realised that as well, as they came back in and stripped the things off both of them, and then walked out.
We just looked at each other, before Mum pushed the cloth out of her mouth and started to call for help. Fortunately, the couple in the chalet next door heard us, and we were soon free.
I still wonder – was it the fact our name was McVittie made them think we were the biscuit family?
Finally this week, a manor house party gone wrong for fourteen year old Annabelle and her mother and aunt…
We were celebrating Father’s birthday, all the family in the house and round the dinner table. Father, Uncle Dave and my cousin Brian were wearing smart shirts, pants, ties and sports jackets, while Aunt Rachel was wearing a green silk gown that came down to the floor, with long sleeves and a low neck.
Mother was wearing a pale blue dress with a similar neckline, a thin white belt round the waist and tiered skirt, all with white trim, and like Aunt Rachel she was wearing white sandals. As for me, I had on a mini dress, with a pale green body and skirt and long white sleeves, and my new white knee length leather boots which laced up the front. They were all the rage then, and I was very proud of them. I was also very proud of the long chestnut hair all of us had – all the women, anyway.
We had just finished the main course, and our housekeeper Mrs Maine had taken the plates. She was meant to be coming back with the dessert – but instead, four men came in, dressed in black jumpers and slacks and with stockings pulled down over their heads.
They told us to stay seated and quiet – two of them waving handguns round to emphasise their point – while Father, Uncle Dave and Brian had their arms pulled round the chairs they were sitting in, and their wrists tied together with white rope.
We were then told to stand up, put our hands on our heads and walk into the drawing room, three of the men coming with us as one stayed with our family. When we walked in, the one who had ordered us to come in saw an old wooden chair, with bronze coloured upholstery, and ordered Aunt Rachel to sit in it and put her hands palm down on the armrests.
When she did so, he told me to sit on the couch with my hands on my head, and then he handed Mother a large roll of silver tape, before he made her tape Aunt Rachel’s arms to the arms of the chair. I had to watch as he did this, and then made her tape her ankles togethers, and then round her lap and waist so that she was secured to the chair.
I asked what was going on – and he told me to keep quiet, or he would make sure I was quiet first. Taking the roll of tape, he made Mother put her hands behind her back next, and taped them together as we watched – and then he taped her arms to her asides, with bands under her chest and round her upper arms and shoulders.
He then told me to stand up, before he made Mother sit down and taped her ankles together, and then her legs above her knees, gathering the skirt of her dress and raising it slightly. Then – it was my turn.
I put my hands behind me, and felt the tug on my skin as he wound the tape tightly round them, and then round my stomach and shoulders as well, so that I could not move my arms at all. He then made me sit down, and taped my ankles together, as well as my legs below my knees – and then made me lie with my head on Mother’s lap.
Then there was the worst part – as he tore three strips of the silver tape off, and pressed them firmly over my mouth, making it difficult for me to say anything. I could only look up and watch as he did the same to Mother, and we both watched as Aunt Rachel was silenced.
One of them then stood guard over us, as the other two left and we heard them talking to Father – and then the tearing of the tape, and the silence from the dining room. Mrs Maine was in the kitchen, taped to a chair and silenced just like us, all of us unable to do anything as they ransacked the house, and then left us there.
It was only when Mrs Maine’s husband came to see why she was not home that we were freed, an able to call the police…
And that’s all we’ve got time for in this week’s In Their Own Words. Join us next time…