Judith Davey, 89, has lived a long and adventurous life, which she has chronicled in two books that are just now being brought to the public’s attention by her publisher.
“Six Years of Darkness,” about her life in World War II-era London, was written in longhand and published in June 2003. A year later, “Meeting at the Welcome Center” was published. The latter is a look at her life, past and present, and how she has adjusted to the new world of technology and aging gracefully.
Davey was born in Germany, 10 years before Hitler came to power. She is Jewish. She and her mother left Germany as Hitler was coming to power, for Czechoslovakia, where her father’s family lived. From there the family went to Vienna, where her mother’s family lived.
A friend in England told them to get out of mainland Europe or they wouldn’t survive.
“‘Six Years of Darkness’ is the war in London as I lived through it, and the other one is a collection of stories that I wrote after I retired — 20 years of stories, different adventures,” Davey said. “We traveled a lot.”
Davey remembers the bombing in London. There was no safe area in London, she said. She worked throughout the war repairing automatic pilot instruments for Royal Air Force airplanes.
“We had to use tweezers to pick up some of that stuff, it was so small,” she said.
Before that she was a sewing machine operator, making dresses. She worked as a housemaid, and her mother as a cook before that.
“At times we had no power, no water, no heat — nothing — but they repaired it as soon as they could,” she said of wartime London.
Tired of the restrictions of being a foreigner in England, she and a close friend moved to Canada after the war, where they were welcomed.
“I wanted to come to the states, but the quota was six years waiting,” she said. “Canada was open, so we could go right away.”
In Toronto she met the man who would become her husband, Louis Davey, an Englishman. They were married for 50 years. He died three years ago.
Davey said she started writing poetry at age 12. She also was an avid reader. She decided to write a novel when she was 14, which she completed at age 17 and promptly tore it up.
“It was romantic,” she said. “It was childish — I was writing about something I knew absolutely nothing about.”
She said she didn’t know a soul during her time in Vienna, so she spent her time writing.
“It was complete from beginning to end,” she said of the novel.
“Meeting at the Welcome Center” is a series of stories she wrote over the years about her ski trips and other adventures with her husband. Their last ski trip was just eight years ago when they went to Lake Louise in Canada. As avid skiers, Louis wasn’t pleased, but they decided to quit while they were ahead so they didn’t break any bones.
They went on a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon when they were both about 70 years old.
“We were the oldest on the raft,” she said.
They traveled to Israel, Hong-Kong — wherever they could.
“We went on a camping trip in Australia,” she said. “It was 110 degrees.”
She said her husband was a good traveling partner, fun to be with. She would see an ad for a trip somewhere, and say, “That looks good,” and they’d go.
The couple took a fifth-wheel and drove to Alaska, going all the way to the Arctic Ocean so she could dip her toe in the water. Alas, it was early spring, and the ocean was still frozen.
“You can see the vastness of it,” she said of touring Alaska by vehicle.
Davey still lives in the Sammamish home that she and Louis built 40 years ago. He worked for the State Highway Department, and she worked in alterations at Frederick and Nelson in Bellevue for 13 years, before retiring to travel and write and “not just sit around.”
Davey has one daughter, Sharon Davey, who lives in Bellevue’s Lake Hills neighborhood. Davey said her daughter loves the books, but was shocked at the story about the raft trip. Davey is very close to her daughter and one grandson, Nicholas Harker, 21, who the two women took out for a drink on his 21st birthday.
Davey is contemplating a third book, about life on her own. She said it has been difficult to adjust after 50 years of marriage.
Both of her books are available at amazon.com or at King County Public Libraries.
Linda Ball can be reached at 206-232-1215 ext. 5052.