Sisters reunited after half a lifetime

NEARLY half a century since they were all together, a trio of sisters have crossed the pond to meet up again in their former hometown in Suffolk.Grandmothers Jean McAninch, Eileen Ulrickson and Christine Hahn were delighted to see each other, but their reunion was tinged with sadness as their mother remains in Ipswich Hospital after suffering a stroke.

NEARLY half a century since they were all together, a trio of sisters have crossed the pond to meet up again in their former hometown in Suffolk.

Grandmothers Jean McAninch, Eileen Ulrickson and Christine Hahn were delighted to see each other, but their reunion was tinged with sadness as their mother remains in Ipswich Hospital after suffering a stroke.

The health heartbreak was the impetus for the women to drop everything and fly back to Ipswich, and now their mum's condition is improving.

All had seen one of their sisters in the past 46 years, but all three had never been in one place at the same time. Even their father William Polley's funeral after he drowned in the River Orwell in 1993, was not a full reunion as Mrs McAninch could not travel immediately because her passport had run out.

But they have kept in touch by letter and phone.

Their lives have followed remarkably similar paths since they were the Polley sisters who lived at Tyler Street, then Purplett Street and on to Maidenhall estate.

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All three girls grew up, met and married American servicemen in St Mary at Stoke Church, in Belstead Road, then jetted off to start new lives with the husbands they remain happily married to today.

Mrs McAninch, 64, left town in 1958 and now lives in Indiana.

Mrs Ulrickson, 61, married in 1964 and went to New Mexico and other places with her air force husband then on to Arizona.

Mrs Hahn, 60, left Ipswich for Kentucky in 1962 after marrying her husband.

They have all picked up American accents, despite sharing a sense of nostalgia for their home town where they still have many relatives and old friends including Pat Gilbert, of Broke Avenue, Bramford, who two of them are staying with.

Today they said the things they missed most about Suffolk were fish and chips, and 'the ocean' at Felixstowe – a town they hold an enduring affection for.

Little has changed, said Mrs Hahn, as she watched people scurrying around shopping on the Cornhill.

But the sisters have no regrets about leaving this life behind, and Mrs Ulrickson said life in the United States had many compensations.

She said: "There are more places to travel to, more space, better education, and a lot more opportunities for people."

American cookies emerged to be another adopted favourite, and Mrs Hahn added: "The cost of living is so much cheaper in the states, and that is the main difference. It's where our lives are now, so we have no regrets."

N Do you have a reunion story to tell? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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