Web Page 1138
14th April 2013
Top Picture : Toasting Crumpets in front of an open fire.
Second Picture: Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier wedding picture.
Those were the Days!
Over the past few months I have had lots of memories sent to me and so here is a small selection.
Do you remember sitting in front of the living room coal fire with a toasting fork in one hand and hand cut slices of bread in the other. Sitting patiently trying not to singe you hair as the toast browned and absorbing that delicious smoky flavour. Then taking it off the fork and smothering it in rich Anchor Butter. But also do you remember the panic when the bread fell off the end of the fork and having to hook it out of the fire and brush off the ash before it could be buttered. There is nothing quite like toast made over an open fire, unless, of course, crumpets!
Another abiding memory is the need to boil the milk in the summer to keep it a bit longer, because we had no fridge just a slate shelf in the larder. Or keeping the milk in a bucket or stone jar of water in an attempt to keep it fresh.
Our diet was home cooked and limited to what the local shops stocked. We always seemed to have a meat meal every day even though at least two days a week featured offal. In Drayton and Farlington were three local butchers, two bakers, four greengrocers and one fishmonger Sidney Slape, there was a 'Pinks’ store - part deli and part dry and tinned goods. There were no takeaways other than the fish and chip shop. Coal was delivered in heavy sacks by coal encrusted men and if you get lost,” just ask a policeman".
If I was hungry in between breakfast and dinner (lunch) I was given a jam sandwich or a biscuit from the broken biscuit tin, so called because they were broken biscuits from Woolworth, the Co-op or Liptons. There was never any crisps or chocolate bars. Apples, plums and pears, grown in our own garden were eaten regularly but a banana was a real treat! These did not make an appearance in our house until the late 1950’s. Vegetables such as broccoli and asparagus hadn't been 'invented', so we never heard of it. I was always made to eat everything on my plate and extolled to 'eat my greens up'. The Corona man would come round on a Friday selling bottles of lemonade and I'd save up the empty bottles that were worth tuppence each.
When we had visitors High Tea was a highlight and it was always the same. Tinned salmon, lettuce, tomato, bread and butter and tinned peaches with ideal milk to follow - we thought we were very grand!
Although the diet when we were kids would look old-fashioned by modern standards food was slowly becoming varied and plentiful. Novelties such as frozen vegetables appeared along with washing machines and televisions. We had our first television set in 1955, the picture was black and white and we could only receive BBC broadcasts. When Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier in 1956 our living room was full of neighbours who came in to watch the broadcast.
My father had held a driving licence since before the war but for most of my childhood we did not own a car, so every summer he would take a week off work and rent a car from a garage in Southsea. Then we would go to various places during that week or go to Essex to visit my Godmother.
With the end of sweet and chocolate rationing all these sweets which were now available helped to produce tooth decay which meant that visits to dentists were a sheer nightmare of pain and fear, due to the old slow, belt driven drills and no anaesthetics.
Specialist shops were everywhere and there were no supermarkets just shops... a cake and bread shop, the butchers, the milliners, the haberdashers...all with beautiful ornate gold leaf and glass fascias. In the Co-op shop or Pinks, Lipton’s or Home & Colonial the assistants sliced bacon from whole sides, cut cheese from huge roundels, weighed pounds of sugar from hundred weight sacks. Nothing was pre-packed, wrapped or labelled. It seemed that all staff had a pencil stub stuck behind their ear and some did still wear starched cuffs! No computerised tills, just an amazing set of cables or tubes, depending where you shopped, on the ceiling along which travelled a small metal canister holding the customers tendered money along with the bill. This canister was `fired` by the counter assistant along the cable, or tube, to the cashier who sat aloft at a little illuminated window. The bill, stamped `PAID`, together with any change was then `fired` back down to assistant to give to the customer. These were the days when you could ask a shop assistant their advise on a product and they would cheerfully give it.
Just to finish off a short story about an event which happened to me the other day. I went into a local Post Office to send off some letters overseas. The attractive and well made up young lady started to deal with my letters. Working out the costs of letters to Australia, New Zealand and France but I was a little dumbfounded when she read the address on the last envelope and looked up to me and asked, “What country is Moscow in?”
Well at least we learnt geography at school.
Following up from John. The Teacher that died in the school towards late 60's was a Mr Capper. He lived at railway cottages. Young teacher. Very sad. He left a wife and a small child. I remember the announcement at the school assembly.
News and Views:
On this day 14th April 1960-1965
14/04/1960 the number one single was My Old Man's a Dustman - Lonnie Donegan and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Wagon Train (ITV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 14/04/1961 the number one single was Wooden Heart - Elvis Presley and the number one album was GI Blues - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Labour Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 14/04/1962 the number one single was Wonderful Land - The Shadows and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was The Budget (All Channels) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 14/04/1963 the number one single was How Do You Do It? - Gerry & the Pacemakers and the number one album was Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard & the Shadows. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 14/04/1964 the number one single was Can't Buy Me Love - The Beatles and the number one album was With the Beatles - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was The Budget (All Channels) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Two footballers suspended over match fixing allegations.
On 14/04/1965 the number one single was Concrete & Clay - Unit 4 Plus 2 and the number one album was Rolling Stones Number 2 - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.