During the 1940s an American group of soldiers operated a search light about 150 yds from our allotment this was like a magnet to us kids plus they always gave us a packet of chewing gum ,this was much prized .Another big attraction in the winter was the night watchman always a gang of kids having a warm by his coke fire. His job was to fill the small lanterns that were round road works to prevent cars and people falling into the holes that had been dug out. No street lights then they had all been removed for the generation of the war .I think he was glad of a bit of company till nine o’clock when we all had to be in the house. Then the steam roller would appear ,what an event that was we used to walk up and down the road as the roller we went backwards and forwards levelling the road repair. In the street behind where I lived was a small Chapel that used to have magic lantern slides once a week it was somewhere to go on the cold nights ,they were obvious bible slides and some church member would tell the story they represented These slides by the way were about the size of a DVD box and made of glass. A small fire can was another must in the winter a treacle tin was ideal for this it was strong enough to stand up to us punching holes in it with a hammer and a big nail .Then a length of thin wire was added so that we could swing it round to keep the small fire going .A pocket full of small bits of coal and we were made for the day. Never passed a phone box without going in to press button B on the off chance some one had left money in the box. We had all the seasons marbles, jack o five stones conkers, collecting frog spawn ,fishing in the brook for stickle backs, this brook is very close to our allotments and did have watercress growing in it then. Never needed a watch when we were playing the local steel works sounded a hooter [the bull] at the start and finish of each shift and the sound travelled miles. All things that kept us amused and never cost a penny
Summertime we looked forward to the hay making a great fun time for two weeks. Then the proper gypsies would appear and set up camp near the local farm and do a little seasonal work. We would go with their kids cutting willow sticks from the osier beds these were for making pegs. When mother knew I had spent time with the young gypsies she used to put a sheet of news paper on the table bend me over and go through my hair with the nit comb. What a time to be young we learned a lot about life ,falling out of trees bird nesting, falling in the brook when the rope broke on our Tarzan swing ,grazed knees from falling over roller skating, we learned how to snare rabbits what berries we could eat ,we were inventive and built up a good immune system, and the real lesson almost all the boys and girls I knew had an idea how to grow basic vegetables,and most girls were taught to cook.
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