War Babies & Boomers

At the planning meeting we decided to meet every few months to discuss a particular topic – probably related to the time of year.   If you want to join us contact Ann McGillivray.  Please send your contact details: name, email address, phone number and membership number to warbabies@eastwoodu3a.org

The next meeting will be at 11.00 – 12.30 on 24th October 2023 at Brinsley Parish Hall.  Subject: Trades and Occupations.

What was your favourite toy when you were small? Do certain songs, LPs, films, books remind you of periods of your life? Which teacher influenced you (good or bad) during your school days? Food, games, homes, holidays. So many things from our childhood and beyond made us the people we are today.

This is Social History. Not kings and queens, politicians, world events, but OUR story, our memories. We need to record them before they are forgotten, and lost forever.

April 2022 – Cinemas and Films   
We remembered Saturday mornings in the flea pit, double seats for ‘courting’ couples, usherettes, cowboy films, war films, Disney – Bambi, Snow White – stars of the 50s, early James Bond films etc.

May 2021 –Fetes and galas – Coronation/whit walks

Our last meeting was a lively discussion on memories surrounding festivals, special occasions and local fairs, fetes and galas.

Few were able to remember the Festival of Britain in 1951, but several memories of the coronation were recalled, including children’s parties at various venues, dressing up in crepe paper outfits (that suffered from exposure to the rain on the day!).

Memories of Gala queens and parades on local gala days spoke of picking a gala queen and her attendants to represent the area in charity events for the year; riding in the long processional parades on lorries dressed as floats; having pennies, collected for charities, thrown onto the floats (and often hitting the people on the float!), ending in a field or park where faiground rides and picnics were enjoyed

Wakes week and local fairs and circuses were remembered.  Most towns and villages had annual (and sometimes quarterly) visiting fairground  people, with rides, dodgems, swingboats, waltzers and stalls.  Circuses closed the main streets to parade animals, acrobats and clowns, advertising their performances.

Whit walks and Sunday School anniversaries were occassions for new clothes, as well as learning songs and ‘recitations’ and sitting on the ‘platform’ – rickety staging that wouldn’t meet today’s safety standards!

March 2021 -Radio programmes/music

‘We were blessed with Music while you Work when in Germany, I can’t remember much else. When T.V. was introduced, my Dad got a rental one from Rediffusion. He sat in his rocker and what he watched was what you watched, so I got into cricket. Freddie Truman fascinated me. Why did he not cut off his sleeve, then he would not have had to keep rolling it up? My sister and I were glued to radio Luxemburg and then the pirate radios, London and Caroline as we were in our teens’.

“Our house was surrounded by fields and an orchard but there was also a factory at the bottom of the garden.  In the summer the windows were wide open and Workers’ Playtime was on the radio, also Housewives Choice and Music While you Work (theme tune Calling all Workers by Eric Coates).

Memories were triggered during the meeting once one programme was mentioned:

Friday – Friday Night is Music Night, mostly, I think, music played by the BBC RadioOrchestra.

Saturday – Children’s Favourites with Uncle Mac with such regular songs as The Runaway train went over the track and she blew!; Casey Jones; Burl Ives, the Boleweavel song; but also Tubby the Tuba; The Laughing Policeman; Teddybears Picnic; Sorcerer’s Apprentice; Max Bygraves I’m a Pink Toothbrush, you’re a blue toothbrush; Charlie Drake.

In town tonight – was it a young Richard Dimbleby who presented it? (theme tune Knightsbridge March by Eric Coates).

Sunday – Children’s Favourites; Two-way Family Favourites, Billy Cotton Band Show; Educating Archie (Peter Brough the ventriloquist), Clitheroe Kid, Navy Lark, Hancock’s Half Hour, Life with the Lyons, Beyond our Ken, Round the Horn.

Sunday evening: Sing Something Simple, and the Black & White Minstrels.

Every weekday there was ‘Listen with Mother’, a short 15-minute slot at about 1.45pm every day was for the youngest listeners. It consisted mainly of a short story, some Nursery Rhyme reading and a song.

“Everything stopped at quarter to seven every week-night in our house for mum to listen to The Archers, Doris and Dan, old Walter Gabriel, Peggy and Tom Forrest… An Everyday Story of Country Folk.

Memories of the old huge wireless with foreign stations on the dials, Helvitia and Luxemburg.  Luxemburg was the station where you could listen to all the latest hits by such artists as Bobby Darin, Tom Jones, Bobby Vee, Helen Shapiro, Lonnie Donegan, Billy Fury. And where the first advertisements for cigarettes and football pools were heard. Many remembered The Ovaltinies Club on Luxemburg. Later came the pirate radio stations, but Luxemburg was always the most reliable for the latest Top Twenty charts in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s.

BBC programmes usually stuck to tried and tested artists like Shirley Bassey, Johnnie Ray, David Whitfield, Frankie Vaughn, the Beverley Sisters, and the REAL oldies like Joseph Locke, Ronnie Renaldo and Victor Sylvester. But the BBC also introduced many youngsters to the jazz of Acker Bilk, Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Lane, Dave Brubeck, Kenny Ball, Satchmo and Ella Fitzgerald.

We deviated towards the end of the meeting to talk about the many live venues there were in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire during the 50’s and 60’s: Mansfield Palais; and Nottingham’s Elizabethan Rooms, Sherwood Rooms, Locarno, Boat Club (where many ‘yet to be famous’ groups appeared), the TBI (Trent Bridge Inn) was the home of Trad Jazz, with acts such as Kenny Ball and Cleo Lane appearing.  Cinemas like The Odeon and Empire held live concerts, as well as the old Ice Stadium.  It was possible to go dancing to live music practically every night of the week at one venue or another in Nottingham during that era.

February 2021 – Education (+  Infectious diseases and vaccinations
At our last meeting on 23rd February 2021 our main topic was Education, but, as we all have had, or
are about to have injections for Covid, we talked briefly about infectious diseases prevalent when we were children. Several people mentioned having measles and having to spend up to two weeks in a dark room to prevent damage to their eyes. Polio was an illness that caused breathing
difficulties and muscle wastage. Images of rows of people lying in iron lungs in hospital were frightening, and we remembered children in leg callipers to help them walk. Mumps and chickenpox were also easily caught infections (sometimes children were taken to chickenpox ‘parties’ so that they would catch the disease). German measles (rubella) was another disease with little impact on
children, but could be disastrous for pregnant women, as it could cause birth defects to their unborn babies.
As for Education, the corporal punishment in the form of ruler strikes on the legs and knuckles, gym slipper on the backside for boys, and, in extreme cases, the cane, doled out at my primary school, was not prevalent in other primary and infant schools. Naughty children were told to put their fingers to their lips, or hands on their heads. Punishment at secondary schools usually consisted of
being sent to wait outside the headmaster’s office for suitable retribution. Even the youngest schoolchildren were expected to walk, often crossing several busy roads, or travel by bus and/or train, alone to school.
Primary education took place in various locations: a church hall; little village schools with outside toilet blocks; country schools with only one teacher for the whole school; primary schools with sandpit and water to play in, before graduating to junior school; single sex schools. A daughter of a serviceman attended several different primary schools, including one in Gutersloh, Germany, before settling in Derby, where she attended grammar school. One person remembered writing on slate with chalk at her small primary school. Most remembered learning times tables, up to the 12 times table; weights and measures; poetry,
and £.S.d by rote – and being able to recite them still. Country dancing, singing, and the BBC broadcasts of education programmes, delivered via a radio in a huge cabinet were lasting memories.
Children as young as five or six were the subject of bullying, due to perceived differences or
Everyone was expected to sit the 11+ exam. For some it was an ordeal, mock exams practiced over several weeks; others barely remembered taking it. In our school only 3 boys and 2 girls passed, while in a London school all but 4 boys passed, as was the expectation. There were mixed feelings among those who received their ‘pass’ results. Some wanted to go to the same school as their friends so turned down their place, causing arguments between their parents. One gained a direct grant to a girls grammar school, part of a convent, where she and her classmates were taught to be ‘little ladies’, learning sewing and how to become good wives. Some science was taught, but without
science labs, and with the need to carry buckets of water for experiments, it was rudimentary.
Most enjoyed secondary school, some for the sport, others cookery, needlework, metalwork and woodwork. One lived near Aldershot Barracks and the school used the barracks’ swimming pool and sports hall. One hated the idea of playing hockey, so was allowed to do cross-country running with another girl instead. One said she had very little recollection of the years spent at grammar school,except that it was hard work. Another recalled spending the last three months at school with nothing to do, so spent the time in the library.