See first page for introduction.
My Family, Grandparents, Childhood, School Days, The Teenage Years, Getting Married, Emigrating,
Food, Houses, Household Practices, Clothing, Cotton Mills, Buildings, Shops, Ashton Market,
Hurst Cross, Transport, Entertainment, Wartime, Weather, Daisy Nook, Special Times of the Year,
People, Various Other Memories, Expressions & Sayings.
I used to live in Charlestown but moved to Hurst when I was four into a council house, so went to the infants and junior schools on Queens Road, Hurst, but all my brothers and sisters went to Gatefield except the youngest brother, below me. My brother Frank would have gone to Gatefield same time as your mum. He was born 1928, was five years older than me, then he went to Christ Church. All ten of us went there. My parents were married at the church there as well, in 1909.
Christ Church school stood which stood right in the middle of Oldham Road and the beginning of Taunton Road, and the Hop Pole was facing it.
We used to have some laughing, me and my two mates going over the coalpit hills. The headmaster of Christ Church, Harold Siddall, he used to ask me to take his bike home if he had to go out straight after school. He lived on Hall Road. in between Smallshaw Lane and Henrietta St. It being a man's bike none of us could get our leg over the bar so two would hold it while one got on. One day we were messing around and the pedal fell off. I was very worried about it. I just left the bike leaning against his house wall and the pedal with it and just hoped he noticed it before he went to bed so he could fix it then and not next morning. I was scared of going to school next day so I took the day off - wagged it.
Anyone remember the single decker bus know as the Little Piggy? We used to catch one of them at Oakfold Ave Smallshaw. It was going to Littlemoss but stopped outside Christ Church. Quarter to nine every morning we caught it. If we missed it them we had to face the strap. Assembly was dead on 9 am, and once the hall door was closed a teacher would stand with her back to it so we couldn't sneak in. First out was the headmaster Mr Siddall with his flowing black gown and we would automatically follow him into his room. No questions asked no reasons given, just hold your hand out, end of story. God it was awful during winter when your hands were freezing. Kids today don't know they're born... school buses...
If I missed the quarter to nine single decker bus at Oakfold Ave that went to Littlemoss and dropped us off outside Christ Church, I would have to catch a bus going to the market, get off at the Old Ball and run like hell past Bob Fish's bungalow and over the coalpit hills bringing me out near the Hop Pole hotel, but it didn't matter how fast I ran, I was still too late. I would then have to stand outside the assembly hall and wait until assembly was over. My hand used to tingle for the next fifteen minutes or so. The only time I remember not getting the strap was one morning I was running along the coalpit hills and at the very end were a row little houses and a dog came out of one and bit my leg, so I quickly got it in before the strap. He must have felt sorry for me and sent me home, as the skin had broken. I had to go to the doctor to have it seen to.
Christ Church hadn't moved hardly from Oliver Twist days, the headmaster Harold Siddall belted someone every single day with the strap. Pop Worrell beat someone every day as well. The female teachers were OK. Pop Worrell used to walk up and down the aisles watching everyone. If you were stuck with something, pen still, he would make his hand into a fist then stick two knuckles out and poke them in the top part of your arm, and keep poking it until you almost fell off your desk seat. Anyone sat next to you would stand up until he had finished. We didn't care, none of us did, I would get the strap at morning from Harold Siddall for being late, and then take the his bike home for him at night if he had a meeting to go to. Only because I passed that way. He lived on Hall Road. I heard he later became a magistrate in Ashton
I used to cut through from the Old Ball to get to school. I walked along the top end of Turner Lane and along the coalpit hills. When I got to the end of the coalpits left side there were a few cottages right in the corner, was that Leicester Street? After the cottages I did a right turn that brought me out by the side of the Hop Pole hotel and Minto St. A street ran along the bottom of Minto St, there with a chippy on the corner, I remember running along the coalpits one morning, late as usual and dog ran out of a house where the little cottages were and bit my leg, I had to go for medical attention, I have often wondered what address the cottages were at the end of the coalpit hills
You had to have a sense of humour at school especially the war being on then. There wasn't a lot to make us smile. I wasn't very happy though when old Pop Worrell was belting me. Do you remember he used to close his hand into a fist and stick his middle knuckle out and hit you in the top of your arm? I sat next to Maud Briggs and if he was hitting her, I used to stand up, because she used to be sliding along the seat all the time he was hitting her. She did the same if he was bashing me.
I remember Mr Worrell going blue in the face. He used to go to a cupboard he had there and slam the door so hard it opened again, but we dare not laugh. The old knuckles would have come out. They wouldn't get away with that these days would they? The thing is though, I don't think it did us any harm, do you? I never saw ... get bashed. She was one of the little angels there. Old Pop Worrell's blood pressure must have been sky high trying to knock some sense into us lot!
I never found anything wrong with any of them, if you did wrong you were punished. I used to get the strap not the cane, from Mr Siddall, just for being late, not for misbehaving. I loved Christ Church though, everyone got on so well with each other, and if any boys were seen fighting, a boxing ring was put up and they had to fight and settle their argument!
School Board Man
Remember Mr Lees the school board man? He used to come knocking on the door asking your parents why you wasn't at school, even if you only had a day off. I think now that the head masters had to send a weekly report in of who had been absent. I bumped into Mr Lees many times when I was having a day off. I would perhaps be going up Lees Road to Hurst Cross shops or down Broadoak Road to the Oakfold shops. No place to hide from him, he was always on a bike. He would stop me and ask why I wasn't in school. I would say I hadn't any shoes or I had a headache. I was terrified of him. I bet the kids today would put a finger up and tell him to get stuffed and only for them he would be out of work. but we were not allowed to answer people back like that.
Another guy used to come round as well on a bike, that was known as the bum bailiff. A debt collector he was. He looked to me like he had been a policeman, he was real big man. We kids would be playing out on the front and as soon as we saw him we would all run in our houses to tell our parents the bum bailey, as we called him, was coming. All the adults would be peeping behind the curtain seeing which house he was going to.
The First Day
My sister took me to school the first day, down on Queens Road. She was 11 years older than me. I think I must have started after the other kids because when we got there everyone was in the assembly room, and a teacher took me by the hand and put me on the end of the front row. My sister stood by the door and I never took my eyes off her for a while, then something caught my eye and I looked away for a split second and when I looked back she had gone. I was absolutely devastated. Cried all day. Then at home time I came out and she wasn't there so I set off on my own but went down Queens Road instead of up. I was almost at the bottom when I must have realised I was lost. I started to cry and a lady came out of her house to see what was the matter, but just then my sister came tearing down the road. I will never forget that day. I said, I wanted to go home to my mam, I don't want to go there any more.
After that my mam had a terrible time with me. I would hide in the trees on Lees Road facing our house. That is, until a neighbour would see me and go and tell on me. Oh boy was I ever in trouble, so my mam started taking me. I would cry all the way there and say, you go back and I will go to school. She would say, I will go back once you are in that classroom. A right little bugger I was. [ Alan my son was just like me, I used to take him round to the Broadoak school, stand there and wave till he went in, then make my way home in Hartshead Ave and before I got home I would hear "MUM!" Oh God, what a pest he was, the poor old lollipop man chasing after him. I will be in trouble if Alan reads this! ]
Who remembers the songs we sang at school? I recall one from when I was about eight years old. It always stuck in my mind and I used to sing it to my two when they were little.
As I was walking through the fields I bumped into a hare.
I caught him by the ears and said, now bite me if you dare.
He gave a little squeal and cried, if you will let me go,
I'll take you to the valley where the harebells grow, where the lovely harebells grow.
Come come I'll take you to the valley where the harebells grow.
Along the new mown hay we fled, in search of harebells blue,
And sure enough we found a spot where thousands of them grew,
Each trembling on its stalk as though, surprised with sudden fear,
And ringing out a tiny chime that only hares can hear, that only hares can hear.
Come come, I'll take you to the valley where the harebells grow, where the harebells grow.
The Nit Nurse
When I was in school, the nurse would come and take a class at a time, we all went into the staff kitchen, and afterwards she would write cards out for the ones who had nits. Then later in the afternoon the headmaster would come round and put the card on the kid's desk, so everyone knew who had nits.
It wasn't the right thing to do as a lot of kids used it as ammo in an argument. If they were coming worst off they would say, "Well at least I don't have nits," or just plain "nitty head," which would have been very upsetting for the person. It was cruel, really. And if a kid had lots of nits they were expelled on the spot. And once the mother had got the hair clean, they had to go to the school clinic down in Charlestown to have their head looked at to make sure it was clean before going back to school. They wouldn't get away with it these days. Was the treatment SULIO. I can't think if it was that over there or here. The old derbac comb and vinegar is all I remember from being a youngster.
We had to go to West End for cookery as there was no kitchen at Christ Church. The lads had to go to West End for woodwork as well. I thought at times it was a waste of time us going because the war was on and half of us ended up scrubbing pans because our mothers couldn't supply the ingredients we needed. I bet that kitchen had the cleanest pans on earth, but at least I did have an apron. My mother made it for me out of a piece of calico.
Mr Mottram was caretaker at Christ Church school when I was there. I left in December 1946. He had white hair in those days too, he was a real nice gentleman. I don't know why but I always called him George. I loved the houses he lived in. I remember one day, we had been over the Moss for sport (there wasn't any houses on the Moss then) and on the way back we spotted an apple three in the back garden of one of those houses, so me and another girl, Florence, went the next day at lunch time to pinch some. Florence climbed the tree and I was waiting for her to throw the apples down to me, but the man who lived there came running down the back. I shot off and left poor Florence up the tree. About ten minutes after we started class this guy came into the classroom holding Florence by the neck. We both got the cane for it. I remember taking fruit to church for harvest festival but we didn't get the day off back then. It was straight into school after the service. Coming from a big family back then we hadn't much. The war was on. I used to go to May Bailey's fruit shop at Hurst Cross and buy one apple and polish it up on my coat. It would only have cost a penny or twopence.
Miss Lees married in 1945 to Douglas Shooter. He was an architect. He would have been in the forces because the war was on during our time at Christ Church. They went to live on Cedar Street for a while and she had a daughter while there, I think named Jane. Then I heard they had a bungalow built near the waterworks, I don't know the name of the road it was on but it was top end of Mossley Road. A dirt road that led down to the waterworks, and if I remember rightly, the only one there at that time. I bet there's heaps now. Her name was Marguerite. She was a lovely teacher. She used to take us on the Moss for sport and at that time the houses on Knowle Ave was being built and all the workmen used to whistle after her. She used to go as red as a beetroot. She was just 22. Miss Lees is possibly still alive she would be 86 now. She didn't live far from where she was brought up, her parents house was first one on Rose Hill Road corner of Kings Road.
Jean Adshead was in my class, her sister Alice came two years later. Albert was the younger one. I didn't know him, well I did know him, I went to their house a couple of times in Cotton St, but he wasn't at Christ Church then. We were allowed to go to the baths Friday afternoon if there were 12 of us. Sometimes I would be asked to make up the twelve and living in Hurst was too far to go to get a bathing costume so one of the girls would take me to their house at dinner time and fix me up with one and a towel. So that's how I knew there was an Albert. I think the eldest was called Bill, but not sure.
Graham Kelly was in my class all the way through, then he later married my brother's wife's niece. He was a real smart pupil. Any questions asked by the teacher and his hand always shot up first. He was always a nice lad. He had an older brother there, Gordon, and a younger sister, Jean. I only knew Gordon, Irene, Graham and Jean Kelly. They lived on Coronation Road.
It was Mrs Jackson took the sewing class, I remember we were making petticoats as she called them. I called them underskirts and one day, try as I may, I couldn't thread the needle. I decided to try the other end of the thread but instead of just turning it round I dragged the whole length through my mouth and unbeknowns to me the teacher was looking at me, she called me to the front of the class and said, "show everyone what you just did." I looked at her right gormless and said, "why, what did I do?" I hadn't a clue what she was on about.
I loved the school dinners as well, I could smell them from about 11 am and it made me so hungry.
I left school in 1946. At that time if you turned 14 before Easter you were allowed to leave at Easter, if you turned 14 before August you left in August, when the school broke up and so on. I was 14 in the December and about two weeks before Christmas the headmaster came into the classroom with a list of who could leave. He didn't have my name on it so I reminded him. He said "you will still be 13 when we break for Christmas, therefore you will come back until Easter." My birthday was one day after we broke up, so I went to the education office and they said I could leave at Christmas.
I left Friday and started work Monday. We only worked three days that week because of Christmas, but my mother wasn't going to let me off for those three days. I was pig sick when I saw everyone getting a wage and I had to work a week in hand. My mother gave me half a crown though. I was like the cat who got the cream! I went and spent it all at Jessie Lees toffee shop. My pockets were bulging. PK chewy and all sorts. I paid for my little brother at the Roxy as well. I bet you couldn't go that far on half a crown now, could you? It wouldn't take you to the front gate.
Anyhow, it was only fourpence at the Roxy first house. I got five bob spends after and it took me to the premier dance hall Saturday, the Queens cinema Sunday, and the Roxy Monday, plus five Woodbines or Park Drive. I still had a couple of coppers left. Wakes holidays were the best. We got our wages for the week and two weeks holiday pay. Three weeks spends I got, fifteen bob all at once. Oh boy, did I enjoy myself! I was there like an old woman opening and shutting the purse. [Grin] Went through it like it were going out of fashion. Wages back then for learners were one pound eight and sixpence.
The Teenage Years
The 40s, when the war ended, was a great time for me, being able to go in the shops and buy whatever I wanted. Ice cream toffees, not to queue up anywhere, everything in abundance, then my silly years, as a teenager. I loved those years, dressing up, going to the dance halls, sneaking in the pubs under age. My mother named me Midnight Maggie!
I never had time to be bored as a youngster. Always too much going on in my life. Going through the teenage years were a bit hard, thinking you were madly in love, everyone telling you it was infatuation but you didn't believe them. Oh no, it's definitely love, but within a couple of days I was over it... Out dancing every Saturday night. Out till all hours. No time at all to watch TV, records playing full blast every Sunday afternoon. Setting the hair up ready for Sunday night out. White canvas sling back shoes outside on the window sill drying after whitening them.
Getting a belt now and again for coming home late. You just took it all in your stride, but bored? Never! I don't think the young of today could organise a raffle let alone be able to make their own fun. Everything is laid on for them. Not that it's their fault, it's all the modern technology!
I have to smile when I think back to those days. My wage were three pound ten. I would go home every Thursday pay day religiously. Hand my pay packet to my mam, and she would give me five shillings back. I was always skint by Sunday. And at that time, my sister and her husband lived with us and I used to borrow half a crown off him. He wouldn't let me get my foot in the door on pay day before he held his hand out. I would say, "let me get in first." I hated giving it back, then the following Sunday I would say "can you lend me half a crown?" he would say, "I'm lending you nothing, you always complain when you have to give it back." I would pester the life out of him until my sister would say, "for goodness sake lend it to her!" It's funny how you change. I can't do with owing anyone anything. Everything has to be paid on time.
I think I fell in love every week as a teenager. Or was it infatuation? Had anyone told me so back then I wouldn't have believed them. I had one in particular though that I did carry a torch for. We knocked around in a group from being 15, until the lads were called up to do their two years in the forces. Went in as lads, came out as men. It wasn't like it is now. We were brought up to respect our bodies and lads were brought up to treat girls like they would have their sisters treated. And if any of them got a girl in trouble they knew a wedding would follow, love or no love. Some of these young ones are like rabbits today... thank you maam, thank you maam, whoops Sam, sorry Sam, thank you maam, thank you maam. And there you go...
Perfume was Coty, make up was Max Factor panstick. Natural. Then twilight blush powder on top of that. Dorothy Gray make up were very popular at that time too. You could buy the cheap make up we called grease paint, and boy was it greasy. I couldn't do with it, really bad for the skin. I wore the leg tan. The hair styles were the cap cut. Easy to manage, and a lot of girls wore their hair shoulder length and in a pageboy. Mine were in a page boy for quite a while during the 40s.
We left school at 14 those days, so if we were old enough to work, I suppose we were old enough to have a boyfriend. Well, some of us. I wasn't allowed! We courted two and a half years before tying the knot, but both were 23 when we wed, and together 33 years.
I'm amazed no one as asked why I said I had the wedding of the year from Lees Road, well let me tell you... it was because no one else from there were wed that year. I hated fuss and bother and still do. I hated to be the centre of attention. Nor can I do with anyone who loves to be the centre of attention. I wore a beige suit, and a little beige hat, well half a hat I bought from Rose Wallwork's inside the market. It went over the top of the head and it clung round the ears. They were all the go then, kind of straw... We had a best man and my sister stood for me. Just five of us at the actual wedding, but all my friends and the neighbours turned up at the church. We booked a table at Booth's Café for lunch, then had tea at my house. Then all the family and friends went to the Old Nook inn upstairs at night. Harry Brennand the landlord let us have the room free, so there you go. We had a great marriage, both stuck to our own stall as my mother would say, meaning, none of us ever went out side our marriage. We were together 33 wonderful years, . .
We went to Ireland on our honeymoon. 51 years ago on the 24th of this month (voting day here incidentally.) We went to Bray which is only a short bus ride from Dublin. It will have changed tremendously I'm sure. I remember the kids barefoot standing on the corner of the street begging for money, and when you got to the next street the same kids were there. They had hopped it round the back streets. Bray is really nice, or was... long time ago.
When I was wed in 1956 (yes, it's 50 years on the 24th of this month since), in those days the pill wasn't heard of, so it was mostly, get married and be expecting the week after. Or better still, be already pregnant. But that didn't happen with us and I think my siblings were waiting with bated breath for me to announce I was. However I was able to do so three years later and straight away an older sister said, "I will buy the cot," and she did. She took me down to the Co-op on Stamford St and bought it with her divi. I always thought though that you paid through the nose shopping at Co-ops. The prices were always higher than the corner shops. It was just another way of saving up.
We set sail for Australia on the 21st of Feb 1971. We came by sea on a Greek ship, the Britannis. It had just been bought by the Greek shipping line and was all done out, a beautiful ship but a bit boring after two weeks.
We sailed in the Britannis. No, not the Brittania! I wanted to come here on that one but I had forgotten my tiara, so they wouldn't let me on.
We stopped at Cape Town, Las Palmas then onto Adelaide we arrived there on the 25th of March. then on to Perth, Melbourne and then Sydney. which took almost another week.
My brother John lived in Southern Rhodesia at the time and I was hoping he would be at Cape Town to see me, he wasn't, but you don't realise how far apart they are. He said it was a three day train journey.
We lived on the Endeavour migrant hostel in a place called South Coogee, pronounced Cudgee, on arriving and stayed eleven months. It was all up hills and down hills there, and from the hostel we lived in, which was quite high up, we could see the planes taking off and arriving all day long from Kingford Smith airport. And, if I'm to be honest, yes I was very homesick. What I would have given to have been on one of those planes, and as I have said before, we had to stay here two years or pay the commonwealth of Australia the fares for coming here. But all the people I met there were the same, homesick. It's a normal thing. It's something you have to go through, otherwise you aren't normal. After a while you just sort yourself out and by the two years you are settled or go back where you came from. We settled OK, but I must say, there are still times when I wish I had never emigrated. Not very often, just now and again, then I tell myself I'm only a plane ride away.
One of the things I noticed first here was that they were a couple of years behind with their education. My daughter was doing work here she had done two years ago in the UK. My friend's son, was said to be very clever here and when they were going back to the UK for good, they were given a school report and told he should go to grammar when he got back. So he sat a test there and failed it. He is a smart lad but it just shows how behind they were here back in 1971. Who knows, if I had been born here I may have made it to uni... I don't think...
The migrant hostels changed a lot later on. The one we lived on, the Endeavour, was opened a year before we arrived. All the beds were made up for the migrants. They hadn't to carry their cutlery to the dining room. It was already there for them. If there were any VIPs coming over they were always entertained on the Endeavour. We had cricket matches every year there. The men playing came from every hostel in Australia and stayed the weekend. One time the cricket match was on and the manager in charge that weekend asked me to man the office while he went to watch. It was Sunday afternoon, no office staff there. The phone rang and a man with an English accent asked me if one of the big men from head office was there. He said he was phoning from Melbourne. I said "He's down on the cricket field. Is it important?" He said, "Christ... course it's bloody important. I'm phoning from Melbourne." He was so annoyed with me. Gave me his name, which I didn't pick up, and slammed the phone down. I thought, "Oh God, who was that? What am I going to do?" I got on the tannoy and called Mr Ward, the man he wanted. Luckily for me, Mr Ward knew who it would be and the hotel he was staying at. Then after the conversation with the man, Mr Ward said, "Do you know who that was, Lily?" I said, "I haven't the foggiest." He said it was head of the commonwealth. I thought... "and ignorant as well..."
I missed Ashton terribly when I first came out here. And how! It was a real culture shock. I knew no one, knew no streets or roads, didn't know what I was reading in the newspapers, didn't know what they were talking about on the news. I thought I was going to go mad. My daughter came home from school said there was a party and she had to take a plate. I sent her with one. She came home that day all upset. She said everyone took food on the plate except me. I hadn't a clue!
We were walking down a street one day and noticed all the curtains were shut and the blinds. My husband said, "Someone must have died here." (Going off how we all shut our curtains back home when there was a neighbour being buried.) We didn't know that here it was to keep the sun out. But you eventually turn the corner, that's if you stay long enough. It took me some time though, and my husband was worse than me. He was like a caged animal. Karen settled in quickly. She was 11. But my son, Alan didn't. He wanted to know when we were going home to his house. He was only 7 years. I was heartbroken for him, but he wouldn't leave here now he's 40. He isn't interested at all about the UK.
I think it was when all the mills closed that I thought of emigrating. I didn't seem to be settling anywhere properly. I had two brothers out here so I thought of coming myself. It's not an easy decision - there's a lot of talking to do before you make up your mind, the fors and the againsts. Eventually we decided that if we didn't settle here then we would go back to Ashton after two years. I got a job on the hostel after being there four weeks as a housemaid but by three months was made assistant housekeeper, and stayed in the job fourteen years. I was very happy there.
And yes - we came on the ten pound scheme. We would have been crazy not to have done. It's supposed to mean you have to stay here two years or pay them the full fare for coming here, but I know quite a few who lived on the hostel packed up and went back home after a few months and didn't pay anything but their fares home. All the migrant hostels are closed now. If you want to come here you have to have a big fat bank book and find your own accommodation. It's not as easy now as it was.
When I first came here my two were seven and eleven and you could join a Christmas club at the beginning of the year at the Commonwealth Bank. Just put whatever you wanted in each week. It was great. I don't know if they still do it. It was a real good help.
I think that when we poms die here, notification is sent to Somerset House, and the death registered there. This is what I was told years ago, but don't take my word for it. I'm not sure if that's the case if you change your nationality. I haven't, I'm still a pom. So is my son, but my daughter is an Aussie. I could never become an Aussie. It really doesn't make much difference anyway, I don't suppose. I worked with a couple of Greek ladies who became Aussies and they still got called wogs so why bother?
I remember when anyone did something wrong, example, if they were working on something and didn't do it right, someone would say, "Ger out a bloody road, yer neither use ner ornament. If tha wants owt doin proper do it yerself, yer a bloody nowt," meaning "Move away, you are neither use nor ornament, you are fit for nothing, if you want anything doing properly do it yourself." I love that slang, the Aussies here still can't understand me. My two children had to interpret for their friends if I was speaking to them. They would say, "What's your mum saying?"
Isn't it funny how we all call England home? I have been here 37 years now and if I'm speaking to someone about England, I always say back home. They say, home is where your family is, and of course mine are here, but I still call Ashton home!
My mother always put a pinch of salt in our porridge, serve it and leave us to put sugar in if we wanted. I enjoyed it either way. It's like when you make a pastry for apple pie, though its a sweet one, I still add a pinch of salt.
I used to get my Vimto lollies from Joe's on Katherine St. Big chunky ones, but I did love the wafers with the chocolate inside lovely crumbly chocolate. I got them off Alec Talco. They cost about fourpence at that time, cornets twopence each.
Oven bottom muffins - that brings back memories. When I was about 9 years old, my friend Brenda and I had a stall selling things for charity. We went all along the road asking neighbours for things to sell. In all we made two shilling and tuppence. On the Saturday we went to the Town Hall with one and a penny each to give to the mayor, but he was at lunch, so we wandered round the market. We couldn't resist buying a muffin each, a penny each. Then we decided we were thirsty so bought a drink inside the market. It's as well it was time to go and see the mayor because we only had ninepence each left! The mayor was full of smiles, told us what good girls we were, and our names were in the Reporter the week after. Talk about being found out! Our parents wanted to know what happened with the other money. We never dreamed the Reporter would say how much we handed in!
I found bacon here (Australia) was a let down for me. It tasted awful, well no taste at all. I remember going into the shops in the UK, where you could choose which bacon you wanted, what thickness you wanted and the shop keeper would merrily cut away on the bacon slicer which wasn't automatic it was done by hand. Also I have never tasted a cream cracker here like the ones back in the UK.
Only last week I was making myself a cheese sandwich with wholemeal bread and was thinking to myself, these cheese slices have been tampered with within a inch of their lives. All shiny like someone had polished them up. I wonder how many additives are in them, its not like the cheeses we knew. If you haven't a fan to waft yourself in summer, use a cheese slice. Talking about pigs' trotters, they are good to boil up if you are making a pork pie. After the pie is done, make a hole in the top and pour the the stock from the trotters into it. It gives the pie the jellied gravy finish after its cooled down and set.
I bought tripe when I first came here. Got home, put it on a plate, put vinegar on it and sat down to enjoy it. Was I ever kidding myself? It was like biting through rubber. I had to throw it in the garbage bin. Next day I mentioned it to a couple of the girls I worked with. They said, "Did you boil it?" I said, "no". They thought I was mad. I told them we hadn't to do that in the UK, it was already boiled when we bought it!
I do fat cake like I ate it as a kid. Roll my left over dough out to about half an inch thickness, then bake it, and when its done thicken it with butter or margarine... enjoy. I think that our parents or grandmas should be congratulated for the way they dished up meals day in and day out during the war, shortage of butter and sugar, and goodness knows what else, but you always got a good meal. Pea soup and dumplings, potato pie, fat cake with the left over dough, beef steak pudding done in a piece of white cloth, jelly and custard, sweetcake every Sunday tea, pancakes on Pancake Tuesday. Everyone made apple pie but not often with sweet pastries because they hadn't the sugar, so it was made with the same pastry as the meat pies. If there were no apples then it was made with jam.
I honestly don't know how they managed. There were no use-by dates then, food was got everyday and used that day, even if it was got on the tick. I remember the shop I went in to get our food, Staffords at Oak Fold. Mr Stafford always had a big thick book with everyone's name in that had tick, and he would always lick his finger or thumb before turning the pages, always had just the end of a chunky kind of pencil, and always licked it before starting to write. I always as a kid watched for him doing that... he never let me down!
When you think, back then hardly anyone cooked roast lamb dinners during the week, they couldn't afford it. I remember my mother sending to Frank Brines butcher every Saturday morning and I had to ask for a piece of lean meat about ten shilling. If it went over ten bob, he had to find a piece smaller... cos that's all I had besides my penny bus fare home... and that piece of meat had to go between eight kids and my parents, besides some being kept for lunches next day, for the ones working. I remember one Saturday, it was during Wakes Week, and I put my penny bus fare into a slot machine. It had film stars on it. I was thinking "here goes, the long walk home to Hurst," but no, my luck was in, I got Hedy Lamarr and it paid me twelve pennies. Was I ever a happy little Vegemite. .
Chippies and Pies
Fish, chips and mushy peas looked very inviting. Made mi mouth water they did... Gone up a lot in price now, haven't they? Threepence they were when I was a youngster, wrapped in greaseproof then newspaper. Loads of salt and vinegar. They give you a few scraps as well... batter that had fallen off the fish... you thought yourself lucky if you got a scrap with a bit of fish in. We would walk miles Saturday night for chips. During Ashton Wakes a lot went on holiday, we would go first to Oakfold Ave. If they were closed we would walk to the Broadoak Hotel - there was a chippy facing. If they were closed we would walk to the Old Ball. If they were closed we would cut through Ladbrooke Road and along Curzon Road to Russell St. All for three penn'orth of chips. Still, when you got the urge for chips...
I think the foods we ate as youngsters were stodgy, but we knew what was in them. No additives and dyes like today. Bacon was bacon, cheese was cheese, not like now with the contents written on the packet. As for walking, yes we walked everywhere. The first thing that's bought for a new baby now, is a capsule for the car, so all this ferrying around starts from birth, and goes on until they are old enough to have their own car. There were never any gyms as I know of in Ashton. There may have been in London, but we didn't need them. We had daily exercise from morning till night. No jumping into cars for us. I honestly don't know if there was a taxi rank. If there was I don't know where it was. I think the only time I saw taxis was on a Saturday for weddings, all done up in ribbons.
I worked shifts at the Wellington Mill. How many times when I was on afternoon shift I set out to make a potato pie and ran out of time to do the pie crust I don't know, so it ended up tater ash and me flying down Whitelands Road late for work... Thank God for Fred's chippy corner of Glebe Street!
I used to like calling in on Axon's bottom of Penny Meadow, they sold Holland's meat and potato pies. I loved those. For reasons known only to them, on Sundays they didn't put their oven on to warm them up but you could buy a cold one. I enjoyed that just as much as a hot one, but the ones I loved most were pork pies. I could eat them till they come out of my ears! You could get a big one for two and six. Wonder how much they are now? I was out shopping one day here with my neighbour Tracy and spied these dinkie pork pies in the deli. I bought one for each of us, got home, brewed up and brought the pies out. I scoffed mine down but she played around a bit with hers. Then, next time we went shopping, I said to her, "I'm going to get us a pork pie each." She said, "Oh please don't get one for me, I hated them. How can you enjoy a cold pie?" But then it's what you are used to. The meat and potato pies here are a meat pie with creamed potatoes on top, more like a cottage pie, and the meat pies, when you bite into them, the meat and gravy runs all down the front of you if you're not careful. All squishy squashy!
I used to like the little round oval meat pies I got from Pemberton's on Kings Road, a dollop of meat and lots of stock. I used to drink the stock out first. Great pies they were, oh, I could just eat one now!
I remember Joe Wood's pies - they were delicious. The shop was in Swan St, the little street that the buses turned into to get on to Penny Meadow. After we went to live on Lees Road, my mother still sent us to Joe's for pies. I can see him now, sat at the counter which was just a table, and his wife in the back room putting and taking pies out of the big oven. He would say, "do you want gravy?" and if you said "yes," he would stick his thumb through the top to make a hole to pour gravy into. I never once saw his wife smile, but no wonder with that job she had. They must have been well into their sixties at that time. They worked like trojans back then. Knight's and Sewell's daughters were the same - nothing modern to make life a bit easier.
I wonder how much sausage egg and chips costs now? Chips were threepence when I was a kid back in the 30s, fish around fourpence. You didn't get sausage from the chippy back then, only chips, fish, specials, beef steak puddings with gravy, and mushy peas.
I remember an old man (probably younger than I am now, but looked ancient to me). I was terrified of him. His hands were real shaky,. He used to stand at the gate with a round tin bowl waiting for me as I walked down Connery Crescent on my way to the shops, and ask me to get him a mixture from the chippy. I think it cost about eight pence for chips fish and peas.. That bowl had so many dents in it from him dropping it, poor old man. My mother used to say, "He'll not do you any harm, he's a nice man." I was so frightened of him though, I used to go down Broadoak Road instead of Connery Crescent to avoid him. I felt quite guilty about that years later, poor old man. He used to give me a penny every time.
You can't get the suet here, like you could in England, for making beef steak puddings. There's some they sell in a packet but I think there may be flour mixed in with it. I have made dumplings with it but its not the same, my mother used wrap her pudding in a white cloth and a piece of cotton wrapped round to keep them together, then boil them. I'm not kidding, they hung over the plate. Lovely, they were. I loved going home to a beef steak pud... and dumplings she used to drop in the pea soup. I used to leave my dumpling till last. then put jam on it...
I have yet to come across a chippy here in Oz that cooks chips and fish like they used to in Ashton. As a kid, I used to go in Darinda Staffords at Oak Fold. I remember Darinda used to carry a bucket of spuds from the back of the shop already peeled, all the eyes cut out, and she would put them one by one into the chip chopper that was attached to the counter, pull the handle down, and the chips would drop into a white enamel bucket. The fish she kept on a tray, and had a container hooked onto the cooking range with batter in it. She would ask how many fish you wanted, dip them into the batter and then into the pan, everyone had to wait for their order as the chips then were cooked from raw, not like now, cooked early morning and then put back in the pan when you order just to warm them up. Darinda would wrap the fish and chips in greaseproof paper, then newspaper and ask are you eating them now, if you said yes, she made a kind of flute in the paper, you put your own salt and vinegar on.
Half the Aussies haven't heard of vinegar on chips, just salt. I wont buy chips here, they are disgusting, full of eyes and more scaps than chips, and so soggy. I buy the Birds Eye oven chips. They are OK, about as near as you will get to a good Ashton chip, but are kind of dry inside. The thing is now though, the chippies aren't really chippies any more. They got greedy and started to dabble in all sorts of food, so they don't concentrate on making one good thing. It used to be fish, chips, peas. Some sold pudding, not all, and that was it.
The confectioners are the same. Again in the UK, years go, the pies would be brought into the shop on wooden trays straight from the ovens. They were never on show like today, put under a heated showcase. Everything was so fresh. I don't buy pies here ever, I make my own. I can't believe it when they talk about Aussie being known for its meat pies, one bite and the gravy and meat slops all down the front of you. The meat and potato pies here, are a meat pie with mashed potatoes plonked on top of it, similar you could say to a cottage or shepherds pie as we know it. On the other hand, I have friends who are Aussie and have been to the UK, and thought the meat and potato pies there were terrible. They could not believe the potatoes were inside the pastry! You can't win, can you?
I would say butter and sugar would have been about the hardest to get back in the 40s. Ice cream started being sold again in 1946... and by 1949 the shelves were more or less filled. All the lads were back from the war and working again. I remember buying cake by the slab, my mother used to send me for half a slab every weekend but if any of the aunts or uncles were coming to Sunday tea I had to get a full slab, that and pineapple chunks. My mother used to make her own butter during the war. There were so many recipes passed around at that time. Everyone helped everyone. My eldest sister was 18 years younger than my mother, married with children older than me, and she was always in the know and the first place she would make for was our house to share whatever recipes she had with my mother. The things they conjured up! My mother had arthritis in her knees and my sister came and made up a remedy she had heard of. It was herbs and the like,. She brewed it in a pop bottle and said it had to be left for a couple of weeks before being taken. Two weeks later she came, took the top off the bottle and the whole lot erupted. We were all full of it, the walls, everywhere. Talk about laugh, it was so funny!
Fruit and veg were not rationed, we didn't give coupons for them, only groceries and clothes, but potatoes were very hard to get. I remember going to Joe Wrights, facing the Roxy,. He had potatoes in and the word went around quick smart. I stayed off school to go there, the queue was almost down to the red school. I think everyone in Hurst were there. I was allowed two pounds of potatoes, everyone was. But to get them, you were expected to buy a whole lot of other veg. We had to show the ration books for under five year olds, that was to get an orange,. Over that you were not allowed them, and you had no chance of an orange. I think a tin of salmon was about one coupon, but it wasn't often the shops got them in. Our shop, Staffords at Oak Fold, used to fold papers up and put them in a big tin, and you had to draw one out to see if you had salmon written on it on it or blank. There wasn't enough salmon to go round to all his customers. You were lucky if you got one, and even then, families were so large that our mothers would mix bread crumbs in to make it go further.
Sweets, we were allowed a quarter of a pound once a week, there was a full coupon in the book but separated into four parts so the shopkeeper always had a little pair of scissors to cut a quarter of the coupon out each week. Yes, times were hard back then. It makes one wonder how our mothers managed to put three square meals a day on the table. I was in a very awkward position during those times. I was ninth of ten children, the brother older than me began work age fourteen when I was nine, my young brother was just five by then. The older ones were married, in the forces, or working, so I was the errand girl. My dad used to give me a threepenny bit every Thursday.
I used to love Sunday nights best. My mother would scrape up all the leftovers from Sunday dinner, put them in the frying pan and warm them up. She would keep turning them over and over until they were lovely and hot. BUBBLE and SQUEAK she called it. I have done it here a few times but it doesn't seem the same somehow. I wonder was it the old iron pans they used back then. We had a big black iron pan that she did the pea soup in. It always stood on the floor, and as I began working at fourteen, it was my job every Thursday to get down on my knees and scrub the kitchen and bathroom floors. This bloody great pan was so heavy, I used to mop round it. I always got in trouble for that.
The other thing I loved was Christmas Eve, my mother always made a big potato pie. My brothers and sisters all called in, with their husbands and wives, for a plate full. After being out for the night, and as a teenager I would be at the dance hall so by the time I got home they would all have gone home and my parents in bed, but there was always a plate full left in the top oven for me. Could anything have been more perfect? A great night at the dance hall, a kiss and a cuddle on the corner, sometimes ankle deep in snow, the house to myself and a plate of tater pie with red cabbage. HAPPY DAYS!
I loved sauce butties but hated dripping butties. I could never stand the fat on the roof of my mouth. My mother never gave us dripping on bread. She used it for other cooking and also make her own butter as it was rationed during the war and hard to get. But my friend Maud, her mother always gave it to her family and whenever I was in their house, which was quite often, her mother would cut thick slices off the home-made loaf and thicken it with dripping and sprinkle salt on, and would ask if I wanted one. It looked so good I always said yes, but once outside, I would take a bite and throw the rest away. It was what my mother would have said... "Your eyes are bigger than your belly!"
Pancake Tuesday was a special day at our house. I loved them smothered in sugar. My mother would have the mixture made before we got home, and half way through eating our meal she would get up and go in the kitchen and start on the pancakes. Boy, could she toss those pancakes! Up in the air they would go and drop straight back in the frying pan. I can't remember her ever dropping one. another thing she would do. if she was making potato pie or meat pies, she would make extra pastry and roll it out about a quarter of an inch thickness, put criss cross on the top and put it in the oven. 'Fat cake' she called it. It was lovely with heaps of butter on top. I have tried it but it doesn't come out like my mother's. I wonder was it because she baked it in the oven that was heated by the fire, rather than a gas or electric oven?
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