Thursday, 2 August 2012
A Photo provokes memories
An old home
My mind is churning up memories from the past and the blame for this can be placed squarely on the head of my cousin Anne T who yesterday forwarded to me a photo of my old home in Burnham-on-Sea. The house is up for sale at the modest price of £185,000. I have no idea what my father paid for the four bedroomed property in 1947, except that it was considerably less.
When we lived at Lynton Road the red bricks were, to my mind, a prominent and homely feature of our Victorian home. As we were a small family my mother had an idea of becoming a landlady so number twenty became a guest house. The first year she provided full board i.e. breakfast, lunch and dinner but this proved to be too much work for her and subsequently she reduced it to a bed & breakfast establishment with an occasional evening meal on request.
I have a memory of there being a week when there was no hen eggs for sale in any of the shops nor even any packets of dry egg powder. So the boatmen of Burnham made a trip to one of the islands returning with sufficient eggs so that each child in the town was given one. They tasted rather salty so I guess that they were seagulls eggs!
During our time in Burnham my father managed a grocery shop in Bridgwater. My mother & I went to meet him from work and it being a Saturday the custom was that any fresh produce that had not been sold was divided up between himself and his assistant: a heated discussion (almost a fight!) was taking place inside, for there was just one banana left in the box outside of the shop. My mother told me to pick it up and be quick about eating it - which I did. The argument inside of the shop ceased immediately.
It was in B-o-S that I first went to school. Oxford Street was just around the corner and my parents sent me to St. Joseph's Elementary School (1948 - 50) which in those days was staffed by the La Retraite Nuns of the adjoining convent. Being sent there was rather odd considering that my parents were virtually pagan in comparison to our neighbours. Xmas meant presents with two days of feasting and Easter meant chocolate eggs with visits to old pagan sites up in the hills.
I enjoyed my time at the school especially the after lunch naps on raffia mats and the music lessons when I was first given a drum to play, however I was quickly demoted to a triangle and I can't think why ! The nuns stole my tender heart away with their sense of fun and the Mother Superior was like having an extra aunt, as she seemed to have an endless supply of sweets. On my last day she appeared with a large flat box of chocolates that were shared among the class and the box with two chocs left were given to me to take home. Of all of the many educational establishments that I attended, I think that this first school was the happiest.
Food in those days was always upper most in our minds. Everybody was subjected to a Ration Card with rip out tokens that had to be presented to shopkeepers before a purchase could be made.
My father obtained some fertilised eggs which were put in a straw filled box in the airing cupboard and eventually out popped some yellow chicks, from these we kept three cockerels that were put in a purpose made cage in the back garden. Little did I know how exciting this would be on the day that my mother (she being city raised) decided to let them out for a bit of exercise. Getting them back into their run took the combined efforts of two neighbouring housewives armed with brooms to shoo them in the right direction - I think we ended up giving one bird to each of them as payment for their silence.
Beach combing was a pastime that was carried out by all who lived handy to the shore. The sandy beach at B-o-S is the southern end of a sandy shore that is 7 miles (11km) long from Brean Down at the northern end via Berrow to Burnham. I spent many a happy hour looking amongst the seaweed for odd bits of firewood and other interesting items that drifted ashore. On the beach at Berrow were the old wrecks of two wooden vessels which greatly enlivened the imaginations of small boys of sailing to foreign places, rum, sword fights and romance with dusky maidens.
In my early boyhood days there was no suntan lotion but sunburn could be prevented by squeezing the juice from the bubbles on green bladderwrack and smearing it on the skin. Cooling calamine lotion was used to soothe sunburn.
It is amazing the memories and reminiscences that Anne's photo have brought into my mind and for that I really need to say: Thank you Anne!