Dear Diary – Page 5 (Early 1950’s – Infants School)

Bath time was a ritual which necessitated Mum heating up various pans of water on the stove and mixing them with cold water in a steel bathtub which was placed on the floor in front of the heater.

Me, being the youngest, would be first in at which time more pans of water would be put on the stove ready for Valerie to have her bath. I would then be in bed while Valerie was having her bath.

It was at this time that both Valerie and I did, very briefly, go to the same school which was within walking distance from Keyes Close. While I have limited recollections of that time, there is a family story about an incident with the local bakery!

Valerie would walk me to school (and back) and on our route was the bakery that supplied Mum with bread etc. during the week. On one occasion, when the time came for Mum to pay her bill, she was rather surprised at the total owing. The baker gave her a breakdown of her bill and she questioned a number of little cakes, and other items, which she had not ordered. The baker explained that it was all correct as the additional items were those purchased by her son and daughter.

Apparently we would go into the shop, choose a couple of pastries for ourselves, and then tell them to “put it on our Mum’s account”! That just had to be one of Valerie’s bright ideas because I would have never thought of that at 5 years old! Actually, that was pretty good even for an 8 year old. Clearly she had talent!

Valerie’s memory of the school was that it was a two classroom building. Her room had a coke fireplace in the middle of the floor around which were placed the milk crates so that the milk bottles would keep warm during the cold months. I understand that the school was also a Chapel with the rooms being used for Sunday school and church services. The toilets were outside.

The little milk bottles (1/3 pint) were an interesting aspect of school for many years. Noting that England was still recovering from the Second World War, and food was still being rationed, the milk was provided free of charge on a daily basis to ensure that “us kids” had some assistance towards a healthy diet. Mum was also regularly provided with a bottle of orange juice for each of us kids at no charge, presumably for Vitamin C intake.

In 1951, some major changes took place…………


14 thoughts on “Dear Diary – Page 5 (Early 1950’s – Infants School)

  1. I remember my parents talking about a very similar bath time ritual when they were young. Heating up water on the stove. Oh how times change things!
    LOL on the bakery incident! Valerie was a smart kid and you were very happy to go along with her, right. Sweet treats on the way to school. Sounds like a great plan to me. I am assuming that came to an end once your Mum got the bill? 🙂

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  2. You’ve painted such a thorough picture of this postwar memory. And reading the other comments were equally illuminating. It’s wonderfully interesting to see what it is that we cling to from so long ago–and to see the deep impressions left on our souls from those youthful days.

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  3. The Child Bride’s mum was raised in Widnes (near Liverpool) and married the tall GI from Pennsylvania. Apparently he misinformed her about the streets being paved in gold in that small upstate town and she was shocked when he shipped her over and she found the small plain house on the asphalt street actually had chickens living in the back yard. No refunds, ma’am.

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  4. I also remember those 1/3 bottles of milk. The crates sat outside at our school, and in winter they were frozen solid, with the foil cap pushed up, but in summer they were luke warm – disgusting. The prefects stood over us little ones and made sure we drank it all. I don’t drink milk (neat) to this day! (It’s OK in my coffee!)
    I’m enjoying your reminiscences very much 🙂

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  5. I remember the 1/3 bottles of milk from my school days too. I hated it warm, the colder the better. Then when I was in grammar school (1967-72) they started to charge for it. Mum and Dad couldn’t afford it (or school dinners for that matter, but that’s another story) so I went without.

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    • I am amazed at how many people, who were not brought up in England, are totally ignorant of the post war conditions there. In 1975, when we emigrated to Canada, I believe the UK was still paying off its war debt to the US (and probably still is). Hollywood painted an extremely misleading picture of the US involvement and my Dad carried a lot of bitterness about that until the day he died.


      • We often visited my great grandparents in London and they had sugar lumps in a little bowl on the tea tray. As a child, I was forever pinching them and hoping no-one would notice, but then I discovered they only bought sugar if they were having visitors. At home, if Mum prepared a dessert, Dad used to jokingly say it was because we were having visitors. Having been brought up by his aunts, uncles and grandparents during the war (his mother died when he was 5), for him this was a fact, not a joke.

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        • There were many quirks then (some still prevalent). Our best crockery (the only matching set!) only came out for guests. Our Lounge was never used unless we had visitors. Sugar lumps/cubes)….. yes ….. can relate! We even had to dress “nicely” if guests were coming AND be on our best behaviour! I have often thought that if you save all the good stuff for guests (like they deserve it), but go without on a normal day ………… aren’t you elevating the guests above yourself? Isn’t that a classic low self esteem habit given that what is good enough for us was not good enough for guests?

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          • Sunday Best clothes, seen and not heard and being on our best behaviour ALL DAY. I can remember all of that. Mum had best crockery too, a delicate wavy edged green set of dinner plates, cups, saucers, and tea plates, sugar bowl and matching milk jug, but I don’t recall a teapot. I think in those days they referred to it as ‘saving face’ so that visitors didn’t know how difficult things were, but they all did it.
            Such a change today.
            I rarely have biscuits or cake reserves on the boat, but visitors are always offered a cup of tea/coffee, and for them I do have matching mugs! Of course if I know they’re coming, we’ll push the boat out (excuse pun) and I’ll get a few nibblies in! But basically, it’s take us as you find us. We are who we are and will make you welcome. If I can feed you as well, that’s always a bonus!

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