« James McNeil, aged 12 – His Story - Part 1 | Main | Chapter 18 »

The Day Before Yesterday: 19 – A Lovely Day

…A few years before this when Harold was sixteen, his friends and himself would go for long walks on Sundays, dressed in their Sunday best. The young men always wore suits. With it being a manufacturing town, material was cheap. This was long before the introduction of jeans. That material was only used for overalls, for working in the factory to keep your other clothes clean…

Gladys Schofield continues her autobiography.

Charles started work, not at first in his beloved electricity. He got a job in a factory for a while, his aim to be an apprentice as soon as he was old enough in the trade he had set his heart on. And not long after, Dorothy decided to get a job too.

That was the time we got more variety in the food cupboards. Butter was used more often, though margarine was always used for baking.

And the youngest member of the family arrived, a pretty baby girl called Brenda.

A few years before this when Harold was sixteen, his friends and himself would go for long walks on Sundays, dressed in their Sunday best. The young men always wore suits. With it being a manufacturing town, material was cheap.

This was long before the introduction of jeans. That material was only used for overalls, for working in the factory to keep your other clothes clean.

Suits were thirty to fifty shillings. With most you got two pairs of trousers. Shoes were always shined each time they were worn. In fact the young men looked quite smart as shirts and ties were always used also.

The day I am going to relate was very hot. In fact it had been so for most of the summer. Only a trickle of water ran down the middle of the reservoir as the boys peered over the stone wall that surrounded it.

"I've never seen it so low," one of them said, "I wonder if any of the fish have survived." And saying this he hopped over the wall and tiptoed over the stones and debris, heading towards the water.

A ridge of baked mud separated them from the stream, and by this time the rest of them had joined him. "I wonder how hard the mud is," said another, tapping it with his shoe, "You try it, Harold. If it stands your weight it should stand ours."

Harold took a couple of steps. The mud was more like cement, so the others began to follow. But he was not so lucky with his next step, for his foot began to slowly sink as the mud cracked like an egg shell and gooey oozing slime began to bubble to the surface swallowing Harold's leg.

The boys acted quickly. Inch by inch he was slowly pulled out, one shoe remaining forever under the oozing mud. That was another lesson never to be repeated.

We had no paid holidays, and one week at mid-summer was all the workers got, except for a few days at Christmas. They were at work again before the New Year. Mum saved a little each week to see us through this holiday.

We lived so far from the seaside that we went for years never seeing it. The railways and bus companies started to run cheap excursions. Mum promised to take us on the first sunny day.

So it was decided that John, Ted and myself would accompany her on this occasion as Dad and Dorothy were quite capable to care for the family. We had not had a ride in a train yet,

I don't know which was more exciting, the ride or the destination. I took great care stepping onto the train. The drop to the railway lines was not at all inviting, but other than that it was a great adventure. I made any excuse I could to be able to walk down the many carriages through the corridors. The train seemed to play a tune as it rushed on its way. It would hiss and hoot with a diddle didee, diddle didee, as it hurried on its way, releasing a constant stream of black smoke. What a lot of character these old steam trains had.

We knew we were getting near the coast when the smell of fish and fresh air reached our nostrils through the open windows and the train slowed down to a halt. As soon as we arrived we ate our picnic lunch quickly. We couldn't wait to get our shoes and socks off to paddle in the many small pools left by the tide.

All kinds of living creatures survived in these shallow pools until they were rescued by the next high tide. Ted had a bucket and the boys collected lots of tiny crabs, some no bigger than our thumbnail. We were all ready to take them home until Mum explained they could never survive without their sea water.

It was a lovely day. Our cheeks and arms glowed with the sun and bracing wind. We were reluctant to leave the soft golden sands and spent the last hour or so wandering around the many stalls that peppered the foreshore, stopping now and again to buy a small gift and a bag of rock for the ones left at home.

We slumped into our seats on the homeward journey, too tired to run about as before. Ted fell fast asleep, only wakening when we were almost home. It was very late when we reached our station. Only one light glowed on the small platform, but it was light enough to show the face of our dad waiting there to help us home. With Ted riding on his shoulders, the journey didn't seem to take half as long as we chattered about the happenings of the day.


Categories

Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.