« An Old-Fashioned Christmas | Main | From One Home To Another »

The Day Before Yesterday: 106 - Our Pride And Joy

Gladys Schofield recalls the arrival of the family's first car, a small black Ford Popular.

During the Winter of our first year, we went to town to look at cars and came home with a small black Ford Popular. It was our pride and joy. One of Cliff's friends called Frank owned a three wheeler, so Cliff must have practised driving and with owning a motorbike, knew the road code. He only seemed to have one or two practices with his friends before he got the hang of it.

Two L plates had to be displayed, front and rear, until you passed your test. This didn't stop you from taking the family for outings. I think you had to drive at least twelve months until you were classed as good enough to take a test.

I know we went on many a short journey at this time, with Alan sitting beside Cliff in front and the rest of us jammed close together in the back. Lots of his friends were envious of him, wondering how we had managed to achieve so much and us with a young family to care for. They were the ones who sat in the Public Houses all night or squandered their wages, as soon as they had earned them. It had taken a lot of hard work to achieve what we had so far and a lot of determination.

We must have passed the value of money onto the children as both boys in turn took a paper round, as soon as they were old enough. They bought me a little gift on 'Mother's Day'. I would always get the same thing from Rodney, a new apron. A fitting present for a mother like me I suppose and very generous from a child. I mustn't have looked the right kind for flowers or maybe chocolates.

I remember one year I was in bed on Mother's Day. I had the flu. Rod coming into my bedroom when no one was around, to present me with my apron, just as he had bought it, in its shop bag. He was a no fuss boy and wouldn't want the other children to know. He must still care a bit for his mum.

The brass bands still played at local functions but didn't play so prominent a part as they did when I was a child. The cinema was all the rage now, children couldn't wait for their Saturday treat. All the little girls wanted to be ballet dancers, as Susan did and classes for this were held on Saturday also. The games had changed with mock battles being held at every street corner or cowboys galloping off to kill a few Indians. Make believe was still in children's minds but you had to be very careful not to wander into a battle, as nothing was banned. A stray arrow, complete with cork, in the end or a pea from a pea shooter, even another cork from a replica rifle or worse, some shot from a sling shot. I was glad when the mock battles had all been played out and thankful no one had lost an eye in these skirmishes.

Skipping was still as fashionable and Mechano for boys. This was as popular as Lego is today. The shops were now full of anything with wheels, from tiny 'kiddicars' (they were tiny bicycles with a wooden seat for two year olds), then chain bicycles with three wheels, up to two wheels as today. Every child's dream was to own a peddle car, these had a metal body and cost about five pounds.

Ted came out of the Army at last and settled in another suburb not far from Alma and Mary. They had two children now, a little girl called Christine had been born during their stay in Germany. She was very fair, a lot like her dad. It must have been hard for them to settle down after so long in the forces. We all seemed so busy with our own lives, we didn't see each other very often and we would have to miss our holiday this year as our new baby was due in June.

Workers were paid so many days sick leave now, so this time Cliff could spend the first week of my confinement with me and it was arranged Anne, with her little girl Eileen, could come for the second week. It was a lovely time to have a baby. The weather had been warm for weeks. A single bed was again in position in the sitting room in a recess by the fire, its foot towards the door. The seventh of June dawned lovely but no sign of the baby that was due, maybe tomorrow I thought as it was my birthday. That would be a lovely birthday present.

The local Midwife popped in to see me along with the Sister who was in charge of the girls. I was being spoiled with attention these days, such a change from the war days. I had noticed the more children I got, the more care I got also. They didn't think my baby was in any hurry and off they went on their rounds. It was nice to see each one had a car these days and fog was very unlikely in June.

On the evening of the ninth, the pains that had niggled me again for a few days became stronger. I had got so used to my baby's heralding their progress in this way, I knew that by 'slow beginnings, great things were achieved' and early in the morning, the Midwife was asked to return. It isn't true they get easier after the first so don't believe that myth and the little nurse soon brought the gas and air machine into use for me. Morning came but no baby and whether the pains had stopped or not, 1 couldn't feel any.

We both ate a little breakfast, thinking this would start things going but it got to lunch time and I was weary. Sister Popleton called in wondering what the delay was and said "I had had too much of the gas", it had numbed my pains, saying she could see my babies head, just waiting to be born. She got cracking herself, saying she would feel for my contractions and when she said "push", I was to do just that and within a minute or two a chubby faced little girl was born. We called her Linda.

Susan had been a princess for five and a half years and was not very keen on a new little girl taking some of the attention. I was just thankful it was all over once more. She was born at five minutes to one, on the tenth of June.

Things went well. There was always someone visiting. I can see Cliff now coming into the bedroom with a basket of dry washing he had collected and we would fold them on the bed. He would ask my advice on the meals he would cook and managed very well.

Anne arrived towards the end of the week and I had developed a cold. I wondered why the Sister called twice in the morning and again just after dinner on the Saturday. She kept taking my pulse but I didn't feel good. I was annoyed as I was due to get up to have a bath and she had said I must keep warm. She called my Doctor who came in his gardening clothes, he arrived so quickly and one good jab in my rump must have done the trick as I got steadily better but they banned all visitors from my room and a screen was fitted at the foot of the bed, with only one person allowed to attend me. The children would line up and look through the bay window at me. I felt so awful being isolated from them.

Nothing interrupted me from feeding this baby for a few months and she gained weight quickly.

Alan would be sixteen in three months time. While they welcomed him to High School before his eleventh birthday, they were not so happy letting him take his school leavers exam before the time and they were sitting this in June. Alan was wanting to take six subjects but his Headmaster said as he was under age, he would allow him to take only three. Alan was quite upset at this but sat the exam. He passed in the three subjects he had sat and was so disappointed at not being able to take the others, he told his teacher he was leaving.

The Headmaster asked Cliff to go for an interview, wanting our view on the situation. We had expected our son to be able to sit all the exams, having done the same work as the others and we were more than looking forward to one of our children earning a wage but his Headmaster pointed out at that time, he was really too young and another year at school would benefit him immensely if we would allow him to stay on. Cliff agreed and we talked Alan into staying on for another year.

Alan was a sensitive lad and probably thought we had supported him long enough but we were pleased at his progress and if he needed the extra time, then that's how it must be, so after the Summer holidays, he went back to school.

I soon got into the swing of things with an extra child to care for. Each new baby seemed to bring its own serenity into the family. I got my reward watching the children growing into a caring family, apart from the odd clash or two of our oldest two boys whose temperaments had always been so different. Looking at other families, I knew we were very lucky.

The snooker had long gone and sometimes I was able to go into town on Saturday mornings if Cliff was available to take care of the little ones. It didn't take long to hop onto the bus which ran every ten minutes from the bus stop just a few minutes walk. I would feed my newest arrival and get her settled and Cliff prepared the dinner in my absence. He liked making rice pudding and would have it for every meal if he had his way.

I managed to feed this baby for the first three months, then I couldn't satisfy her big appetite. She didn't take long to take to the bottle and she grew into a chubby baby.


To read earlier sections of Gladys's autobiography please visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/the_day_before_yesterday/


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