excerpts dawn of the sixties
Welcome to my page. I enjoy writing books and I am pleased to say my new book "Dawn of the Sixties" is now available
In the book I attempt to take you back to a time when the 1950's turned into the 1960's Adults who were children at that time will relate to everyday things. Children reading the book will be amazed how things have changed and I nearly forgot the book has adventures too. I hope you will buy the book and I hope you enjoy a time that was very different to today
I was distracted from the window as my Mom asked me if I wanted some bread with my Ash (Ash is a type of stew with dumplings carrots and other vegetables and is then thickened into a thick soup, oh and yes it has meat) You know when I looked back out of the window there was no one there, no five witches calling my name just nothing but darkness that was being lit by the electric street light. In fact there was no one there at all, maybe they were real witches after all I thought to myself and I sat down to eat my Ash.The plan for most of us on Halloween is for one of us to dress up tonight as Guy Fawkes and the rest of us to take in turns to push the dressed up one in a wheel barrow and knock on doors asking a penny for the Guy
Excerpts Chapter 1. They Way It Was free sample
I was born in the county of Yorkshire in what was then a Pennine village; I was born on a hill which stretches a long way down to the river. The house I lived in was really rather basic, we had just one door into the house we called that the door simply because there was no back door to the house. The one room downstairs had everything that we needed we had our meals my Mom did her washing and cleaning and cooking all in the same room. During the day the table collapsed into a small table that looked more like a large shelf, when it was meal time the table was brought out and two sections from underneath the table were pulled out so that it became a table which was now three times the size it had been, Mom was very particular about how clean the table should be and she always put a clean table cloth onto the table every single day she was fussy about things like that. The room was a complete square and I would guess it was about ten feet by ten feet, looking back it was an amazing feat that my Mom was able to do what she did in that compact room.
As you walked into the room from the outer door the sideboard was up against the wall to the left and this is where Mom would always push the table up against once meal times had been finished and the table had been collapsed. There were photographs of my parents and all of them were in uniform, an indication to World War Two. The sideboard was of a really good quality wood and well polished as this was her pride and she would often be seen polishing it sometime during the day. To the other side of the outer door and under the only window in the room was a small settee and many hours were spent on this by us all, the only other seats were the four chairs that were brought out at meal times from under the collapsed table or when someone wanted to sit down. The decoration was typical of the time, a wall paper pattern on the top half of the walls and then a boarder half way down the wall and the bottom half was painted magnolia come to think of it the wallpaper was of red roses. At the opposite side to the window were two doors one which led upstairs and another that went down to the cellar. Across the room from the sideboard was where all the work took place, there was a stone sink and a cast iron fire/stove with hot plates on the top to cook or boil that old heavy kettle. In the early days before mod cons, I remember watching my Mom filling the sink with hot water boiled on the stove which really did take an age to boil, once she had enough water she would take the dirty clothes and start to wash the clothes firstly in the sink and then on a rubbing board this rubbing board had wooden sides with a ribbed metal middle and she would rub the clothes up and down to get the muck and stains out of the clothes. (A small mottled black/ grey gas cooker that eventually arrived a few years later to really help, but for now it was down to that really old stove). book available in paperback from Amazon
Now washing was a long task and therefore this was only done on a Monday, yes Monday was the wash day all across the country not just where we lived the whole day was dedicated to Women washing the dirty clothes, everyone hoped that the day would be dry with a gentle breeze so that everything was dry by the time the husbands came home from work. Once she had finished washing the clothes they had to be wrung and the mangle which was stored near the sink for the rest of the week was brought out. I remember seeing soaking wet sheets being fed into this awesome hand operated mangle and has the sheets went into what looked like two very large rolling pins the water was squeezed out as my Mom turned the handle. I can tell you that it took ages for just one sheet to go through and often it got jammed and she had to force open the two rolling pin lookalikes just to free up the sheets so that she could try again. I had left for school early in the morning and when I came home she was just finishing the washing so it was a real hard day, sheets clothes underwear and socks could be seen hanging from almost every house. My Mom was unlucky here because our house was directly on the pavement and therefore she had nowhere to hang the washing near the house, but there was a lane directly at the side of our house which was an end house of the terrace, incidentally all the houses on the terrace were Yorkshire Stone. Around a quarter of the way down the lane she hung her clothes line all the way across the lane and propped it up with a cleverly cut tree branch that propped the line up higher to keep the clothes from the ground and to give them more chance to get that all so important breeze to help along the drying process. The washing would usually be brought in last thing at night and if still wet it would be put out again in the morning. This often makes me recall an incident that happened
Mom had done the washing and she had hung it out and drying by the time I was home from school, then there was man with his coal lorry that wanted to get down the lane to make a delivery to a house further down. Now my Mom had no idea what was happening but apparently the coal merchant just drove down the lane and his dirty lorry caught several of the sheets putting coal dust all over them, he didn’t break the line but he soiled two very large sheets, he did the same coming back up the lane and my Mom came out as he was about to pull away into the road she actually chased the lorry for several hundred yards down the steep hill and believe you me if she had caught the coal man I think she would have done him harm. That week Tuesday was another washing day thanks to the coal merchant. I never saw the coal merchant ever deliver coal on a washing day again.
That takes me to the day that a certain item arrived, my Mom had been told by my Dad before he left for work that she must stay in all day as there would be a delivery, he had taken an age to save for this certain item and Mom knew absolutely nothing as to what it was. We heard this very large lorry pull up outside the house and then came the knock on the door the delivery driver asked if this was the correct address and that her surname was England and then from the back of the lorry these two very large men were struggling with this very large object, there was no wrapping around it and my Mom could see what it was and it’s one of the few times that I had seen her overcome and a tear in her eye. It was indeed something that would change her life forever and end the traditional Monday morning wash day as we knew it. For being brought into our house was this very large red and cream monster, it was a “Servis” Washing Machine, the very latest technology was coming into our home. It had a chrome word “Servis” on the front of the machine and the washing was loaded via the top, unlike most machines in this country today that are loaded from the front, attached to it was twin rollers, like a miniature mangle but this one was operated with electricity and it was going to change the way people did their washing that was certain. When my Dad arrived home she jumped into his arms, funny you know I have never ever forgot that moment, maybe it was
because that was the happiest I have ever seen her and probably the happiest that she would ever be, that moment is imprinted on my mind and will remain there forever. Looking back now it showed two people deeply in love and it certainly made a long lasting impression on me as it will always be with me.book available on Kindle from Amazon
The next day I was not feeling that well and I was allowed to stay home, it became an interesting day, as the morning went by my Mom remembering what Dad had told her and eagerly reading the operating instructions of this new mechanical creature that had taken up residence next to the stone sink was about to be unleashed on my Mom like something from another planet.
She followed the instruction filling the machine with hot water that had been boiled on the stove, that took just as long as before, she could not make a mistake as there was a line inside the machine that said “Water Level” that she did and she put the dirty washing into the machine, now was the moment of truth, she plugged the machine into the wall socket and turned the control knob on the machine to on, with that there was this tremendous whising noise as the paddle in the centre of the machine burst into life and splashed water onto the floor, Mom very quickly turned the machine off and then put the lid on the machine so that this would not happen, she then turned the machine on and it roared into life again, it was left on for the full one hour. When the time was up she turned the machine off and looked inside she then pulled out a sheet and she could not believe how clean it was she was truly amazed by this and it had only took one hour. It proved to be easy for her as she turned on the electric mangle attached to the washing machine and it seemed to be eating the washed items like a hungry space creature, the water flowed straight back into the machine and at the other side of the rollers the sheets emerged almost dry by the standards of that day. I cannot remember the exact time but I do know that by early afternoon all the washing was finished and hung out to dry, yes it had certainly changed her life forever.
One of the two internal doors that led from the living room went down to the cellar, just before the start of the solid concrete steps that spiralled down into the cellar my Mom had a few shelves where she kept food stuff, the cold air from below helped keep things longer as the advent of the fridge had not arrived to the masses as of yet, in this area no one had ever mentioned a fridge. The shelves we just nailed to the wall and all our food was kept here, as I walked down the steps I could feel the cold, the door into the living room had to be kept open so that there was enough light to get to the bottom of the steps and light the candles, there was a large workbench and looking toward the end of the cellar daylight could be seen, this is where the coal was delivered through the coal hatch, nothing more than a flat metal lid, when a delivery had taken place my Dad would shovel the coal from under the hatch to a alcove just to the left of the bottom of the steps, this made it much easier for coal to be brought up into the house. I think I am correct in saying that most of the houses at that time in the Pennine areas were of this type, Dad would always bring this up in the evening making sure there was enough for that evening and the next day. The floor of the cellar had old flag stones like very heavy paving stones this made shovelling coal that much easier as the surface was very flat. Many an hour were spent in the cellar and to my horror I recall on one occasion playing with something we called quicksilver and letting it run all over our hands, nowadays this would never be allowed for the obvious dangers this brings to children, I guess I must have been lucky.
The other door leading from the living room area went upstairs and the staircase near the bottom had a acute bend and it was steep to start off with at the top of this flight of stairs which was carpeted, again the wall was painted below halfway and there was a thin strip of wallpaper around one inch wide and again this acted as the boarder it was well decorated with little red zig zag lines, above was a patterned wallpaper nothing as grand as the red roses in the living room but effective all the same. Then there was the landing, now that is where I went to the toilet, you see there were no inside toilets at all in the street where I lived as these toilets were down the lane and outside at the rear of the house, our house is attached to another house toward the rear and therefore there was no access directly to the rear, so my parents had to go out of the front door and down the lane then turn left into a cul-de-sac and right at the end of the cul-de-sac was a block of four toilets, It was a concrete block and the toilets each had a bright red door. I never looked in these toilets as my parents said they were not clean enough for children to use. Now that brings me back to the landing, that is where we had a large plastic pot and this is where I did both types and at the end of each day Dad would wait until he was going to the toilet and he would take the pot with him and some water to rinse it out, Mom would disinfect it when Dad brought it back and it was placed back on the landing and it wasn’t usually long before it came into use again.
Now I never knew a house without electric lights as far as I was concerned there had always been electricity and therefore I find it impossible to explain about no electricity in the home. I will explain more about the street and electricity later on. In my parents room it was decorated again with a boarder divide halfway down the wall but this rooms wallpaper was very bright with yellow the dominant part of the pattern and I was to spend a great deal of time in my parents bed as I was struck down with the Asian flu that swept through England, yes that was bad my nose just kept bleeding with this flu and it went on for several weeks, my parents must have been worried because I found out when I was much older that worldwide around two million people died with this flu, my Dad got it and Mom was caring for the family, luckily she did not get it. The pot that was used on the landing for the toilet was brought into the bedroom for the dripping nose bleeds that this flu had brought, with it, the bottom of the pot was completely covered in blood, looking back I was only five at that time and very lucky to have survived this terrible flu, the doctor called just once because thousands had it and he was just too busy, there was no treatment for it at that time. Oh where was I, yes the bedroom, it had an open fireplace at the foot of the bed and to the side a large walnut wardrobe and this wardrobe was the only place in the house that clothes could be hung or just put away, Mom insisted that she put the clothes away and she was really proud of this wardrobe. To the left of the bed was the window which looked directly into the street, net curtains stopped anyone looking in, at the side of the window was a lamp which was attached to the wall, nowadays you often see electric lamps attached to walls with stylish metal work, but hey this is not today and there was no such luxuries in fact the one in the bedroom was “Gas”, yep gas this was connected directly to the gas main therefore it was still active, it used coal gas and was lethal if breathed in and when thunderstorms struck and all the electric went my Dad would light this gas lamp, unlike the electric light that was bright the gas lamp gave this errie sissing sound and the light was surprisingly bright but tinted with a greenish and yellowish glow. The book available in PDF and epub here
bulb for a gas light is called a mantle and once it has been used if you were to touch it, it would just disintegrate in your hand, unlike the unused mantle that was pretty strong, he would light it by holding a match to the mantle then he turned on the gas with a little knob on the lamp itself and a pop was to be heard as the gas hit the lit match and wow we had lights again, but the electricity was really welcomed back as it really did bring daylight to the night. Back onto the landing and up to the attic, this was where on dark long winter nights I would take the torch to bed and read under the bedclothes, just like many kids have done since the book came along, another reason was that in those days there was certainly no central heating like today, in the attic there was no heating whatsoever, but that was the same for most families, the only heating in the houses were open fires like the one in my parents’ bedroom and that was only ever lit when it was extremely cold as the heat would travel up the stairs to the attic. The stairs leading to the attic had no carpets like the first flight of stairs, it was pretty basic. Dad put up bars at the window owing to fear of me falling out as the drop was directly onto the lane well below and therefore lethal. My toy boxes shared the attic with me along with the BBC Television aerial, not like the aerials of today but more like a collection of cables with flat plastic strips on the end of each cable. Most aerials were inside the home come to think of it I cannot remember ever seeing one on the chimney’s like today. It was always made very clear that I should never go anywhere near the aerial as once knocked or slightly moved the BBC picture would disappear and Dad would end up for hours moving it back and forth trying to get the picture back with Mom shouting up the stairs the words of better or worse were shouted from one to the other, it was common practice repeated in millions of households all over the country. The attic was not decorated apart from a lick of paint, funny you know it was Mom that always did most of the painting but Dad that did the wallpapering.paperbck book available at Amazon
I have to laugh looking back technology is always cutting edge when it first comes out and it was no different then, the arrival of a new TV, the brand was a Sobell, this was to give me an extra job almost every night for many months. This TV had a special light sensor on the front so that when a light in the room was turned off the picture darkened it became brighter when a light or daylight shone through the window. Yes you guessed it the sensor failed and the TV became very dark, my bright idea was to give me a job almost like a film cameraman. I placed books on the table and my torch on the books and pointed it at the sensor on the TV, Wow! It worked the picture brightened and everyone could watch the TV again, it was my job to set up the torch and to make sure that the torch remained pointed on the sensor thus ensuring that the picture stayed viewable, the other annoying thing with regard to TV’s in the fifties and sixties was the dreaded vertical hold problem, the picture would just keep scrolling up and up and up and it always seemed to happen when there was something really good on the tele (tv), Dad would fiddle with the vertical hold knob for ages and in the end a bang on the top of the tele seemed to cure it for a time until it began to jump yet again
My parents were really chalk and cheese, Dad was very easy going and as the years went by “Frank” that’s his name was in my opinion the best Dad in the world. Mom was very straight talking and would stand for no nonsense but was always there for you. Dad was around five foot nine tall and a slim build with dark curly hair and large brown eyes with the friendliest smile you would ever want to see. Mom was around the same height and in her youth her hair was light brown and long with the natural curl that seemed to be the norm in most women in post war Britain, she was always smart and was probably the cleanest woman I have ever met. She was not so easy going and would not hesitate in defending her family should they be threatened in any way whatsoever. You know parents are parents when your a little kid but as a child I could tell that they were very much in love and Dad always showed this and Mom was so loyal to Dad. I bet you wonder why I call Dad, “Dad” and Mom “Mom”, well that’s just how it was, sometimes I would call her Mum but for most of the time it was Mom. I do recall that during any illness it was Mom that I turned to maybe it was that she knew how to look after me, oh don’t worry she really knew how to care for me with compassion understanding and plenty of Love.
Sunday nights was a big occasion that was a busy night for Mom as she had to boil loads and loads of water and there was no immersion heaters or gas boilers, she had to boil the water just the same as if she was making a cup of tea. Now my personal favourite was Friday nights and I will come back to that magical night for kids growing up in the late fifties early sixties as all the family were together and there was no work or school the next day so everyone was relaxed. Now where was I, oh yes Sunday, there was always a cooked roast on Sunday and just a top up snack at tea time but this was always followed by an extra special treat, this usually being mandarins and ice cream, you know sometimes I can still taste this and often see it in my memory banks a simple thing but it wasn’t just the food it was the feeling that I was protected and really loved by my parents at the same time, but before the ice cream treat it was time for a bath, Dad would get the old tin bath from the cellar, this was the only place that it could be stored and once he brought it into the living room Mom would half fill it with hot water and add cold and in I went, it was the one scrubbing per week that I really did not look forward to as I was scrubbed as if I was smelly, you see there was no bathroom and no fixed bath and it just was not practical to keep getting the bath out and therefore if I needed a wash during the week it would be a strip wash stood in the sink and the water was always cold. After Mom had scrubbed almost all my skin off it was time to look forward to that ice cream while watching a new series that had just started on ITV “Wagon Train,” my favourite was Flint McCullah (Robert Horton) and many a long school time break was spent pretending to be that Wagon Train Scout. Yes television was amazing and to think that these people had crossed America in these old wagons was just something special and of course Flint always won the day, how on earth they managed to get these wagons across the Rocky Mountains beggars’ belief.
Friday nights, some things don’t change as people of this country still enjoy Friday nights, school is done for the week and most people will not have to work the next day. After tea (up north that’s what we call the time around five or six in the evening when we sit down to eat). Dad was relaxed as there would be no work the next day and Mom was happy because she would have Dad home the next day, oh and me of courser PDF and epub
We lived in an end terrace Yorkshire stone house and at the other end of the terrace was the shop we called it Cassies named after the people that owned the shop. “Here you are Son,” Dad would say to me as he pressed my pocket money for the week into my hand, a thruppney bit this was the slang used for the three penny piece. It was a similar size and colour to the current £1 coin of today but it had
twelve sides to it. Into Cassie’s with haste, and there he was probably one of the kindest shop owners I have ever met, Mr Cassward, a tall thin gentleman who always wore a brown overall while he served behind the counter of his shop, his eyes of dark brown made you feel as if you were the most important customer in his shop, his black short brylcreamed (hair gel) hair was swept back and he always appeared has if he had a sun tan, “Now young Michael, what would you like today?” I would take my time and he always was very patient and very very helpful, “Would tha like some chews wi tha money lad?” (in his broad Yorkshire accent) He would always enquire. There were no cash registers or electronic machines to do the calculating only a scrap bit of paper and a very large thick pencil which he licked every time before he would embark on using, it seemed to make the writing that much darker and clearer. I picked up eight large chews, black jacks and fruit ones and dropped them onto the counter, he knew I had not finished, “Can I have two of them gobstoppers please,” I would say with confidence. He would bring these big jars down off the shelf, all the bigger sweets were in large jars, he would take out two with tongues and drop them directly into a large paper bag along with the chews that I had already dropped onto the counter and then I would add my favourite the bassets sherbet fountain, in its slim long yellow wrapping with liquorice spouting out of the end, also some liquorice sticks and liquorice Catherine Wheels and some acid drops, then came the moment of truth. Mr Cassward would take out this pencil and he would write down what I had bought with the price alongside he would then add it all up in his mind and he was usually very quick indeed and then he would say In his deep voice “I make that just over two pennies young Michael lad, now shall we call it two pennies and that be done.” He was that kind of man and he always let me have it cheaper, unlike his wife, who I saw in the shop from time to time when I went in there with my Mom, but you know Mr Cassward always was there on Friday evenings because looking back I like to think that he knew that the kids would be in with their spending money on Fridays and he liked to help out and give it cheaper or he would sometimes throw in a few extra chews, he was a kindly man and for that reason his face over the years has always remained with me and still brings a little smile to myself in his memory for help in making Friday nights special.
Now I had bought all these sweets and I still had a whole penny left and that easily enough to get extra sweets during the week like love hearts and flying saucers, most of the sweets are long gone and only specialist places do them now. Back home and Dad was pouring out my favourite drink of Ben Shaw’s Dandelion & Burdock with crisps, there was only two makes of crisps Castles and Smiths, we liked the local Castles crisps best and there was plain salt n vinegar or cheese and onion the many different types of crisps were many years away, anyway to this day these are still my favourites. Mom would be drinking a fruit drink and Dad would join me in drinking the Dandelion & Burdock. We did not watch much television but would play board games like ludo and snakes and ladders, Mom would laugh a lot in those days and I can still hear her laughing now as her counter dropped onto a snake and she slipped all the way back to the start, it was always late before we went to bed and there was still Saturday & Sunday to look forward to. Over the years I have still tried to keep Friday night special and still do, it’s a tribute to how my Friday nights were made special for me and I am sure I am not alone in this as millions of kids from those days still remember their favourite nights as kids many years ago.
Now I have told about the gas lights inside the home but I wonder how many of you realise that in the late 1950’s many streets of dear old England got their illumination from gas, yes gas not electricity, as already mentioned, now my house was next to a lane and across the lane was the street light and the street light was powered by gas, you know I can still see this old chap walking up the steep hill toward my house around an hour before dark and as he went he would stop now and then, on each stop he would hold up a very long pole and unlatch the door of the glass lamp compartment at the top of the lamp post then he would put the end of the pole to the gas mantle and turn on a tap and pop as the mantle lit and the light was fairly bright, he would then close the door and the mantle would spread its light. As he walked up more and more lights would be lit until he had done all the lights. Now I never knew this but my Dad informed me that in the morning as the lamp lighter was walking up the street this time to turn the gas lights off by simply turning off the gas tap he would knock the pole against the workers windows to get everyone up in time for work and in those days he was also called the “knocker up.” You know I really did not believe my Dad at first when he told me this but I can confirm that this was the case.
I got home from school one late Autumn afternoon and to my astonishment someone had gone and pulled the gas street light right out of the ground, that night the street was in complete darkness and the gas street lights were well and truly missed by all. It was an exciting time because Mom told me that tomorrow workmen from the electricity company were coming to put in electric street lights, it was the talk of the school the next day and even the teachers were talking about it, one teacher told me that it would be like daylight compared to the old gas lights. That afternoon after school we all rushed home eager to see what had been done by the electricity workmen as I ran down the school lane I could see to my delight a brand new street lamp post, not just a new lamppost but an electric one, the like I had not seen before in my village and this lamp post was silver and a lot bigger than the old gas type. Everyone went in for tea very quickly I can tell you, even the adults were excited by the prospect of electricity, you see the adults knew what the change had been when inside the homes were changed from gas to electricity and therefore they knew that this would be a significant improvement, I did hear some of them wondering how safe the electric lamp posts would be when it rained, my Dad who was a steelworks electrician explained to me that they would be very safe because they would all be earthed so that when people touched the lamp post they would not get a shock, I didn’t really understand it then but of course as you get older you do. We were told that all the lights would come on at dusk around 6pm, tea was very quickly consumed and I have never seen so many people in the street all together just like the Whitsun weekend. Then it happened all the lights and all at the same time came on and the brightness was immediate, in fact it was so bright that my mates and I were playing football in the street much later than we would normally do, we all played football in the street in them days as there was not the amount of traffic on the roads as there is today, it was amazing it was like we had our own football ground flood lights. Things would never be the same again that’s for sure as electricity brought daylight outside now as well as inside and the street looked different that night as we moved into the age of electricity in the street.
There was another significant change that was about to take place in our street it was 1959 and when we wanted to catch a bus into the nearest city we called it town in those days even though the town was a very big city, we had to walk all the way down the hill and to the
Workmen arrived and bus stops were placed in the street, there was one at the very bottom of the street and one opposite that. Now where we lived we had the lane next to us across the entrance to the lane where the new electric lamp post had been put they put the new bus stop right next to it and further up the road just a little higher from Cassie’s shop on the other side of the road was another bus stop. So when we wanted to go into town we just walked across the road and fifty yards further up was the bus stop, but coming back from town with shopping was even better we got off almost at our house (other side of lane) Mom said it was almost like having our own taxi service, yeah changes were happening and happening fast, so far most of the changes that had taken place were for the better. The buses used were double decker routemasters all painted in yellow with blue trim, we kids would wait for the bus to come to a halt at the lane and ask the conductor if we could jump on, yes he would say and we would get a free lift down the street to the park, because the bus terminated there and there it stayed until it made its return journey back into town, we had to pay to come back up the hill though unless we knew the conductor, I always remember one particular conductor and he would get free lifts back up the hill hope you enjoyed reading a little of Dawn of the Sixties