On the 26th August 2016 I reached a milestone in my life by reaching the age of 65, to be quite honest this was an age that I never thought I would see as none of the men in my family made it so far! If it was not for meeting
my Wonderful Wife Ellie, maybe I would not have made it as she calmed me down a lot and her love gave me the inspiration and Haircuts which I needed in order to change my ways as I was quite a wild child both from my Military Service and while working overseas! I drunk far too much but enjoyed it! I do not regret my past life but I am thankful that I changed it and I am probably still alive because of the change! Yes, Ellie has been a blessing in disguise for me and I love her with all my heart!
So, for me, life begins at 65 but it started 65 years ago and life was really different in the early 1950’s.
I was born in St Luke’s Hospital in Bradford, West Yorkshire. My Mum was a Nurse and my Dad, an ex Soldier who worked in the Dye House. I had One Older Sister Christine and an older Step Brother David who was born by my Mum but her first husband, the father Alan was killed in the war!
We were not a very well off family and we lived in a small, 2 bedroom City Council Terrace House but we were OK and I had a good childhood as my parents did their best for us!
One of my first childhood memories was when the New Queen Elizabeth visited Bradford on her tour of Britain after her Coronation! My Mum was holding me as the Queen Drove Past and I was waving a small Union Jack Flag, everyone was happy on that day, maybe I was about 2+ then! I do not really think I knew what was happening!
Our house had Gas Lighting and no electricity until I was about 4 then we had Electricity installed and most of the gas fittings removed except for the Cooker. They fitted only 1 light per room and one 15 amp outlet in the living room, pure luxury! The Toilet was outside in the back garden with no light and it got very cold in the winter! We used to keep a candle burning under the Lead Pipes to stop them freezing and bursting, this went on until the council replaced the lead pipes with copper and also removed the existing Crapper Style Toilet with the overhead Flush Cistern and replaced it with a more modern one but the same design! ! The modern era was at last arriving in Bradford!
With Electricity, Dad saved up enough money to buy a Radio, It was the size of a small suitcase! We used to sit around it and listen to programs like, The Archers, an every day story of country folk, Desert Island Disks and other programs which I cannot remember the names! In order to heat the house in the winter we had a Coal Fire in the living room but used Paraffin Heaters in the other rooms, try that nowadays and you would probably get into trouble as the exhaust fumes have killed whole families but in my day, people did not know that!
In the late 1950’s, we actually got a Rental Television, It had a huge case but only about a 12 inch Black and White screen and in them days BBC was the only channel there was and for about 6 hours a day we could watch all kinds of wonderful thing including:- The Sky at Night, Panorama, Hans and Lottie Haas, The News, Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men, Watch With Mother, Muffin the Mule and other stuff.
The next appliance we got was a basic single Tub washing Machine which had to go in the kitchen as that was where the water was. Mum would operate it while me and Christine would turn the Mangle to squeeze the water out of the laundry before hanging it to dry! Drying Laundry was a problem as everything was powered by coal in the area so there was always coal soot in the air so on many days you could not hang laundry outside as it would get dirty again so inside the kitchen attached to the ceiling we had the Creel! This looked like a bit of fence with bars where you could hang your laundry and by means of a pulley system you could hoist the laundry up to the ceiling out of the way to dry! You can still buy these even today.
We Kids would play out on the street only going back into the house to eat and sleep, we played with sticks, Tennis Ball or Tin Can Football, Cricket against a Wall, Cowboys and Indians and any other game we could dream up. One thing was for sure, what ever we did we got very dirty but enjoyed ourselves!
The St Mathews Infants and Junior Schools were just across the road so School was easy to get too. It was located next to the Tram Shed where the Public Transport Trams, Double Decker Bus’s which were electric powered by overhead wires and ran on Rails set into the road. These were replaced by Trolly Bus’s which also were Electric Powered but had normal rubber wheels! The trouble with these bus’s was that they could only go where there were power cables so many areas had no public transport! All were eventually replaced by normal Diesel Powered bus’s which could go anywhere!
The Schools were pretty basic, we had Ink Pens which you dipped into an Ink Well, I was Left Handed but that was not allowed so I had to use a right handed Nib. Pencils also were used a lot, The Teacher used a Chalk Board as there were no White Boards then! We recited the Times Tables every morning from 2 times to 12 times, it took a while but we got it in the end! Calculators were not allowed simply because there were none at that time, you had to use your brain in them days! We also had a Library where you could borrow books to read, that was a favorite place of many students! I had a key to our house on a string around my neck as my parents were both working, in winter times I remember playing so long in the snow that my hands got so cold that my fingers would not bend enough to hold the key, it was painful but usually some one would be passing by who could unlock the door for me! Because of this cold problem Dad bought an Electric Fire so that we could warm up quickly but if you sat too near the fire in short pants you got what was called Corned Beef Legs because that’s what the skin on your legs resembled!
Music was available on Vinyl Disks but in the 1960’s the Reel To Reel Tape Recorder was available so you could record music! The first 45 single disk I ever Bought in 1965 was Do WA Didy Didy by Manfred Man, that’s my ring tone on my cell phone even today!
This story is getting to be a bit long so I will take a break there and continue at a later date. I hope you are enjoying it!