When I was small

  • we didn’t have wall to wall carpeting in every room. There was a strip of lino round the edges, or in the hall and up the stairs, painted or varnished wood. My sister and I had to polish these edges.
  • we didn’t have central heating. There would be ice on the inside of the windows on a winter morning. My dad would come in and light the gas fires in the bedroom.
  • it was considered normal for us, at junior school, to catch the bus to and from school, including crossing a main road.
  • it was also considered normal for us to go to the shops alone aged 7+ (also including crossing a main road).
  • our phone was made of black Bakelite, with a fabric cord, and a dial. The number was ACO 1807.phone
  • for a while we had a “party” phone line, which meant sharing with the neighbours, so if they were on the phone, we had to wait till they’d finished.
  • all my mother’s friends were to be referred to by the honorific “Aunty”, even though they weren’t related.
  • when we visited my mother’s friends, my sister and I were expected to go and play with their children, even if we hated each other. The adults were to be left to talk about adult stuff.
  • we had “high tea” which was usually boiled eggs and a jam sandwich, at about 4.30 pm every day.
  • on Saturdays we had fish fingers for lunch, with mash and peas. Every Saturday for as long as I can remember.
  • we caught the bus or walked everywhere for years, until my mother was given a car at Christmas by my dad. It was a surprise, and was parked two doors up, in their garage.
  • there were two postal deliveries, every day. “Second post” arrived after lunch.
  • telegrams were still being delivered. Nobody ever wanted to receive one because they were associated with bad news.
  • all typewriters were “manual”, not electric.
  • computers were the size of an average house (or so it seemed to me as a small child). Secretaries felt threatened by the advent of word processors, which were marketed as replacing typists of all sorts.
  • taxis were considered a special luxury treat.
  • we ate beef dripping on bread as a treat.
  • stuffed hearts were a regular meal, as was liver and onions (delicious!).
  • I wore bodices instead of vests. They had little sleeves and buttons which did up at the front.
  • you weren’t considered “properly” dressed unless you were wearing a petticoat.
  • Sunday best included a white hat and matching white gloves.
  • Sunday school was mandatory (to give Mum and Dad some time alone I guess).
  • I didn’t know my parents went to bed, at all, until I was about 5, because they were always up and dressed when I went to bed or woke up. One night I woke up and did wonder why it was all dark, and my Dad found me stumbling half way down the stairs.
  • Dad wore “long johns” in the winter – long underpants to keep him warm – and a string vest all year round.
  • mobile phones hadn’t been invented – weren’t even a twinkle in anybody’s eye.
  • we were smacked with a ruler at school routinely.
  • Mum smacked us if we were naughty at home. It was considered perfectly normal.
  • I once heard Mum say, on the phone to one of her friends, when explaining why we did all the housework, “Why have daughters and bark yourself?” (instead of “why have a dog and bark yourself”). I wasn’t impressed.
  • the fashion for mothers was big full skirts, and when they went out (to the shops or whatever), lipstick was mandatory. No other make-up, just lipstick.

Can’t think of anything else right now, but if anything else occurs, will continue . . . .

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