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Author Topic: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond  (Read 42477 times)

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Offline kyn

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Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2014, 14:36:32 »
You wouldn't need to catch and cage the rabbits on that land now, there are hundreds along beside the track!  So many that one of my cats thought it would be a great idea to catch them, bring them home an munch them in my back garden :(

Offline busyglen

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Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2014, 14:33:53 »
Christmas, about 1947, I can remember my sister bringing a roll of wallpaper home and we cut inch wide strips, which we wound round a knitting needle and sealed it with a flour and water paste.  They were left to dry and then we threaded them on cotton and draped them across the ceiling and walls for decorations.  We didnít have much in the way of presents, but I can remember us three younger ones would have a parcel on the bottom of our beds which would contain a few sweets, an orange, and a bundle of comics that someone had given her.  One year I had a Walt Disney story book in pictures which we had to share.  It had Cinderella, The Ugly Duckling, Mickey Mouse etc. which proved quite popular with the boys.

On Boxing Day, my mother used to do a lot of baking and preparing of food for a party. All the family, plus friends, came and it was great fun. Two large tables were brought in from the Pavilion, with bench stools on either side.  White sheets were used as table cloths, and the tables were laden with food.  Mum used to save tins of ham or whatever she could find for several months before hand, and she would make pickles, and bottle beetroot from Dadís garden, and whatever happened to be around.  She would make rolls and cakes, and there was always a special Christmas cake.  One year it was a crinoline lady.  The crinoline dress was a sponge cake cooked in an oval dish, which she decorated with icing to look like lace.  The body and face was china.  Another year it was a house like Hansel & Gretelís. Afterwards we used to have a few games. One game we had a lot of fun with, was a tray covered with about twenty items, which was passed to each person (sitting in a ring in the dark) who felt the items and tried to guess what they were.  When the lights went on they had to write down from memory what they thought the items were.  The one who guessed the most had a prize.  It was hilarious, especially as my father was prone to slip all sort of odd things in!!  They were happy times.

Sorry, that is it for now.  There will be a pause, whilst I find time to write some more.
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Offline busyglen

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Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2014, 14:31:00 »
We three younger children, used to sleep in the large bedroom.  The boys slept one side of the room and I slept on the other.  Apart from a chest of drawers, the room was quite bare, although we used to have a paraffin heater when it was really cold.  I can remember us three going to bed one night, but the two boys started to throw their pillows at one another, and then across at me.  There was a lot of laughing and shouting when all of a sudden, Mum opened the door and we scrambled to get into bed.   She pulled the clothes back, and delivered a slap to Trevor and Rayís legs, before coming and giving me one as well.  We were told to go to sleep, and out she went.  We were so shocked, as Mum had never hit us before.....she only had to give us a look, and we knew.  We compared the slap on our legs to see who had been hit the hardest, but they appeared to be the same, so we settled down and went to sleep.  That was the one and only time that she ever did that. My father was always busy working, so Mum would just give us a look if we were naughty, but strangely, I canít remember us giving her much grief.  Occasionally Trevor became a bit upset if he couldnít master something, but he would soon calm down, and a short while later he had managed to do what he wanted.

When Trevor was five, he started school at Rose Street, so I used to take him with me.  He soon settled in and we used to go home together.  New Road, where we lived, was quite long and on the way home, we used to have to pass the Catholic School.  There were a few rough lads at that school, and one in particular always wanted to fight.  Although Trevor was smaller than me, he always tried to protect me and would get in front.  One day, this lad stood in front of him ready to give him a punch, but Trevor waved his `littleí arm in front of his face and whilst he was watching that, Trevor landed a punch with his right hand.  After that the lads always parted and let us through! He was my hero, and only five years old!

We used to call Raymond `Smilerí or Sunbeam, as he always looked happy and was quite placid, and looked forward to us coming home from school, so that he had someone to play with.  After school we used to have some tea, and then go out to play for an hour.  We had a garden with a flat swing which was stretched between two trees.  We could lay on it and swing, and sometimes Ray would fall asleep.  We also had a shed, and Dad used to keep rabbits.  Some of them were caught in the fields, and were put into cages, and we would go looking for thistledown or various bits that the rabbits liked, to feed them.  I was given a white rabbit once which had pink eyes and I called it Suki, and I used to go and get food for it, but sometimes Iíd forget, so my mother would feed it.  One day I suddenly remembered and went to give the white rabbit some food, and found it had gone!  I hadnít realised that we had eaten it several days earlier! Not that my mother told me then, I think she said it had got out.  Times were hard, and Dad also kept chickens.  He put a chicken run up, and Mum used to go out to them with scraps after weíd had dinner.  One day when she was busy, she took the plate with the scraps out, and returned a few minutes later laughing her head off......she was about to put the remainder of the joint down, when she realised she had taken the wrong dish out.!  The hens had come running up, and were most disappointed!   On another occasion, Dad decided to breed some ducks, and we had these little balls of fluff wrapped up in the kitchen until they were strong enough to put outside.  There also followed half a dozen geese until they eventually ended up on the table.  The fact that my mother was a trained Cook, meant that we were luckier than a lot of families, especially during the War as she could make a meal out of nothing. What she could do with a bit of corned beef was amazing.  I think I still have some of her recipes, but confess that I am not my motherís daughter....in that I was hopeless at cooking! My elder sister took after her.
A smile is a curve that straightens things out.

Offline busyglen

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Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2014, 10:58:46 »
Thanks Kyn. :)  As a point of interest, the building behind the tree, is the Pavilion kitchen, and to the right is the Ladies rest room at the top of the stairs.  To the right where we are sitting behind the hedge, is the `Heads'.
A smile is a curve that straightens things out.

Offline kyn

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Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2014, 18:46:49 »
Thank you for posting your story, it is really strange to read as I know the area but it has changed so much!  I look forward to more posts :)

Offline busyglen

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Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2014, 16:58:41 »
I loved the summer and the school holidays, as my brothers and I would have the fields to play in, when there wasnít a match being played.  When I was about six and Trevor was four and Ray two, I used to amuse them by playing `Orphansí.  I asked Mum for a piece of old blanket, and a bottle to put some water in, plus a slice of bread.  (She always knew what that meant.)

Opposite the house there was a small trailer that my father used to pull things around with the tractor, and I decided that would be our shelter at night.  Iíd tell the boys that it was night and that we had to go to sleep, so weíd lie down and I covered us with the rug.  When I decided it was morning, Iíd give them a small mouthful of the bread and a sip of water. We would then have to go and look for more food, and make sure nobody saw us otherwise we would be taken to the orphanage!  Weíd run and hide behind buildings and then make our way to my fatherís kitchen garden which had lots of vegetables, such as peas, carrots etc.  We would sneak in and Iíd pull a carrot, and if peas were also growing Iíd take a couple of those.  Iíd go to the kitchen tap, which was outside the building, and wash the carrot.  Iíd put them in the paper bag that I had, and we would then scamper off towards the edge of the field where the trains ran past.  The grass was quite long and there were a couple of places that you could hide, so, Iíd give them a piece of carrot to nibble on, and picked a few dewberries that grew wild along the edge of the field. Then Iíd hear a train coming, so I told them that we must hide quickly before anyone saw us otherwise they would catch us and we would be taken to the Orphanage.   Even at that young age, they followed me and hid in the long grass until the train had passed!  We would look for some more berries, (I knew which ones were edible) and then we would make our way back to the trailer, where I would dish out the berries and a bit of bread, which would be washed down with a sip of water. We would then lie down to pretend to sleep for the night, until the next adventure.

My mother had an old school bell, and she would stand on the back steps and ring it to let us know that it was dinner or teatime, and would wait until we ran out from wherever we were hiding and waved to her.  It always worked, and we never ignored it, even when we were older.

This is the trailer that we used as our pretend hiding place in our game of Orphans.


A smile is a curve that straightens things out.

Offline busyglen

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Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2014, 16:53:31 »
Thank you all for your kind comments.  :)  It always seems a bit boring to start with, but it I hope it gets better as it progresses.  :)
A smile is a curve that straightens things out.

Minsterboy

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Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2014, 16:36:23 »
Being born on Sheppey in 1947 and lived here ever since, I recall fondly the type of childhood that you are recounting and find it amazing the way we travelled such distances, on our own, at such a young age and in all weathers. Makes a mockery of all the molly-coddled, little darlings of today that think their legs are there purely in order to enable them to climb into a car and be driven to school.
I'm looking forward immensley to more tales of how it used to be back then on Sheppey and having my memory jogged about places and things that I had forgotten.

Well done.

Offline peterchall

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Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2014, 14:24:14 »
Seems OK to me  :)
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

John38

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Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2014, 14:05:51 »
and me too     :)

Offline Lyn L

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Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2014, 13:43:55 »
And me  :)
Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life tryi

Offline chasg

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Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2014, 13:15:24 »
Ditto...   :)

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2014, 12:56:13 »
What are you worried about Busyglen? This is good stuff and I'm enjoying.

S4.
A day without learning something is a day lost and my brain is hungry. Feed me please.

Offline busyglen

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Re: From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2014, 11:42:14 »
When I was 5 years old, I started school at Rose St. Primary School.  I was taken to school by my father, who sat me on the crossbar of his bicycle, and I had some dinner money in my pocket for my lunch.  I had been told to walk straight home after school, which was about three-quarters of a mile. As my father was always working, even evenings, and my mother was looking after the others, being met from school was not an option.  My father took me into the school and handed me over to a teacher and I was taken into a classroom.  There were quite a lot of new children and we all sat at desks which had small chairs, or on the floor.  We were asked our names and a teacher started to tell us a story, but she was constantly interrupted by a girl who cried almost non-stop.   She wore a frilly bonnet and a party dress, which looking back seemed rather strange, and  it didnít really help as all the children kept looking at her.  The teacher carried on with the story about a woodcutter chopping wood in the forest, and at this point the girl started screaming again.  Nothing would pacify her and losing her patience, the teacher said that if she didnít stop the woodcutter would come after her.  (Not exactly the thing to do, but she did start to quieten down.)  Dinnertime, as it was then called, we were led into the school hall, which was utilised also as the dining room.  We all sat down with the other children in the school, on benches and a monitor went and got our dinners.  I canít remember what we had, but it certainly didnít taste like my motherís cooking as hers was lovely.  We were allowed to go out to play for a while and then we were taken and shown the room that we were to go to the next day.  When it was time to go home we sang a hymn` Jesus tender shepherd hear meí.
Quite a few children had parents meet them, but the majority went off in groups or on their own.  They were mostly the older ones.  I was asked if I had someone meeting me, and I said that I knew my way home, so off I trotted.  My legs were a bit tired by the time I got home, but Mum met me at the door with a big smile, and asked me what I had done.

A few weeks later, I was in class and for some reason the teacher started the evening hymn, so in my mind it was teatime.  Off I trotted home, but was a bit surprised when I looked into the school hall as I passed and saw the dinner monitors with their aprons and caps on.  When I got home, my parents, younger brothers and sister, were having dinner.  I told my mother I had thought it was teatime, so she got me something to eat, and my father took me back afterwards on his bicycle, and explained to the teacher.

There used to be a bakery near the school, and I can remember some of the children going there to get a halfpenny roll, which was still warm.  Sometimes the children hadnít had any breakfast so their parents had given them money to get something. Mum always made me eat some breakfast, sometime it was an egg or a rasher of bacon and a piece of fried bread.  I didnít really like breakfast, but I would always try and eat it, and occasionally I wouldnít eat the fried bread so she put it in a bag and Iíd eat it at playtime. 

Miss Wood was the Head Mistress, and she seemed really old to me, and for some reason, she always called on me to run errands around the school.  One day she asked me to take some books back to the local Library for her during a lesson.  I was too shy to refuse, so I put my coat on and went.  I hadnít been to the Library before, and it meant I had to go into the town.  I did know where it was though and I was quite interested when I walked in.  The librarian took the books and gave me some tickets to take back.  After a while, this became a habit, and I would regularly be sent to take books back.  One day, I mentioned to my mother that I would like to get some books from the Library, as they had a childrenís section.  She asked how I knew that and I said that I often had to take Miss Woodís books back.  My mother was furious and told me that I was at school to learn, not to run errands for her.  So the next time a girl came and told me that Miss Wood wanted me to run an errand, I said no!  She was furious and sent for me to go to her office, and I had to stand outside the door for half an hour!  She never asked again, and another poor girl had to do it.  Nevertheless, my mother agreed that I could get some books from the Library, and on Saturdays, I used to go and select a book to read.  I was hooked on the Enid Blyton books originally, but gradually I found myself  looking for what I called girls adventures. 

One day a teacher came to our classroom and asked me to go with her.  She asked if I would like to be the May Queen.  I had been chosen with another girl, and they wanted us to go to each room and they would ask the children who should be the Queen.  The one who had the most votes was chosen for the Queen and the other would be the attendant.  I was always shy, and hoped I could be the attendant, but somehow I was chosen.  It was a lovely day, and I wore a party dress and had a crown of flowers put in my hair.  There was dancing round the maypole, and also some games.  It was a
lovely day.  I believe they still do that at the school nowadays.

I loved school, and reading books but I didnít like `sumsí.  I also liked writing little stories, and one day the teacher said there was going to be a competition, and that those who were interested, should write a story about what they do, or like   So, I decided to write about the Saturday Matinee, which was held at the local Cinema on Saturday mornings, which my mother used to let me go to sometimes with a friend.  I also drew a picture of a crowd of people waiting to go in the door......I won the prize which was a book called `What Katy Didí.

In 1947 we had a lot of snow which surrounded our house, and it was quite deep.  I can remember going down the back steps with my wellington boots on and trying to step into my elder brotherís footsteps.  It was too deep for my little legs and I got stuck...I couldnít go backwards or forwards.  My father had to lift me out!  When the snow eased and started to melt, I went  back to school, but when I got there, only a couple of teachers were there.  The toilets were outside and had frozen, and the boiler wasnít working, so another lad and I was given a cup of cocoa, and sent home again.
cont...
A smile is a curve that straightens things out.

Offline busyglen

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From the Pigeon Loft and beyond
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2014, 11:37:19 »
I was born in January 1941 in 13 Harbour Terrace, Sheerness, Kent, which was a small terrace house, and at that time, England was in the middle of WW2. Shortly after my birth, my father who worked for the Admiralty in Sheerness Dockyard, was offered a change of occupation, which meant our family would be moving into a large house, which would be a blessing as it had more room.   There were now five of us, (my older sister Gwen having died aged five, before I was born.)  The oldest, my sister Georgina was in Wales having been evacuated by her school, because of the War, my brother Bill, who was almost six, and me. My mother wrote to my sister, and asked what she would like to call me, and she said `Glenysí because it was Welsh.  Thus, I was duly named, and have spent my life correcting the spelling, as it is Welsh!  Anything from Glennis, Glenis, Glenice, Glynis, even Gladys!  But it is only a name, and gradually it was shortened to Glen most of the time.

My father was offered the position of Head Groundsman at the Royal Naval Sports Grounds in New Road, Sheerness.  This came with a large house which was constructed in wood, which stood on stilts of metal, with steps leading up to a back door. There was also a front door on the side but that wasnít used very often. A door at the other end led to the storage room for coal, and later sacks of potatoes. Around the outside of the house, there were buckets of sand and water at strategic points.  There was also a large water carrier on wheels that could be pushed to where it was needed.  These were for the protection of the house should it have caught fire!! There were also two metal tanks in the garden which collected rain water from the drainpipes, which was extra help if needed.

Previously in WW1 the house was used as a Pigeon Loft, where the pigeons were released and received, carrying messages to and fro, to various strategic points. The roof had a small door on one side where the pigeons used to come and go.  After WW1 pigeons were no longer used, so the Admiralty decided to use the building for other purposes, and eventually the grounds around the house were used for sports such as Football, Rugby, Cricket, and later Tennis.  These all needed to be maintained in good order so that the Navy could go to the grounds for a game when their ships were in dock.  Also in the grounds was the RAB, or Range Accommodation Buildings, where naval personnel were sometimes billeted during WW2.  At the end of this block, there was a building with a large domed roof, which had a large gun inside, which was used for training gunners to spot and shoot enemy planes.  On the other end of the block, nearest our house, there was also a Concert Hall where shows were occasionally put on.  Opposite the house, there were   brick-built `Headsí (toilets) which had a separate section for the Officers, and were surrounded by hedges and poplar trees.  Beyond these there was another large building which housed a kitchen, several  offices and stores, a ladies rest room (which was up a large flight of outside steps) changing rooms and on the far side there  was the shower rooms which were also upstairs.  In front of the kitchen, there was the Pavilion where people watched the Cricket matches and had their tea.  The grounds consisted of two cricket pitches, one on each side of the buildings, and later a football pitch was set up just past the RAB.  There were also three large Rugby pitches further up the road. Later tennis courts were built, both hard courts and lawn.

My earliest recollections, surprisingly, were when I was two years old.  The first was being held in my motherís arms, at the backdoor, and watching the searchlights criss-crossing the night sky over the Dockyard, looking for airplanes.  Shortly after this, I remember going to sleep downstairs (we all appeared to sleep in the large room which was later our sitting-room, during air raids) and when I awoke I was in the bunk of the air raid shelter, outside our back door.  My mother was sitting in a chair, knitting, and she dropped her needle which went down under the floorboards.  I realised in later years that she was pregnant and had been knitting a jacket for the baby, who was to be my younger brother Trevor. When the shelter was dismantled after the war, the turquoise needle was found.

I also recall being pushed in my pram by a lady who was an Officerís wife who was staying with us, and was going shopping, and then I remember looking into a shop window from my pram and at that moment a large dog (which I later understood was a Golden Retriever) put its front paws on the end of the pram and looked at me. I screamed as I had never seen a dog before, and the lady came running out of the door with the proprietor.  Of course, the dog took off, and after a while I calmed down.  It was an occurrence that was to stay with me for many years, as I always felt afraid around dogs.

My next memory was of my mother bathing my new brother Trevor in front of the kitchen range.  I had a ragdoll, which I think my mother had made, and I watched her putting Trevor in a nappy and hooking it on a weighing hook.  I decided I wanted my doll weighed, so when she had finished dressing Trevor, my mother showed me how to do it.  I remember laughing as it seemed so funny. It was quite a while before I realised or understood, that Trevor had been born with only one hand.  His left arm was normal to just below the elbow, where it closed over to reveal a tiny hand with small pimples attached, which were the fingers.  As he grew, Mum started to put elastic in his pyjama trousers to make it easier for him, but he was adamant that he wanted `properí trousers with cords.  He taught himself to tie them, and was to grow up finding ways to do most things.

My memories come and go at this point, but the next main recollection is of my brother Raymond being born in 1945, so I was four years old.  I can remember my mother sitting in her dressing gown at a sewing machine in her bedroom, with some brightly coloured material, and I asked what she was doing.  She replied that it was a surprise.  The next day my brother was born, and I can remember he looked so tiny.  My mother had to spend several days in the bedroom, as in those days, it was appropriate that they rested and got their strength back, but Mum had Phlebitis so she was confined to bed anyway.  Raymond was her seventh child (two having died). Whilst confined to the bedroom, she got my father to carry her sewing machine upstairs, and she sat at her dressing table sewing away.  The next day when I went in to see her, she told me to `shut my eyes, and hold out my handsí.  When I opened my eyes she had given me a Golliwog.  (I realise that this is not PC these days, so forgive the mention)  The body was made from black lining, and the hair was from an astrakhan collar.  He had red felt lips and she had embroidered his eyes.  He had on a red jacket and pyjama stripe trousers.  I was thrilled to bits.  She also made one for Trevor, with different clothes, and he loved his as well.   Looking back, I can see how canny my mother was in giving us younger ones something to play with to take off the fact that she was not able to be with us for a short while.  Iíve never forgotten that. 

A smile is a curve that straightens things out.

 

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