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Offline ann

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Re: From then to Now
« Reply #34 on: December 22, 2014, 18:17:53 »
Thank you Jean for your kind comments.  Perhaps we were in the same year - maybe class even!!

I think the accounts teacher, very strict, was Miss Green. Shorthand and typing was taught by a lovely lady, Mrs Chatsworth (once a form teacher of mine), and commerce was with Mr Mortimer.

I cannot really remember the library but I do recall the cookery block was the mental asylum block.  I too had many lessons down at St Peters (now the Roffen Club).  It had a small concrete playground area at the back overlooking the railway line, and outside cold loos.  A vivid memory of being at St Peters was that those of us with a packed lunch could eat it in the large hall, and I had a copy of the FORBIDDEN Lady Chatterley's Lover, covered in brown paper to disguise it, which I read at lunchtime.

You mention seeing the frozen river Medway in 1963 as you came out of school.  I left Fort Pitt in the summer term of that year, so perhaps there is a year difference.

Offline Jean

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Re: From then to Now
« Reply #33 on: December 22, 2014, 18:02:51 »
Ann, I have enjoyed reading your memories so much. I pretty much followed in your footsteps. I too was born in 1947 in June. I went to Fort Pitt when I was 13 and remember Miss Elliott very well. Do you remember Mrs Smith who taught music? I did the secretarial course and loved every minute.  I found the school building very intimidating, especially the large classrooms, ex wards, which were divided into two.
Did you know that the library had previously been the mortuary? For book keeping lessons we had to cross the road to a building called St Peter's. I am unable to remember the teacher that took us for those lessons, she was not a lady to mess with though. I recall coming out of the main gate of Fort Pitt in 1963 and looking across at the Medway which was frozen over. I really must congratulate you on your memory, I thought mine was good but yours is amazing. I married in 1967.and continued to live in Rochester until 1970.

Offline peterchall

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Re: From then to Now
« Reply #32 on: August 04, 2014, 19:30:40 »
Ann, your mention of pub ‘lock-ins’ after closing time reminds me of  a village pub in the 1970’s where the main danger was from passing police cars, because guess where the local bobby was!

Regarding that one type only telephone, does anyone remember the first departure from that – the Trimphone? Much smaller and neater looking, but still with a rotary dial.

At least in those days if you wanted to report a fault to the phone company (was it still the Post Office?) you could talk to a human being, and not have to press ‘1’ for this and ‘2’ for that, etc.
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Offline ann

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Re: From then to Now
« Reply #31 on: August 04, 2014, 12:49:32 »
MARRIED LIFE& BEYOND
Part 2

Initially I moved back in with my parents again, but within a couple of weeks was offered a flat in the relatively newly built tower block called Laurel Court just off Darnley Road. (no waiting list at that time!).  Size wise it was not bad. You had a very large area when you went in with a walk-in storage cupboard.  There were 2 bedrooms, a bathroom/wc.  Kitchen and main living room leading out onto a small balcony and a fitted drying cupboard.  The flat had warm air central heating.  Each floor of Laurel Court (and its sister block Rosemary Court) had 3 flats each side of the central stairwell and lift.  There was also a large chute on the landings where you would put your rubbish.  I left the flats in 1977 and eventually they were demolished, I believe, sometime in 1986.   

Having moved back to Strood I needed to find local work. At the time I was still working in Bexley which was quite a distance travel to each day. Also, after paying the train fares, rent etc. I was left with only 9 shillings a week to feed and clothe both of us.  I determined to find a local job and on my first day off went for a couple of job interviews. I also went to the National Assistance Board, whose offices were situated up Castle Hill opposite the Castle Gardens, to ask for interim help whilst I got this sorted out.

It was not something to be done lightly as there was a lot of stigma attached to seeking help there.  I can still picture the scene (some 45 years later). I sat one side of a counter on a chair fixed to the floor, and a quite pleasant lady sat on the other. I explained my situation and she disappeared off to make enquiries. When she returned I could tell by her mannerisms it was not good news.  She was very apologetic (and I think a bit embarrassed) and said that she had been told that my request had been rejected on the grounds that I was working and that all the time I was then they could not help. I could not believe they were not willing to help me over this short transitional period. I was both upset and disgusted. I remember telling her that if that was the case I would hand my notice in the very next day and then they would have to give me full support - which I did. Back then only a weeks notice had to be given, and as it turned out I was offered a job from one of the firms I had attended an interview for. They delivered the offer letter by hand the following day as they obviously wanted to me to start as soon as possible and therefore put my notice in to my present employer (of course unknown to them I had already done so!)   I therefore may have needed help for just one week!!  I have never forgotten this. In fact there was no help at all available back then that I recall for one parent families and it was quite a number of years before child benefit would be paid for the first child.  Anyway I was young and well able to work and it would never have occurred to me not to try and pay my own way, and I felt very angry and let down (how times have changed with the handouts given today).

The job was with Ronald Bampton & Partners, estate agents in their Strood branch.  I was the receptionist typist.  The firm had 3 offices at the time, the others being at Rochester and Chatham.  There were 3 partners, Mr Wheaton who was rarely seen, he spent at least 6 months of the year holidaying abroad. He was an extremely tall and distinguished looking gentleman who smoked using a cigarette holder.  Another partner was Mr Benson who was based at Chatham and Mr McMurry, also at Chatham but in charge of rental properties. The Strood office also housed the mailing department upstairs.  Details of properties would be typed on ‘duplicate sheets that were then put on large rollers on a Gestetner duplicating machine and run off. A very mucky job. Another machine would then fold the printed details to fit into the envelopes which would have been prepared by having had address labels run off and stuck on manually.  Both very time consuming jobs.  Finally they were all brought downstairs to be franked on a machine in the office and then taken down to the main post office in Strood.

It was during my time there in the 70’s that gazumping took place.  A most unpleasant period. A sale would be arranged and sometimes, within the space of an hour, an increased counter offer could be made.  I suppose one could say it was greed on the part of the sellers, but in all honesty, human nature is what it is.  Sometimes the original purchaser (having been gazumped) would come back with an even higher offer. There were some quite unpleasant phone calls at this time and unhappy buyers, but as agents acting on behalf of the vendors we had to take their instructions. Caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.  It was worse when a sale had been proceeding for a little while and it happened.

It was also during this period (1973 I believe) when the 3 day week had to be introduced.  The coal miners were out on strike and power stations had not got enough stock piles of coal to fuel power stations and so we all had to be rostered for power cuts.  These would be published in local papers so you knew when you would be affected. The result was that much of industry and a great many workers were reduced to a 3 day working week.  We would still stay open, using candles to illuminate the office, and of course typewriters were still manual so the typists could carry on working too.  Remember going to Woolworth and buying the last stock of candles they had.  Cannot remember how it affected my home life now.

The other thing I recall during my time at Brampton’s was the development of land at Cliffe Woods and the construction of the housing estate. I think the developers were from St Austell in Cornwell. We obviously must have had the sole selling rights and initially the ‘site office’ was just a caravan in the middle of the large muddy area. A site manager would sit out there all day and each evening phone in with details of plots sold. He had been in the forces, RAF I believe, anyway his greeting each time would be ‘…here, stand by your beds’. Of course he was eventually moved into a proper show house, and I recall being taken out to have a look at it.  The whole development took many years to complete.

I worked my way up at Bamptons until I had staff working under me. I also did sales negotiating, arranged mortgages and liaised with solicitors and buyers and sellers; in fact the only thing I didn’t do was go out and take properties on and this was only because I could not drive.   Sadly my wages did not go up with the increased responsibilities and I left after a number of years to go and work at the Leeds Permanent Building Society in Chatham, I was quite sad to do so because I had enjoyed working there.

There is a brief period around this cross over time that I don’t want to go into, too personal and not of interest to the forum or you its readers.

However I soon started to enjoy my new job and I guess one of the reasons was I was dealing directly with people again which I really liked. This was in the 70’s and we had no glass screens separating us from the public with just a slot to do the transactions through. There was just us and the customers the other side of the counter.  This was pre computer time and all transactions were written in passbooks by hand, and on office sheets.  Each evening we had to balance sheets and money! Did not always work. It was so easy to have missed an entry or put on the wrong side of the sheet.  This was before modern calculators and we only had a large machine called an Ad-list.  You typed the numbers in, pulled a handle and got a printout on a roll of paper which was fed in at the top.  I never really liked to use this machine as I felt I was just as likely to input a figure wrongly.  Mental arithmetic was my forte.

Like the estate agents before, I had to work Saturday mornings.  Mum and dad had my daughter sleep over on Friday night because of this and they would wait outside the office at lunch time for me to finish (and balance!) and we would all go to lunch at The Paddock Restaurant in Military Road.  Excellent meals and very well priced.

Having a small child I obviously could not go out socially very much and really the only time was a Friday evening (daughter with parents as I had to work the next day|).

My ‘local’ for much of that time was the Crispin & Crispanius in Strood.  It was very popular with young people and a group of us would meet up and spend the evening there.  The landlords name was John and he had been in the Guards and his bearskin hat was displayed in a glass cabinet in one of the bars. After last orders we would very often go for a meal at the local Chinese restaurant.  There was a nightclub that opened in Strood sometime later called I think the Paradise Club.  It was down along from Wingets.  I don’t think I went there too often. There were two other nightclubs I recall. One was in Rochester/Chatham along the top New Road, and the other (still there now) was in Gravesend called The Grove.  These were places to go when the pubs had closed and you wanted to carry on drinking etc.   Back then there was no 24 hour drinking, pubs had to stick to rigidly laid down laws.  Opening at set times and closing at 11pm weekdays and 10.30pm on Sundays. Of course if you were friendly with the pub owner you might be invited to a ‘lock in’, but this was risky for him and not many were prepared to take the risk.

Because of my parents help with childcare etc. I got by okay on my wages. However, like my parents, and my previous experience of debt with my first husband leaving such bad memories, I believed in only buying what I could afford. I would save to purchase things, and make do with what I could not afford.  I only ever had a black and white TV as I could not afford the colour licence for example.

In any case, in those days to buy something with deferred payments meant taking out  ‘hire purchase’, also known as the  ‘never never’, and it was nigh on impossible for a woman to be able to take out a loan in her own right. Something that incensed me as to the unfairness of it.  It was no different when it came to being assessed for a mortgage; it was only the husband’s full salary that was taken into account.  Sometimes a small percentage of a wife’s would be, but rarely very much.  Of course this later went completely the other way and resulted in lots of foreclosures. (I have noticed this happen with lots of things. Change comes but instead of it being a positive thing it ends up with the pendulum swinging too far the other way.)

I also never had phone back then. I think it was about 1976 before both my parents and I did.  There was a long waiting list to get one and often you would opt for a party line so as to get one quicker (this was what I first had). The disadvantage obviously was that you sometimes cut into other people’s conversations, and likewise they could cut in or listen to yours.  It was expensive too, there was a connection charge of £60 (a lot back then).  There was only one type of handset, and at one time only one colour – black. If you wanted to have a different coloured phone (only about 3 to choose from, red, green or cream I think) you had to have had something wrong with your old one so you could get it replaced by BT.   There was nowhere else to get phones from, they had the monopoly.

Communication was largely done by post.  It was a good service back then, with at least 2 deliveries a day. But if you wanted to contact someone quickly or wanted to speak to someone directly then for many people the only way was to use public phone boxes.  This was something it was quite common to do and often queues would form outside waiting to use it.  You would make sure you went in armed with change to feed into the slots. If it was a long call people would be able to see you keep feeding more coins into the phone and you were likely to get some black looks from those waiting outside, or even a tap on the glass.  Everyone knows the distinctive looking red boxes.  Apart from the handset there was a black box with an A or B button.  A was pressed to connect to the call and B pressed to get your money back if the call did not connect.  You knew when to put more money in because a series of beeps would interrupt youth say your money was running out.  These phone boxes were a vital source of communication and there were always plenty to be found.  I cannot recall back then every finding one that was not working or heaven forbid had been vandalised.



Offline ann

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Re: From then to Now
« Reply #30 on: August 03, 2014, 14:22:32 »
MARRIED LIFE& BEYOND

Part 1.

Following my marriage in 1963 Johnny and I began our married life living with his parents in Dartford. My daughter was born the following January at West Hill hospital.  Weighing in at 4lb 12 oz (born early at only 8 months) she was placed in an incubator and I had to wait until she reached 5lb before I was allowed to bring her home. I was discharged from the hospital and had to go home and leave her there. It was usual back then for women to stay in hospital following childbirth for at least 10 days, the first few being confined to bed. How very different from now. I can still remember the day I left. I was in such a frail state and I stumbled and fell as I got in the taxi. The driver must have thought I had lost the baby and refused to take any fare from us. I would walk to the hospital each day that she was there and stay as long as they would allow me.

Whilst living with the in-laws I got a part time job for a short while at Vickers Armstrong in Powder Mill Lane on the ‘twilight shift’ 4pm to 8pm. They made army and government office furniture – filing cabinets etc. it was noisy and dirty manual work and I was glad to leave.  One particular job was dipping metal items that had been covered in grease to stop them rusting into large tanks full of a liquid that would clean it off.  I have no idea what toxic liquid it contained but you could see fumes rising from it and you always went home with a nauseating headache. (No health and safety back then!).

A few years later we were later given the opportunity of buying a brand new house on a large development the Council were building, Fleet Estate.  Our house was in Lunedale Road, and I recall it was still very much in the process of looking like a building site everywhere.  There was a Spar mini store by the time I left, but no school and the estate nowhere near completion.  Not sure if there was even a bus service at first.  I can recall pushing my daughter in a large 4 wheel pram up and down East Hill.   At the top of East Hill is the cemetery and at the foot of it the church, hence the saying ‘Dirty Dartford, peculiar people, bury their dead above the steeple.’

Dartford at that time had a lot of good shops.  There was the very large Co-op store (recently demolished and now sadly just an empty piece of land). It had its entrances in both Spital Street and Hythe Street. I  am not sure now if it had 2 or 3 floors but I do remember an escalator. It seemed to carry virtually every type of merchandise and it was from here I bought my daughters pram. It even had its own café.  Another large store was Potts. This was where Argos is now. Again it seemed to stock very similar things to the Co-op, apart from furniture.  Woolworth was where Iceland is now.  This did have 2 floors, one at pavement level and another you went down stairs to.  I think that there was also a small Tesco store opened in Lowfield Street which was self service, the forerunner of supermarkets which were to follow.

Unfortunately things began to go bad quite early on and we got into a lot of debt. We legally separated for a while and I went back to Strood with my daughter and lived with my parents, but because we used to meet when I took my daughter to see her other grandparents, we got back together and I moved back to Dartford.  I had to go to work to try and help sort things out and I got a job working for an estate agents in Bexley, Kirrage Jones & Co.  Sadly things still did not work out and I left Dartford in 1969 having got a divorce and I moved back to Strood as a single parent.


Part 2 to follow

Offline TomCat

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Re: From then to Now
« Reply #29 on: July 31, 2014, 20:44:51 »
Fantastic memories ann, I look forward to further instalments.

I'm only 1955 vintage myself but one day I'll try and find time to write down some tales and memories from my own upbringing (by older parents), I have an older sister of 8 years and recall her going through her teenage years in the 60's

Steve
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Offline peterchall

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Re: From then to Now
« Reply #28 on: July 31, 2014, 20:23:48 »
More memories stirred up!
I knew the annual fair as just ‘Strood Fair’.

Listening to a record before you bought it – and there was only one tune on each side of the record. Just after the war shops didn’t actually stock records, but just kept samples that you could listen to and then order if you liked it -. It would then take a few days for the shop to obtain it.

Castle Gardens seemed to have been popular with youngsters from all over the towns down the ages. I lived within 10 minutes walk and was there one evening with a mate when these two girls from somewhere called Chatham approached – the end result is described in my life writings. Those gardens have a lot to answer for!

Another parallel in our lives is meeting over a boy’s dad’s pub – in my case it was my dad’s pub, and dad kept a watchful eye on the drink consumption.

You mentioned in an earlier post that I included external affairs in my life writing. I did that to give an idea of the background against which we lived our daily lives. I think in your case it would have been the ‘Cold War’ – the Berlin Blockade, Korean War, Suez, Cuban Missile Crisis, Revolt in Hungary – which could have erupted at any time into ‘Hot War, and which always seemed to overshadow things. Perhaps the ‘Swinging Sixties’ were such because it could have been a case of ‘Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die’.

Sorry Ann, I’m rambling on. Keep the posts coming :).
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Offline Lyn L

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Re: From then to Now
« Reply #27 on: July 31, 2014, 18:27:41 »
OH  :) I had those  exact shoes and the sugar stiffened petticoats and the beehive hairdo's  :) we most probably were at the same venues at the same time. Thanks for all of the memories Ann. More please
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Offline ann

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Re: From then to Now
« Reply #26 on: July 31, 2014, 16:36:26 »
“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”   1 Corinthians  13.11

OR

YOUTH AND WHAT I GOT UP TO

From secondary school onwards I recall a marked change in how I viewed life, what I wanted from it, and how I behaved.  I am afraid I was a very rebellious teenager and must have caused my poor mum and dad so much heartache. They just seemed so old fashioned, not helped by the fact they were some years older than all of my friend’s parents (mum was 35 when she had me which was quite late back then) and I felt they did not understand me at all!  From fashion to music to behaviour – I rebelled.

Music even back then was mega important for teenagers and I remember I had a red Dansette record player which took up to 6 records at a time. The first record I bought was a 78 rpm in Woolworth on their own label Embassy.  ‘Wonderful Time up There’.  Then EP’s and 45 rpm followed. Originally you had to purchase records from electrical shops and I recall buying a couple from John Burns, an electrical shop, in Bryant Road in Strood. (Mum and dad rented their TV’s from him for many years. When it needed repairing he would take the old one away to fix and bring a replacement so we were not left without one).

Eventually larger stores began to sell them and in the 60s Boots in Chatham began to stock them. It had 2 entrances, one in Military Road via a large revolving door and the other in High Street (opposite what  is now TK Maxx)  Originally there was another store that actually occupied the corner plot, but Boots must have acquired the site, and they extended into this space a fashion jewellery section and a record department. They had a dedicated record section and you could ask to listen to a record before buying it. You would go into a little booth and put a set of headphones on.  Imagine how busy this got on a Saturday.

I think it was around this time that store layouts changed. Gone were the high up counters where you usually had to ask for things and in their place were much lower counters at waist height with goods displayed so you could not only see them, but touch and inspect.

It was a time when teenagers began to want a voice.  Indeed it was probably about this time that the term was coined. Fashion was totally important and you strived to look the part – which resulted in everyone actually looking the same. It was the 60s and shops for teenage girls were only just about to emerge.  Back then you went from being a girl to a woman. One of the first stores dedicated solely to teenage fashion was Martin Fords in Chatham High Street  and the first outfit I bought there was a yellow button up blouse and a brown box pleated skirt.  By then shoes had gone from pointed winkle pickers to chisel toes with straps across.  I wore these to a dance at the Town Hall in Chatham and thought I looked ‘the bee’s knees’.

Often it was down to making or improvising the clothes we wanted to wear. I had a patterned sleeveless over blouse that I made by hand and I teamed this with a Prince of Wales check skirt.  I had to take it in to make it into a fashionable ‘wiggle’ skirt and the only way to board a bus wearing it was to hold the rail and hop on with both feet.  I wore the outfit with a pair of white stilettos that had long pointed toes and a white button decoration on top.  I must have looked like Minnie Mouse.  I had gone into Strood on my own and bought the shoes with money I had been given for my birthday.  Mum was not very pleased and said I had to take them back.  I didn’t and ended up keeping and wearing them. Here is a photo of me just prior to the tight skirts. I am wearing the fashionable full skirted dress, with underlaying lace petticoats. The very wide, big buckled belt and the white stilettos!

Stockings and suspenders were still worn and tights didn’t come in until some time in the 60’s (not sure if because of the tightness of skirts, or the advent of the mini). I well remember my first pair. It was around the mid 60’s and I had bought them to wear to a wedding. They were very expensive when they first came onto the market.  Not being used to them I just went to yank them up – and of course ended up putting my fingers straight through one of the legs.  I remember back in the 50’s my mother used to get her stockings repaired at a haberdashery shop in Darnley Road.  (Invisible mending it was called). 

Another memory is of sitting in a bath of cold water in a pair of denim jeans to try and shrink them.  Mum came home and caught me, they didn’t shrink and I had blue dyed legs for a while!

Hair fashion also changed at this time. Our mums had gone in for perms and shampoos and sets. Mum used to go fortnightly to a ladies hairdressers in Strood.  The lady owner was Mrs Thompson.  In the school holidays I had no choice but to go with mum.  I think there were 2 basins, just small ordinary ones. You had to lean forward with your head over the sink and mum would be given a flannel to cover here eyes whilst it was being washed.  I remember if you wanted conditioner this would be extra.  From what I recall, mum had a perm every 3 to 4 months with shampoo and sets in between.  Some people would do their own and you could buy home perm kits and Armani waving lotion.

The 60’s heralded the beehive. The bigger and higher the better (and you could do it yourself).  Hair was backcombed and then held in place by hair lacquer.  This was a very sticky substance which you purchased in a glass bottle from Woollies and then had to tip into a plastic spray bottle to use.  Think there must have been some sugar content to it – made hair rock hard.
                       
Make up was pale whitish faces, and very dark eyeliner. This was flicked up at the outer corners. Mascara was in a little case, and comprised of a little block of mascara and a brush.  You had to wet the mascara to use it (spit was commonly used) and then the brush loaded with it.  Lips were also virtually white. (Think Dusty Springfield).

Gone now were the family outings (unless made to if visiting relatives).  Instead I would want to meet up with friends.  A favourite destination on a Sunday was the castle gardens at Rochester. A couple of girlfriends and I would walk over from Strood and then walk around the grounds (didn’t Jane Austen mention this Sunday perambulation at the Crescent in Bath in Georgian times?) posing.  A group of boys would also have the same idea and we would ‘bump into each other.  We also used to regularly go into the castle itself.  They had wooden seats back then up in the corner towers on the higher floors and we would sit chatting together for ages. (Much to my shame I remember carving my initials in one).

Sometimes in the summer I would walk to Chatham to go to Boots to listen to the latest records, or see what was in Martin Fords. On the way back one time I went down to Sun Pier where some boys were in one of the little moored boats there and were fishing (or so I thought). It wasn’t fish it was eels and I squealed with fright as one of the boys held one out to me. The route back was usually along the top of the banks in New Road via Victoria Gardens.

There were not really that many places for teenagers to go of an evening. I recall dance nights that were held weekly in the hall of a Club at the bottom of Cedar Road. I think this was the Workman’s Club. This was the era of the stiff net petticoats over large skirted dresses, and wide buckled belts. Jive was in and back then I was light enough for the boys to be able to do all the lifting and swinging me through their legs. It was great fun.  I can still jive now, or should I say I can remember how to do it, but I don’t fancy the chances of anyone trying to do the lifting!!

The other place I used to go to was Strood youth club, but only on a Friday night which was when there was music and dancing.  Songs of the time were by Neil Sedaka, Paul Anka, I remember Cliff Richard and his hit The Young Ones.  It was at this time that The Twist and Chubby Checker made an appearance (there was even a ‘twist’ dress that came out – and I had one. Candy striped it was) and Little Eva with The Locomotion.  I used to go with my girlfriend from school called Ruth and we became friends with others there and as a group we used to also meet up at Bunnies which was a coffee bar near the Esplanade in Strood.  Another venue was the Casa Ventana (now an antique shop) in Rochester. They had a downstairs section which was where all we youngsters would go.  It was dark and had alcoves with tables where we used to sit. There was a jukebox.  We would stay there for a couple of hours, with just one coffee (if we didn’t get found out). There was a third coffee bar I recall, The Parlour in Rochester, next to the alley that runs up from the bottom road to the New Road at the side of St Barts, but we didn’t seem to use this one, don’t know why.

Anyway one the boy’s fathers ran the Three Gardeners pub in Strood and we would also sometimes would meet in an upstairs room there for an impromptu party and I recall another boy’s father ran a fish and chip shop somewhere up the Frindsbury Road. Again we were allowed to meet and play records in an upstairs room.

I was definitely a difficult teenager, and was very into boys.  I started young and it was at Elaine junior school that I had my first boyfriend. His name was Keith Dennis and the first day I met him he was wearing a leather jerkin and walking round the playground pretending to be a robot. I also remember he took me to the pictures, and I got teased by my grandparents about it.  I remember being ‘sweet’ on him (as my mother would say) for quite a few years. However by the time I was in my teens I was much more into ‘rough boys’. Keith was too nice, and when he asked to take me out I found excuses to say no.

Anyway one particular Friday evening Ruth and I decided to leave the youth club and go down to Forests fair which was on in Strood. This was an annual event held each August, on land between Grange Road and Station Road.  It was here that I met Johnny, my husband to be (my first real boyfriend).  He worked on the Octopus ride and of course the lads working at the fair would spin the various cars on the rides to make then go faster, and get the girls screaming, and then chat them up as they got off. We began going out together, and one of our favourite places to go was the old Rec. in Strood.  Back then you could go down a little alley just off Woodstock Road and into the top of it. There were wooden benches where we could sit and be alone and it didn’t matter what the weather was like, we just never seemed to be aware of it. 

On leaving school I had a very brief spell working in London as a shorthand typist.  I remember going for the interview, the position was for a junior secretary, quite ambitious having just left school. Anyway I was given a test and the interviewer said smiling that he felt I was not quite ready for the position of junior secretary, but he could offer me a job as a junior shorthand typist. I said yes and he asked ‘when do you want to start’. I just cannot believe the brazenness of my reply, but I guess it was just the confidence of youth as I replied ‘well I have travelled all this way today so I might as well start now!’   I can’t say I enjoyed the travelling each day.  Strood station is not conveniently situated. I would walk to the station each morning, but of an evening wait for a bus by Wingets, just by the bridge.  Was rarely home before 7 each evening.  Wage was £8 per week, and had to find all my own train fares.

Johnny and I continued to see each other and it got very serious.  Most families did not have phones and mine was no exception. The only way we could communicate was by post, and during the weekdays we would write everyday to each other.  SWALK would be written on the back where the envelope was sealed, or ILY.  Soon we wanted to get married. My parents were horrified and I can quite understand why now as I was only 16 at the time.  Anyway Johnny and I did end up getting married, I gave up work and the following year my only daughter was born.


Offline ann

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Re: From then to Now
« Reply #25 on: July 30, 2014, 17:14:44 »
I am glad so many of you are enjoying my memories and are being transported back to your own youths.  I was very interested reading your comments Signals99, about me being in a middle class family.  I had never really thought about it before.  I had never considered we were ‘well off’`.  For example, dad never ever got a car.  He always said that if he did the cost of running it would mean we would not be able to go away each year for a week at the seaside in a boarding house, or have other little ‘luxuries’.    I must have existed in some little comfortable ‘bubble’ and nothing outside of my world ever penetrated it.  To hear about you, and many more like you I suspect, going hungry and cold and cramped into such small homes, is indeed a sobering thought now. 

I am also aware that I have not written about external affairs that were happening as I grew up.  Peterchall has such vivid and insightful thoughts and memories of the war for example. But there was really very little outside of my own little world that I can recall, possibly because I was just never aware of it.

I can remember mum’s beige coloured Ration Books she took with her when we went to the shops but not why she had them.  I also recall hearing ‘Strood High Street is under water……  lives lost….’ I think this must have been the floods in 1953, and whilst Strood was indeed flooded, I think it was Sheppey area that people died.  Another vague memory is of ‘poor refugees…..fleeing here to safety….Hungary….’ This I can now link with 1956 and the Red Army troops invading Hungary to suppress the Revolution.

It was not until I reached my teens that I became more aware of external affairs. The first I recall vividly was the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.  I was in the school dining hall and everyone was waiting for the midday deadline with fear, praying that the ships would turn back.  I became very ‘anti’ things.  The establishment, apartheid and the bomb.  I became a member of the local CND movement, but more about that in a further instalment.

Offline Signals99

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Re: From then to Now
« Reply #24 on: July 29, 2014, 12:41:47 »
 :)Hi Ann, thank you for all your memories, enjoyed them immensely?
I'm a few years older than you, vintage 1941, I can associate with many of your recollections. The Strand
Di Marcos, the Cardona, Saturday morning pictures, who can forget Hopalong Cassidy & Gabby Hayes?
My sister worked at Pains Strood and Chatham branches for many years, ended up as chief cashier.
We lived in Rochester, Union street until it was demolished .
Ann, I guess your family would be classed as middle class in those days, we had a few good memories,
I was the youngest of six, five sisters and one brother, plus mum and dad living in a two bedroom house.
My memories are not so cosy as yours, mainly being hungry and cold most of the time, but still we survived, just,
not wingeing just saying it was not all beer and skittles.

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: From then to Now
« Reply #23 on: July 26, 2014, 14:16:10 »
A different age with different values. I wish they were still in place! Even though I'm a mid 1960's vintage I well remember may of the values still being looked for and expected. Happy, happy days thanks for reminding us all Anne.

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

John38

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Re: From then to Now
« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2014, 13:58:36 »
It was a different age, Ann. I still walk on the outside.

I can remember my old mum coming in a bit late, unusual for her.
  'You're late, mum.'
  'Been with Mrs Jones.'
  'Is she feeling better?'
  'No. She died and I've just been laying her out on her kitchen table, Put her best dress on; she looks lovely. Now are you ready for your tea?'
  'Er ... do you mind washing your hands first ...?'
   
True story!

Offline ann

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Re: From then to Now
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2014, 13:38:25 »
Slight change of plan. Before I progress to my wild and wanton teenage years, here are some snippets that have come back to me from earlier in my life.

The only home entertainment when I was young was a wireless or TV. We got our TV quite early on. Programmes were only on for a few hours each day and in between programmes there was something called an ‘interval’ where either a radio mast of Alexander Palace was shown or a potter’s wheel, or my favourite, a kitten playing with a ball of wool. Each evening just before it shutdown the National Anthem would be played and then the screen would go blank with just a white blob in the centre and a humming sort of noise. Our TV had a small screen housed in an enormous wooden piece of furniture. There were two wooden doors which opened to display the screen, and these were kept closed when not in use. Interference was common from other electrical items, so if something was switched on nearby, even a cars engine outside, it would make the picture all fuzzy and have a crackling sound. I can recall watching the Queen’s coronation in 1953, but not sure when we actually got the TV. It is the only time I can recall my paternal grandparents coming to our house, to watch it. I was only 6 at the time and found it very boring!  There were some programmes just for children and I remember Andy Pandy and Lobby Lou, a Mexican called Hank, and Muffin the Mule with Annette Mills. 

The wireless was still by far the most common form of home entertainment.  Sunday lunchtime would not have been complete without Billy Cotton and his Wakey Wakey Club.  For children there was Listen with Mother every weekday afternoon. It would go "are you sitting comfortably, then I will begin", and a story would be read out.  This was not to be missed and mum and I would settle down each afternoon to listen.  In the winter the coal fire would be alight and we would sit in the twilight with just the glow of the embers, a magical sight.  Sparks would sometimes fly off the coals and up the chimney and I imagined them to be fairies.

Of course there were no supermarkets and all shopping was done from small dedicated shops. Bakers, greengrocers, ironmongers, grocers etc. The grocery shop in Cuxton Road was the one that mum used. (I think in later years it has been used as a pine shop) I do not know what it was called but know, I hated the smell inside. I think it must have been from curing the bacons.  Rationing would still have been operating but of course I was far too young to understand this. Eventually I can remember mum would have her groceries delivered. She would put in her order book and pay for the previous weeks, and a van would arrive with the shopping.  As I got older I used to love the grocery delivery.  I would play pretend shops for hours with it.  Strange to think we have gone back to this home delivery with online shopping. 

The route we took when we walked to Strood would be via the little back streets that ran at the back of Cuxton Road. We would cut through Smith and Temple Streets (now the site of Tescos). I remember that one of the houses had a pond with ducks I used to like to see.  The High Street was very narrow particularly opposite the Angel.  There was Hills the fishmonger on that sharp bend, and a little further along Pinks the stationers which was my favourite shop.  Woolworth of course was there and a large department store, whose name escapes me, selling miscellaneous ‘luxury’ goods.  Opposite Woolworth was an old cinema but I never went there.  I think it was called the Waldof or Wardonia. 

On Saturdays mum and I would often go to Chatham (Dad would always have been working). We would go to either Di Marco’s at the top of the High Street where I would always have a cheese sandwich (the freshest bread I ever tasted, full of finely grated cheese). This would be followed by ice-cream with strawberry sauce on.  At some point British Home Stores started doing dinners, and this was always very popular with people.  It was at the back of the store and was self service in as much as you queued up with your tray and made your way down shelves displaying cold pastries and puddings to where the hot food was dished up by lady servers from large heated containers. Then you would proceed to the till and pay.  Because it was so popular you sometimes had to wait for seats and I was always sent off whilst mum queued to find a couple of seats and save them. 

When it was time to go home we would make our way back to Military Road to catch the bus, number 144.  The bus stop was somewhere near the surgical appliance store and the large corner store which sold all the military uniforms.  When we got indoors mum would boil up a kettle and we would soak our aching feet in a bowl of hot water. At Christmas I would be taken to get my Christmas dress. There was a small clothes shop, up near Di Marcos, that we went to every year.  It was quite a treat getting a new dress and I used to get quite excited.

Sometimes we might just go into Rochester and mum would take me to the little gardens at the back of Eastgate House, where Dickens chalet is now. There were large ponds there had the most enormous fish, and they would be full of bright coloured water lilies. There were sheltered seats that were provided for visitors to use. Eastgate House at that time was the Museum.  From what I recall of it it was a very ‘boring’ and ‘dusty’ place that had room upon room of stuffed birds and small animals in glass domes. I do remember a large dark, wood panelled room on the left as you went in, floor to ceiling. (I read up much later that it had come from a large house in Strood called the Gables which stood on the corner of Gun Lane and the High Street. It was bought by the Council in 1927 for £2500 on condition that the panelling be removed to Eastgate House Museum. It was demolished later that year for road widening).   Anyway I know that eventually the museum moved and Eastgate House became the Dickens Centre.

Sometimes we would go to the castle gardens and play mini golf. You could also buy bird food from a man near where the toilets were housed to feed the pigeons.

There was a very large market held in Rochester on a Friday. It was off Corporation Street on a large site running along side the railway track. Very occasionally we might go, but mum was not much of a market goer.

If we were in Rochester a treat would be to go to one of the Oldie Worldie tea rooms there.  Cakes would be brought on a cake stand and you chose which one you wanted and only paid for those you ate. The room would be full of little tables with linen tablecloths and chairs, and the smell of polish used on the highly shiny floors which were all uneven. Tea would be served in a bone china teapot, with matching sugar bowl and milk jug and delicate cups and saucers. 

The other thing Rochester boasted was an outdoor swimming pool.   My parents never took me there, but I used to go with friends in the summer holidays.  It was nothing back then to walk to and fro places, and even as children we were allowed unaccompanied. The only time you would get a bus was if the distance was unreasonable, and what today’s youngsters would consider unreasonable is certainly not what we did.  To go from Strood to the swimming baths at Rochester would be considered a walking journey – there and back. Some days in the summer holidays it got so busy they operated time sessions. Only a certain number would be let in for a set period of time. Then when they left, another group let in.  Didn’t seem to bother us the waiting, we used to go and sit on the grass bank opposite.   This would have been known as Backfields I think which is behind St Margaret’s Church. We obviously hadn’t been given a set time to get home otherwise I suspect there would have been some panicking parents, but this just didn’t seem to happen.  Obviously our safety was always assumed.

Despite the relative freedom in certain areas we had back then, there were different types of restrictions imposed.  For example a certain standard of behaviour was expected.   It was certainly ‘children should be seen and not heard’ when there were adults talking.  We had to either sit or stand quietly until we were spoken to.  Heaven forbid we tried to interrupt, or even fidget. There were rituals and manners at mealtimes.  You were always sent off to wash your hands first, you were expected to clear your plate, and once you had finished you had to sit and wait until everyone was finished before asking to `get down`. You were expected to sit quietly waiting and not fidget and after each meal I had to say grace.   Thank God for my good dinner, please may I get down now.  At night time I also had to say bedtime prayers and would take it in turn to kneel at either mum or dads feet. "God bless mummy and daddy, nannies and granddads, aunts and uncles and all kind friends, - and teddy".
As children we were always expected to give up our seat on a bus if it was full and grown-ups standing.  Likewise, holding open doors for adults, and not just rushing in on our own, and giving way to adults in crowded areas and corridors.

Of course there were set rules for adults too.  One vivid memory of such is when there was a death.  If a hearse went by in the streets, men would ‘doff’` their hats as a sign of respect and men would always walk on the outside of the pavement if with a female. I witnessed what happened a couple of times when someone in the road where we lived had died. Curtains would be pulled shut when the funeral cortège arrived with the hearse and until that and the mourners had left. Everyone would stay indoors.  If the death was in the family it was common to wear a black armband on your sleeve. I remember my dad wearing a wide black band on the left arm of his coat. I assume this was when his mum died in the late 50’s, because it wasn’t done then to talk about such things with children.  I do remember having to spend an afternoon with a neighbour whilst mum and dad had to ‘go somewhere’ and I suppose somehow put the two and two together.
Mum and dad were not churchgoers, but on the rare occasions we did all attend I used to find it puzzling that men would be expected to take their hats off, but women were expected to wear one.

Offline peterchall

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Re: From then to Now
« Reply #20 on: July 23, 2014, 22:45:56 »
More memories resurrected – winkles for tea on Sundays, dug out with a pin. Can you still buy those anywhere? (Winkles, not pins!) Also shrimps, long before anything so posh as prawns and scampi.

I had 2 teddies. One was called ‘Teddy’ and the other one was ‘Both’. Apparently the reason being that I was asked which one I would like and, enterprising as ever, answered “Both” :)

The cinema at the bottom of Star Hill was originally the Majestic, changing to both Gaumont and Odeon, so your memory is not faulty. See:
http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/34216

Keep the posts coming :)
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

 

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