A birthday party was a big event because you were bombarded with presents.
I think parties in my day were a wonderful time. Getting and having the presents was such a thrill for a child, especially on birthdays and Christmas. The first birthday party I can remember was in a posh bungalow in Tow Law. It wasn’t until I had passed the table that I saw the whole floor was covered in carpet, (What we now call a fitted carpet). I had never seen a whole floor covered in carpet. Most people only had a square of carpet with lino surrounds. Some had ‘clippy mats’ and lino covering the floor in those days.
Back to birthdays! When I was at school a birthday party was a big event because you were bombarded with presents. My grandmother and mother would pool their rations, all my aunties would come to help with the baking and get everything ready for the party. They would bake little fairy cakes and other cakes with icing on them. They would also make pink blancmange and any other goodies that were available. I don’t know if you can still get blancmange nowadays.
We used to buy a special birthday cake from a shop in Tow Law called Lumsden’s Bakery. It was a big event to go and collect it in its big cardboard box. When you got home you would carefully untie the string and put it carefully to one side for further use (everything was scarce just after the war). When I talk to my mother and father about this, they say that string, cardboard, candles and anything else useful was carefully kept. I think that is why I am such a hoarder today. It must be a throwback from my childhood.
The cake was carefully lifted out of the box and placed on a special silver tray. It was then put to one side until later for the party. I can remember being given a new dress for my birthday, with puff sleeves and flecked across the front, also shoes to match. It was a real thrill to get a new dress.
In those days you had to behave yourselves at parties. No jumping around or bouncing off things. Not like the parties I had for my children, they were a nightmare! In my day parents never had to worry about buying things for the children to take home with them after the party. Parties in those days were a
lovely time, not like nowadays where it is so competitive, with each party giver trying to outdo the others.