The boys always seemed to be rolling about on the ground wrestling or playing football.
My favourite game when I was a child was Skipping. Sometimes there would just be 3 or 4 of us. But sometimes all the children who lived in the street came along, girls and boys too. We each in turn would borrow our mothers’ clothes line. Mothers didn‘t like this too much, as the constant turning rope got worn away when hitting the ground. Sometimes there would be about 11 or 12 children skipping all at once. It was great fun and when I think about it, I am sure it kept us fit and healthy.
We also used to play what we called Bays or Hop Scotch. We drew a set of squares with chalk on the pavement and each of us in turn would then throw a stone or a piece of slate, which would hopefully land in one of the squares. Then we would hop from one square to another on one leg and when we got to the square where the piece of slate or stone had landed, we had to bend pick it up still standing on one leg and return to the beginning, in the same way on one leg. This used to cause a lot of laughter. When we finished, we had to clean the chalk marks off the pavement. Our mothers insisted on this.
Apart from these games, we girls would play shops using tins of stuff out of our mothers’ pantry as stock. There were never many tins of stuff in pantries then, as our mothers used to cook and bake all our food. So we made use of whatever we could find and use buttons as money.
The boys always seemed to be rolling about on the ground wrestling or playing football, which they had to stop when the ragman came down the street, when there would be a mad dash into the house to see if mam had any rags, so we could get a goldfish off the man. The poor goldfish didn’t live very long. I don’t suppose we would either if we were stuck in a jam jar all the time. There mustn’t have been an RSPCA in those days. I had never thought of that before.
In the dark evenings or if it was raining, I had my dolls. Dad had made a dolls house for me, which mum decorated and I got furniture and stuff for Christmas. Wonder what happened to that doll’s house? All in all, we managed to have a happy childhood. My brother and most of the lads had either a Meccano Set or a railway set. We didn’t all have these things, so we shared what we had.
There were other little games which came along at different times throughout the year such as Top and Whip or Roller Skating, if anybody was lucky enough to have a pair of Roller Skates. Each winter, out would come the Sledges and, as the street we lived on had quite a gentle slope, it was great.
I remember boys used to make what they called a Bogie. This was made out of some flat pieces of wood to sit on and four wheels off some old pram and they fixed the wheels so that they could be turned to the left or right, whenever they wanted to turn a corner.
Children were ingenious in those days. We didn’t have much but I truly believe that our childhood may have been tough, but for those of us who did not suffer from the diseases and malnutrition of those days, we were fortunate.
I am talking about life 80 years ago. I am 86 years old and my childhood is still fresh in my mind as it was then.
Kitty Brightwell 2009