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Kathleen’s Memories of Growing up in Tottenham

I loved the Royal on the Tottenham High Road, it had a wonderful sprung floor and a revolving stage so you could have two bands performing in one evening.

Editor’s note: Kathleen was born in 1925 in Tottenham, London.  She now lives in Wallsend and took part in the Hand in Hand Reminiscence project in 2008.

One of my earliest memories is of playing ‘bride and groom’ with my friends.  My dad had an allotment and used to collect privet cuttings in a barrow.  We used these as ‘confetti’ to throw over whoever was playing the bride and groom that day.  We used old net curtains on our heads as a veil and the boys played the part of the groom.

Our family was bombed out twice during the war.  The second time I remember the big fuss was over some theatre tickets that were lost in the damage.  Fortunately, we knew our seat numbers and we were still able to get in to see the show.  The war didn’t stop us doing anything – we wouldn’t let it.  My dad was a firewatcher and we’d moved into another house after the first bombing.  He came home and saw that that house had been damaged, I think by a Parachute bomb, and he thought we were all dead.  There had been one person killed, but not from our family.  We had to move again.  The house we got following this was the one my mum ended up staying in for sixty years.

Dancing was my big passion.  A friend used to go to dancing classes and then come back to teach me the steps.  We used to do shows for old people.  One dancing class in the area was called ‘Kutie Kids’.  When I was older I used to take the man’s part because we were so short of partners.  I went to the Hammersmith Palais but didn’t like it.  I loved the Royal on the Tottenham High Road, it had a wonderful sprung floor and a revolving stage so you could have two bands performing in one evening.

I had an aunt who lived in the country, near an American air force station where dances would be held.  When I was on holiday with her, I used to go to these dances and the Yanks used to ask us out.  They used to give you their paybooks so that you had to go on the date you’d arranged, even if it was just to give the book back.

We made our own fun during the war, going to the pictures, theatre and dances.  On Sunday afternoons we’d walk round the grounds of Westminster Abbey, just for something different to do.  After the war we went to the Palladium to see people like Dorothy Squires and Charlie Kunz.

During the war I was persuaded to write to a soldier and we wrote to each other for three years, but never met.  In one of his letters he asked if we might get engaged, but I said it would be better to meet first before deciding.  He came home in 1945 and we met.  We agreed to get engaged and he met my mum and dad.  We were married in 1948 and had our reception at the Royal Dance Hall, where I’d had such good times.  He was one of the best and we had over 50 happy years together.  His brother was in the navy.  When he came home on leave he met a friend of mine and they ended up getting married too!

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