Living in the fast world of today I wonder how many older people like myself yearn a little for the good old bad old days of the 1920s and ’30s. No television, stereo units or video recorders no disc players, telephones or vacuum cleaners. The list is endless. Some homes boasted a wireless set which whistled, hissed and crackled most of the time it was on.
A few years before World War Two my parents had our house connected to electricity and purchased a wireless set. Previously all our lighting had come from paraffin lamps hanging on the wall and a posh brass one on the table in the front room (now known as the lounge).
Monday was washday for mother. Everything went into the brick built copper situated in the corner of the kitchen / living room, then hung out to dry in the back yard (now known as the patio). No washing machines, tumble dryers or steam irons. Another corner of the kitchen was home to a small open fire with an oven to the side of it. I still wonder to this day how mother managed to cook meals on such a cooker. There was always a black kettle simmering to one side of the fire ready for making tea. The same copper in the corner would heat the water for the weekly Friday night bath in the tin bath that normally hung on the wall outside the back door next to the meat safe (now known as the fridge / freezer).
With very few cars and buses about we were able to chalk out and play hop scotch in the middle of some roads quite safely. The rivalry of the boy gangs brought a bit of bravado into our lives. The so called ‘Sluice Gang’ and the ‘Wishward Gang’ would sometimes clash in pretend fighting, nothing too vicious, until some of the parents came out and broke it up.
A picnic was an afternoon out on Leasam Hill or the field below the Cemetery which is now part of the Cemetery. We would eat our jam sandwiches (no butter) and a piece of mum’s home made cake washed down with a bottle of home made lemonade made with lemonade powder and water. Sometimes a little scrumping would take place in Mr. Dunk’s orchard, now the site of the housing in Love Lane.
Rye had a police force in those days. Us kids were taught to respect a police officer. It was a common sight then to see the bobby on the beat walking along the High Street checking the shop doors to make sure they were locked.
Saturday was the day for collecting empty jam jars from mother and relatives to take to Sutton’s Yard in Winchelsea Road. Mr. Sutton paid a halfpenny for each jar. If four pence was made it enabled us to visit the local fleapit (cinema) in Landgate for threepence and buy a penny bag of monkey nuts to eat while watching the film. Silent films were all we had so Mr. Axman the manager would thump out, on the piano, the appropriate music for the film being shown.
My first bike, bore no resemblance to a mountain bike. I bought it from a mate for half a crown which I had saved from my paper round. The trouble was he had built it up out of bits and pieces from other old bikes, the front forks were too big resulting in the cross bar sloping down towards the saddle giving it a very strange appearance. It looked strange but worked all right and gave me good service for some time.
Ah well, must sign off now, got to give the wife a hand to load the washing machine then tumble dry it. Might watch a video or listen to a tape or disc before settling down to watch television. Honestly I really do miss the 1920s and 30s.
“Rye’s Own” January 2004
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