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Childhood memories
It goes on

by Brian Dickenson (Age: 82)
copyright 07-26-2005

Age Rating: 7 +

I think that people in those days were generally fitter. Although food was not abundant, there was enough to survive on.
Overweight people were few, if they were overweight it was probably hormonal, not anything to do with over eating.

Just about everything was rationed. Everyone had a ration card. When you shopped you needed it, no card, no food or clothing.

Rationing started in 1939, the beginning of the war.
Petrol was one of the first things to be restricted. This rationing ended in May 1950, five years after the end of the war.
At the same time soap was taken off ration.
1953 saw the end of restrictions on sugar and butter.
The last items to be de-rationed were meat, mainly beef, and bacon.
This was in July 1954.

Not that there was any sort of vast improvement. Lots of things were still fairly scarce. Of course they were expensive. Ok if you could afford them, then there was no shortage.
The same applied to a lessor extent if you lived in the country. There, eggs, bacon, butter and cheese were a lot easier to come by, and most times, if you had a friendly farmer or grocer, off ration.

Town and city dweller had it the roughest. Not only were they bombed; they suffered the most from food shortages.
At the same time they were expected to work long hours in the factories doing war work, and give a hand if needed cleaning up after the bombing.
Not a pleasant thing to do. Dragging bodies from the rubble of a house must have traumatised a lot of people. If it did, you would never have known it.
The proverbial ‘stiff upper lip’ was the order of the day.
In general everyone was upbeat, they knew we would win. That Hitler’s jackbooted hordes would never conquer our island.

After 1940 Hitler gave up his planned invasion. He could not gain mastery of the air, without it he knew it was a lost cause.
As our great leader Winston Churchill said.
‘Never was so much owed by so many to so few’.
He was of course speaking about our fighter pilots, flyers, from not just Great Britain, but from all our commonwealth countries. Plus an assortment of flyers that had escaped from the countries that Hitler had overrun. They wanted to fight, if they could not do it on their home ground, they would do it from wherever they could.
Of course there were also volunteers from America. Every one of them much needed.
When you realise that the average age of these boys was about nineteen. And their life expectancy could be measured in weeks or even days. You can comprehend just what Churchill meant. They were all heroes.

Of course they could not have flown without the back-up people. The engineers and ground staff that kept the aircraft in the air.
They also suffered and died. German bombers at first were ordered to destroy our airfields. Many lives were lost in those raids.

As for us kids. We were happy as pigs in that you know what.
Summers were long and hot. Winters were long and cold.
We enjoyed it all.
Summer was a time for going into the countryside to play, and to steal apples and such.
We made our own amusement. Simple things generally. Top and whip I remember, of course endless football matches, and cricket against a lamp post in summer.
We knocked together sleds in winter and what you in the USA call box cart's, in the summer. We called them steering carts, or steeries.
One favourite game, much to the adult’s annoyance, was something we called knock and run. It’s probably a
univeral game, kids being kids. Knock on someone’s front door and run like hell.

I remember getting into trouble for bringing home a load of potatoes.
We had ‘found’ them in a farmer’s field.
I’m not sure to this day what it was that got me a hiding. Whether it was the ‘finding’ or the way I had carried them home.
I didn’t have a bag or anything like that, so had taken off my shirt, I think I had two shirts at that time. One on and one in the wash.

I had tied the arms together, buttoned it up, then filled it with the potatoes, I guess they might have been a tad muddy, but I knew we needed them.
Whatever, it didn’t really matter, we ate them that night. Boiled, with just a suggestion of butter. They tasted wonderful, all the more so because of how I had come by them.
The slapping I had was soon forgotten.

We were used to it, in those days the saying was, ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’.
I know this is not PC of me, but I think it worked.
Especially when I look at the modern generation of lost kids.
Lost because in general they have no rules to live bay.

To give you an idea of the food intake for an adult in those days I have actually done some research. My memories not bad, but I could not remember amounts.

This is for an adult.

Butter; 2 oz per week.
Sugar; 8 oz per week
Cheese 2 oz per week.
Jam (US jelly) lb every two months
Bacon and ham 4 oz per week
Meat, to the value one shilling and sixpence per week. That was about three or four of US pennies, I think.
Eggs; one per week
Dried egg, I think American, 1 packet every four weeks.

I remember it made great omelette's and cakes. But only if you could get the flour, and of course, your precious butter and sugar ration.
So we did not eat many cakes. Usually only at birthdays.

Margarine 4 oz per week. My father hated it. It was nothing like today’s version. More like his description.
He called it axle grease.

Milk 3 pints, or depending on supply, 2 pints.

Tea, so beloved of the British, 2 oz per week. I think if anything ensured Hitler’s ultimate defeat, it was trying to destroy our tea supply.

( We fell out with our then colony, America, because of tea and taxes. This one for Debra Rose, lol.)

Sweets, or what laughingly passed for them. 12 oz every four weeks, yes kiddies EVERY FOUR WEEKS.
That I think is why we kept our teeth in those days.

The days turned into weeks, the week into years. Time, and life, carried on.
The air raids had stopped. The news was good.
More importantly, I would soon be nine years old.

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        07-16-2006     Brian Dickenson        

Yes BJ we did that with dog
Also we would tie a string to a tin full of the stuff, attach it to the door knocker, then balance it above the front door.
You can imagine the result when the poor occupant opened his door.
Not very nice, but we thought it fun at the time.

        07-15-2006     BJ Niktabe        

Hmmmm...knock and run. I never knew it had a name! A slight variation that the older kids had was to put something nasty in a bag (dog feces), light it on fire, then knock and run! Was that version universal, also? LOL

My father fought in the war. I remember seeing some of his souvenirs. By the time I was born (sixth child of six), his stories of the war were
not talked of. I now wish I had questioned him before he passed away.

The rationing, that sounds like that would have been difficult for a mother to deal with, but then, I guess after the length of time it went on, it would become natural after a while.

Thanks for the story.


        08-15-2005     Shannon Walter        

this chapter is really really interesting

        08-14-2005     Robert Betts        

I can remember margarine in the '50's in America. It was white in color and tasted awful. It was nothing like butter which it was supposed to imitate. A yellow coloring was provided with it but you had to mix that in yourself... Was that to be sure it was never sold as butter? As if anyone wouldn't know from the taste.

        07-27-2005     Debra Rose        

WOOT! that you have fixed, I give you points.

And bad, BAD coffee for you. It's bad. Which I know. Because I am a coffee ADDICT :( LOL (I just drank a cup. Can you tell?)

        07-27-2005     Jean George        

This is another great chapter of your childhood. I am learning a great many fascinating things while at the same time being highly entertained by your youngster antics. This is so marvelous....I didn't find any misspellings, just the UK spelling variations of a few words, the only thing I question is 'lamp poet', did you mean lamp post?

        07-26-2005     Brian Dickenson        

I must admit, I never drink tea, can't stand the stuff.
Coffee, strong black and no sugar, is my drink,,lol.

        07-26-2005     Debra Rose        

Tea, so beloved of the British, 2 oz per week. I think if anything ensured Hitler’s ultimate defeat, it was trying to destroy our tea supply.

LMAO. Yah...I think that's what pretty much made the British PO'd with early America...the Boston Tea Party (where American's chucked the tea into the ocean).

Another thing we tried not to be like you all in...we drink coffee now. LOL

I can't wait for the next chapter of this to come out...I think this one needs a bit of proof reading (just for spelling errors...couldn't point 'em out if you asked) but if you correct them, I will give you a five :) If you don't want to, drop me a line, and I'll give you the four. Till then! :) I can't wait to see the part where you're nine!

And it's so amazing you had such a great time amidst all the fighting.

In the end...childhood prevails...

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