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Childhood memories
I am nine

by Brian Dickenson (Age: 82)
copyright 08-15-2005

Age Rating: 7 +

I had just had my ninth birthday. It was February, and it was cold. The snow was only inches deep, apart from where it had drifted. I hated it. I detested the chapped legs, the chilblains and my constantly runny nose. Handkerchiefs were none existent, a piece of towel or a rag of some description was all we had. That or your coat sleeve.

Of course the kids were out in force having snowball fights, building snowmen, or just sliding along on home made sleds.
I did not want to go out there. However, I was the leader of my own small gang, so I had no option, I had to show willing.

My sister, who was six years older than I, thought to help me stay warm by making me a hat. Not the thing to wear.
She made one by stitching an old woollen scarf together for about half its length. She placed it on my head and secured it by tying the ends under my chin.

It was only when I went outside, and the other kids started laughing that I realised that it did not look good.
In fact as one of them said, I looked like a garden gnome. He was of course only saying what everyone else was thinking, unfortunately, he said it. As a way of thanking him for his opinion I smacked him in the nose. I still remember how red his blood was on the snow.

One of the worst things about snow is it turns to slush. Slush is very wet stuff. In those days we did not posses rubber boots, or as they were called then, Wellingtons. I think they were named after the famous duke of that name, but I digress.

Consequently our feet quickly became soaked, and very cold, hence the chilblains, a most painful thing.
We used to wrap cardboard around our ankles trying to keep some of the slush out. It was not very successful. The cardboard quickly became soggy and fell apart. We would leave a trail of cardboard pieces wherever we went.

To try and stay warm we made something we called ‘winter warmers’.
These consisted of an empty tin can, usually an old bean tin. A staple diet in those days.
We would punch holes in the tin with an old nail, attach a long wire handle to the tin, fill it with wood or maybe small pieces of coal we had acquired. Then light the contents.
Swinging it around at arms length soon had a mini bonfire going. They actually were quite efficient little heaters. The down side was that occasionally the wire handle would break. When this happened it was like a rocket trailing flame behind as it flew though the air.
Of course, we were boys. Therefore some of the accidents were deliberate. How we never burned anything down is beyond belief.

Something that I will never forget was the open fire in the living room grate. It was a huge black iron affair, complete with an oven, and places to put the pans to cook. It was so big that I used to climb up on the pan side of it, when it wasn’t to hot of course. The sheer bliss of the heat thawing my bones was beyond description.
The iron oven plates were removable, mother would get them out hot, wrap them in old coats or similar, the put them into our beds. A crude but efficient hot water bottle. Of course you had to take them out before you fell asleep, if you forgot, you would certainly remember the first time you rolled onto or kicked one in your sleep.

Our school was Church of England, as were the pupils, not that we were particularly religious, in fact for the most part we were little heathens.
Across the road was a Catholic school.
In those days in Liverpool, religion was a thing people fought over. I do mean fought. Especially on what was called Orange Lodge Day.
This was when the Protestants walked through the main streets of the city, complete with banners and flags depicting King Billy, better know as William of Orange.
They were on their way to the train station, for the day out at the seaside.
The Catholics would line the roads, jeering and name calling, that was not bad. It was hours later when the day-trippers returned that the fighting would start, all fuelled by the vast quantities of the booze both sides had consumed.

Of course we kids were not to be outdone, we would fight the Catholic kids on a daily basis. In winter it would start with snowball fights. The watching teachers from both schools considered this harmless.
. It was only when the blood started flowing that the teachers realised that something was not quite right.
We were moulding the snow around stones. They did smart when one hit you.

The winter seemed never ending, but as it always does, it ended.
Spring arrived. I was overjoyed.

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        07-15-2006     BJ Niktabe        

Isn't it amazing how we, as kids, could find so many things to do to occupy our time, since we didn't have video games, the internet, cable/satellite TV, cell phones, malls, and so on, and so on... Yet were we ever bored? Only when it rained!

My brother and I could play in the snow for hours at a time. We built forts, snowmen, plowed 'roads' in the back yard with our snow shovels. Ahhhh, the memories! *sigh*

        11-26-2005     Sammy Anderson        

Oh my... how did you survive without the internet or other technologies?! (Just kidding)

I love reading about how you got to experience the war. My grandfather served in WWII, and you hear many stories on the battlefield. Not many are heard from a child's point of view. I also like he part with the mini warmers. Even in war you can find something to bring up one's spirits!

What I like most about hearing these stories is that I can compare them to how other countries were dealing with the war.

        09-13-2005     Debra Rose        

It seems like the winters were utterly space heaters or golloshes for you! I can't imagine how cold it must have been...I remember when I went up to Minnesotta...I spent three years there one winter month (or so it seemed like three years), and I remember stepping out into negative ten or twenty degree weather (farenheit) and I felt like I was going to die. I'm from a desert, where the summers are in the hundreds, and the winters are anywhere from only forty to sixty degrees.

I hope you update this soon!

        08-31-2005     Jean George        

Thank you for continuing, I am really glad you chose to. It is fascinating to read about the roots of today's society through the eyes of yesterday's children. The hints and glimpses of the post WWII daily life of a member of the "Greatest Generation" make me wonder how today's generations would fare in the same situations. Hopefully we have learned something from the past and if we have it is because people like you keep the past alive for us...Thank you, this was incredibly interesting, funny and sad all at the same time and very thought-provoking. You are planting your seeds of thought very well, my friend...Jean

        08-17-2005     Anthony Lane Stahlhut        

Your stories are a great look at how life changes.
I often feel sad for my grandchildren for these days children have to grow up much faster and don't get the chance to have as much fun! Thanks for letting us experience these great memories, they take me back to a time with less stress! Anthony

        08-15-2005     Shannon Walter        

this is really interesting!

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