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Banburyshire Family History

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go back to the last page you were on Memories of the 40s : Stepping Back


It was the smell that brought it all back. Looking now at the street it is difficult to believe that every Saturday the doorstep was coated with Cardinal Red and energetically polished. Most houses shared this ritual, excepting only those that were missing; dotted about the street like giant lost teeth. These sites were gradually being cleared, as was the brick-built communal shelter at the end of the road. According to Elsie, (number 21, 'no better than she ought to be') this had seen more activity since the war than during hostilities...

Even the pavement and gutter were regularly swept by householders. No litter problems then; perhaps an odd cigarette packet, which would be picked up as a collector's item or possible swappie. Cigarette ends themselves were harvested by 'him at 27', for subsequent recycling.

Items purchased from the corner shop had three forms of packaging. Small items in brown paper bags (triangular: they wouldn't stand up); larger items wrapped in newspapers; and everything else just tipped into the shopping bag. I'm embarrassed to admit that any change from a purchase made by me was for some reason tied into the corner of my handkerchief. This didn't happen with any other customer, and took it as a personal slight.

My particular fancy was the pyramid stack of brass weights standing beside the scales. This satisfied my sense of order. On occasion, the scales were used in the presence of an interested audience to weigh an addition to the local population. Babies seemed to come pre-packaged, and the ceremony would include distribution of chocolate pieces (-- no coupons, no questions).

One reason for an absence of litter was that not all meals were prepared at home. Attendance at the local municipal canteen was rewarded with a cooked meal. Not the most attractive perhaps, but they contained adequate amounts of what was deemed necessary by 'them as knows'. I'm convinced that the amount of food left on a plate today reflects the age of the diner.

Made from powder perhaps, but we emptied our plates.

Written by Smokey