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Banburyshire Family History

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go back to the last page you were on Memories of the 40s -Magic Times!

Muriel Wells

Joe, you transported me to that time in our past that always seem to have been surrounded by a golden glow! Oh, happy days! (A Magical World)

Did the sun always shine? It seemed to, although I remember a severe thunderstorm in the summer of 1937 in which a torrential downpour flooded the area where Silverton Road joined Crabmill Lane.

I had been up at Grandma Lucas's for the day to keep our house quiet as my sister was suffering from a severe attack of measles. I arrived home after this spectacular storm to find dogs swimming near to my home---and it was itself unfamiliar, being dim and gloomy as the curtains were drawn. The patient was experiencing the extreme sensitivity to light, which may accompany the disease.

But on the whole the summer days were hot and sunny, with cotton frocks coming out to co-incide with Sunday School festivities and the Whit Walk.

Unfortunately Paradise, (yes, that really was its name!), didn't have any little fields and waste areas close to my home, so is it any wonder that the canal drew so many small folk to play on the towpath and scramble up and down the steep banks where it was lower than the surrounding roads and habitations? The mirror calm waters frightened me as I could feel their magnetic draw---and I was a non-swimmer!

My sister and her friends had no such inhibitions and I was forever dragging her onto an area of "terra, very firma", before our mother found out! I had a hard time of it as she had no fears and was very daring. Up and down they would race, or chase along the path, inches from a potentially watery grave! I "died a thousand deaths" on their behalf, but I am glad to say they came to no harm.

Our games had, perforce, to take place in the streets and entries of our neighbourhood. Maybe you would be passing by as we issued forth from a back entry dressed in an assortment of cast off adult clothing, clopping along in shoes miles too big, as we enacted one of life's dramas---weddings were a favourite! Refreshment was partaken by many, seated on the curbside with feet in the gutter----- dripping and HP sauce was a favourite of the Ludford girls. Sadly our pleas were unheeded and Joyce and I were never given this gourmet fare---or allowed to sit and eat on the roadside.

The only safe patch of grass within cooee was a tiny pocket- handkerchief of a park, on the Stoney Stanton Road next to the Navigation Bridge. The grass was mostly worn off, and it boasted a few swings, a see-saw, a merry-go-round and a sandpit. It was here that my sister nearly severed her little toe on a concealed spade, necessitating a rapid return home, leaving a bloody trail to mark our passage!

Further away was Foleshill recreation ground, a useful sized area much frequented by us. Edgewick Junior School used this area, for playing field activities too. On one memorable day---memorable because I ended up with a very sore bottom, and no tea, we walked there to play! I was pushing little Roy in a pushchair. The others scampered off to the swings and roundabouts, and I was left to stand and watch. Eventually tiring of this I asked my sister to mind the pushchair so that I could have a swing. Imagine my horror, when having "worked" myself up I found myself heading for my small toddler brother! Because he had bawled my sister had let him out of the pushchair! Bang---that was Roy bowled over! Imagine my shock and fright! I was convinced that I had killed him. He was bleeding copiously from a cut under his chin so we all raced home as fast as we could go. I pushed past a neighbour who was intent on stopping our progress---and it was this that earned me my punishment! Luckily the wound wasn't as bad as it appeared once the blood was removed.

Mum was a country lover and did make time to take us on picnics, prewar, with me walking and Joyce in the pushchair. The distance was only a mile or two, but in those days fields were not too far away and there were also small rural pockets trapped within the suburbs. One was the Black Pad, which was reached from Lockhurst Lane via a broad alley. Traversing this we saw machinery as we passed open factory doors and the ground trembled from the reverberating crash of the Drop Hammer. Then to cross the railway line by the lattice iron footbridge---and there was the green space as far a we could see.

Here we raced around, picked daisies, dandelions; and with the buttercups tested ourselves to see who liked butter! Sticky and hot we called at Grandma's on our way home clutching our rapidly wilting bouquets. Our picnic repast always included some of Mum's little fruit buns made from a Bero Flour recipe and homemade cordial.

A longer walk, in a different direction took us to the Miller's Brook, and as the back of Courthouse Green was still real country, this was a delightful experience. It was very popular with the locals. Like all children we loved fishing for tiddlers, collecting frogspawn and finding tasselly hazel catkins or furry pussy willow ones in season. This was the era when the Rag and Bone man came around the houses and in exchange for cast-off clothes (rags), we were given a goldfish. Poor things didn't last long if the household had nothing larger than a jam jar. The same fate awaited the tiddlers! Frog Spawn seemed hardier, and a few attained agility and release! Sadly our sylvan retreats are now lost forever, as the city expanded.

In the 40s we were old enough to take ourselves further afield and had delightful times in the Bluebell Woods or adventures on the red rocky outcrop of Corley Rocks. Magic times! Thinking about it all, it is remarkable that we were all so safe and no-one worried about us for hours. Traffic was less dense to be sure, but stranger-danger still had to be invented.

Joe, I do envy you your green haven in which your imagination could run riot. Still, having only the streets didn't hamper out imaginations or our games. I clearly remember running down Silverton Road one day, returning from the Saturday Children's session at the Carlton. It had been a Tarzan film and in my mind I was freely swinging from the trees on a length of liana! Amusing ---given that I never showed any gymnastic prowess and couldn't climb or stay on a rope, in gym a few years later! Infact I think that it was "monkeys" like me who led the way down from the trees and so advanced "man" along the road to civilisation. Not because of superior brainpower and reasoning, but simply because they couldn't manage to stay up there!

Written by Muriel Wells