JD23 – John Denison, 1926 – 1939.
|Title||My Childhood Memories|
|Date||1926 – 1939|
|Written By||John Denison|
|Comment||“Sunday morning was usually reserved for other things.”|
My Childhood memories – 1926 – 1939
Mam was religious quite the opposite to Dad even receiving regular visits from the Rev. Tindall.
At her insistence we were called upon to attend Sunday School which took place in the church institute afterwards taking the short walk to St Andrews for the morning service.
I did not enjoy Sunday School but, on the way home, liked going to see Mr Jackson leading The Old Brass Band in practice in a small room up some stone stairs.
It was most surprising how they all fitted into that small room and the noise was terrific.
Mother did not always go to the morning service and so I dreamt up a ploy by which my sister and I could occasionally skip attendance. It was most surprising how they all fitted into that small room and the noise was terrific.
Mother did not always go to the morning service and so I dreamt up a ploy by which my sister and I could occasionally skip attendance. We each had a card which was stamped with a kind of star to show our attendance, from this it would be decided if you qualified for a book prize at the end of the year.
I got hold of a piece of hard rubber and made my own star stamp which produced a most satisfactory result.
The penny given for the church collection was then put into a chewing gum machine.
One had to be careful about which since they delivered an extra pack every four turns so you had to look for one with a scratched mark which denoted it was about to deliver the extra pack.
Whilst being truants we would skulk around places where we would be unlikely to be seen by anyone who knew us, one such location was Kirk Lane Park which was never visited at any other time.
It was quite scary ensuring that we were not spotted but once we ventured into the High Street which was deserted where I became an undetected criminal.
JD22 – John Denison, 1926 -1939.
I owned a magnifying glass which I concentrated on a blind of the Rawdon Co-op, a smouldering hole appeared which started to spread so we quickly did a bunk.
I trust that my confession is well covered by the statue of limitations!
Later there was a report in the local newspaper that the manager, Mr Irwin Firth who lived just up our road was called out.
Apparently the fire was restricted to the blind only although it was said it was a mystery how the fire started.
I kept quiet.
“Eventually I was caught out, I think Mr Wood who was a manager at Green Lane in addition to being a Sunday School teacher remarked to my Dad that my absences had been noted.
Knowing that we had been dispatched every Sunday I was taken into the cellar, an unusual event, to explain upon which I had to confess.
I think the worst accusation made was why I had led my young sister into the exploit, I was duly punished.
I fear that I had something of the arsonist in my make-up as I would get matches, go into the field, set a fire the watch the expanding flames beating it out as necessary.
One day the tall grass must have been extra dry so that the fire became out of control.
Frightened almost to death I ran home and told Mam I was going to bed but I think the smell of the fire was on my clothes so that Dad and others had to hurry off to quell the flames.
Whilst on the subject of the church, the annual Whitsuntide Walk took place when we would be taken to join the other participants in singing hymns outside the houses of those too old or infirm to attend church.
We were accompanied by a small bellow-operated wheeled organ which was trundled around.
A Non-church thing was the performance of the Messiah at the Town Hall, this really was Dads ‘thing’.
Also at the same venue we attended the always very moving Remembrance Ceremony.
Dad was, for many years a member of the Operatic Society later becoming Floor Manager, so we would be taken to see light opera performances such as The Desert Song, The Student Prince. No No Nanette and so on.
At home Dad would play the score on the piano, although he read music, he could do this just ‘by ear.’
Also at the Town Hall was the annual pantomime where I particularly remember the performance of Big and Little Joe Long, the latter was a very popular comedian.
The Temperance Hall also had a panto but I don’t think we ever attended this.
The ‘Temp’ was a cinema for the rest of the year but it was generally considered inferior to the New Picture House in the High Street.
It did have one advantage in that, on the far side of the square, opposite the Oddfellows Inn, in Well Hill, was a place where one could get most wonderful brown peas very cheap.
The “New” ran a show for kids on a Saturday morning with an entrance fee of, I think, tuppence (2d).
I have heard that entry included a gift of an orange.
I don’t recall this tho’ the stalls were often bombarded by something from the balcony which might have been peel.
The shows would be cowboy films, Buck Rogers (space), and maybe Tarzan.
We had our own shows in the cellar with a Magic Lantern, many of the slides were from around 1900 mainly from around Patley Bridge area but also included a few from Yeadon and Bramhope.
I now speak in the present tense as I still have these slides for which I must find a new ‘home’ before they end up in the skip. (*note: since writing this piece John has donated the slides to AHS and we are arranging collection)
We also had a simple hand-wound 35mm projector with mainly early comedy films, this machine also the Lantern later ‘expired’ and everything went to the tip.
Between our terrace and South View is a ‘ginnel’.
In the morning, noon and evening it would be used by children from East View and The Grange going to school.
Earlier and later there would be a stream of people going off to work at William Murgatroyd (Billy Murgs).
You did not need to ask if they worked at Billies, the smell emanating from their overalls was powerful and distinctive.
For some reason ‘overlookers’ often came from Scotland.
I did not always have the attic to myself, we took in lodgers, the first two, separately, came from Galashiels.
The income was a great help to Mam when Dad was on ‘short time’ but of course it caused her extra work.
Both worked at Billy Murg’s which meant that their excessively smelly overalls had to be washed apart from other washing.
They took their overalls off as soon as they entered the house depositing them in the cellar.
The attic stretched the whole width of the house and so would take two medium size beds easily plus a wardrobe and chest of drawers.
I rather think that these days, Health and Safety would take a dim view of older males sharing with a young boy.
Anyway, having lodgers went on from the early 30’s until the end of the war.
The two Scots were followed by a chap who came to help build the AVRO factory.
There was also Tom Sherry and Harry Swift, the first married, lived further up Rockville for quite some time before returning to Canada.
Harry was a bit of a problem to live with because of his continuous coughing brought on by being gassed in WW1.
Nevertheless he had a long life settling in Yeadon where, in later years, I would often see him in the Clothiers.
A major event in the Yeadon calendar was the annual carnival parade with many decorated floats but these were not attractive to me.
One of the walking performers was my favourite, he paraded eating an extra large oven bottom cake, I always wondered how many he consumed since he was definitely not pretending to eat them.
My real love, the ‘tommy-talker’ bands as we called them, who paraded in costume playing the Kazoos.
Parts of the parade then departed for the Swan cricket ground where the bands were judged on their dress and performance.
There was also the crowning of a young girl as Rose Queen.
Next it was off to the Dam field where Yeadon Brass Band would be playing away in the square wooden bandstand.
Here, whilst an ox was being roasted on a very large spit, men in swimming trunks attempted to climb the ‘greasy pole’ or bashed away at each other in a ‘pillow fight’ to knock the opponent of their perch on a horizontal pole.
Something heavier than a pillow was used, both events causing much hilarity.
A swimming race was also held up the Dam and back.
A trip to Leeds, usually to buy clothes, was quite an event taking in Lewis’s store, Kirkgate Market, Vicar Lane outside market and Briggate with its arcades, a must was that we had to be taken to see the figures striking the bell in Thornton Arcade.
In later years we would travel by West Yorkshire bus from Albert Square, my sister and I always heading straight for the front seats upstairs.
Earlier, when quite small, taking the tram which ran from Guiseley was cheaper but slower and a more bumpy experience.
The day out would have been very tiring for Kath and I so that the motion of the tram would send us off to sleep to be woken by the conductor giving a double ‘ding’ and shouting Henshaw Lane.
We would them begin the long climb for little legs up the hill to upper Yeadon.