The Good Old Days:
Lest anyone be taken in by the phrase ‘the good old days’, then let me assure you that ‘good’ was the last word to describe them. 90% of those in the area where we existed must have been on the bread line, and even then our bread was decidedly stale.
Industrially, the picture was bleak, and we’d hear harrowing tales, perhaps a ‘hodge pot’ of different stories, of lines of unemployed men and women being subjected to an auction type bidding process for any vacancy. The Boss or Foreman would come out and address the poorly clad, often hungry applicants thus:
‘I need a packer! Who among you is a packer by trade?’
Hands would shoot up whilst eyes, dull with lost hope from years of the most appalling and grinding poverty after those terrible years spent in the trenches of France and Belgium, would light up with renewed hope.
1 Morton Road, Leicester
Ronnie and I were standing in our front garden, every now and again getting out of the way of the men who were helping the old man carry furniture out of our house and put it into a van.
Ronnie was about eight; I was six.
Maisie was in the house. I knew that as I could hear her raised voice. She was shouting something at the old man. Young as I was I knew something was wrong, very wrong. I remember thinking mam would know what to do but she was at work; so was ‘our Teddy’. I didn’t know where Mabel was but she certainly wasn’t at home because the men had just put her bed in the van. Chairs, tables, linoleum and rugs - I wanted to ask but daren’t.
Looking at Ron’s face I knew he was near to tears, so was I, but I didn’t know why. The van was nearly loaded with our home. I started to cry and the old man gave me and Ronny a penny but it didn’t placate us. He told us to be quiet and looked furtively up and down the street.
Window curtains around the houses were beginning to twitch; we were being watched. We gripped the pennies tightly. We didn’t know it then but it really was ‘hush money’, our pay-off, all that our lives and future was to become, a penny, whilst he took away our home and the roof over our heads, leaving us defenceless. Judas sold a man for 30 pieces of silver; my family, less the old man, went for tuppence.