Sweets, Chocolates and Biscuits.

All children love sweet things. The fact that we didn’t have them all the time (mum was fussy about our teeth, money wasn’t plentiful, we didn’t live near any shops) made them even more of an attraction. When Nana came to live with us, she started giving us 6d each on a Saturday morning. We would either walk the mile to the village shop to buy sweets or, if Dad was working on Saturday morning, we would go in the car with him to the town and spend it there.

As well as the packets and bars, some of which are shown here, there were the large glass jars with loose sweets in which were weighed out in 4oz portions into a paper bag. If you bought 2oz, the paper bag was triangular. Some loose sweets I remember
– aniseed balls, barley sugar, Everton Mints and pineapple chunks.


T


I remember there often being a sugar mouse poking out of the top of my Christmas stocking.

The biscuits I remember being offered most often when out for tea are – Nice biscuits, those horrid pink wafer ones, custard creams, Bourbon and ginger nuts. Cadbury’s chocolate fingers were strictly for birthday parties!

Advertisements

What we Ate.

I touched on this aspect of 1950s life in my first post – The Blog Begins. This post shares some more thoughts on food in Post War Britain.

We had a much smaller range of food available to us in the fifties. Living in a backwater, we were probably a bit behind everyone else. I was 17 when I first ate a red pepper. I first came across pizza on a visit to London as a student. Cheese choices were all native – Carphilly, Cheddar, Cheshire, Red Leicester. The first exotic cheese I knew was Danish Blue.  Normal, everyday cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, Ementhal, Mozarella were yet to be discovered in Britain!

Meals in recipe books and on menus didn’t have foreign names like Stroganoff, Risotto, Tagliatelle or Bolognese. Neither did they have convoluted titles like Pan-Seared Bass with Chargrilled Vegetables and a Caramelised Onion Marmalade. Or Hand-Cut, Triple-Cooked, Seasoned Potato Chips. Chips were just chips. We had meat and two veg (roast beef dinner, roast pork dinner), one pot meals (beef casserole, lamb stew), cold meals (ham salad, corned beef salad – how often do you hear of corned beef these days?) or chip meals (egg and chips, ham and chips, fish and chips). The meals which had names were reassuringly down to earth and self-explanatory – Toad in the Hole, Hot Pot, Macaroni Cheese (the only pasta we knew, but the word pasta was unknown to us at that time).

A 1950s nutriotionist’s thoughts on an ideal family menu for a week.

A 1950s Christmas menu.

 

Recipes didn’t have colour, or any, photographs. Most didn’t even have drawings like these – just text.

 Some ‘creative’ ideas for serving Spam in the 1950s.

The other old favourite was the snack on toast – beans on toast, scrambled egg on toast, poached egg on toast, cheese on toast, sardines on toast, spaghetti on toast (tinned spaghetti, of course.)

We also ate more offal than people do now; items like liver, kidney, tripe, brawn and sweetbreads.

Food was preserved by canning, salting, pickling, bottling, drying. With the advent of freezing came the arrival of delights (to we children, anyway!) such as fish fingers. Home freezers were uncommon until the very late 60s/ early 70s so fish fingers, frozen peas and Arctic Roll (mmmmm, loved it!) were bought and eaten on the same day.

 

              

 

Fruit any more exotic than apples or bananas were bought in tins. Tinned pineapple and peaches were eaten all year round and tinned pears, strawberries and mandarin oranges when the real thing was out of season. We ate fresh peas in summer when my dad grew them but tinned or dried the rest of the year.

   This was issued during rationing – which carried on after the war until 1953.

Holidays and Travel Part 1

Reading some travel blogs recently, I thought I would look back at childhood holidays and day trips. I have mentioned travel in passing in my earlier blog Transport but this time I will be digging a bit deeper – with my bucket and spade!

Image result for kids beach wear 1950s

I flew back from Ireland last night after spending a few days with my daughter and the grandchildren. How easy, quick and affordable travel has become in the last few decades! In my childhood, family holidays were taken by road, coach or train – if you were lucky enough to have one at all. Now that I sort all my trips out on a computer, it’s hard to imagine my mum and dad planning holidays to a different part of Britain for all five of us. We didn’t return to the same place each year so new accommodation had to be found each time. Before our first telephone, this would have all been done by letter!

Image result for picnic food 1950s  Image result for 1950s uk scotch egg 

Picnics were a big part of family outings. There were no fast food outlets and most post-war families couldn’t afford to eat in cafes too often so food was taken with you.

I remember – mainly sandwiches (egg and cress, Spam or tinned ham, Shipham’s paste), peeled hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, scotch eggs. Drinks were tea in a Thermos flask and made up orange squash (I remember a brand called Quosh). There would be some pieces of home made cake after the sandwiches. I didn’t come across crisps until at least 1960 so they weren’t part of 1950s picnics.

Image result for 1950s uk thermos flask   

Driving to the coast for a holiday or a day trip often involved long traffic jams. Most beaches had little in the way of amenities, cafes and toilets often involved a walk back from the beach into the town.

In Sickness and in Health. 

People have always caught colds, measles, flu, have broken bones, grown old and had babies. So how were the 50s and 60s different?

When I was a child, you stayed in bed when you were unwell. Whether it was a cold, bronchitis, chicken pox or a stomach upset, being poorly meant staying home from school and staying in bed. The doctor was informed and visited regularly. We were five miles away from the surgery; nevertheless the highlight of a day confined to bed with spots or a temperature was the sight of old Dr Price (who probably wasn’t even old!) walking towards the house from his car. I can still remember how weak and wobbly the legs felt on the day you were first allowed to get up – just for a short while on the first day, of course!
At home mum put Germolene on cuts and grazes. I can still remember the thick, pink cream in the tin and that distinctive smell. However, if you hurt yourself at school they dabbed neat iodine directly onto the wound which was agony!!


We were given cod liver oil or cod liver oil and malt all winter which was supposed to keep colds away. There was kaolin and morphine for stomach upsets, boric acid for eye infections and camomile lotion for all skin complaints from sunburn to measles. A cough was treated with thick, brown cough mixture which always tasted vile. Our favoured brand was Hactos.

Other things I remember being talked about and used by older people such as grandparents are; gentian violet, kaolin poultices, syrup of figs and Epsom salts.

The  one great thing about being in bed poorly in the 1950s was – you were ‘allowed’ to drink Lucozade. In fact, it was practically compulsory! The thing which made it special was you weren’t ‘allowed’ to drink it at any other time. As soon as you were confined to bed with mumps or ‘flu, Lucozade would appear as if by magic. We were a mile walk from the village shop and five miles from the town but Lucozade was purchased for the poorly one – and only the poorly one! The siblings could just look and drool.

What we wore – some more thoughts and images.

First, a disclaimer.  All images used are freely available on the Internet. If, however, I have infringed copyright please inform me and the offending picture will be removed.

  

As can be seen in this photo, girls’ dresses were more or less smaller versions of what their mums wore. 



 

Notice the boy’s inevitable short back and sides with side parting.

  

A girl in my primary school had a rabbit cardigan just like this knitted in red and white.  When it became too small for her, her mum cut the sleeves above the elbow to make it bolero style. 



 

Yes, I had outfits just like this!

Puff sleeves, gingham, seersucker, Broderie Anglaise trim with ribbon threaded through, sashes tied at the back, pockets – some of the things I remember from summer dresses of the day.   



 

A pattern which could be adapted to make a day dress, a party dress, a skirt and top, all with a choice of collar styles. Notice the trousers. They weren’t common and were known as ‘slacks’. They were definitely not worn for school.

What we wore – the 1950s

The reason this post is not called ‘Fashion’ or ‘Clothes’ is because I am covering the other side of the story. When we think of clothing and fashion in the 1950s and 60s we picture Audrey Hepburn, James Dean, Marlon Brando, Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, Mary Quant and pop icons such as The Beatles. All this is well documented and easy to research. Being a child in the 50s and a teenager in the 60s, in an area a long way from the large stores, the clothes I wore tell a very different tale.

In my Primary School days I, and all my friends, wore jumpers and cardigans knitted by our mums and dresses, skirts and pinafore dresses sewn on the home sewing machine – hand operated, of course, electric sewing machines were yet to arrive in our homes.

Because most garments were hand made and washing clothes was a once a week event, usually Monday (there were no washing machines), the same jumper and skirt (in winter) or dress and cardigan(summer) would be worn for several days, if not all week, so we didn’t have a huge selection of clothes.

Boys wore grey flannel shorts winter and summer with wool socks up to the knees. A blazer, v-necked jumper or tank top was worn over a shirt and a tie.

     2637e03f3bbe5225e1ff2ed23a92703d--school-life-school-uniforms

Boys’ hair was cut ‘short back and sides’ with a side parting – no exceptions!

We wore knee-high grey or brown socks in winter, short white socks in summer – no tights or trousers, bare knees all year round!

My hair was exactly like that of the girl in blue. I longed for straight hair with a side parting and a bow, like the girl in pink, or long plaits like my friend Valerie. I was stuck with what was known as a ‘bubble cut’

I will be coming back to this topic as there is plenty to say. I will also be moving on into the 1960s and the clothes of my teenage years.

 

 

Technology

When we hear the word technology now we think of computers, mobile phones and tablets amongst other things. In the fifties, and then the sixties, new technology was emerging but at a very different level and a slower pace than today. 

In the early 1950’s, in the countryside where I grew up, electricity was established in homes but appliances were limited to lights, a cooker, a radiogram (a large wooden item of furniture housing a record player on one side and a radio on the other) and a vacuum cleaner. Our vacuum cleaner was this model and it was old in the 1950’s!

  
There was big excitement in the family upon the arrival of our first fridge. Milk could be kept fresh for longer in warm weather. Previously, my mum used to hang bottles of milk in the stream in a string bag. Best of all, there was an ice-box. Mum used to pour orange squash into the ice cube tray with a cocktail stick in each cube. Result – our first home-made iced lollies! 

The phone came next. First the lines had to be extended out as far as our house. How exciting it was to watch the workmen putting in the wires and telegraph poles! There is more about telephones in the village in my earlier post Shops and Brands Part 1. 

We didn’t have television until I was 10 in 1961.  I have covered TV in more detail in an earlier post. We had seen televisions previously a few times when staying with relatives who lived in towns but to have one of our own at last was hugely exciting. 

       

Later, in the 1960’s, we acquired a hair dryer, a hand whisk, our first portable ‘transistor’ radio,  a washing machine (a very early model with a single tub which had a heating element and was filled using a hose connected to the kitchen tap and with a mangle on the top) and a few electric fires to take the edge off cold bedrooms in winter – no central heating!