Keeping Clean

I was cleaning yesterday and, as I rummaged through my cleaning cupboard, looking through my vast array of sprays, wipes and cloths, it occurred to me that this is yet another way in which life has changed immeasurably since the 1950s. I’m calling this post ‘Keeping Clean’ because I’m looking at household products and toiletries.

I have often mused on the fact that everything is branded nowadays. We don’t just have milk, distributed by our local farm or dairy. We have the choice of branded milks – Cravendale, Arla, Dairy Crest. Water doesn’t only come out of taps, we can choose Evian, Volvic, Buxton, etc etc. In my childhood, dusters, dishcloths and floor cloths were unbranded and bought in a local hardware shop. Dusters were always yellow and square, floor and dish cloths were white cotton and sold in a roll to be cut into handy lengths.In our house, floor cloths were always recycled old vests discarded by the family when too small or worn. Everyone wore vests then, they were always white cotton and made ideal cleaning cloths. We now have a bewildering assortment of wipes and cloths to choose from – J-cloths, many brands of sponge and microfibre cloths, and even branded dusters e.g Swiffer!

Cleaning products tell the same story. In the very olden days, people used generic substances like carbolic soap, beeswax and bicarb. In the 1950s there were brands to choose from but far fewer than now. People had brand loyalty too. My Mum preferred Daz washing powder, other households used Omo or Persil. I remember Mansion Polish, too and Dura-Glit for cleaning brass. There was no fabric conditioner so, although I don’t remember thinking this at all, towels must have been hard and scratchy after being dried out on the line.

In the world of toiletries, too, there were fewer brands. We always had Gibbs SR toothpaste and Lux soap, some preferred Imperial Leather, Pears, Colgate or, from the early 60s, Signal. What did the SR in Gibbs SR stand for, by the way? Dry skin was moisturised with Nivea or Ponds. There was no such thing as hair conditioner then and getting a comb or a brush through wet hair after washing was a nightmare, especially long or curly hair.

Leibster Award questions

These are the questions Life Lessons, Scribbles and Musings put to me, and my answers:

If you could meet one famous person, who would it be?
I would like to meet (but would not enjoy meeting) Adolf Hitler just to ask him – Why? What for? Do you feel any regret? Can I explain to you, in everyday terms, why what you did was so very wrong?
If you could time-travel, what time period would you like to visit?
I would like to see what it was like to live in a much earlier civilisation such as the Anglo-Saxon or Viking age in Britain.
What would your ideal day consist of?
A morning walk or run, time spent reading and writing, meeting a friend for a catch-up or a visit to a museum, real or virtual contact with my daughters and grandchildren, food cooked for me and music, live or recorded, in the evening.
What is the simplest thing that makes you smile?
A hug from one of my grandchildren.
How many times have you fallen in love?
Many times because I include the love which comes with the birth of children and grandchildren as well as romantic love.
What would be your dream job?
I wanted to be an archaeologist from a very young age. I took a different career path but it still seems like the perfect job to me and I’d love to give it a try.
Who do you look up to or who inspires you?
My friend Trevor who is one of the most fun, creative, loving, caring, intelligent and positive people I have ever met, and who has overcome more obstacles than anyone else I know.
What is your favorite season and why?
Spring. It’s the ever hopeful season heralding the end of winter and our first glimpses of summer.
What book(s) can you read over and over again?
I rarely re-read books but I have revisited Maus by Art Spiegelman several times. We must never forget the Holocaust and this book tells the story exactly as it was, in all its horror, but through a graphic novel.
Android or iPhone….which goes nicely with PC or Mac?
As long as they all work reliably and do what I want them to do, I don’t mind.
What is your all time favorite food?
My daughter’s Parmigiana which is sublime.

Here are some questions for my nominees.

If you could meet one famous person, dead or alive, who would it be?
What question would you most like to ask
Where in the world would you like to visit for the first time?
What is the simplest thing that makes you smile?
What was the last book you read?
What would be your dream job?
Who do you look up to or who inspires you?
What is your favourite month and why?
What makes you angry?
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself.
When and where were you happiest?

New blog post on the 50s and 60s coming later today.

Holidays and Travel Part 2

Two of my daughters and their three small children have been staying here this summer and have now returned home. This means I have time to get back to other things like writing this blog. Thinking about all the travelling done by our family when we visit each other has prompted me to revisit holidays and travel in the 50s and 60s.

As well as our annual family holiday and weekend visits to grandparents, we children had two other exciting days out to look forward to each year. One was the village outing and the other was the Sunday School trip. Both were arranged in a similar way and the same people went on the two trips – apart from the fact that the vicar only joined us on the Sunday School outing, not the village one.

A coach was booked and would be ready and waiting outside the village shop at 8am. Our local coach firm was Thomas Bros who also ran the school bus service.

   The photograph is not a Thomas Bros one but our coaches looked like this.

We always went to either Porthcawl or Barry Island. Or perhaps they are the two I liked best as they had permanent funfairs as well as beaches! All food for the whole day was packed up and taken with us, including flasks of drinks. The most we ever bought to eat whilst there was an ice-cream. There were not as many food outlets in those days and people didn’t have the money to buy cafe food all day for a whole family.

         Barry Island beach and fair.


Porthcawl beach and the funfair which was called Coney Beach.

So, a coach containing a whole village of mums and children and laden with bags of beachwear and food would set off for a day at the seaside. It was almost unbearably exciting. I’m sure it was terribly hard work for my mum! We sang songs on coaches and in cars in those days. These were not songs from the radio but songs which just seemed to be sung when travelling – many of them Welsh. Oes Gafr Eto? was one of my favourites. Crawshay Bailey was another one and I recently found out that the character in the song was a real person! He was was an English industrialist who became one of the great iron-masters of Wales in Victorian times.

At some point in the day we would walk into the town from the beach and funfair area. As we lived way out in the countryside, this was every bit as exciting as the sand and the rides. We would go to Woollies (F W Woolworth) and be in seventh heaven choosing pick and mix, cheap jewellery or toys to spend our pocket money on.

This is a 1950s Woollies – not necessarily one I’ve been in.

Advertisements for pic'n'mix sweets at Woolworths in 1938 - featuring Milady Toffees and QQQ Liquorice Allsorts I only ever saw Milady toffees in Woolworth’s.

As we sang and dozed our way back in the coach we were happy, sometimes sunburned – nobody knew much about sun protection then – and tired. It was always a Saturday. My dad would have had a whole day uninterrupted in his beloved garden.

This photograph is not a Thomas Bros one but our coaches looked like this.

This Blog has been nominated for the Leibster Award!

This blog has been nominated for the Leibster Award! It was nominated by Susan Gutterman Musin’ with Susan
Many thanks, Susan. Keep up the fantastic blog.

The Liebster Award is an online award given to new, or undiscovered, bloggers by other bloggers.

Rules for the Liebster Award:

Once you are nominated:

Make a post thanking and linking the person who nominated you.
Include the Liebster Award sticker in the post too.
Nominate 5 -10 other bloggers who you feel are worthy of this award. Let them know they have been nominated by commenting on one of their posts. You can also nominate the person who nominated you.
Ensure all of these bloggers have less than 200 followers.
Answer the eleven questions asked to you by the person who nominated you, and make eleven questions of your own for your nominees or you may use the same questions.
Lastly, COPY these rules in the post.

I would like to nominate the following bloggers.

Diane, Hometogo232

Bisimodupe1975 at Femininematerz

Claremary, Around ZuZu’s Barn

Afternoon of Sundries


Gertie’s Journey

Musin With Susan

I am so new to all this, I don’t know how to check how many followers they have. I’ve nominated them because I have enjoyed their blogs and because some of them have given me positive comments and words of encouragement in my early days of blogging, for which I’m very grateful.

Check them out!

More 50s and 60s posts later today!

Babies in the 1950s.

I have been out of circulation for a week as I have been visiting a daughter who has just had her first baby. With babies in mind, I have decided to post about 1950s babies and what they wore, how they were cared for, their prams and pushchairs etc.

Most baby clothes were hand sewn or knitted in the 50s, few people could afford to buy everything in the shops. There were no baby grows, so for warmth they wore knitted leggings as well as cardigans and hats and bootees on their feet. Baby girls’ hats were called bonnets, baby boys’ knitted hats were known as helmets.

The girls wore dresses – most had hand smocking on them – and boys wore rompers or romper suits.

Baby colours were mostly white, pink for girls, blue for boys but lemon and pale green were acceptable for both which was useful when knitting during pregnancy.

Nappies were towelling, fastened with enormous nappy pins and covered with rubber (later plastic) pants.

There were no buggies. Prams were huge and metal-bodied and did not come off the wheels. Pushchairs, too, were large and solid and not very transportable. For mobility, parents used a carry-cot which was smaller, lightweight and had folding wheels. A baby could, therefore, be taken in a car lying in its carry-cot, the wheels folded up in the boot.