Where did they go?

Recently I was reading with some children in school. The book was Michael Morpurgo’s Butterfly Lion (brilliant writer, fantastic book!). Chapter One is called Chilblains and Semolina Pudding. Before doing any reading, I had to explain the two things to the children. I know people do get chilblains and you could, if you wanted to, buy semolina and make a pudding with it. Yet as far as the kids of today are concerned they are unheard of. We were very familiar with both in the 1950s. I suffered from chilblains every winter and semolina pudding was a regular (if rather unpleasant) feature of school dinners. This started me thinking of other things which were part of our lives as we grew up which today’s children have no knowledge of.

I will start with food. Semolina pudding had several relatives in the milk pudding family. I think rice pudding is the only one which has survived into the 21st century in the UK – and even that isn’t very common. The others were macaroni (yes, pasta in a dessert!), ground rice, sago and tapioca (nicknamed frogspawn – the reason for this can be seen in the photo).







With the advent of ice-cream, mousses and brands like Angel Delight, the traditional dessert blancmange has disappeared from the face of the earth. It was a milk-based, coloured and flavoured dessert thickened with cornflour and set in a mould. It was often served with jelly. For our birthday parties when we were little my mum used to make a rabbit-shaped blancmange and surround it with chopped up green jelly.

         Mum had a rabbit jelly mould like this.

A warm drink in the evening was also largely milk-based and could be cocoa or perhaps Ovaltine or Horlicks. I think they can still be bought but I don’t think many  children drink them or have even heard of them.

Image result for ovaltine                 

Moving on now to school and school uniforms. All school uniform for boys included a school cap which had to be worn every day throughout school if the boy stayed on until 18 years old. Long trousers were not worn by boys until they were thirteen and uniform shorts were worn with long woollen socks.

                     Image result for school duffle bag 1950s                      

Girls wore gymslips until thirteen when they could wear skirts. There were no tights (they hadn’t been invented) so long socks were worn in winter, ankle socks in summer – even if you were a sixth-former! In our school the girls had to wear a beret (known as a tam) and woe betide you if you ever stepped outside school without it on!

                                 1950's Leather School Satchel

The school bag – for boys and girls in secondary school – was a leather satchel. Games and P.E. kit was carried in a duffle bag.Two more expressions unknown to today’s children! The school uniform coat was a gabardine mac or raincoat, usually double-breasted and belted.

Here are some other things today’s youth have not heard of (I’ll cover these in more detail in Part 2):

Meccano,  plimsolls, cycling capes, leather footballs, Dinky toys, Liberty bodices, golliwogs, Spangles, leather footballs and bus conductors. Watch this space!

9 thoughts on “Where did they go?

  1. We liked rice pudding, though my mother stewed the rice in milk on top of the stove, rather than baking it in the oven which (I think) is the more traditional method. She added sultanas, for more flavour. We called it ricie-raisins. I’d forgotten all about macaroni as a pudding until now, but we liked that too. We didn’t have tapioca (I don’t think Mum liked it), though I think we may have had sago once or twice and turned our noses up at it.


  2. Oh my gosh, tapioca! Just seeing it makes me squirm in the same way as it did when I was a child! I was ill and in hospital a lot in the 50s and tapioca was one of the puddings we’d get to eat. I hated it! As you say ‘frogspawn’! I didn’t like semolina either. At home, my mum always made a really nice rice pudding (different from most British versions of it, I think, as it was baked in the oven, with sultanas and had a thick ‘skin’ on the top that went brown.) Do you remember nutmeg being added to puddings? It had nutmeg, too.

    I loved custard (as long as it was yellow and not pink and raspberry flavoured like in school!) but didn’t like blancmange very much. I did love Jelly. (My husband refuses to eat it because he doesn’t like gelatine. He reckons nothing should have ‘hooves’ in it!)

    My bedtime drink at home was always Horlicks or sometimes, if I had a sore throat, my dad would insist on me drinking hot milk with sugar and – of all things – melted butter floating on the top. How odd! I only ever had Ovaltine in the hospital. There was another like that, but I can’t remember the name of it.

    Your posts are wonderful. If you see lots of views of your archives in your stats for today, then that’s me. I’m just loving them! 🙂


    • Wow! Thanks for the positive comments! I have been away for a few days and am only just catching up with all your messages. Your reaction is exactly what I wanted to achieve when I set out to do this blog. My mum made that wonderful oven baked rice pudding too with nutmeg added. I adored it. Other people’s rice puddings always seemed pale and insipid in comparison. I had forgotten about pink school custard! Ghastly! There was another milk drink brand – if I remember the name I’ll let you know. Meryl

      Liked by 1 person

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