Children’s Books

Children’s books now are brilliant and the choice is bewildering. We had fewer books in my childhood but we loved our books and bedtime stories. For small children the picture books were usually (as far as I remember!) about fairies, puppies, children playing with toys and happy family scenes.

$_12           Bedtime Stories

Even when we were very young our mum used to read to us from the ‘harder’ books. We loved listening to all the ones now referred to as ‘classics’ such as Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh and Black Beauty. Good stories were read over and over again. I knew Black Beauty inside out!

railway-children-book-cover                                                         five-on-a-treasure-island-book-cover

Sambo  Nobody would write a book like this nowadays!

We were also read the The Water Babies and Paddington Bear. Other books we had were the collections of;  traditional tales, children’s poetry, nursery rhymes and fables.

Nursery Rhymes                Boys annual  Boys' Stories

When I was a little older I loved The Children of the New Forest, Heidi (the whole series), The Secret Garden and A Little Princess. Boys’ books tended towards adventure and heroes – Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe –  whereas girls’books were of a gentler nature! There was very much a gender divide especially in the collections and annuals.

image  These are some of my own books from my childhood. I think I badly wanted to be Heidi for a while!

The books which all three of us (two girls and a boy) loved were the Enid Blyton Famous Five and Secret Seven series. Unusually for the time they appealed to both boys and girls. They were so easy to identify with as the kids were our ages and they had such exciting adventures.

Telephones.

First of all, the word. Hardly anyone says telephone now. Phone is the word. Anyway, I thought I would cover phones in this post. A friend gave me the idea – thanks, Lynn! I have touched on them in an earlier post when I talked about communication but this is to be solely on telephones.

We didn’t have a phone when I was very small. I remember the telegraph poles and wires being put up when we got our first phone. It would have been the mid 1950’s. It was SO exciting!

1950s-bakelite-md4.jpg       It looked like this one. The cables were cloth covered as all cables were in those days. There were letters and numbers on the dial. In areas where you could dial direct you dialled a three-letter prefix first, then the number. My brother, sister and I used to fantasise about inventing a phone with pictures so you could see who you were talking to – never thinking it would ever be possible. Now Skype and Face Time are household words.

 

Our first telephone number was 9. We called the village post office (number 1) to be put through to anywhere outside the village.When, a few years later, we were linked up to the town exchange we became 209. The switchboard in the village shop looked a bit like this one and is now in a museum.

switchboard

Public phone boxes were well used and equipped with directories which were kept on the shelves which can be seen in the photograph. I never saw one then with broken windows or without the directories.

ab-phone-box-inside

Our next style of telephone at home was one we considered very stylish as it was a more modern shape and was not in the original black but cream. The cable was plastic coated and spiral coiled.

cream phone

Here a few examples of the different phones I have lived with since then.

Moving beyond the 60s, my first house phone as an adult was a design known as a Trimphone. It was lightweight, streamlined and had a distinctive new ring. Amost a chirrup or trill rather than a ‘bring’.

Trimphone

 

early cordless.png An early cordless. How cool it seemed at the time to be able to walk around with your phone – and to have two or three in different rooms!

Motorola_DPC550 My first mobile phone! It lived in the car and I brought it in every few months to charge it. The battery alone was massive – it’s the hump on the back of the phone. Mine had no letters, just numbers, so it was pre-texting. It was for emergencies – car breakdowns etc. The weight and size of it meant carrying it around in a pocket or a handbag was not a good option. And yes, you had to pull the aerial out to use it. I recently sold it on Ebay for £30. Since then mobile phones have grown smaller and smaller and are now getting bigger again now that we are in the age of the smart phone – slimmer and lighter than my old Motorola, though!

Dressing Up

All children love dressing up. Dressing up outfits are plentiful and cheap nowadays. My two grandsons, aged five and three, love to be dressed as Power Rangers, Storm Troopers, Spider-Man and Iron Man.

Image result for dressing up outfits for kids       

When I was a child dressing up at home involved whatever we could find – Mum and Dad’s clothes and shoes, drawn on beards and moustaches, Nana’s hats, any belts and bags from around the house plus various other props. One year we (that is me, my brother and sister) were given a dressing up outfit each at Christmas. Mine was a nurse’s outfit, my brother’s a cowboy one and my sister’s was a cowgirl’s costume – cowboys were huge at that time in films, books, comics and on TV. We thought they were amazing and wore them for as long as we could squeeze into them as we grew. When I wore my outfit and had my red, plastic pince-nez on the end of my nose (they hurt me, but I didn’t care!), I really felt like a proper nurse.

            

Apart from dressing up at home there were fancy dress occasions. Every town and village had an annual carnival – in some parts of Britain this would have been known as a gala or fete. There was always a fancy dress parade with prizes for the best costumes. The mums went all out to create outfits for the children and often for themselves as adults dressed up too. People dressed up as famous characters past or present, story characters, pirates, fairies, witches and so on. Dressing up as a tramp was always good fun. At that time the ‘tramp’ was a common sight. They were vagrants who walked (tramped) from place to place living on handouts from well-wishers – and their wits. The other name for tramps was ‘gentlemen of the road’. I now know that many of them had been traumatised in the two World Wars and had been unable to settle back into normal life so took to the roads.  At that time Post-traumatic Stress Disorder was unknown or mis-labelled ‘shell-shock’ and with no such thing as counselling they were left to get on with life as well as they could.

     

Anyway, back to fancy dress. My mum was a skilled seamstress (from necessity) and was also very creative. Some of the costumes I remember her putting together are; my brother as a golliwog (I know, they’re not PC now but to us at that time they were just toys), Little Bo Peep (my sister, complete with a big black spider made by my dad and suspended by elastic) and Dr Fuchs (my dad dressed in a duffle coat and wellies accompanied by my brother’s ride-on tractor with the name Sno Cat on a sign attached to the front).For those who don’t remember the name, Dr Vivian Fuchs’ Trans Atlantic expedition reached the South Pole in 1958. The vehicles they used to cross the Antarctic were known as Sno-Cats.

This is a picture of me and my sister dressed for a fancy dress parade. My mum made the costumes on her Singer sewing machine out of crepe paper. We were dressed as the soldier and lady on the Quality Street tin – note, if you can see it, the Quality Street tin my sister was carrying! Next to it I have put a picture of an old Quality Street tin in case anyone doesn’t know the man and woman I’m talking about.

Qual St       Qual St 2

To this day I still love fancy dress and would rather put my own outfit together than hire a ready-made one. It’s more fun!

 

As always, I have used a mixture of my own photos and relevant one sourced from the Internet. If I have infringed copyright I fill happily remove any offending photo.