Water

Yes, this post is about drinking water – or rather, not drinking it.

Now.

Nowadays, we are all aware of the need to stay hydrated and the health hazards hidden in sweetened, flavoured soft drinks. We are now used to seeing people walking around holding bottles of water. It was not always so. My parents and grandparents would be surprised and probably horrified at the way bottled water is sold absolutely everywhere now.

Then.

When I was a child I don’t remember drinking much water at all, or seeing adults drinking it. If you asked for a drink of plain tap water in a café or restaurant you would be refused. It is now against the law for premises serving alcohol to refuse a customer tap water. I have never been refused plain water in any café, pub, bar or restaurant in many years now.

In the 60s and 70s, once people started travelling further afield, we saw bottled water on sale in shops on holiday abroad. We always assumed it was because their tap water wasn’t safe to drink. Ours in Britain was then, and is now, perfectly safe but buying bottled water here is now the norm.

As children in the 1950s we drank milk, squash or tea. Yes, we were all started quite early on with weak milky tea – usually with sugar in it. My sister is three years younger than me and I can remember drinking the National Health orange juice which was available for pregnant mothers and children aged one to five. It was meant for my sister at the time I remember but my brother and I used to be given the occasional drink of it. It was delicious! Very, very different from the standard orange squash. I’ve researched it for this post and it had an extremely large content of real orange juice – and sugar – and the instructions were that it be served diluted – and sweetened if necessary! It was issued by the government because many people in post-war Britain were deficient in essential nutrients.

I have done some research into this Welfare orange juice and the main purpose of giving it free to babies and infants up to the age of 5 was to add more Vitamin C to their diet. The 50s were the post war period and rationing was still in place so it was a generous gesture.
For anyone interested, here is a link to an article recounting the history of Welfare Orange juice and the colonialism issues which arose from its production. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-british-studies/article/one-british-thing-a-bottle-of-welfare-orange-juice-c-19611971/7A3A07A71E9CFEA0214EC22984C486A7#

My mum was very fussy about our teeth so we were rarely allowed ‘pop’ as it was known and she limited our consumption of sweets. Through lack of knowledge and information at the time she was unaware that the squash we drank, and the National Health juice, were just as sugary. Thankfully, my teeth are still in good order.

This is a brand I remember well. The ad gives no clue as to the ingredients, apart from implying it’s full of real orange juice. The label on the bottle would have been the same. We had no idea in the 1950s that these drinks were full of colourings, flavourings and SUGAR. Now labels and adverts have to be a bit more honest!

Water in the classroom.

The importance of keeping children hydrated for their health and concentration is now well known. The introduction of ‘water in the classroom’ was something I was involved with in the 90s. Some staff in schools were very against it then. Now we can’t imagine things being any other way.

The standard issue school water bottle nowadays.

Credit to Wikipedia, Google and Google Images. If anyone objects to my use of an image please contact me and it will be removed.

10 thoughts on “Water

  1. Regarding water in schools: I seem to remember a water fountain that we girls never got a go at, because the boys thought it was just for them – so we girls decided it was an uncouth thing, and we’d probably get water everywhere else but in the mouth! Especially if the boys were nearby. I’m fairly sure we had glasses on the table at dinnertime, and the teacher would fill them using one of those large silver coloured metal jugs. I did when I was a teacher in the early 70’s. Other times, kids would learn to not bash their new front teeth on the fixed tap in the lavatories… Living in Birmingham with our wonderful soft Welsh water, I cannot see the sense in not using it in a bottle if you really need to carry one, but buying the stuff for a lot more the water rates & having to dispose of the bottle each time – crackers!

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    • Yes! I remember the big metal jugs at lunchtime pouring water into sad looking plastic beakers – but at least we did get water once a day. Never saw a water fountain but it sounds like it was a dubious advantage. Of course Welsh water is lovely and soft – but being Welsh, I’m biased. Thanks for commenting.

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  2. An interesting look back. I remember when people first started buying bottled water and walking around with it. I didn’t understand why anyone would buy water when they could get perfectly good water at home.

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  3. I remember Quosh quite well and enjoyed it immensely. The lemon barley pictured is a flavour I have not heard of for a great many years, but it was a thirst-quencher and most enjoyable.
    Strangely, I have no recollection of the program providing orange juice to very young children. At the same time, I don’t recall drinking a lot of water but I’m sure we must have because we were always thirsty, especially during summer. Pop was a treat, and, therefore, NOT an everyday occurrence!
    As you say, tea was something we were gradually introduced to and was quite refreshing on a hot day,
    All in all, it doesn’t seem that we drank very much in those days, and yet we were extremely active and, therefore, I suppose, very healthy.

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  4. Some of the city parks would have a water fountain – very old-looking and having a metal cup on a chain for people to fill and drink from. Ugh!
    Bad enough that they were for communal use but they were also old, corroded and generally pretty nasty-looking so you had to be extremely thirsty to take a drink from one. Well, at least one developed ant-bodies, I suppose.

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  5. Meryl, absolutely fascinating as usual. Born in 1942 I suppose I started school in Sept 1947 ? For a fairly short period I am quite sure that we were provided with bottles of orange juice as well as the “routine” bottle of milk at breaktime. I recollect we were also given a Vitamin C tablet and a cherry coloured capsule of Adexolin ( hope the spelling’s right ).
    When I think about the long summer holidays , tumbling out to play with friends at 9 o’clock in the morning and not coming back until lunchtime, I wonder how hydrated we were ! Gulping down glasses of squash ( sometimes “plain” water ) amidst warnings of hiccups, was often an immediate happening after returning home.
    I have to confess your postings often generate a period of personal “after reflection” which dredge up all sorts of memories. Thank you.
    John

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    • Thanks for commenting John. I always enjoy your contributions. I never came across the Vitamin C tablets but it sounds like part of the same government scheme to improve the health of post-war babies and children. Rationing would have had a big effect on people’s diets. Meryl

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