My part in the baby boom
What a force in history, the baby boom kids
This is my personal view of what's it's been like to be a baby boom kid, and adult with hopefully a few more years to go. This hub is about many aspects of life during the years following the Second World War. The good things and the bad, the funny and the sad. Travel with me and see how much or little I followed the general trends. Life is so good, even when it's hard.
Mum,Dad and three kids
Waking up to better times
Yes, I'm from the "Baby boom" as we express it in Britain. Born in 1947. I guess our parents thought, "Thank goodness the war is over. Let's get back to normal living." Now there was hope for things to get better. And in many ways they did. In 1948 the National Health Service came into being with provision of free health care which has been the envy of the world. I came in for some good nutrition. I well remember the free orange juice provided for young children. My parents were far from wealthy but things gradually got better for them during my life at home. I certainly had more things than my older brother and sister had experienced. My sister was born before the war broke out, and my brother during the war. So I don't think having me after the war was a conscious decision, they just felt their family was not yet complete and it was a coincidence that I was part of the "baby boom" My parents had a deep faith in God and would not let Hitler put them off having a baby. In fact there were a couple of miscarriages before I arrived on the scene explaining why there is a five year gap between my brother and I.
When meat could be free
My Dad was a farm worker and not very well paid, but they managed some how. Mum used to take in sewing to help out. She had several farmer's wives as her customers and they were always pleased with her work. Also she would wash eggs at one of the farms, and I would help as I got a bit older. My sister remembers times when she was hungry but I have no such memories. Things were obviously improving when I came along. In those days you could still safely eat rabbit, which we had often and was free if you caught it yourself. All that ended with the coming of myxomatosis.This is a cruel way to cull the rabbit population and also robbed the common people of a good,free meal. One of the more disgusting things man has done.
Recently my daughter's pet rabbits caught myxy and it was tragic to see beautiful, black rabbits turned into mangy, miserable,eye bulging, mortally sick animals which had to be put down.
But back in the fifties we enjoyed rabbit. I remember poking the cooked brains out of the skull with the wrong end of a teaspoon and enjoying the delicate flavour. Not something I could relish doing today.
Making ends meet
Feeding the family
We had a large garden where we grew many vegetables. I used to love sitting on the front door step and shelling peas into a colander. Various tradesman used to call at this cottage in the country. The baker came and the butcher. I didn't like the butcher but I have never found a reason for it. The grocer came too. It's quite funny now after years of having to get the car out to fetch our shopping, the delivery system is coming back into fashion, with large stores like Tesco and Sainsbury's delivering to people who have made their purchases online
Dad at the orchard gate
Where our garden used to be
The nit nurse cometh
But let's get back to the late forties and early fifties. I began school when I was four and a quarter, not the norm then as it is now. I remember I didn't have a proper desk at first so the teacher put my pencils and bits and pieces in a tin and put them in a cupboard at the end of the first day. The next day only one half of the cupboard was open and I couldn't get my tin out, so I cried and had a very crotchety response from the teacher. I was quite a timid child but I enjoyed the work and made good progress.
In those days the nit nurse used to come around the school on a regular basis to check for louse nits. My brother foolishly told some other children that my sister had sat down in a hen house where there were fleas. Ever after that she was called "Fleas" and I was known a "Little Fleas." We lived outside the village, about a mile away and were treated as foreigners. I didn't really feel at home there until I was about twenty. Prejudice is a strange thing. I have to admit that my mother always had a sense of superiority about her which no doubt showed up in us children and invited trouble.
Me at Primary School - With hand knitted cardigan
Sundays and more
How we learnt the christian truths
We were quite different because we were a religious family. I feel this makes me not a typical product of the baby boom. Later I show you photos of myself as a teenager and I think you will find my clothes are not typical of the era either.
Sundays were spent around three trips to the chapel. The 11a.m. service, the Sunday school at 2p.m. and the 6.30p.m. service which took place at a building in the village but congregation-wise consisted mostly of the same people who attended,in the morning, the chapel where we lived a mile outside of the village. Sometimes after Sunday School the whole of our family would go for a walk of about three miles through the lanes in a circular trip. Often we had the preacher stay to lunch or tea, which we considered a great treat. They were mostly quite humorous people and not at all sanctimonious.My parents' friends were mostly connected to the chapel. Otherwise my father mixed with his employers and fellow workers. Mum would also mix well with other parents with children at the school. Religion was not over after Sunday, on Thursdays there was a Women's Bright Hour in the afternoon and in the evening a Prayer Meeting. We children were also encouraged to read our Bibles on a daily basis, with the help of a little book called Daily Bread which gave readings and an explanation. Sometimes Dad would want to read a Psalm at breakfast. This was usually when he was "high" being bi-polar. You would think this would have put us off the Psalms but that is not the case.
My dear old Mum
Of course I mixed with children at school, I also had some contact with the children at the farm below us. The first time I saw T.V. was when we went to the farm to watch the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Lots of people bought television at this time especially to watch the coronation. We were not well enough off to do that but were glad of the neighbour's invitation. I was six at the time and thought the page boys looked nice. Later the school hired a bus to take us to the cinema to see the coronation all over again.
I soon found I could visit another friend, down the road, over the bridge and up the hill, to watch his T.V. One of my favourites was "Champion the Wonder Horse." Another "Bronco Layne" with Ty Hardin. My parents didn't get a T.V. until they retired in 1974, but we had the wireless, as we called it then and enjoyed listening to "The Archers" "an everyday story of country folk." It was all about a farming community so it fitted with our life style. Sometimes we would be engrossed in a programme when my father would switch it off and declare that it was rubbish. How annoying!!
Those shiny teeth
The dentist would come around to school to check our teeth. The village hall was used for this. The first time I went to him I had a tooth out with no trouble, but then it would have been a milk tooth. At the next visit I had a filling. The dentist was still using a treadle to power the drill and it took several goes to do the job. Each time I would feel a searing pain shooting up into my head. After about three of these I passed out, and ever afterwards made a habit of passing out each time the dentist visited. I would also sometimes pass out in Assembly at school if we had had to rush our mile walk from home. The doctor's put it down to tension in the home because of Dad's illness.I also suffered from cholic and would get a pain in my left side caused by trapped wind. Otherwise I was healthy.
In sickness and in health
As a family we never had a car. I didn't have access to a car until I married at twenty-three. Macmillan the Prime Minister may have been saying that we never had it so good, but our family certainly lagged behind the rest in economic terms. But we were relatively happy apart from problems with Dad's health. It was always such a relief when they came to fetch him and take him off to hospital. There he would be given ECT, electrical current therapy. I wonder who dreamt that up. To this day they don't know what it actually does. One strange thing when Dad came home after ECT was that he would speak with his South Devon accent which over the years had been altered by living in mid Devon. We normally don't realize how our accent alters according to where we live, but it is a natural way of wanting to fit in with the people around us.
I enjoyed those times alone with Mum and as her youngest, with my brother and sister both flown the nest, I became very close to Mum. I think she grew to depend on me a little too much and sometimes I felt as if I was a buffer zone between her and Dad, imagined or real.
Sometimes if Mum felt Dad's illness was affecting me badly she would send me off to spend a week with her friend in the next village.
Dad acquired a motorbike. It was a BSA Bantam, a two-stroke. He would sometimes ask me to help him with the points, but just as he had got them right he would mess them up again. I guess it was some sort of obsessive, compulsive behaviour, but it was extremely annoying.
My brother had a "real" motorbike by this time and took me on it to Weston-Super-Mare and back. We had no helmets back then but by the grace of God we survived. My pigtails flew in the wind behind us and it was a cold experience.
By this time 1960 I had arrived at the Grammar School. I loved this school and did well. A new music teacher arrived. I had been teaching myself to play the piano by then. The teacher wanted to start an orchestra and wanted volunteers to learn the violin. I was at the head of the queue. For some he was a difficult man to get on with but I hit it off with him right away and rapidly learnt the violin. We had half an hour's practice every day in the dinner hour, so no wonder we made progress. I learnt with a girl called Isobel, we were known as Izzie and Lizzie.
By now I was going to a young people's fellowship, known as the YPF. This of course was church based. Sometimes I would take the bus the three miles to the village I now live in. Sometimes I would cycle on the bicycle my favourite uncle had bought me. But usually the man, six years older than me, who was to become my first husband would take me home, bike and all, in his van. No wonder I married him, I had been sitting behind him in chapel since I was two.
YPF was great fun and as I was a committed christian I also enjoyed the Bible studies we did. But usually we had some light activity first on Friday evenings followed by a short talk from a visiting speaker.
I remember one Friday arriving at YPF having just heard the news that President Kennedy had been killed. It made a deep impression on us. In those days at school we had been learning about the threat of nuclear war and it was a constant worry to us.At the time I tried to put my faith in the fact that God was in control. And indeed He was and is. However God sometimes lets us experience terrible things so there is no room to be complacent. We had felt the tension over here when the Cuban Crisis was happening. At this time I was aware of my country's special relationship with America.
I was sixteen here - The coat had a musquash collar for winter
This outfit had green leaves on a white background
This is the nearest I got to a mini skirt - I was never comfortable in "revealing" clothes
Wow those clothes
I guess in my teens I was wearing what the well-dressed thirty-year-old was wearing and,of course thirty-year-olds were not what they are today. However I'm not altogether sorry about it. I didn't exactly rebel in my teens and maybe it would have been better if I had. I saved that for my fifties. Instead I worked really hard at school particularly at music. I began to learn music when I was 9 teaching myself out of a book, with a little bit of help from Mum who played the chapel American organ. I began on one of these organs and then my brother acquired a piano for Mum. After a while I had lessons at school and with the arrival of the new music teacher, who looked a bit like Brahms, I took up the violin. This was my great love at the time and is still a good old friend. We used to go to the dentist's house to take exams. I suppose my greatest triumph was to have an interview at the Royal College of Music. I didn't get in but I did get to University College Cardiff.
Do my memories bring back yours?