Today 14/01/2016 see`s the first of the winter snow arriving for harsh windy download over Fiddle Wood.As it carries so upon its present course ,the 20 foot or so Bamboo, is whipping the wall around the front of our little o`ll house. It seems in oddity to be dusting away the snow from tiny,and large window sills alike.
This tale first written in ink,but never published in my printed works, has lain alongside many others in a large wooden draw.So i will write it as it appeared first upon the white of virgin paper. However i`ve added a few Photograph's at the end.
Each year i am reminded always as these first of the snows arrive,of boyhood play. While i place pen to ink to relate this tale, it is a fool hardy one that happens to be true.
The first snow of the winter of 1959 blew in blustery toward the late of that November .Soon Norwich was frozen stiff beneath a blanket of beautiful white. It soon turned into a grayish yellowy slush which froze solid well before the dark of nightfall arrived. This condition tendered to linger on for weeks,and well into the coming year. As even more snow fell over the next few nights it covered well what we call black ice that lay comfy like awaiting someones slip.
As a 10 year old boy full out for spiffy free adventure i remember helping build an igloo of snow and ice with some of the lads from Dowson School.Although not actually in the School itself,but built up upon a very large grass verge. The public pathways that had been laid in the 1930`s mapped out well where each block of ice needed cutting and lifting up and out with the splendid aid of a rather broken spade that clearly must have been as old as that early Victorian School. Each block chipped away must have weighed as much the concrete slabs of the actual pathway as it took two or three kids to roll it slip slid forcefully into place. All of us being no great builder of igloos,managed to slide and skittle nine here and there into place on that mountain of ice and snow. All this while heavy fluffy snow was falling constantly too aid this rather fool hardy winters enterprize. Soon other interested steam puffing kids arrived to help out so gradually the top was formed and very well tested out by all those that stood a top of it. i being one of them.
I well remember too, the rather raw rings around my legs where the Welly Boot tops had chaffed away sorely two perfectly guided rings. I guess many can remember such a wonder as that of wearing rubber Wellington Boots? Being in short trousers until eleven made such a success of collecting such rings.
When finished our igloo was such a grand affair ,however it was neither round,oblong nor square or indeed slopping up to roundness of top,nor slopping downward to perfect anchorage upon the ice,but these areas were soon given due care and attention to,with fresh bucket loads of snow which were in turn kicked and stamped well into place. i suppose it must have looked like a very odd exercise for lots of different sized kids to be doing, and passers by looked intently curious at what was going on as they slowly shuffled past and steamed away. For there was enough ice snowed over for such things as a flea or a very large Elephant ,to slip over.Not that i ever saw such a wonderful thing. The igloo was such that one part had lent bent inwards slightly. Well a lot really,but it was well supported by a much more upright part actually built up inside. This had been ice mortored into solid place and what it held up was going nowhere at that particular point in time. Our build was not large ,but certainly not small,and to fully describe it further it was a perfect blockhouse with slits that as it turned out were very handy for the rat a tat tat of our imaginary machine gun fire. So as 7,8,9 and 11 squeezed in through the narrow rounded entrance it became a real wartime bunker.Local boys with the aid of giggling girls pelted this structure well,but only succeeded in making the walls thicker as each icy snowball hit. We made such a gallant stand upon that cold day way back then,but soon it began to get rather dark inside our retreat,and scary too,as the snowballs piled up against the walls. Soon the hunger for our Tea arrived and we agreed one and all to surrender because of it. We were all scared stiff not to. So each of us in turn crawled and slid up and out of that playful but now scary thing.The early darkness of late afternoon was closing in around us as i recall ,and i remember as the last of us appeared from what was a substantial heap of sparkling snow and ice the size of four squared off parked cars. A thud sounded out,and was soon after followed by a greater one as i turned to view the site,as the entire heavy thing collapsed inwards on mass.Soon after a few brief seconds of total silence we eyed each other,then cried out in excited overjoyed laughter of complete relief, " Cor! Look at That?" Yes while over dancing out such a colourful jig,one and all cried out in total stupefaction astonishment! Of course we had been saved in the nick of time by our Tea-Time hunger! Never admitting it was due to a scary well shared time of buried dark fright!
02/03/2016 Saw the second day of spring come in with a heavy quarter inch stinging hailstorm that speared not one ear that happened to be caught out in it. Our garden covered well in what appeared to be rough shaped diamonds! Being closely followed by drifting snow then rain,and then sunshine too,it was one of those very odd day of sorts.
Tea Time 1950`s Style
Upon those days after school it was one of my household chores to rake out the remains of the last evenings coal fire from the fireplace grate,and empty the ash out into the outside metal bin. In winter this cinder ash was scattered upon the garden pathway covered in snow.Laying out another fire it was duly lit,and would be a roaring fire by the time Mom arrived home from her work in the city about 6.30 pm. I also re-laid the large pine wood table with the cotton cloth after shaking off the bread crumbs for the chickens out back of the house. Always bread was cut from the loaf making lots of crumbs so the chickens got always a good scattering feed and would always run to get it.Later after washing up i laid out the tea time table with everything needed.A while later my Brother Ron,dear boy that he was,and i would go and meet Mom at the Bus Stop.It was always the same each evening during the week and Saturdays too that we`d do this in order to help Mom with all the paper bags full with bread rolls and others full of tiny iced over cakes. You see Mom worked hard washing up things in the kitchen of a city restaurant so stuff they could not sell on the morrow was shared out amongst the staff. At the princely sum of £4.00 a week things were very tough for our dear Mom Grace Liddy,but with free School Meals for Ron and i,and the extra food on our table she brought home made it well worthwhile for her keeping her job.
We would all arrive home in happy spirit,and after finally getting warmed up we three,my Mom,Brother and little o`ll me would have our Tea, while listening to the crackle and hum ,and drifting away off station of our old humped backed radio set. i probably had a few tiny cakes,and lashings of jam in some of those bread rolls,and all washed down with sweet dark tea,which oddly didn`t taste sweet enough at all. This was the normality of life then for us small wiry boys,but Gosh! I was always glad to get it funnelled down my gob. Especially so on that fine far away frozen day that is still etched out in my memory as if a stone mason i had placed it so. For upon this close of one of my boyhood adventures and my worthwhile happy chores, i see it all as plain as daylight allows one to see.
A few photograph's of one of Norwich School`s Mid 1950`s
A typical Classroom back in the Day.As for myself i was always a dreamer at School for really i had no complete understanding of it all. Much later in life i would find an understanding head for such higher things.Much like a Caterpillar does by Sprouting Wings!
A True Blessing from State. The Dinning Room & Free School Meals
The School Kids of 1950
Most probably these schoolboys are full of eager happiness and show it off quite well,because the school has broken up for summer hols,and in those days the holiday was eight weeks long.Long Hot Summer Days! Magic!
Above the Class of 1950 i wonder where they are now?
Children of Liverpool Sharing the Comic
Those Wellington Boots certainly ringed ones legs raw.