FLASHBACK TO 1920s PONTEFRACT
ADDED 9 FEBRUARY 2007
recollection of Pontefract circa 1920s.
Christmas with laughter, lots of people visiting, hugs and kisses, music
on the gramophone with a large horn and scratchy needle. Standing on
Dad’s toes as he waltzed around the room. A bright burning coal fire
with a ‘guard’ around, and a shiny brass strip along the top.
the kettle boiling”; a game played with my sisters as we tumbled over
the end of the sofa after each other, then raced around the room before
tumbling over again (probably when I was two or three years old)
time and the zinc bathtub in front of the fire with hot soapy water and
a pungent smell of carbolic. Then out of the tub and quickly into the
warm towel before the cold draught from the passage door could get to
shirt on followed by ‘Prayers’, then off to bed up the narrow staircase,
no lights other than a candle in an enamel holder, with ’shadows’
following as we arrived in the bedroom, and moving around the ceiling
like emormous spectres. The bed was cold despite the hot metal oven
shelf wrapped in a piece of flannelette, tucked in and a “Goodnight and
God Bless” kiss. Then it was head under the sheets to get warm. With the
stairs door closed it was very dark and quiet; “scary!”
in the early days was a large room with an open coal fireplace. The
teacher, Miss Ganley, would tell stories and we would play games. A
slate and chalk were provided to make pictures, and plasticine to roll
around and stick legs on a body to look like funny animals. Playground
games were “Ring-a-ring-o-roses, pocket full of posies, achoo, achoo,
all fall down”.
class and the smell of cedar wood as we sharpened pencils to learn our
alphabet before teacher would help us to put on our coats to go home.
class didn’t last long. We seemed to be in Standard One and Two, with
the ability to read and write, along with doing sums, in no time at all.
While this was happening our senses became aware of things around us,
our friends who became ill or were hungry, some didn’t have shoes to
wear and their feet were dirty and sore. Many would be taken off to the
Clinic and would return with patches of ‘Blue Gentian’ or other
treatment for ailments. Teacher would often bring biscuits or cakes to
pass around to children we thought of, and called, ‘Teachers Pet’, only
to realise in later years that those same children were simply hungry.
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