AT PONTEFRACT BARRACKS
by MRS J. TAYLOR
I envy the young their youth, but certainly not their lifestyle. In
1950, when I was 18, we lived life at a much gentler pace. We had very
little money so we learnt to appreciate the simple things in life.
visit to the cinema was our only luxury, but sometimes a diversion such
as the arrival of a local funfair added a little additional excitement
to our lives. In those days we would eagerly snap up any chance to do
something different if it didnít cost much!
cinema was the main source of enjoyment for my friend and I, so one
summers evening as we walked home after a visit to the pictures we were
excited when we spotted a poster which instigated a very daring change
of direction for us.
naÔve teenage girls, our walk took us past the local army barracks in
Pontefract. We had regularly seen soldiers and army trucks around town
of course, but we had never spoken directly to any of them, always
ignoring their wolf-whistles as we passed by. My friendís father
always told us firmly to "Keep away from those soldiers!"
this particular evening as we walked past the barracks we saw a poster
on the wall. "Roller Skating will commence from next Monday in the
barracks gymnasium. Admittance fee Two Shillings (10p). Everyone
decided there and then to pluck up our courage and give it a try, and
the following week, unknown to our parents of course, we made our way in
the direction of the arrowed signs across the field in front of the
barracks to the gymnasium.
could hear the music before we reached the main door and discovered
after we had paid our two shillings (which included hire of skates) that
there were about two dozen soldiers and a small group of girls inside. I
had never skated in my life, but my friend had done a little
skates were handed out from a distribution desk and we sat down as a
very young soldier fitted them for us. By now the place was filling up
considerably and the floor was quite crowded.
felt scared, especially when the music (recorded) began and I could see
expert skaters whizzing by, making it all look so easy. I was convinced
that Iíd fall flat on my face.
neednít have worried though. A line of young men in khaki across the
room had watched us intently and four of them skated over and took our
arms. With a young man on either side of us we were led onto the floor
and found ourselves being guided along in time to the music. I realised
that I was actually enjoying it. It was wonderful! We enjoyed a lovely
relaxing evening, with very few spills.
going back for two or three weeks however, we were told Mondayís
roller skating evenings were to be discontinued so our brief happy times
at Pontefract barracks came to a rather abrupt end.
often wonder what became of Johnny (Terry) and his mate Bob, both from
Surrey, who so very patiently taught us to roller-skate? Or Joe from
Rotherham who always seemed to be on sentry duty?
was just pure innocent teenage fun and for a few short weeks we all
laughed and joked and enjoyed each others company, and these lovely
young men that we had been warned about so many times, were nothing less
than perfect gentlemen! Yes Ė in those days we lived life at a gentler
pace Ė and it was wonderful!
Mrs. J. Taylor.