Thanks Jim for unleashing a host of childhood memories.
You are quite welcome, Peter … Some of these scenes made these old eye glisten a bit, too!
I am 1933 vintage, so was awaiting my seventh birthday when the 40s dawned. Living in London, it was also the beginning of the second year of WW2 and in the June of that year as France fell, I was evacuated for the second time, this time to Cornwall. Sadly there was an RAF base two miles from the village and Herman Goering decided to attack RAF bases, so I came back to London, just in time for the "Blitz"
You were of the ripe old age of six, then, when I entered into this world. Thank God, I was safely ensconced in the midwest USA and the worst trauma I experienced was watching my Dad fly away to Algiers as a Seabee to supervise German POWs build military installations and, worse, witness my parent's divorce, caused in part by that horrible global conflict that separated a young, vulnerable married couple.
Britain was still "broke" as a result of the war. 1947 winter was so bad that the BBC curtailed the hours it broadcast to save on the use of electricity. TV did resume around this time, having been stopped during the war years, but no TV in my family until the early 1950s.
That's when we got our first TV — sometime in the early '50s. My earliest memory of TV was a few years earlier standing with the crowd outside a department store window in the cold, watching a tiny black & white screen while awaiting a ride home from the movies.
My Dad's first cousin and best friend, Sam, lived about ten miles from us and had the first TV among our friends and family. Friday nights were spent at Sam & Julie's house, watching the Friday Night Fights
on the "Gillette Cavalcade of Sports". It was a six-inch or so square screen. Sam would turn all the light out and we'd sit there in the dark watching these tiny figures flit about. With a good imagination, you could see them as human beings. For those who are too young to have experienced this, you can create a eerily similar scene by going out on a warm summer's eve just after sunset, turn on a 6-volt flashlight and watch the bugs flit through the beam!
Everything was still rationed including petrol, so cars were things one dreamed about.
My memories of rationing were in the last years of the war. It had been advertised that the local A & P grocery was going to have bread again for one day, at a specified time — one loaf per family. Grandpa and Grandma piled my younger sister and I in their '39 Chevy and off we went! Grandpa gave Judy and I each a $1 and instructed us to get our loaf of bread, then each get into a different checkout line.
People were milling around the store and the excitement was palpable. Finally, a voice from the back of the store shouted "I have bread back here, people!"
There was a stampede! I was about six and my sister was 18-months younger and it was a wonder we didn't get trampled.
Of course, nobody was fooled that small children were purchasing the one-loaf-per-family but there were many kids with money in all the checkout lanes and no one was questioned about it.
I've since often wondered about the ethics of that but at the time, the only concern was obtaining enough bread to last until the next batch became available.
I started work in 1949 at Lloyd's of London on the princely salary of 150 pounds sterling per annum( it would not pay the bus fare from where I lived today).
My first 'paying' job — did a lot of jobs for "rent and found" at the behest of my father before that — was for a neighbor driving a tractor as he and his son piled hay on the wagon. Salary wasn't discussed beforehand but at the end of five days, when the work was concluded, he handed me a five-dollar bill. So I earned $5 plus daily lunch that week! Lunch consisted of prepared plates with no choice of entree. The plate was set in front of us, we ate what was on it, then immediately went back to work.
But that was first $5 bill I had ever owned and I rode my bike the four miles back home with it gripped in my hand. It was warm and I was afraid that if I put it in my pocket, it would get all soggy … and with the local Saturday Matinee being 25¢, I could have a nickel coke and a 10¢ bag of popcorn twelve times with that week's wages!
Of course 2013 will be the year I get my OBE, I'll leave you to work that out.
Thanks again for the memory jerker
Well, I'm not sure what OBE represents but I suspect it has something to do with the birthday I will, by the Grace of God, celebrate in 2019!
I will consider your position if stated with firm, well-thought-out, quiet reasoning. Hateful diatribe, ad hominem attacks and shouted rhetoric don't impress.