GROWING UP IN THE 1950s

I feel very privileged to have been a child of the 1950s, even though that decade is now acknowledged as one of austerity. I’ll try to explain why growing up was fun in those days, and why I’m glad I was around to see them.

• The excitement of travelling on trolleybuses, trams, steam trains with carriages of red and cream, and the bonus of finding florins, pennies and sixpences down the back of the maroon seats.

• The quaintness ofWoolies’ stores with wooden floors; paraffin heaters; nine-inch televisions starring the Coronation; whistling kettles; lino; square carpets; sofas; eiderdowns;brown paper bags and string bags.

• To enter a wonderland of Noddy, Sunny Stories, Famous Five and Secret Seven, the Four Marys,Jack andJill,Playhour,Bunty,Eagle and School Friend. Listen With Mother, Andy Pandy, Bill and Ben, Rag,Tag and Bobtail,The Woodentops, Sooty, Muffin the Mule, Music and Movement,The Grove Family, 6-5 Specials, Interludes,The Lone Ranger, Robin Hood, Dixon of Dock Green,Whacko, Emergency Ward Ten, Archie Andrews, Lennie the Lion, Uncle Mac and Quatermass.Magic colouring books that produced a picture when scribbled or
painted on.

• To savour sarsparilla, dandelion and burdock andTizer; sherbet fountains; Corn Flakes with plastic submarines longing to be filled with bicarb; Five Boys chocolate;Wagon Wheels; Smith’s crisps with the blue bag of salt; Lucky Bags; sugar mice with tails made of string, and sweet cigarettes with pink ends; roast chicken for Sunday dinner – an exceptional treat.

• Enduring the Eleven-Plus; wearing liberty bodices, gingham school dresses, double bar shoes, Sunday best felt hats, belted coats with mittens attached to elastic; and being compared to Princess Anne, born the same year. Shoe machines taking pictures of your feet; freezing houses; huddling over a coal fire, burning your legs; sugar lumps with added polio vaccine.

• Revelling in wearing plimsolls, Clark’s sandals with petal shapes, bubbled swimming costumes, pleated skirts with straps and fair isle jumpers, ankle socks with patterns on.

• Being taught in schools which had hardly changed in decades — a world of wooden desks with inkwells in the top right-hand corner and Dickensian pens with nibs that crossed if you pressed too hard; powder paints and crayons, Plasticine, spelling tests, tables and bean bags. A third of a pint of milk at playtime with a Jammy Dodger; stars for good work in house colours of silver or gold; arithmetic exercise books with squares headed Hundreds,Tens and Units.

• A passion for uniforms — Brownies and Red Cross. Savings Stamps with Prince Charles for 2/6d, and Princess Anne for 6d.

• Being able to play in the street without fear -marbles in the gutter on the way home from school, skipping ropes extended right across the road tied to lamp posts, hop-scotch, whips and tops, British Bulldog, hula hoops, Corgi and Matchbox toys in little boxes.

• Riding around on Grecian Flyers,Jackoskates and scooters, without being hindered by motorised vehicles belching out carbon monoxide.

• Products not heard of now like Rinso, Oxydol, Handy Andy, Izal, Cadum and Pepsodent. Denis Compton rather than David Beckham advertising Brylcreem, a suave smile looking down on you from the sides of buses.

• Remembering a spartan world now seemingly confined to museums, a planet away from life as it is today. How I’d love to be able to turn the clock back to the pace and values of the life we had then – but with the luxury of home central heating!

Elaine Amos