Cosy Kitchen Memories

When the cold winter of 1947 struck we were slowly recovering from the Second World War, with essential foods and fuel still rationed. Memories abound – not just of icicles hanging from the guttering, but of happy hours sitting around the ‘Ideal’ boiler in our 10 x 5 ft. kitchenette – my parents, myself and Dusty-cat were comfortable each evening.

The 60-watt bulb shone (if there was no power cut), and the ‘Ideal’ boiler glowed – its doors open, fuelled by the coke/anthracite which was kept in green hod beside it (handy for waste paper too). Kitchen windows were still covered with ‘black-out’. Rolls of newspaper, in old woollen stockings, kept draughts at bay around the doors.

We sat on stools and wooden kitchen chairs, Dusty included. My mother knitted recycled wool, Dad read the Daily Mail and I did my homework at the kitchen table. Later we played Ludo, Snakes and Ladders and cards -and it was off to bed at 9pm. ITMA was listened to on the radio.

Cupboard space was confined to the larder, where home-made jams, bottled fruits and salted beans were stored, together with bread, milk, fats and vegetables. An ‘Easiwork’ provided work space and storage for tinned items. There was a higher shelf for saucepans and the radio extension.

On the boiler sat two kettles for hot drinks and hot water bottles. The saucepan went on for bedtime cocoa. Our electric stove beside the boiler was home to pots and pans, just like the unused gas stove beside it!

The window sill and back of the wooden draining board held Rinso, soda in a stone jar and Lux
flakes. The cat ate our scraps under the sink.

All meals were taken in the kitchenette, perhaps porridge for breakfast, and weekend lunch consisting of potatoes, vegetables and one slice of Spam – no fresh meat.

Tea was bread and jam, and a bun if you were lucky!

The winter of 1963 was again cold and again we lived in the kitchen. The curtains were light cretonne, the boiler a ‘reconditioned’ replacement, not a modern Trianco (as enclosed advertisement). Alas, there was no Dusty. I was preparing/marking pupils’ work (no full-time education for two to three weeks). We were cheerful – not a grumble heard!

P. J. Odell