A Bike and Bruises for Christmas


With Christmas approaching, I was considering my options on presents for my various grandchildren and great grandchildren when my mind drifted back to my own childhood and how things have changed.

I grew up in my home town of Liverpool in the 1930s and my usual presents were hand knitted jumpers, socks, and shirts from my grandparents and aunties, plus an orange and shiny new penny. Except for two memorable years in 1934 and 1937.

My Dad had served in the Royal Navy in the 1920s as a Radio Operator, which gave him an in-depth knowledge of the workings of wirelesses. This was to prove very useful during the periods of high unemployment during the 1930s. He made good use of his expertise by repairing wireless sets for friends and neighbours, for which he was paid with various items in lieu of cash. One such item was a box of lead soldiers, which was very welcome and made me a very happy six year old boy. Some of them lacked arms or heads, but that did not detract from the pleasure they gave.

Then three years later a bicycle arrived, thanks to the same barter system. Frame, wheels, pedals and other bits and pieces, all put together and renovated by my Dad and turned into a complete bike. This was then taken into the back entrance behind our two-up and two-down terraced house, and there I was put on the saddle and given a hefty push. I yelled that I would fall off, only to be told by Dad that I would bounce off the walls. I became a cyclist overnight and the bruises son healed.

The photos show me before I qualified on two wheels, and my late brother and sister in the entry at the back of the house, where I earned my bruises.
Alf Morris,