Friday, 1 May 2009

Then And Now


tags said...

Do you have a memory of a homemade toy, scooter,bike or trolly.??
Maybe you had a special game you played with other kids on your street??
Here's my memory of a trolly that was written in June 2007.

The Trolley

It had to be the best home made trolley in the world.

Do any of you remember it?

Not only was it about ten feet long, but it was built for speed. It was made for us younger kids by an older brother who had by this time already left school.

He used the best and strongest scraps of wood that he could find. The strength and structure of the trolley was very important as it had to serve a special purpose.

It had to be strong enough to carry about ten of us kids to school. A six wheeler, it was fast, handled superbly and had a great steering mechanism at the front and a brake at the rear. The front wheels and axle were from an old pram and there were two medium sized wheels about half way along in the middle. The rear wheels were full sized bicycle wheels with inflated rubber tires. It was the envy of all the other kids on the estate, when viewed from the side it had a sloped and sporty racing look. I think we must have reached speeds in excess of thirty miles an hour if not more. Starting at the top of the Cuckoo hill and rolling down the avenue to Brants Walk and what was then Cuckoo Boys Junior School. There was a specified seating order which was predetermined by both our size and age. That meant the smallest kid and most likely the youngest sat at the very front and usually took the brunt of any occasional crashes. The next older kid sat behind him but had to have had longish legs so he could reach around the first kid to the front axle part with his feet to able to steer. Then behind the second kid the age and size would progress right back to a couple of older and stronger kids who would run behind pushing until we reached speed and then they would jump on board, much like a bob sled race.

Once we reached Brants Walk we would hide the trolley in the council garden bushes until it was time to go home. Apart from myself who was actually the youngest, the other kids names that I can remember in approximate age order from front to back were: Myself, Jackie French, Paul Culver, Ray Shelvy, Alan Fields, Tony Moody, Peter Culver, Brian Jones, Eddie Walford and Roy Markwell.

Those were the days, we made our own fun and toys and thoroughly enjoyed it!

yvonneh said...

Tags I also have memories of a trolley, Brian and my dad made, we had an old orange box for the car part but my brother broke it going down the hill towards the shops he couldnt stop at the kerb and went straight over the kerb and hit the one outside moons, which up ended him on to the pavement. I laughed as it was his punishment for not letting me have a go, and I laughed even more when he had to have the iodene put on his grazed knees. Our trolley had ball bearing wheels which made a lovely sound as it sped over the cracks in the pavement. He had the last laugh though, as One Sunday after coming back from Sunday school I decided to have a go, I didnt get changed out of my best coat that my mum was still paying on the provy for, I had begged her for this oatmeal coat with fur buttons, one of which I had already lost on its first outing(my mum hadnt found out yet) anyway as I got on the trolley and scooted it to start it my coat went under the wheel and left a burn mark on the front, I snuck back in the house in tears and went to hide it in my wardrobe, my mum caught me and I got a real thrashing off my dad.( At least I only got the one thrashing as they thought the button had been lost at the same time)I was also banned from the trolley much to Brians delight. We also used to cut out five holes in the bottom of a box put numbers on them and then from a distance throw our maerbles into the holes trying to get the best score. A book on a skate was brilliant down westcott crescent. Glad Jim wasnt there to see me NBKs I reckon we were contortionists. My dad made Brian for xmas one year a boxing ring with two boxers made out of dolly pegs
mum painted the faces and made the vest and shorts, then dad put arms and legs on that were jointed and with a stick through a hole in each hand you could have a boxing match.

jenifnifer said...


I've just found your Cuckooites site and it brought back lots of memories for me. My parents moved into the pre-fabs in Riverside Close, just off Cuckoo Avenue after the war. They already had two children, and a further 3, including me, were born in the prefab and we all went to the Cuckoo Infant and Junior Schools. I would be very interested to know if you have any pictures of the pre-fabs, or have had contact with anyone else who lived in them.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Jennifer L'Estrange (nee Jones)

tags said...

Hi Jennifer,
Welcome to the site, Tommy may know about the prefab photos. He'll be back in a few days.

phil said...

Hi guys we used to play a game of canon,you had 4 sticks and placed them up against the kerb in the shape of a then have two teams one person from the team who are in, then throws the ball to break down the canon,once this is done you run around trying not to get hit by the ball that the other team are throwing at you,if they hit you your out this goes on until every one is out.then the other team has a go,the object is to rebuild the canon before everyone is out.Good game, could become quite painfull depending on where the ball hit you.

tags said...

This was first written by Bud in 2007....

Bud's Year in England

Thanks Tom - you owe me one.

The "thanks" is for asking me to join with this group of, to say the least, interesting folks. This is my first blog. For those of you that don't know, Tom is my uncle. His sister Florrie (Florence) was my mother (tried writing "mum" but have been to Americanized). She married a Yank. I was born in England and we moved to the US in 1946. My parents were killed in a boating accident in 1968. After many years, Tom has convinced me and my wife Judy to join him on one of his trips to England and to contribute a short "bio" for the Cuckoo blog. He has been sending me your stories and I find them interesting and informative. I have already started corresponding with several of my cousins over there, and with their understanding, I submit the following to you too. By the way, I like the crest. For a motto may I suggest, "Beyond the Brent", as most of you have left the estate and have settled all over the world.

My stay on Cuckoo Avenue was probably the shortest of anyone who will submit a story. My mother, Tom's older sister, was a war bride. Yep, she married a Yank and shortly after I was born we moved to America North Carolina were my dad was from. In 1947 my brother John was born and my dad re-enlisted in the army and was sent to Seattle. In 1948 or '49 he was transferred to Anchorage, Alaska, about as far from civilized London and one could get. I got a kick out of Tom's "bio" when he told about his sisters running up and down the stairs to the loo just to flush the toilet. In Anchorage we had a three-seater outhouse (and in the dead of Winter it was cold - but that's another story you don't want to know about). In 1950, I think, my mom got homesick and took my brother and I back to England for a short visit to 67 Cuckoo Avenue, Hanwell, W7, Sussex, England, UK (the first address I ever learned and remembered). I was only four or five when we went over, and we were only to be there a short time, but my mom was in a Hillman that got creamed by a bus and ended up spending several months in hospital and almost a year in sanatorium recovering. During this time John and I stayed with my grandparents. These are some of my remembrances;
Brick; It seem to me that everything was made of brick. Houses, churches, offices, shops, the train stations, even the fences in front of the houses and in the back yards. At the head of the street was this huge bombed out building that I was told was an orphanage that Charlie Chaplin once lived at. (At that time I didn't know who Charlie Chaplin was, but I still told folks that he lived on the same street as I did. I didn't know if that story was true until I saw the Cuckoo Crest with his image on it, so I guess it is.) I remember playing in the rubble of that huge building. Remember, I just came from Alaska were much of downtown Anchorage was still log cabin construction.
Trees, particularly the Chestnut trees in the median of Cuckoo Avenue. They were much larger (or I was much smaller) than the photo in the home page. In the fall there were so many leaves. Piles of leaves so thick you could run and jump in headfirst and not hurt yourself. (No Chestnut trees in Alaska) I also remember my grandfather's garden and the fact that he planted a tree for each of his grandchildren. In 1950 there must have been five or six trees and mine was an apple tree! The Wallace and Grommet movie, "Curse of the Were Rabbit" had gardens like my granddad's, only his was bigger.
School; What a disaster that was. It was just across the street and around the corner, but as far as I was concerned it was a whole world away. I was always in trouble, dressed funny, couldn't speak the language, didn't do my studies on time, didn't (or couldn't) play football or cricket with any skill, and I couldn't even march like an Englishman! I remember one incident during recess or something, in which we had to march around the courtyard. All the boy's (can't remember if the girls marched too) marched in their best Grenadier Guard fashion. I on the other hand marched with an infantryman's gait. I was called out and told I was doing it wrong. Wrong! How dare they tell me I was marching wrong. Didn't they know my dad was in the American Army and that was how they marched! Oops, another visit with the headmistress. Not my first and not my last. I also remember the school uniforms. Since you all wore them all the time I doubt if they made an impression, but to a six-year old Alaskan - wow! I had gray wool shorts, a white shirt with a black and red striped tie, a black wool blazer with a crest or monogram on the breast pocket, and a black and red bennie cap. All that and I was only in the first grade. Absolutely nothing like that in Alaska. My dad's army uniform didn't even look that good. My mother thought I hated the uniform. Wrong, I loved it, particularly after we got to Seattle (my dad had been transferred there while we were gone). I kept that uniform for years, but finally it went missing after one of our frequent moves. Could be why I have a kilt, wh ich my wife won't let me wear in public.
People; I remember (you must keep in mind that I have not thought about this aspect of my life in decades and the thoughts are just gushing from the recesses of my memory as fast as I can write. This is also for my daughters who have not clue to this part of my life). My grandparents seemed old, although at this time they were in their late 50s or early 60s. As I look back now I realized that they had lived through the depression, the war, and had raised 71/2 children (Tom was still living at home). I remember nanny being dressed in cotton frocks and mostly wearing an apron and granddad having on a waistcoat. I remember my uncle Tom (whom I perceive to be the instigator and common element of this little group and that you all know Tom either from experience or by reputation) who is seven year my senior and was my guide for much of my ventures, kinda like having your kid brother follow you around. I remember Penny, she lived across the street and we played together a lot. There were the street vendors, who were the most interesting of all. There were two that I remember the most, the rag man and the knife sharpener (he may also have sold pots and pans). This is another of those things which, if you grew up with these associations they weren't unique, but I can assure you there were no horse drawn carts on the streets of Anchorage, or Seattle for that matter. The rag man was my brother's favorite. Give him some old rags and he gave you some goldfish - such a deal! I liked the knife sharpener. When he came I would follow him all the way down to the bottom of the hill, just to watch him work. I remember my cousin Mike, who was three years older than me. (He too, along with uncle Tom, lives here in Washington state). I remember my cousin Ray, who I think is about a year younger than me and a baby cousin - don't know who. As for my aunts and uncles, I remember them best from their trips to Seattle.
Lastly, some remembrances of England not from Cuckoo Avenue (first, I had no idea how large the estate was until I viewed it on Goggle Earth). I remember riding my grandfather's train, the Great Western Railroad, which I actually thought he ran - remember the waistcoat. I remember going to the beach, either Ramsgate or Margate (maybe both) and the seawall and sandy beach. I remember several trips into the English countryside to visit my mother who was recovering from her auto accident. These seemed to be on mostly rainy days. I remember going into London with either my uncle Wally or uncle John and riding in his delivery truck. Finally there is the voyage back to America on the RMS Gorgic. It was a stormy crossing, but I made it in grand style - never getting seasick once, and a little of the train trip back to Seattle.

These are my memories of Cuckoo Avenue. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed remembering them, and as much as I enjoy reading your tales.

R.W. "Budd" Wright
Seattle, Washington

Angela Ware Kelling said...

Thats a great story Bud.I think Penny across the street is my cousin Penny Grimes.

tags said...

Sally Ware remembers the POW's building the Prefabs...
I remember going down to see them with Angela my sister. We were a little bit afraid as we didn't know what to expect.We didn't realise they were just men like our Dad. Some time later two of them worked with my Dad and they would come to our house for Sunday dinner once a month.I remember one was a cobbler and he showed my Dad how to mend our shoes.Which is something my dad did for many years after. The other one made us bird tables with birds carved ontop they had string underneath with weights on and when you swung them the birds would peck. Does anyone else remember these.Also he made me a little milking stool but it had four legs as that was how they were in Germany. Guess what I still have it. All my children and my grandchildren have used it to sit on and to reach the sink to help wash up.It is still going strong.As my first Greatgrand child is due in Oct it looks as if it will be in use yet again lol.I have some school photos and as soon as my youngest son has time he will post them to you for me. Bye for now love to you all Sally

First published August 2007

georgek said...

Yes I remember the Italian POWs building the prefabs,and the toys they made,I also remember swimming in the river Brent with them,they were happy and always saying, "for us, the war is over,and I thank god".Going to London tomorrow, see Oliver at the Drury lane Theatre,its Joans birthday,now, Im telling you this because Joan said this morning before I go to London I must clear the bottom cudboard in the bereau,and I thought ol blimey more mess to clear up,because women seem to never clear up after them,well out came every thing in that bottom cudboard strewn all over the floor,and from the darkest depths came a boxed vinyl 78 records,hadnt seen it for years,it is called "40 years of golden memories" starting from 1940-1979 (yes Jim thats only 39years) still having a record player that plays LPs and 45s,we started at the beginning and have had a great day with these old favorites singing and remembering how we used to listen on the old juke box in the cafes.All the records in the list all sold over the million,and there is one record,I liked it in 1953 and I still like it.this record took the music business by surprise,it was an instrumental,played on the trumpet by the late Eddie Calvert,an obscure German tune called "Oh Mein Papa".How many of you remember that tune? What was,and is it still,your favorite?.

tags said...

I remember that tune George, there was another tune, not sure if it was the same trumpet player though.
You heard it a lot back then, I think it was called Apple and Cherry Blossom Pink or or something like that.
The POW's used to be allowed to eat spaghetti at our house, they liked all my sisters.

Del said...

Ah, Eddie Calvert! Your right Tags, he did also play the Cherry Blossom number. I remember the guys that I played ball with saying that he was the trumpet player they were most likely to fall asleep listening to. I think that he finally moved to South Africa, as if they didn't have enough trouble. `As to the German prisoners at the pre-fabs, I became friendly with one young guy who acted as interpreter, he was also a shoemaker, named Rudi Macek. I wonder if he was the one that you knew? I had a letter from him, after he got back to Austria. Del

tags said...

Hi Del,
It was actually Sally that mentioned the shoemaker, I just reposted her story. As for the popular Cherry Blossom number, it's strange but wasn't that a name a shoe polish? I had a temporary holiday job at the Kiwi polish factory once, not exactly my chance to shine, I hated that job. I remember going to see the POW's but not very clearly as I was very young. I remember the wooden toys they made, monkeys on a stick etc.

Del said...

The old Cherry Blossom shoe polish is still around. In fact, we have some in the cleaning box, I'll have to mention to the lovely Charlotte that my shoes are in need of some attention. Del

yvonneh said...

I too remember Eddie Calvert, Cherry pink and Apple blossom white was the title and Oh mein Papa, I still remember the words and I play it on my organ, but Eddie used to make that trumpet sing. I used to love winifred Attwell on a Saturday after tea, listening to her honky tonk piano was a dream, Bert Weedon and his guitar was another favourite, but the all time favourite had to be Lonnie Donnigan and his skiffle group.

tags said...

Memory from Eff Stevens.
(First published in 2007)

Thought I would send you one of my memories of the days following the end of WW2.

After the end of the war, my father was stationed in Kent with the R.A.F. There was a large camp of German P.O.W.'s at the base and that Christmas they put on a huge Christmas party for the children of the servicemen.

When we arrived there were large tables set up with white table cloths and wonderful goodies, which we children had never seen before. There were cream horns, chocolate ├ęclairs, cream puffs and all the little cakes and fruit that we had been deprived of during the war years.

After we had stuffed ourselves, Father Christmas got up on the stage, each child's name was called and given a present made by the POW.s. Mine was a child's deck chair, which I always treasured, and my sisters, who were older than I, both received slippers.

When the presents were distributed, a man with a trumpet stepped up on the stage and entertained us with song requests, while the P.O.W.'s who had been waiting on us, sat down at the tables and had their Christmas meal.

My Dad told me to go up on the stage and ask the trumpeter to play Lilli Marlene. I did as I was told, mounted the stage and I pulled on the mans jacket, looked up at him, and said "My Dad says, play Lilli Marlene" The man ignored me and I went back to my seat. My Dad said "Go up there again, and tell him to play the song" I was very nervous and really didn't want to do it, but was more scared of my Dad than the man with the trumpet, so up on the stage I went again, and tugged on the mans jacket, while my Dad yelled from the audience, "Do as the little girl says". The trumpeter looked down at my Dad and said, "Don't you think that will offend them?" To which my Dad replied "Of course not, go ahead and play it"

Well what happened next was something that I will never forget to my dying day. The prisoner's stopped eating, all stood at attention and sang at the tops of their voices, their own song in their own language.. There wasn't a dry eye in the audience. Here was the enemy that we had been taught to fear, imprisoned, far from their homes and families, but just as vulnerable and human as we all were.

Lilli Marlene, my Dad told me, was the German marching song. The English Translation goes like this:

Tommie Connor, 1944

Underneath the lantern,
By the barrack gate
Darling I remember
The way you used to wait
T'was there that you whispered tenderly,
That you loved me,
You'd always be,
My Lilli of the Lamplight,
My own Lilli Marlene

Time would come for roll call,
Time for us to part,
Darling I'd caress you
And press you to my heart,
And there 'neath that far-off lantern light,
I'd hold you tight ,
We'd kiss good night,
My Lilli of the Lamplight,
My own Lilli Marlene

Orders came for sailing,
Somewhere over there
All confined to barracks
was more than I could bear
I knew you were waiting in the street
I heard your feet,
But could not meet,
My Lilly of the Lamplight,
my own Lilly Marlene

Resting in our billets,
Just behind the lines
Even tho' we're parted,
Your lips are close to mine
You wait where that lantern softly gleams,
Your sweet face seems
To haunt my dreams
My Lilly of the Lamplight,
My own Lilly Marlene

yvonneh said...

BOOM BOOM thanks for that treat eff, being in the army I know the other words to the song. Your experiences are really interesting.
Budd glad you found us keep contributing it was really great hearing the story from an american prospective.

Anonymous said...

Looking for a gentleman by the name of Ted? who worked at the Kiwi factory around Christmas of 1953. Does any one remember Doll Clancy?

Anonymous said...

Sorry it would have been Christmas of 1952.