Saturday, July 01, 2017

Unusual Childhood Memories

An email from  my oldest sister in line with this post's title, set many in the family thinking.

Many memories from the '50s and '60s concern matters which are unusual or gone altogether today, though common then. Some are of happy occasions others terrifying or poignant. Personal memories from those times include:

When living in an RAF Nissen hut in Lytham-St-Annes being amazed at a bucket of tadpoles outside the hut being transformed overnight,  to a bucket of small frogs trying to jump out.

Actually the  ever open RAF canteen at the same base was also for some reason memorable.

The RAF was very much part of post WWII early childhood, so another memory this time in Germany, where the family was based for a while, was of the heaps of rubble in Cologne streets near to the still standing old cathedral.

An abundance of red squirrels in and around St Mary's Primary school Carshalton yet none at all are to be seen today in that area.

In 1963 the Thames froze over at Windsor and two boys drove a car onto the ice. They then hooted at a stranded house boat- very foolish and dangerous of course but quite a sight none the less. Alas there is no photo of the car but the Thames at the time looked thus:

The most terrifying memory is that of the Cuban missile crisis where the fear in 1962 was such that in the Beaumont dormitory, boys with a Jesuit scholastic, said the De Profundis prayer before lights out, given that  outcome of the stand off between President Kruschev of the USSR and President Kennedy of the USA meant that overnight there could be a nuclear holocaust. Thankfully of course that never happened and life moved on.

The early days of traveling by train overnight to Lourdes with the HCPT pilgrims, involved a number of unusual memories, one of which is of the train being driven from Boulogne all the way to Lourdes  during a difficult French national railways strike, by the French SNCF union leader, who it turned out had been in WWII resistance with an HCPT group leader. The only train to run in the whole of France during those two days.

Earlier as a child one traveled unaccompanied to school on a local trolleybus:

Or by one of the last steam trains to London Bridge:

In fact the steam trains were probably one of the contributory causes of the great London "pea-souper" fogs that were really caused by the burning of coke and coal in the capital so for that and many other reasons the switch to modern electric trains was a blessing.

The assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 is sadly memorable though the cowardly 9/11 massacres and   more recent  killings by political or quasi religious  thugs are as bad.

Many memories are superlative and happy but less straight forward to describe. However the sight of early spring blue bells in a wood, the perfumes wafting over when walking in wild countryside and  the sight of shooting stars in the night sky, are simple to describe and as free and as moving today, as they have always been.

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