Hard times shared
The cohesive happiness of the Moulsecoomb area has already been touched upon by others elsewhere on this site,but I’ll mention just a bit more. Too poor to describe, everyone could relate their own times of difficulty and stress. However, with everyone knowing everyone, times were shared in many various ways.
Making your own entertainment
Children would devise their own entertainment. Yearly, a Tab A Go function would occur, with all the kids operating on a commercial basis, using cigarette cards (tabs) as cash. All sorts of card games could be played, and Alleys (marbles) could be bought or exchanged. Bikes could be hired for a day or half day, skipping competitions were held and always there’d be the long skipping rope with many of the children all skipping together. It took quite hefty kids to turn that rope.
The Spicer family
My family the Spicers lived at 34 Newick Road. John Spicer known as Jack was married to Liz from the Trott family. They had six children, Elizabeth (Bet), John (Johnny), Ronald (Ron – thats me), Henry Alfred (Alfie), Stanley (Stan) and Sylvia (Sylv) who especially saw quite a number of stressful times. Both Johnny and Stan died at the age ten. In Johnny’s case it was valvular malfunction of the heart, nowadays corrected, and Stan died of meningitis.
Outward signs of respectability
Despite the ever present worry of ensuring sufficient to eat as well as enough proper clothing, just like most in the area, we maintained that outward appearance of respectability. Recalling a newly arrived family just up the road, I found a ready made school friend to call upon. On one visit quite some time after their arrival when they had settled down, I was invited into the house. To my surprise I found that they still had bare floorboards. When it came to teatime, just like us, there was barely anything on the table. This was quite a revelation to me because it showed that my family were not alone in our poor existence level.
Problems of unemployment
I can well remember the very poor conditions. Dad Jack was a rope scaffolder working in the building trade. If only he’d also trained as a bricklayer or carpenter his work could have been continuous. When the scaffolding was temporarily completed he would be stood off – many times he was out of work. Yet amazingly, he’d obviously read up on many matters because he knew so much about different subjects, one of which was mechanics. The local dust cart broke down one day and he was home, out of work when one of the dustmen called on us for his help. He saw to the engine and off it went.
A rabbit for a shilling
My Dad encouraged my interest in wireless, as it was then known. I got a paper round at the age of ten and without the local school knowing, with the little cash got together bits and pieces to make my first crystal set. Dad was also very good at net making and rabbit catching. During the war, rabbit catching both legal and illegal was the game. Meat was rationed and little could be afforded anyway. Many people were eager to buy a rabbit for just over a shilling – and that was real money!