Christine Webster

I was born in 1948 at 166, Palmerston Road and lived there until I got married in 1966.

My mum and granddad were in the A.R.Ps and used to go around putting sand on incendiary bombs. My mum was walking down Canning road to go to her friends when a Doodlebug came over and blew the house next to her up, she was hit in the neck and leg by shrapnel and was taken to hospital and in a "bad " way as they used to say, but she always said she was very lucky as the 3 people in the house that got hit were carried out in canvas bag's, what was left of them! My Granddad and Nan were drinking in the Lord Palmerston at the time when someone came in and was saying about the house in Canning Road getting hit and who had got killed and then went on about "the poor girl who had been hit by shrapnel, my Granddad and Nan had no idea it was their own daughter the man was talking about!
They used to own the café in Palmerston road next to "woods" until it was bombed. They used to tell me stories about when they used to get things "black market" like butter, eggs and sausages, but one time my granddad bought some sausages and when my Nan cooked them they were full of bread crumbs! She said how they had to pay "protection " money to Eric Horse, Chopper Watts and the rest of the gang every week, but one week my Granddad did not make any money so they broke the counter and locked my mum up in the cupboard.

When the café got hit by a bomb My Nan and Granddad were in the cupboard under the stairs, my Nan could feel the floor getting wet and there was no light, she got upset and said to my granddad that the dog had "copped" it and it was blood she could feel. When the all clear came she found that a vase of water had broke and the water had got in under the stair cupboard, but the piano had fell on 2 kittens and killed them, besides she said "a bloody great hole where my front room used to be". Up to the day she died that the "thieving buggers who helped clean up the mess had taken all her jewelry (perhaps still buried is my Nan's jewels)! They then sold it, it became Fred's café, and it was a café for many years after that.

My Nan and granddad used to be on the stage and he was known as tap dancing Tommy Tubbs my Nan used to accompany him on the piano. Nan, Granddad and my mum then moved to a house along the road 166 and they lived there until they died. My mum remained in the house until 1972 when she Married Arthur Redbourn and moved to 6, Gainsford road she lived there after her husband (my step father died, for 5 years) but now lives in Walton House as she has Senile Dementia, she is not that bad as her long term memory is good. I remember being able to play outside with no worries of being "taken away" by strangers or being run over. We all had a piece of string through the letter box attached to the key, so we could come and go as we pleased, I do not think we could do that now! We used play "knock down ginger" and were often threatened with the words "I know who you are, wait till I see your mum ", We spent hours until it was dark playing "two ball" up against any wall that was tall, the one in Palmerston road before the extension of Woods was a favourite, I remember walking along with my mates with the 2 balls stuffed up our jumpers and we thought that they looked like the real thing's (although we were only about 9yrs old) we used to dig the garden for a bit of "chalk" and get a piece of tile and play "hopscotch" on the pavement and get most annoyed when someone wanted to walk past.

We used to go into Brimley's sweet shop (he later became the biscuit king) and get gobstoppers that were so big they made you dribble as you tried to keep them in your mouth and kept taking them out to compare what colour they had gone and it took about 3 days to get to that tiny bit of aniseed! I remember the Jamboree bags, honeycomb, liquorice wood, tiger nuts, spangles, sherbet dips and getting 2ozs of lemonade powder that you took to school and kept dipping you finger in, you ended up with a yellow tongue, yellow finger and a soggy bag with a little bit of powder left at the end of the day and of course the red liquorice comforts that all us girls use to use as lipstick! The big jars that held bull's-eyes, cough candy, sherbet pips, lemon barley twists, satin cushions, pear drop sand other mouth watering sticky sweets My mum told Mr Brimley not to sell me any Bubble Gum, as she had heard about flies and beetles falling from the rafters of the factory and going in the Bubble Gum, but I just went to another sweet shop, or "Cornish's" and got it there! Later on I could by a single cigarette for 3 pence, I think it was called a "Park Drive". When I was older, you would not be seen dead unless the cigarettes you smoked were no other than Peter Styvastant or those different coloured Russian ones!

As we used to live in Palmerston Road we used to have a good view of the Walthamstow Carnival that went past every year and all my mates and I would throw ½ pennies from the top window hoping to hit the new Carnival queen!
We used to play on the "bomb " site next to William Morris school and come home filthy and get a back hander from my mum as she said it was dangerous, I thought that if we found a bomb it would be exciting and we would be famous, so we used to have digging competitions (the muck we found, but was treated as treasure) to see who could find one first, as I am writing this you will have guessed that we never did find one!

As I said previously I lived with my mum, brother, Nan and granddad. Like many other's I used to have to go and get the bag wash for my mum (oh the humiliation) and carry it home! I used to go first and annoy the parrot outside Snoad's pet shop. On Friday's I used to go and get my granddad's brown ale and two arrowroot biscuits from the offie in Palmerston Road. We used to go round looking for "pop" bottles as you got 2p back on these or collect news papers for Joycie in the fish shop next to the Lord Palmerston for some pennies and a bag of crackling. We used to collect pennies for the guy outside the Lord Palmerston and we always done very well there, as the drunker the people became the more money we got! I used to go into Rosin's the bakers for bread and one shillings worth of stale cakes. There was a lady in there named (I think) Maud and she used to twitch and throw her arms about, (remember that Fred uppipottimus who used to be on telly with Des O'Connor) just like him, my mum said it was because she suffered from shell shock! However, it used to scare me rotten when all the cakes used to fly everywhere! Who remembers the man with no legs who used to whiz up and down the High St on a board with ball bearing wheels and had socks on his hands to protect them as he propelled his way along on them? You could here him coming down the road a mile away.

I went first to Greenleaf Rd School and then on to scruffie McGuffie. I, like many of you, remember the Doll's hospital, Manzies (my mate Pat Stubbs mum worked in there so we used to and get mash and liquor for free) the Granada picture house, how we walked through the horse's stables. Remember when it was your birthday you got 2 free ticket's and had to go up on the stage. The serials like Roy Rogers and Zorro. The song we all used to sing was "Anchors Away" all on six old pennies and get a cake from the shop in the high street!

My Granddad bought a 12-inch telly and all you had then was B.B.C but all the neighbours used to come in and watch it! I remember us all having to stand to attention for minutes in front of the telly on Remembrance Sunday. (I know it was only supposed to be for 1 minute) but he always said minutes out of his life for the brave dead was okay by him, although my brother and I always got a clout for "fidgeting"
I remember once my brother found a 5 pound note and ran all the way home shouting that he had found it, my mum was overjoyed at the thought of some extra money (times were hard) and as she turned around to go in about 6 people were standing there saying it was their money, I remember one old boy saying he was just going to have his bike fixed, when the money blew out of his hand! Well my mum could not say much because of my brother shouting out about the 5 pounds, so she took it to the police station for them to sort it out, but my brother could not sit down for a day for having a big mouth!

I loved being at Greenleaf school as we used to play so many games in the playground like statues, skipping ropes, swapping cards and beads (that we had prised out of our mums brooches) hand stands against the walls and the one where you done pigeon and giant steps and lots of others that I cannot remember names of. I loved the country dancing and painting, but did not like the baggy navy blue knickers with a pocket for your hankie (very itchy) and those socks! One of them always lost the elastic first, so you had a rubber band around the top and then you had a mark for several days where it had been!

The frozen bottles of milk, which lasted for longer. The orange drink you got from the milkman, cod liver oil and malt, and vitamin drops or rose hip syrup, but I loved pasteurised milk (my mate got her tongue stuck down the top of one of those bottles and had to have it removed at the hospital! However, the best thing was condensed milk or sugar on a slice of bread, heaven! Monday wash days and the dolly blue bag and steam and smell of boiling sheets, mum using the scrubbing board (still got it) and putting the steaming, clean, dripping wet sheets through the mangle. Wet washing in front of the coal fire, that mum used to light and then put a sheet of newspaper in front of so that it would "draw" half the time it caught light and disappeared up the chimney! Mum drawing the curtains, covering the mirror and hiding the cutlery when we had thunder and lightening (in case we were struck) my brother David and I thought it was great fun as we were banished to under the table, with the chenille tassel's hanging down.

Christine Webster

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