Saturday, 26 December 2009

The 1970s

Fiona and Alison - Grove Park in Harborne

In the 1970’s we encountered all sorts of shortages, due to industrial disputes. Reminiscent of the war years, I can remember queuing for bread as most of the large bakers had gone on strike. If you were a regular customer at the Victoria Bakery, located on Lordswood Road, they provided their regulars with a ration card, and when a loaf of bread was bought, the card would be stamped. Fortunately I had been in the habit of visiting the shop regularly, so at least we were never without a loaf.

Shortly after that, we were faced with a sugar shortage, which was then followed by a paper shortage, this resulted in the scarcity of toilet rolls. Thank goodness we did not have to resort to using newspaper, as had been the need during the 1940’s. Once again, I had been a customer at the local grocery shop Wrensons; supermarkets had not yet come into being and shopping was then a more personal experience. The manager of the store would slide these necessities into my shopping bag. He appreciated that we were a large family and recognized his regulars.

Being a large family, we were so pleased that Denis passed his 11 plus examination and went to King Edwards Five Ways, Grammar School. This was located not too far away in Bartley Green. This offered new opportunities for him, particularly with the sporting activities, especially the track and cross-country running events. Sue passed the 11 plus, and was awarded a place at Kings Norton Girls Grammar School, where she greatly enjoyed her time there, she was an active member of the Hockey team. Peter came next in line and joined Denis at King Edwards; Peter also enjoyed the academic and sporting activities the school had to offer. At about this time there was a great deal of political pressure to end the 11 plus selection process and parents were restricted in choice outside their residential area. It was decreed that if parents chose to send their children outside the catchment area, then the cost of travel would fall on the parents.

Kathryn, Alison and Fiona therefore attended the Lordswood Girls School, which was not a great distance from Station Road. It was very difficult financially to keep them all in school uniform, as the outfit could often only be bought from designated stores. Every item of clothing had to be the stipulated colour. In recent years we uncovered old receipts for uniform and one receipt for blazer with badge was sixty pounds; quite a lot in those times.

How we managed our money I do not know, as Geoff at this period was the sole wage earner. Let me just add that whatever sacrifices we made at the time have been fully repaid, we were proud of them all. To whatever they applied themselves; they succeeded to a high degree. Peter was awarded the Gold Scout Award, presented by the Chief Scout. Kathryn gained her Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award and gave me the privilege of accompanying her to Buckingham Palace to meet the Duke and receive the award. All our family derived a great deal of pleasure from attending Brownies, Girl Guides and Scouts; Alison even achieved the Queens Guide Award. There have been so many proud moments to remember, medals for athletics, swimming and ballet. The girls representing the county hockey team, the boy’s successes in various athletic school events, Denis winning the Worcestershire boys 800 mertres track event. I’m sure this prepared them for later life, for their later academic achievements and success in the working environment.

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