Former local lad recalls 50's family life

LIFE in Ipswich in the 1950s was recently recalled in Kindred Spirits by Jean Hodge.

David Kindred

LIFE in Ipswich in the 1950s was recently recalled in Kindred Spirits by Jean Hodge.

Former Ipswich man Rod Cross, who grew up in Clifford Road, Ipswich, and now lives at Botley near Southampton, said: “Jean's reminiscences of family life in Ipswich in the 1950s was like looking through a window at my own childhood days.

I too, can recall water being heated in the 'copper' on a Monday morning and my mother adding the 'Rinso' to the weekly wash; the green mangle outside the back door with its rubber-lined rollers and wonky handle; the tin bath filled with lukewarm water that awaited a succession of occupants throughout Friday afternoon and evening.

“The paraffin-fuelled 'Valor' stove to keep the winter chill from the kitchen; and the clothes horse laden with fresh laundry airing in front of the fire. These were part and parcel of everyday life back then and contribute to the library of memories that I have of those far-off days.

“Looking back, those times appeared somewhat grey and bleak, as our parents struggled to make ends meet, but everybody made the most of what they had.

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Although money was tight the priorities were clear: plentiful, wholesome, home-prepared food; sensible clothing, essentially functional rather than fashionable; and above all, the provision of a secure family environment where mother was unquestionably in charge!

“Maybe those days were austere, but a random snapshot of life for me in the 50s still contains a host of fond memories. These might include: ambling down to Alexandra Park, Ipswich, from my home in Clifford Road, to spend the afternoon on the roundabout, swings and 'witch's hat', unaccompanied, but still perfectly safe; watching the red 201 double-decker bus slowly crest Grove Lane hill before we boarded en route to Felixstowe on a sunny, Sunday morning; running errands to the Foxhall Road shops for the lady next door and earning a penny in the process; taking in the heady smells of boiling fruit juice as mum made chutney and jams from produce we'd just picked from the garden; writing down car numbers and counting the number of wagons on the goods trains as they passed under Marlborough Road bridge; finding an empty 'Corona' bottle or Cobbold's beer bottle to take to the off licence in order to collect the 2d deposit; rushing out to intercept the shrimp boy or the man selling the 'Green'Un' on a Saturday night.

“Obtaining two packets instead of one from the beach nut chewing gum machine outside the corner shop on Wellesley Road; taking the trolley bus to town and buying a packet of assorted foreign stamps from the shop in High Street; balmy summer evenings playing street games till dusk with other members of the “gang”, cold winter evenings with the family, cosily gathered round the Bakelite wireless set and laughing uproariously at the innocent humour in such programs as Ray's a Laugh and Life with The Lyons.

“Life in the 50s may well have lacked the sophistication of life today, but in terms of security and level of contentment maybe it wasn't such a bad time in which to spend one's childhood!”

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