We had an orchard at the end of our road, my brother used to go scrumping
with his friends, don't know why because we had an apple tree in the garden.
There was a row of nailers’ cottages and one very large house belonging to
two old ladies where the apples grew, perhaps they tasted better! As for
"Knock down Ginger" we used to tie front door handles together so that when
we knocked one several used to go together......Margaret
I have been finding these memory lane messages very interesting; coming
from London they are all much the same. I notice most come from the ladies
about skipping and the blue shh…. ( we mere males could not discuss such
things)-- that I keep forgetting to post me interests in Birmingham.
By the way, who played marbles along the street on the way home from school, or
with dabs or 5 stones?.......Derrick
Was that a game called snobs with the 5 stones? Ours were made of clay and
some we made ourselves and baked in the oven......June
All these childhood memories from Birmingham folk have made wonderful
reading. Not so different from my childhood in Northampton in the 1950's
and 60's. I was thinking about my early days of being a 'Family Historian'.
The day I marched into the local Register Office and asked to look at the
Birth Certificates! And wondered why I got a frosty reception. They didn't
even advise me to go to the library! I knew nothing of the Census or Parish
Registers! When I finally got to the Record Office with my daughter we were
given the original book which recorded the Baptism of my grandmother on July
1st 1883. We stared at the entry for a long time and my daughter whispered
'I wonder if it was a nice day and if they had cake and sandwiches for tea?'
From that day I was well and truly hooked and had to find out more. So many
surprises were in store, about Granddad in the Workhouse, his illegitimacy
and his tragic baby brother! The Criminals and Bastardy cases! Well, you
all know how interesting it all is!.......Janet
Does anyone remember the go-carts made with old pram wheels and placing a> book on a roller skate and sitting at the top of the hill (in West Heath)
and whizzing to the bottom.
Still got the scars to prove it......Jean and Colin
I remember the book on a roller skate and I've also got the
scars, we had a big hill in Southend on Sea opposite our house, with a big
bend at the bottom, met someone once and ended up across the main road and
carried on, on my bum across the path and into a wall, 'cos the skate hat
hit the kerb and stayed there !.......Mick
When Mick mentioned earlier about roller skates, I recall I was a real
"whizz" on mine, then came "skeelers" (now called in-line skates) well
never did get the hang of them, fell over and smashed my elbow, on my
way out of the hospital. I was so impressed with this plaster cast I
missed my footing on the steps , fell over and broke the other one!
neither healed very well.
I blacked my eye with my pogo stick when I missed it!
Skipping was never my strong point, for reasons I won't go into on
list. But could race anything on my spacehopper! I loved my go- cart,
dad put the lawnmower engine on the back, think that’s what started my
love of speedy cars...........Melli
As I was a bit of a tomboy, what about your "barranarra"
(or as mother kept correcting me "No darling, your bow and arrow".)
And pistols with the gun caps.......Andrea
Any one remember these homemade toys
The shape of a gun stock was hewn out of wood, then a piece of metal tube to represent
the barrel was cut from an old bicycle frame and fixed to the stock. An empty "Mansion" furniture polish tin was fixed crossways in a position at the end
of the stock underneath the barrel to look like a magazine.
Then about a 2 inch six pointed star was cut out of wood, Elm if possible.
A hole was drilled in the center to take a round headed wood screw
(Black Jappaned made in B'ham) then fixed to the side of the stock so that it still rotated.
A second screw was left protruding from one of the teeth of the star to act as a crank handle.
The clever bit then was to use the half piece of hacksaw blade
that broke when you were cutting the barrel from the old bicycle frame,
and fix it to another piece wood on the side of the stock.Then when you cranked the star,
each tooth would lift the springy blade hitting the old tin. This would produce an Ack-ack
sound increased by the empty tin.
I spent many hours playing in a spinney with my mates,
the teeth on the star would often fail, the winner was the holder of the still
working toy. The broken star was usually fixed overnight.......Bill
How about water bombs - newspaper folded so that it would hold water which
could then be thrown. The bigger the better if it didn't burst on you. And
cushion fights and pillow fights oh for the days before we were infected
with 'political correctness'........Derrick.
Dabs was a good game - specially post war when one could buy differently
coloured 'proper' dabs; much better than the home made ones. Remember
baking conkers too? And cats-cradle with lengths of wool.
How did we know what 'season' it was - how was it that every kid turned up
at school with 'fag cards' or marbles on the same day!!??
Someone recalled spending pretty much the whole day 'out playing' - we did
didn't we? Great fun on the bomb sites. Remember looking at the different
wall papers on the remains of the houses that had been bombed? I also
remember we used to stand at the top of the concrete steps to the Air Raid
Warden's shelter and yell down "What's the time Mr Warden" when we thought
it might be time to go home for tea!!.......Brian
What about the whip and top....used to use chalk to colour the top and it
looked great as they spun!!! I used to push the top between the paving
slabs....wrap the string around and pull. We used to have competitions
seeing who could keep their top spinning the longest!! :-).......Diane
And did you ever break any windows with the window breaker top? I did and
couldn't sit down for a week!!......June
Sugar sandwiches late forties/fifties and condensed milk
sandwiches in the Royal Navy.
What about bread and dripping during the war??.......Brian
We used condensed milk in tea when we had no proper milk........June
Can you remember 'milk tablets' there was allsorts of flavours
strawberry, lemon, blackcurrant etc. that was in 1956.......June
Mom also reminded me that Nan ate sugar sandwiches,
and my grandparents too! Is this a Brummy thing or does it stretch far
wider? Personally I used to look on in disgust.......Linda
This isn’t such an old custom. My mother used to give me and my sisters
sugar sandwiches in the 60's. I can also remember trying to toast them in
front of the fire. This was quite messy but delicious when you got it
Ah happy days ;-)........Bill
Hah! And I thought it was only this side of the Pond that was daft.
When a kid my Nan and Pop (the 1st pure Irish, the 2nd pure English .
. . and that's a whole sage in it's own right!) *refused* to buy
cereal when we kids stayed the weekend. So we sometimes sat until
nearly lunch struggling to get down my Nan's toast with milk on it.
Neither my brother or I were fond of milk period, let alone warm milk
poured over burnt toast squares and doused with sugar . . . ugh! It
so turned me off on breakfast I refuse to eat cereal to this day!
Nan's afternoon tea, however, was different story. We could take or
leave the tea (sorry folks, we're Yanks) but you *had* to have that
hot cup of tea to dip those sugar sandwiches (bread, buttered and
sprinkled generously with sugar then rolled like a jelly role and
dipped in the tea!) in . . . one was no good without the other.....Kathleen
My father use to eat this, we called it mush. He also loved Tripe cooked in
milk and every Sunday we had Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding........
Well I used to have cocoa and sugar mixed and spread on bread!! Yummy!!!
And talking of sandwiches, I remember Fried tomatoes cooked in Bacon Fat
until they were a pulp. then dip in the Bread,then removing it and you've got one of the
best breakfasts in Brum. I remember there was a cafe by New Street
Station/Central Tech. that served them.in the early fifties.....Dave D.
My mother ate sugar sandwiches and my brother and I were always
made to eat bread and butter with our tinned fruit. I lived in Northfield
for 30 years where as children we played out in fields all day only going
home for food.
How about boiled eggs with vinegar poured inside? Our Saturday lunch at
nan's was always a boiled egg from the cellar with bread & butter, and Dad
always filled his two eggs with vinegar. Was this a quirk of my Dad's, or
did others do this?......Terry
Do you remember 'hard tack' biscuits in the army ration packs, i was
in the army in the middle '70's and we used to spread the condensed milk on
ours ! Miscoloured chocolate bars ! I also remember sugar sandwiches, or
buppy shugs, and bread and dripping. Also bread cooked in gravy 'cos we
didn't have enough money for 'meat'........Mick
Did anyone ever make 'kali' - a mixture of cocoa powder, sugar and
Andrews Liver Salts? Such a treat when sweets were non-existent, not to
mention the best regulated bowels in Birmingham. Because butter was scarce
it was always mixed with margarine to make it go further (not to mention
disguising the horrible taste of the "marge".......Jeanagh
Then there was cocoa and sugar in a match box - and lick your finger......Bryan
I remember having cocoa and sugar mixed in a bowl to dip fingers in as
a treat during the war as sweets were on ration. What about the kali that
could be bought in little triangular bags. I used to love that. The kali
used to turn your fingers yellow!.......Judy
We also had sugar in a bag and dipped a rhubarb stick in place of sweets.......June
I was born in Toronto. My granny was born in Birmingham.
We always had pork pie for Christmas breakfast!
Mr. Petre, had the best roses compliments of the milk man's horse.
There was a rag-a-bones man.
We called evaporated milk ‘sticky milk’, we put it in or on just about
everything. My favourite was sticky milk on the raspberries my granny grew
in the garden.
Butter and sugar were rationed, when my mum was married in 1944, she didn't
have a wedding cake, my granny made a pie.........Jill :)
Did anyone have "bread and ifit"?........Chris
Yes if we got it you can have it...oh yes and condensed milk,
yummy would eat it by the spoonful............Jean
Reading memories of special treats, does anyone remember a tonic bought at
the local chemists in Birmingham and labelled 'Parish's Food' ?......Kenneth
I certainly do, and if I remember correctly the name was Parrish's Chemical
Food, and yes that is what it tasted of......Jeanagh
We were given Parrish's food all winter. I tried to get some for my kids
this winter and DRAT they don't make it anymore!! It had the same effect as
Rhubarb in the mouth........Carol
I remember Parishes Food, and syrup of figs.......Sombra
By the way, yes to pork pie for Christmas morning for me living in Erdington
but not for my wife, whose family used to have Easter eggs at Christmas due
to the Mother in Law working at Cadbury's and having access to the Chocolate
Shop, which was where they sold off misshapes etc......Jon
Oh, yes, I had an aunt who worked at Cadbury's and used to bring us
misshapes in those yellowish paper bags. In my family history researches I
have found that several of her cousins came up from the country,
Leintwardine in HER, to live with the 'town' family, go to school and then
take an entrance exam to work at Cadbury's. This was a very good start in
life compared to the country option of going into service.
Does anyone know
what was in that Cadbury exam?......Vivienne
That was a big plus about living in Birmingham, especially if you had
relatives and friends working at Cadburys. Every Friday night would be
Cadbury night. Opening all the yellow bags of mis-shapes. My favourites were
I don't remember anyone taking an exam but was always told that on your
first working day at Cadburys, you were told that you could eat as much
chocolate as you wanted. By the end of the first week, you were so sick of
chocolate that you would never touch the stuff again. I'm not sure if that
I worked at Cadburys for 15 years and remember taking an exam. It was
very easy, simple arithmetic, a bit of geography etc. As I worked in the
office I did not have access to free chocolate but I believe those that worked in
the factory did. Of course I made lots of visits to the chocolate shop to
buy bags of mis-shapes.
I still love chocolate but actually went to work at Cadburys because of
the excellent sport facilities that they had then........Margaret
I am afraid that our family just had to be different -
we had glorious, left-over from Christmas Day,
well-laced sherry trifle served straight from an ice-cold pantry.
It certainly warmed the cockles of your heart.
We lived in Alum Rock, about a mile or so from the Metropolitan Cammel factory at Saltley
and our lives were punctuated by the 'bulls' going off.
These were the sirens they used to warn people that they only had five minutes
to get to work, and when the shift had started/finished.
I also remember an old man coming around with his hurdy-gurdy and a little monkey
dressed in bright knitted clothes.
How many ladies remember being forced into those hideous 'liberty bodices'?
If anything was mis-named, those were.
By the time mum had done up all those buttons and fastened up your stockings
with its dangling suspenders you couldn't breathe.
To think I am part of history, what a shock,
and I don't get my pension until next month!......Jeanagh
If you were behind the times we in Nottinghamshire were too.
Our local butcher stated to make home-made individual meat pies with gravy
(you took your own jug) mum used to call earlier in the morning with the jug
and order the pies for dinner and I would pick them up on the way home from
school they were delicious.......June
Of course you did have to run home for something if the rag and bone man came.
My Mom always gave me something but with the warning "Don't come back with a fish".
I hated that because I always wanted a fish and I had to have a balloon instead.
My husband lived in Solihull and his rag and bone man shouted "Old Iron".
I wasn't as posh so ours just shouted something that sounded like "IIIIIIIIRRRRRRRNNNNNN".....Andrea
OURS had a long black coat and pushed a hand-cart piled high with old
clothes etc and had nails with small bags of goldfish suspended from them.
We were entertained with 'RAAGBOOOOOONE'. In fact, he wouldn't have looked
out of place in 'Oliver'.......Jeanagh
Our rag and bone man shouted 'Any old Iron', but it was all one word and
sounded like 'Ennyarddaarn'. I was scared of him, but then I was scared of
the coal man too - but I loved the Milkman's horse and the Chimney Sweep was
fun. We had skipping games galore. We must have been super fit, we spent
hours skipping and chanting (forgotten now the chanting rhymes - perhaps
someone will remind me) and two ball, a kind of juggling with two rubber
balls, no good with tennis balls. I could always beat my girls at that.
Two years ago I started to write a book about my childhood, then abandoned
it, all this nostalgia has spurred me on to go back to it.......Janet
Our rag and bone man blew on his bugle and shouted in the loudest voice I
have ever heard, " rrrrraaaaaaagggggggg nd Bone". My Nan lived in
Kingstanding then and we thought her rag and bone man was posh because he had
a trumpet! He shouted "Iron"......Linda
On a different note, does anyone remember the old men furtively hiding behind a hedge
and clutching a bucket and shovel as they waited for the coalman's horse
to come up the road? The quickest amongst them had the best roses in the street!.....Jeanagh
Oh Jeanagh, this one had me smiling. It wasn't the coal man when I was a
child (he had a lorry by then) but the rag and bone man. After he had gone up
the street, all the gardeners would rush out.......Linda
Never mind the man with the bucket and spade....I used to have to go out to
collect the horse manure for my nan's gladioli. :-)) The horses name was
Corky......that was because we always gave him our apple cores and he was a
lovely placid old fella!!!.......Diane
There was nothing furtive about my Grandad following the milkman's horse up
Cotterills Lane, Alum Rock, for the sake of his Chrysanthemums.......Mary
Back memories Index
Original page Created by
Pickard Trepess .
Revised: 12 August 2001
© 2001 Hunimex Kft.