Thursday, March 26, 2015

LAWS FAMILY REGISTER Mar 2015 Number 466

Welcome to the Laws Family Register. 


Part 3.

A Child of the Twenties

A suburban childhood of the Twenties 

seen from the Ninteen Nineties

by John Robert Laws 1921-2008


The cat which had used the table leg as a scratching post was known by the unlikely name of Ma. It appears that I christened it with the only word in my vocabulary at a very early age. It was an undistingushed tabby which would catch the occasional unwary mouse but would spend more time snoozing in front of the fire. It seemed that every house had mice at that time. Food was more acccessible before fridges and freezers.

The kitchen was decorated in the deco of the period. The matchboarding of the lower part of the walls was painted a light brown like the dresser, and the upper walls were done in a strong cream gloss. I'm ptretty sure there were lace curtains the same as the rest of the house. Just a touch of an earlier period was the fringe to the mantle piece where the tea caddy (an ornamental tin), the candlesticks and the spill jar stood. The fire guard had a nice brass rim at the top, well polished by the constant touching of handsand glistened from the fire and the gaslight. Behind it was the black kitchen range, a solid fuel stove with two ovens and a back boiler for hot water. Much of the cooking was done on it in the winterusing heavy old iron cooking pots which must have been heirlooms. It the only heating in the house till late afternoon unless the bedroom gas fires were used to dress by. The kitchen stove was lit at six in the morning  normally by Lottie, though I remember my dad doing it on one occasion  with me looking on. Everyone else must have been out of action I reckon.

The scullery next to the kitchen saved the yellowish shallow sink and the black iron gas cooker with its brass taps from spoiling the kitchen. It was definately a workplace. the built-in copper had a fire below it to boil the wash. the mangle was enormous with big wooden rollers to get the water out  before and after rinsing. the corrugated washboard had not yet been passed on to the skiffle group. Clothing must have been tough to withstand the battering. It all had to be ironed of course which was done on the kitchen table on the ironing cloth conveniently kept in its end drawer. Two heavy flat-irons were used one in use while the other was reheated on the gas cooker. No thermostats on these, a drop of spit on the finger applied to the hot iron would tell whether the sizzle was about right.

The one convenience, so to speak, about the scullery was the downstairs loo was entered from it. At that time they were normally out in the garden waiting for the first hard frost to put them out of action. Indeed so were most of those of the houses built in the larer building boom of the early thirties.

There was one other work area, the coal cellar, prohibited to the infant population. This too was better than the thirties houses which had coal bunkers in the garden from which the fuel must be fetched come rain snow or shine. The descent to the  cellar through a door in the hall passage was steep to go down and perhaps steeper to climb up laden with a bucket of coal, so some may dispute my feeling that it was better than going out in the rain.

The coal came into the cellar through the coal hole in the top front step which was recessed into the house to give a small porch with the iron cover of the coal hole in the centre. Four of five sandstone steps led up from street level and the coalman would carry his enormous sack up  and upend it over the hole. Needless to say, this spouiled the pristine cleanliness of the whitened step and was not a popular event. Personally I liked to see the patient carthorse observing the proceedings while digging into his nosebag and enjoying the enforced rest. Having delivered his orders, the cdoalman would patrol the streets calling 'Coal' at intervals in the hope of casual customers. Much the same perhaps  as the 'butanero' deliovering gas in today's Spain, though he needs no call, the clatter of his lorry enough to rouse the customers.

As well as the coal store there was plenty of space in the cellar with a sort of second room into which a feeble light filtered bt a small window below the 'front room' bay. I remember it as a junk store but maybe it was just things one couldn't throw away. Perhaps the most valuable tning in the cellar was the cold tap which didn't freeze even in the coldest snap when everybodies pipes were frozen and standpipes had to be put up in the streets.

To be continued tomorrow


Family Events from our database for today March 26

1707 - Christen: Grace LAWS-7110, Norwich NFK UK
                                                                  Norwich Cathedral

1731 - Death: Edward LAWES-42189, Coombe Bissett WIL UK (St Michaels)
                                                            Coombe Bissett Wiltshire

1809 - Baptism: Elizabeth LAWS-4223, Shoreditch MDX UK
1832 - Baptism: Charlotte Jane LAWS-4826, Shoreditch MDX UK
1839 - Baptism: Samuel LAWS (Labourer) -6961, Hellington NFK
1853 - Burial: Jane CHARTERS-44073, Torpenhow CUL UK
1868 - Admon: Edward Robert LAWS-8829, 
1877 - Marriage: George  LAWS (Iron Puddler) -4235 and Harriet PALMER-4236,                                     Monkwearmouth DUR UK
1888 - Birth: William Henry LAWES (Railroad Surveyor & Miner) -48842, Cowra QLD Australia
1889 - Burial: John R LAWS(Physician) -124867, Sussex County, Delaware, USA
1900 - Birth: William  Henry Blundell LAWES (RN SS120152/J47856) -47675, Twyford HAM UK
1902 - Marriage: Bertie Law INGLE (Scholar) -19938 and Rosetta Tilley Matilda Barratt                              MARSHALL-19939, Stamford LIN UK
1909 - Birth: Stanley Norman LAWES-55479, Forest Gate ESS UK
1912 - Birth: Amy Violet LAWS-118602, 
1916 - Birth: Alan LAWS-118617, 
1916 - Birth: Robert Alan (RNVR) LAWS-96810, Luton BDF UK
1918 - Birth: Albert Ernest (Aust Army) LAWS-32300, Newtown
1919 - Death: Frederick (ARMY Private 30228) LAWS-54425, 
1920 - Birth: William Ephraim LAWS-118753, 
1920 - Death: Ann Carter ???-22455, 94 Ramsden Road, Balham SRY
1925 - Death: Delia Ann LAWS-29644, 
1926 - Birth: Frank LAWS-34878, Swain Co NC
1928 - Death: Sarah Ann LAWES-2445, 7 Katherine Terrace, Gateshead DUR
1929 - Birth: Leslie Edward LAWS-43858, 
1937 - Residence: Eric Godfrey LAWES-32057, Southampton HAM UK
1949 - Birth: Ian LAWS-43926, Parramatta NSW
1950 - Death: George Charles (Process Photographer) LAWS-4179, Bexley Heath KEN UK
1950 - Death: George Charles (Process Photographer) LAWS-4179, Bexley Heath KEN UK
1951 - Marriage: Colin Rex EVANS-9 and Margaret Eleanor LAWES-8, Isle of Wight
1951 - Birth: Trevor Raymond LAWS-52078, Kingston Upon Hull ERY UK
1952 - Burial: Fred DACRE-46593, Stanley WRY UK
1953 - Birth: Gail Margaret (Nursing Assistant) GAMBLE-34104, Basford NTT
1955 - Marriage: Jack BRANSON-38324 and Avis TAYLOR-38323, 
1955 - Marriage: Robert Stanley GREEN-3547 and Verna Alma (Clerk) LAWS-3499, Wesley Church, Shepparton VIC
1956 - Birth: William Roger LAWS-45208, Maracaibo, Venezuela
1959 - Death: Edward LAWS-124832, Upwell NFK
1961 - Burial: Ola LAWS-124706, Green Mountain, Yancey Co, NC United States
1961 - Birth: Malcolm Roy LAWS-55755, Montreal, Quebec CANADA
1962 - Residence: Sidney Stephen LAWES-124222, Basingstoke HAM UK
1962 - Death: Sidney Stephen LAWES-124222, Basingstoke HAM UK
1965 - Death: Edgar James LAWES-58019, Ferring SSX UK
1965 - Death: Edgar James LAWES-58019, Ferring SSX UK
1967 - Death: Dorethy May LAWS-41044, 
1991 - Death: Charles Benjamin LAWES-30046, Newmarket SFK
2003 - Death: Arthur Granville (Social Worker) LAWS-117186, London Middlesex Co ONT CANADA
2004 - Burial: Rachel Mary SALAZAR-34538, Price City Cemetery

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With grateful thanks to Simon Knott for permission to reproduce his photographs on this site see :-