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7 February 2011
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Eileen Foster
I was brought up in the centre of Sheffield during the 1950's and remember living in an area that still bore many scars of the bombings suffered during the war. The school I attended had been bombed and the classrooms were prefabricated buildings put up to educate the neighbourhood children. Many of my clasmates lived in "rooms" in shared houses and had to share kitchen and toilet facilities with upto 7 other families with maybe 6 people to a family group. We were surrounded by "Little Mesters" shops where the mainly female workforce wore green overalls and brown paper scarves and pinnies. They were a tough breed whom even the navvies gave a wide birth to. Our playground was the local cemetery during the week and the derelict factories and houses at the weekend. In the summer months we were allowed to go to the park, that wondrous place of grass and trees where we would play to our hearts content without fear of a building collapsing on us, until that dreadful man, the park-keeper threw us out at closing time when the gates would be locked and we would trudge back to our homes. Whit-Monday brought the May Day processions. The newly Crowned May queens led by the massed band of the Salvation Army and followed by the many groups of Brownies, Guides, Cubs, Scouts and life Brigade groups that seemed to be the focal point of our social lives. We would congregate in the park and sing our hearts out to the accompaniment of the band and then gorge ourselves on the food provided by the chapels, churches and workingmens clubs. Christmas was a time of magic when our gloomy surroundings were transformed into a fairyland of sparkly lights and tinsel, when Jack Frost painted his magic on the window panes and sometimes, when the snow fell, the church looked magnificent when its smoke blackened stone turned into a Great master as the snow landed onto all its ledges and buttresses. Trams were the main form of transport and cars were still a rarity. Mr Shaw had invented the Cats Eye which we promptly found another use for. The made great marbles and we would vie with each other to see how many we could gouge out of their rubber housings without being spotted by the local Bobby. To get caught meant serious trouble. We would be quite unceremoniously dragged home. usually by the ear much to the hillarity of those who had escaped capture, and parents informed of the misdemeaner. That was followed by a generally good ticking off and then being sent to bed with no food for the rest of the day. Despite all, childhood was a happy time with much love given to us. The many adventures we had will always be fondly remembered, even those of trudging to the loo in the middle of the night down a freezing cold yard to seat that stuck to you in a most inconsiderate way and then having to get back into a bed that had lost all its warmth with feet that refused all attempts to encourage the circulation to become, once again, active.


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