WRITTEN BY GERRY WHITE
Schooldays in 1948 Shoreham
Our terraced house with three bedrooms, was in Connaught Avenue built in 1936, it had modern conveniences, for those days, with Electricity, gas , an Ideal Boiler for heating water, and a fireplace in every room, apart that is, from the small bedroom at the front of the house. My mother did the weekly wash in a Copper gas heated boiler, which had a wringer mounted above it. Most importantly there was a bathroom, with flush toilet,bath, and wash basin. The style was Art Deco with period tiled fire places, and stained glass designs either side of the front door. There was a service road to the rear of the house enabling coal deliveries, and the Dustbins to be emptied. In 1948 the gardens had been restored to the prewar condition , with a lawn in the front garden and the rear planted for vegetables.
I lived with my parents my father was like his father before him a plasterer, my mother was the daughter of Fishersgate blacksmith, Jim Nutley.I had a brother Tony aged six years, and a Sister of four months. On Fridays, my father woujld leave home at 7 30 am, this was to catch the early train to three Bridges and Crawley, where he worked for Strattons the builders at Crawley new town.
I got up, at 7am, and raked the ashes from the lounge fire place, and chopped sticks, and set the fires in the lounge, and because Friday was bath night, also set the fire in the Ideal Boiler. Following breakfast of porage and toast, which I would eat sitting at the table with my brother Tony, I got dressed in grey flannel shorts, grey socks, with burgundy rings, a white shirt, school tie , and put on my School blazer, it was Burgundy in colour. at the front door I put on my black lace up leather shoes. My Mother handed me my Satchel, my P E shorts and plimsoles, and seven pence dinner money.
Mounting my Cycle I waved Mum goodbye, and went to Freehold Street where I met classmate Terry Wells, and together, we cycled to School via Hebe, Ravens roads, Mill Lane, Buckingham Road, through the Ham field alottments to Middle road. Pedalling past the parade of shops, and Teddy Burfoots Nursery on the left, and keeping Adelaide square, and Cooks orchards on the left, we soon arrived at Middle road Secondary Modern school for boys. Placing our bikes in the cylce sheds, we made our way to the playground.
On arrival Mr Edwards said to me “put on your cap boy ” I replied , ” yes Sir,” and placed my school cap on my head,and adjusted the peak. Just at that instant, the School bell rang, and all boys lined up in their various classes, in preparation to go to our class rooms. At the Science lab, class 1a my class of 36 pupils, was greeted by Mr Harry Parker, who would say “Sit up, shut up and try and look intelligent” As Mr Parker read the class register, each boy when his name was called answered “sir”, and boys who were absent, the boy in the next desk answered ” Not here Sir”.
Following Class registration, on Friday the whole school assembled in the Hall/ Gymnasium, for morning prayers, and reading notices. As each class filled into the Gym, we had to wear plimsoles, or socks only this prevented damage to the wooden floor. The serried ranks of boys lined up accross the hall, class 1a at the front, and class 4a at the year, there were on average 440 boys in the school and about 20 teachers. Standing to attention as Mr Jeavons the headmaster , came in and went to place his papers on the lectern, he said ” Good morning School” The reply was deafening, “Good morning Sir”. Mr Jeavons then nodded to Mr Hansford, the Music teacher, to turn the Radiogram on for the BBC Prayer for the day. Following the prayer Mr Jeavons then would say ” We will now sing to be a Pilgim” and again nodded to Mr Hansford to play the piano, to accompany the Hymn. Having read out the School notices, Mr Jeavons dismissed the School to classes.
Our first periods were French Lessons, with Monsieur Binns. Having seated in class, Mr Binns would say “Bonjour Mes Enfants” to which the class replied ” Bonjour Monsieur Binns”, the class then having written 20 new words of French to increase our Vocabulary, then conjugated the French Verbs,until Dinner when the School bell sounded . The smell of boiled cabbage and potato’s hung in the air as we paid our 7 pence to the Dinner Lady, and queued for dinner. At the table some boys scoffed the food as though there would be no tomorrow. Eating what I could, we left the Dining Hall, to the Playground where several boys played football with a tennis ball, others stood in groups, or played leap frog, or watched with interest as an older boy tuned his crystal set cats whisker radio.
After dinner again the bell rang, and Mr Davies, shouted out class 1a get changed for PE.at the Gymnasium, the boys lined up in their House teams, Ribbons were issued red for St George, blue for St Andrews , my team, yellow for St Davids, and finally green for St Patricks. Teams lined up for Physical Excercise, and team games. After PE there was no showers, to remove sweat, and our cllass made its way to Mr Liddells class, for last period of Maths. At 4 pm the bell again rang for the end of lessons for the day. leaving class quietly we made our way to the Bike shed to collect our cycles for the homeward journey.
Cycling back with Terry Wells once more, and arriving back home to be greeted by Mother , who had made Jam Sandwiches for tea,and a cup of tea, which having removed school shoes and cap, and jacket My brother and I sat at the table, to eat tea, and listen to Childrens hour on the Radio. After tea, home worfk was to be done, and then on Friday my Mother ran the bath, and we boys got into the bath, and wash before father came home, from his work.
At 6.45 Pm we sat in Pyjamas, to listen to Dick Barton special Agent, and the catchy tune , of the Devils Gallop. Whilst Dad ate his cooked dinner, my Mum gave Tony and I our Friday treat of Cod Liver Oil and Malt, before taking a comic to read in Bed, before lights out in the bedroom, when Dad came in to say good night, and “If you are good, you can have sixpence , for Saturday pictures. “
And so a day in the life in the day of Gerald White aged eleven came to an end.
Gerry White, October 2009.