Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Tennessee Ernie Ford - Sixteen Tons




MEMORIES - age 1 to 7

What is the first thing you can remember?. Like me it is probably something that will stick with you until the end. In my case it was throwing my sister Rose's new pair of slippers into the fire. I remember all the fuss and how angry Rose was. I was probably about 3 years old, I do remember that I thought it was quite funny.  Hold on to your slippers folks.

Other things I vividly remember were hearing my father say that Edmond Hillary has conquered Everest and the next day would be the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth the second. I remember all the decorations in the street and can picture the special mugs we had with a picture of the Queen. You would probably get quite a price for them today.

We also had a dresser and I used to love to rummage through it. There were pictures of my father and mother when they were young. I also remember we still had some ration books there left over from the war.

In these days we still had a coal fire and a horrible dark closet in the kitchen where there was always a bucket of coal. It was next to what was called a pantry which supposedly kept food cool and fresh. We did not have such a modern appliance as a fridge. I hated that coal cupboard it was dark and damp and you were guaranteed to be viciously attacked by giant spiders whenever you went in. I used to love when my sister Rose went in so I could shut the door on her and keep her there as long as I could. That was fun.

The coal was delivered by horse and cart, as was the milk. If ever one of the horses did it's  horse's dolops  outside of your house it was considered a great prize. You could go out and scoop it all up and it was great manure for the Garden.

I remember going to town with my mum and she would visit her friend Nan, a jolly stout woman. I liked Nan as she always had a special cake for me with lots of cream. Yes, I liked Nan.

The only holidays we had were to visit my Aunts' who lived in Aberdeen and a small place in the middle of nowhere called Dufftown. I loved Aberdeen my aunt lived in I suppose you would call an apartment, it had a shared toilet which was always kept immaculate. There were brass fittings which always shone and there was a distinct smell of polish. They had a superb view from the window of the river Don and you could also see a railway in the distance. I loved to watch the people rowing in the Don. I had vivid smells of Aberdeen and I remember once my Grandfather took me to the Harbour to see the boats he used to sale when he fished the North sea for Herring. You could smell the sea and smell the newly caught fish and hear the gulls screaming above. I loved Aberdeen.

Dufftown was another kettle of herring. I hated the place and have previously described the reasons why I hated Dufftown.

I remember my first day in school and I cried for my mum. I was a mummy's boy I am afraid to say. I also had a scruffy thread bare teddy which I held tight in bed until I was at least 7. No other comfort toy would suffice me, it had to be that thread bare teddy with the one eye. I think I may have to blame that teddy for how I have always supported the underdog in almost everything throughout my life. What I am really supporting is that little teddy.

There was no TV in these days all we had was the radio. It was later on in the late fifties when we got TV and that was only the one channel, BBC and it was not available all day.

I lived in a quiet street and there were always lots of children playing together. I was unfortunately a few years younger than most of the kids but I enjoyed watching and always tried to be included in their games. One of the favourites was rounders which really is very similar to America baseball. They obviously copied it from rounders.

Finally there are two other things I remember from this period, I remember the day my dear late sister Carol came home from the hospital, I was 4 years old and now had 2 sisters and a big brother.  When I was seven years of age I was chosen to be Joseph in the Christmas Nativity play, it was supposedly a big honour.

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Tennessee Ernie Ford - Sixteen Tons
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1 February 2017 at 08:19

Vivid memories, brilliantly written Old Pa. You've got me rekindling some of my own early memories that didn't make it into my 55 From 55 series - perhaps a few of them will make it into a post someday. For your coal cupboard, we had a cupboard under the stairs that I was simultaneously excited by and terrified of. If you got stuck inside (as I did), there was no way out, other than to scream the house down until Mum or Dad opened the door from the outside.
'16 Tons' by Tennessee Ernie Ford holds an important place in my own musical life. I saw many dates on The Clash's '16 Tons Tour' in 1980 and the band walked on stage to this song every night. Hearing it always takes me right back there.

1 February 2017 at 08:55

TS did not know the Clash used the song. Love it even better now. Song released in 1955 would you believe.

1 February 2017 at 13:13

Lovely memories, Old Pa - and I think it's important to keep a record of real life history as the changes since have become so rapid and far-reaching. Poor Rose, though - slippers in the fire and being locked in the coal cupboard? I hope she got her revenge!

I remember having what we called a pantry too, when I was little in the 1960s, my mum used to keep the potatoes in there and it was home to a favourite house spider whom she called 'Fred'. (I'm sure it was lots of different ones over the years but they all looked the same.) The tradition has continued and thanks to that childhood experience I now love spiders and they are all called Fred.

We also had a mangle! I remember the great excitement at getting our first automatic washing machine. Makes you realise just how much has changed even in just 50 years.

Anyway, this has been a lovely read and very much look forward to more of your fantastic childhood memories. And, of course, the new book :-)

PS - 16 Tons for me too says 'the Clash'

1 February 2017 at 15:37

Hi C....I have to say I dont mind spiders but some of these house ones are a bit creepy. On our trip to Thailand last year the toilet shower room had a part open roof. We were plagued with several spiders and when I say spiders they were hugh and scary. You did not want to be sitting on the loo with one of these big boys running to attack.I have pics and they are big.

1 February 2017 at 17:23

A fantastic read, great memories and poor Rose....makes you wonder. It's amazing how far everything has come in the space of 60 odd years. From milk delivery, music, TV etc so as C says, it's so important to doc