Aireborough Historical Society

1926-1939 Childhood Memories Part 3

Woodlands Convalescent Hospital

Title Childhood Memories
Name John Denison
Gender Male
Date of Birth 1926
Currently Residing Salisbury
Subject
The childhood of John Denison 1926 to 1939
Golden Acre Park, impetigo, hospitals and illness
Photo is Woodlands Convalescent Home
"Before we were allowed to wander further afield on our own we would have outings to various places one of which was Golden Acre Park near Bramhope, then it was just a lake with a small playground with large swinging 'boats'.
We once went for a family walk, also in Bramhope, to the viaduct going past the railway ventilation shafts to the long railway tunnel.
On the was my sister and I received our first 'sex education' lesson when we passed a field where a cow was giving birth.
This was our first intimation of how babies were born so my parents were more or less pressed into giving an explanation.
It is my supposition that girls probably received information from Mothers but boys had to find things out for themselves, sex being generally a taboo subject in the home and certainly not included in the school curriculum.

This last was a pretty eventful occasion because, in addition to the above, we found a stream and indulged in a spot of paddling.
Shortly after I developed impetigo in my right knee, this being blamed on a bite from an insect which might have been in the water.
It was a long and painful period tho' I don't now know exactly how this affected my life as it was considered to be a highly infectious disease.
My sister and I got through our childhood without developing anything worse than the usual diseases that are part of early life bit I do know that the most dreaded was Scarlet Fever.

However I did have an experience at the hands of the medical fraternity in that, for quite some time, I was taken to Manningham Hospital near Bradford for a weekly visit.
One of the small capillaries in my nose had broken through the outer surface which was treated with 'snow', carbon dioxide.
This is itself was quite painful but even more hurtful was the Micky-taking at school.

My mother was not quite so fortunate.
She became very ill spending a long time in hospital followed by weeks of convalescence at Cragg Wood Rawdon.
I was sent to live with my Auntie Alice in Horsforth who was quite upset with my apparent lack of nutrition.
Right up until I joined the Army, which cured me, I was terribly pernickety about what I ate practically living on bread and jam.
My sister often reminds me how I was favored in that when fried egg was on the menu I got the yolk and she had to be content with the white.
Aunt A's lot were all big eaters and she despaired of me being almost convinced that I was going to die on her.
Once I went into the kitchen where a huge metal pan was on the stove and asked whether this was the dinner, I was relieved to find it was the washing.
At the table I was required to squeeze myself next to the oven at which I must have complained upon which Jack named me 'Gas Oven Bill' which stuck for many years.
I was allowed into Uncle Frank's workshop where I was permitted to operate on spare pieces of wood with the large machine employed for cutting holes for tenon joints.
He was also a wheelwright and I loved watching him making all the parts for a cartwheel which he then assembled.
The best bit was when the red-hot iron brand was applied to the rim.
Whilst at Horsforth I attended Woodside School where I was taught by another Aunt, the very severe Cissie, a terror to her pupils, and me.
Auntie A taught me a different kind of lesson in that she had a small apple tree half way up the drive which bore a single apple, on the way home I acquired this.
Little did I know that she had been watching this apple grow but nothing was said about the theft.
When we arrived for Xmas dinner there, staring me in the face was a single large orange - what a way to teach a lesson!

Having told of my stay in Horsforth and mentioning the word Xmas I think that this is where I should continue my story.
For our family it was virtually the same programme year after year.
On Xmas eve we hung pillow cases from the mantlepiece and then began the difficult attempt to stay away and catch the visiting Santa Claus.
As said before times where hard and money was tight so the presents would be small but always welcomed.
There would often be a book for me and something 'girlie' for Kath plus sweets, chocolate pennies, an orange and so forth.
However, when older my parents made a great effort and give us something bigger, like my bike.

After opening the presents, about eleven, there being no buses on that day we would walk all the way over Plain Tree Hill to Auntie A's, this was an annual event right up to the start of the war.
Their children were, in order of seniory Jack, Ken, Phyllis and Geoffrey, all were older than me.
J was a large lad whilst K was more wirey and, before dinner, they would entertain us with a Laurel & Hardy act plus a comedy routine which involved marching around with large silver tureens on their heads.
It now sounds rather silly but it was most hilarious.
We would then gather round the table to play the new game Monopoly which was introduced to the UK in 1936.

Meantime Aunt A and mother would be slaving away in the kitchen preparing dinner which was always a magnificent spread with the main item being a very large turkey or sometimes a goose.
As already said, I wasn't into proper food but absolutely loved my aunts 'stuffing' which was out of this world, I have never tasted better!
After dinner there were party games which always included 'consequences' where scurrilous things were written and later read as a story about the headliner.
Other games involved the paying of forfeits, in one of these I was required to go to the front door and shout at the top of my voice 'fish and chips for sale' I found this most embarrassing.
Then, in the dark, we had to walk home which in the early days meant my parents pushing a large heavy pram with two up, but dad had made things a little less scary for us by fitting a battery operated light bulb.


"What happened to the Slater family?
Uncle Frank, a joiner and undertaker, had to take up war work at Kirkstall Forge where I also worked so I would often drop by t...o see him in the Maintenance Shop.
Jack became a wireless-operator in the RAF being killed in 1943 on his very first raid over Frankfurt, he was the oldest crew member being 29 years old.
Ken joined the Tank Corps serving right through the Western Desert then going to Burma before returning home after four years away.
Phyllis joined the ATS working on gun-sites where she met and married an American soldier becoming a GI bride going to Chicago where she still lives, turned 90.
Geoff was in RAF Air-Sea Rescue later taking over his father's business.
He became well-known in 'singing circles' and performed many times at the Town Hall in the Amateur Operatic Society productions.

I think it is now time to return to what is a major part of a child's life, school.
When I moved up from the infants to Primary I entered the class of Ivy Dale who was quite different from previous teachers being somewhat stern.
It was not long before I earned my first caning on the hand, I don't know why but I see in the reports that I was often 'inattentive' so it was possibly well deserved.
The cane was always available being kept in a cupboard, it was used by some teachers but others managed without it.
We kids had, in general, been pretty well disciplined at home which made the life of a teacher so much easier.
When applied it was always to the hand but I do not recall it being used to any great extent.
Then, as now, major infringements would mean sending to the head.
Ours was 'Butch' Ackroyd, from whom physical punishment held no threat, he used a heavy round ruler which inflicted much less pain than a whippy cane.

Written 2013

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