Dear Diary-1952

Not so Long After the War...

mopping floorsI’m 26 and married with two children. Stephen 5 and Angela 2. We live on the top floor of an east London terraced house. The lady downstairs is lucky as she has the garden although there is a railway line at the end of the garden and trains are always going past.

My husband John works in a glassworks factory a couple of miles away and he pedals his bike to work.

It is 1952 and we are still on rations

It’s good the war is over now as I was so worried about John. He went to Dunkirk and he doesn’t seem the same man that I married. He has terrible nightmares sometimes because of the terrible things that he witnessed.

While Stephen is at school I settle Angela down with her toys and do some washing. I sort the coloureds out and the whites and darks into piles. I then heat the water on the gas cooker, fill the sink and sprinkle OMO washing powder into it. I set about rubbing the clothes up and down the glass washboard. I wring them out by hand after rinsing. Put them in a bowl and ask Mrs Evans downstairs if I can use the washing line in the garden to hang them up to dry.

Next I get down on my knees and scrub the lino after sweeping it.

I look around the room and smile at the old gas lights still intact. They have been there a long time and no-one has removed them. In fact there is still a black oven range in the front room but I don’t use it. I have a gas oven in the scullery. We have an electric bulb hanging from the ceiling now.

I feel lucky that we have a toilet inside as my sister has only got an outside toilet.

We have to go to the public baths if we want a bath otherwise it’s top and tailing in the scullery.

Angela is getting hungry so I make her some bread and margerine sandwiches with sugar on the top. She loves them. For dinner tonight I will cook a nice piece of Mutton, potatoes and cabbage.

Later I put Angela in her pushchair and walk about a mile to David’s school.

After dinner I bathe both the children in a tin bath which I put on top of the table.

Hop Picking

I’m looking forward to next week as we are all going hop picking in Kent. We can’t afford a holiday so this is the next best thing and we can earn some money.

Quite a few of us are picked up in a lorry and taken down to Kent. We stay in a corrugated hut and I take pillowcases with me to stuff straw into them and we sleep on straw mattresses. I love the smell of straw. The tall rows of growing hops are lovely. You can’t see the fields for rows and rows of ten foot high hops. Me and John have a wicker basket each and pull off the hops and fill the baskets. The hops are white and soft and spongy and they are used for the beer making.

David goes off and plays with friends in the fields. He wears his wellies as the fields can be muddy. Of a night everyone sits around a bonfire and we put potatoes on the fire to cook. They taste delicious and I love the smell of the twigs burning on the fires.