Memories are made of this

Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson:
you find the present tense, but the past perfect!
Owens Lee Pomeroy, 1929-2008
Co-founder of the Golden Radio Buffs of MD

Wurlitzer juke box

Reproduction Wurlitzer 1015 in the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Havana: Wikipedia

If you have read any of my blogs over the past couple of weeks you will know that I am on a nostalgia kick.

And today , with no inclination to do anything else as the rain falls down and the wind howls around the house, I have been reading other people’s blogs and clearing my email in-box.

Two things immediately jumped out at me.  A cousin sent me a whole list of things from the 50s and I found Penny at  She too is drifting into nostalgia.  I particularly liked this video  that she posted  Guess I’m really showing my age.

Growing up in London after the Second World War, I remember going to the baker’s for bread, the butchers for meat, the local sweetshop, only ever on a Sunday to choose the week’s sweets, the Co-0p grocery where butter was cut from a block and patted into shape with two paddles. Cheese was cut from a block with a wire according to the customer’s request.

Model in Nottingham Museum

My favorite shop of all was the local Jewish Deli owned by Mr Smulevitch.  Cigarettes were bought at the tobacconist, the greengrocer sold fruit and vegetables and milk came in bottles and was delivered every day.  No wonder our mothers were so fit and didn’t need to go to the gym.

My mother shopped each day. She walked with her two shopping bags balanced as she used to say.

Ration books

via Wikipedia

She would make the rounds of all the shops; during and after the second world war she would be armed with a list, her change purse (the shopping bags of course) and the Ration Books.

Pat Cryer has a website devoted to growing up during the post war years.  Visit her here.

We children, of course, thought this was the normal way to live and we accepted that there was only a finite amount of food to be shared in the family,  But as Zig Ziglar says”I had plenty to eat.  I know because my mother always told me I had plenty.”(Hilary Hinton “Zig” Ziglar born 6 November 1926 is an American author, salesman, and motivational speaker).

So what does the pictured juke box have to do with this.  Well the war passed and we grew into three young ladies.  We started to go out with young men to dances and when there was no band the juke box was played.

We danced to Bill Haley and the Comets as they sang Rock around the Clock. Elvis Presley sang Don’t Be Cruel and Love Me Tender.  How tame are these songs compared to today’s recording artists.  But our parents were convinced we were all heading along the road to damnation.

There were no McDonald’s, Burger King or any other fast food outlets.  The only fast food we knew about was the local fish and chip shop or as we lived in the East End of London, the pie shop.  We didn’t have fish and chips or pie and mash often as Mother preferred to feed us what she prepared in her own kitchen.  But I remember walking home from swimming lessons and going into the local fish shop for a bag of “crackling” the bits left in the oil/fat once the chip baskets had been lifted.

Pie and Mash shop

Photographer: Fin Fahey

Very, very occasionally, and as a real treat, we were taken to the local pie and mash shop. I found this picture of the local shop in the Broadway Market, London E8 in Wikipedia.  This was our local pie shop and I thank Fin Fahey for allowing its use here. For those of you who don’t know about this East End treat go to this site.  This guy is obviously a regular.

The influx of refugees displaced during the Second World War were only beginning to arrive and so their ‘exotic’ cuisines hadn’t been introduced to our diets.  Meat and two or three vegs was the order of the day in most households.

We wore our hair either very short or in a bouffant style that required a lot of work, backcombing and hairspray.Bouffant  We wore full skirts that need layers of petticoats to hold them out.  I remember my late husband arriving home with such a petticoat that he had purchased on one of his trips (to France I think).  Apparently, the Customs Officer insisted that he open the roll in which it had been encased and this piece of clothing shot out.  When I picture it today I think of an airbag exploding in a car.

A memory has just surfaced of when the petticoat was washed it had to be dipped into sugar-water and left to drip dry so that it became stiff once again.  Would my daughter do this today?

I think I have to stop there.  Nostalgia sweeping over me.  Will return to the subject another day.

Play with life, laugh with life,
dance with life and smile at the riddles of life,
knowing that life’s only true lessons
are writ small in the margins.
Jonathon Lockwood-Huie, Author, Lover of Life and

philosopher of Happiness.












13 responses to “Memories are made of this

  1. Great post, thanks for the plugin at – “Down Memory Lane” … “The Good Old Days”

    I really like the time spent in the 50’s and 60’s-Great Years !!! I want to do another post on it in the future. This is great post, like the photos. I am also on a nostalgia kick. Love the bouffant hair photo-and your description is great !


  2. Why does it seem to be so universal that we all feel this nostalgia as we get older? I wanted to get out and see the world and leave the places of my youth behind me, but now every single part of it sounds perfect. I don’t remember anything bad or boring.


    • Thanks for dropping by.
      I must say it can’t have been all that great really. Imagine trekking to all those different shops with shopping bags in hand. I jump into the car and make one stop at the supermarket. But I love reminiscing with family and friends. Showing my age?


  3. Oh gosh, Judith – so much has gone, hasn’t it? All the shops with specific content, everything’s kind of homogenised now. I particularly miss corner shops, they were the only ones I can think of that didn’t specialise. There’s a fishmonger’s in the small town about 18 miles from us, a butcher’s about 3 miles from here, and too many supermarkets and for heaven’s sake I live in a rural area in Wales! When I left London four years ago there were precious few small shops left there.


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