Archive for the ‘Roundhay Park’ Category

Kenneth’s Tale

June 1, 2012

Kenneth’s Tale

I saw a gentleman looking reverently at St Savour’s Church. He looked the age of one who could have enjoyed good old East Leeds in its heyday. I unashamedly mugged him for his memories and he was kind enough to send me this account 

Kenneth, who attended St Saviour’s school wishes to point out that any old school mates will know him as: Kenneth Hawkins, as he only took on the name: Heptinstall, after he had tragically lost both parents and been legally adopted by his grandparents close to the time he left school.

 

                          The Memories of Kenneth (Hawkins) Heptinstall

                                                 ***********

I was a pupil at St Saviour’s School and I would walk to school along the Low Fold, which was a path that ran alongside the river from the old Suspension Bridge whereSouth Accommodation Roadcrossed the river, to come out inEast Streetclose to school. In the early days I would enjoy watching the horses towing the barges along the river by means of a long rope Later the horse gave way to tugs which pulled several barges loaded with goods of one kind or another.

            The part of East Leeds where I lived in from 1924 to circa 1936 seemed vast to me as a child. It included the Bank area, Cross Green,Richmond Hill,East EndParkand other areas in the vicinity. There was much poverty about but to us children the streets, yards, ginnels, and bits of spare ground were there for our enjoyment, we used them to the full. The area had lots of small shops and a few large ones such as the Co-op, Gallons and the Maypole but nothing like today’s supermarkets etc. Churches seemed to dominate the area: St Hilda’s, St Saviour’s, Mount St Mary’s, All Saints as well as the chapels. There were schools to all the churches, some other schools were non-church schools such asRichmond HillandEllerby Lane. Scouts and Girl Guides were part of the churches, with Boy’s Brigades belonged to the chapels. One of my memories was of the Boy’s Brigade marching from the chapel to the bottom ofEllerby Laneon a Sunday after the service and we children would march alongside them on the pavement.

            There were also lots of pubs: The Black Dog, fisherman’s Hut, Cross Green, Spring Close, The Hampton, Prospect and Yew Tree. The landlord of theHamptonat one time was Dolly Dawson who was a member of the famous Hunslet Rugby League team. There were several cinemas in the area: Easy Road, Princess, Victoria inYork Road, and the Premier inSouth Accommodation Road– the Victoria later became: The Star.

            I was christened at St Hilda’s but I attended St Saviour’s school. It was a good school and I thought the teachers to be strict but dedicated. Being a mixed school there were separate classes for girls and boys but being a church school we started together for assembly, prayers, hymns and scripture lessons. Mister Ridley was the headmaster; we did plays under his guidance. He was in amateur dramatics and I think he thought doing plays would give us the confidence to speak out. Other teachers also became involved. There was one gentleman called Mr Smith who was a top man at Ringtons Tea and he too had been a pupil at St saviours School. He knew that children that attended the school were from poor backgrounds and twice a year: Christmas Day and Empire Day (which was celebrated in those days) he would send round sweets and on Empire Day a medal bearing the king’s head. In one of the plays we did we were Sikhs and all in Indian dress. The girls helped with the costumes and the boys with the scenery. When Children’s Day came along a van was hired, the scenery from the play was erected and placed on the vehicle then we dressed in the costumes and a sign advertising Ringtons Tea was displayed around the sides of the vehicle. We then joined the parade from the city centre up toRoundhayPark.   

            When St saviours Church was built the tower was left off, we were left to believe that his was due to the ground being on a hill making the foundations risky. We were also told it was due to lack of money, which I think was more likely. However the tower was added in the thirties. I was told it was Mr Smith of Rintons who provided the money. When the church was built it would have been in grey stone but due to fogs and industry it became dark, the tower stood out after being added as it was in the original grey but as can now be seen, due to air conditions over the years this now looks no different.

Some of the things I remember

People putting bread cakes on the windowsill to cool, lines of washing hung across the street that was hauled up when horse and carts came along the street, men walking up the streets cap in hand singing, a man with a tingaleri who sometimes let us wind the handle while he went and knocked on doors for donations, Walls ice cream carried on a three wheel bike. Sometimes if we helped push him up the hill he would cut one of his triangular ice creams in two for helping. Some of the lads had bogeys made of a short plank and four wheels, the front held on by a vertical bolt which enabled it to be steered. Also a steel ring like a large wheel which we rolled along pushed by a steel rod shaped like a hook which fitted round the rim and enabled it to be pushed and steered whilst running alongside it. Marbles or ‘tors’ as we called the game  played ideally on cobbled streets, along with football, kick out can and numerous other games – hide and seek known locally as ‘hiddy’ and ‘tig’ around the streets sometimes dividing into two teams. The girls had their own games: skipping and hopscotch being just two.

            If we managed to go toEast EndParkthere were football pitches. The first one inside the park was a cinder pitch which didn’t do the legs much good! There were policemen patrolling the area. One had the name ‘Bobby Rocking-Horse’ because of the way he walked, rocking from side to side!  Men in the area used to gamble – tossing coins – as it was illegal the police used to raid and the men used to run through passages and into people’s houses. Those who were caught were taken to the police station in a van known as the ‘Black Maria’

            In the mid thirties we had slum clearances when we were moved on to new housing estates. It was nice to have hot water, bathrooms and gardens. I still had a couple of years to go until I finished school so I used to travel so far on the tram and walk the rest.

Great tale, Kenneth. Times were not always easy but how many of us would not want to be back there if we could?

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My Hero

December 1, 2011

Dave Carncross has kindly allowed us to peep with respect into his epitaph of a true East Leeds Legend – Richard Chappelow.  In our old East Leeds society the virtues we admired most of all were to be brave and to be tough. Rick had both in abundance.  That he was a little injury prone only added to his charisma and made us love him the more

My Hero

By Dave Carncross

By the time we were ten years old or so, we were all veteran cinema-goers – the main venues being the Easy Road Picture House, the Star and the Princess. We liked anything which involved soldiers, cowboys, cartoons and comic book characters. We all had our own favourite film heroes but I had a real one much nearer home – next door but one to be precise. His name was Richard Chappelow.

The Chappelows were a lovely family. Jenny was like an extra sister. She was the same age as me but always seemed older. She was fiercely intelligent and always seemed to regard me with an amused tolerance and affection – as though I was a big, daft dog or something. David was the eldest and a really nice lad. Richard was, well, just Richard. Their Dad, Alf, left them when Richard would have been about thirteen years old and I never heard any of them mention his name again. May, their mother, had an uncanny resemblance to the film star June Allison and was just as nice. She went on in later life to write a few romantic novels and got them published. Jenny married another good local lad, Jim Croll, had a family and found the time to get a BA degree in her thirties through the Open University. David married and ended up inAustraliaalthough I think he had a spell inSouth Africafirst.

Richard was without doubt the toughest, most resilient lad I ever met in my entire life. This is not to say he was a hard case, far from it, he was a gentle, good natured, easy-going sort and universally popular. We junior males in East Leeds at that time always set great store by not being perceived as being `soft` and tried to take the knocks as they came without any outward show of being hurt. This was not always easy even for kids who only had to endure their own fair or average share of misfortune. The difference with Richard was that, if there was an accident waiting to happen, it would invariably be waiting for him. Whatever occurred, he would always behave the same, never cried or whinged and had seemingly bottomless reserves of mental fortitude. When anything happened to him and bear in mind that I had plenty of practice, I would closely watch his face for any sign of normal frailty but never saw any.  Perhaps a tightening of the jaw muscles or a momentary closing of the eyes would be all that escaped his iron control. I was always amazed and mightily impressed by how he dealt with the `slings and arrows` which were constantly besieging him and I always knew for an absolute certainty that I would be found badly wanting in similar circumstances.

The first time I ever visited the dreaded `Dispensary` on North Street it was just to keep Richard company while the medics reassembled whatever part of his anatomy had been damaged that particular day. We were greeted by a groan from the Sister of `Oh no, not you again Richard !! ` He was a regular client there and was probably on first name terms with most of the practitioners there as he was at the LGI and St. James` casualty departments as well.  If we’d had such things then, it might have proved cost-effective to assign a personal paramedic to follow him around at all times. Perhaps a prescription for a full-body suit made of Kevlar for protection against impacts of all kinds, fully wired to afford insulation against electric shocks and corrosive chemicals would have come in handy. There must be many doctors who served their apprenticeship repairing bits of Richard. It wouldn’t surprise me if he had been invited to their graduation ceremonies, been made Godfather to their children and attended the odd retirement party or two.

We decided to paddle in the small lake atRoundhayParkone hot summer’s day just next to the sign forbidding us to do exactly that. Nothing happened to any of us except Rick. He stood on a broken milk bottle which cut deep into his foot damaging a tendon in the process. He had an operation and finished up with a plaster cast right up to his knee to hold his foot in a downward direction. To have to wear a `plaster` was like being the given a Queen’s Medal for Gallantry and all the lads were deeply envious. He kindly allowed us to draw on it and sign our names. Rick had always been very fleet of foot and, although the operation left him slightly flat-footed for a while, it didn’t seem to affect his running speed at all. He was still quicker than me even flat-footed. Mind you, he was quicker than virtually everyone else inEast Leedsat that time. I even tried running in a similar manner just to see if my sprinting improved but it didn’t.

Once, during a stone fight on t`ollers, we were sheltering behind our brick barricade sorting out fresh ammunition. I ventured a quick look over the parapet and saw a roofing slate scissoring through the air towards me and ducked instinctively as you would do. The slate sliced a neat furrow along my scalp but Richard had bobbed up behind me and it hit him dead centre in the forehead with a dull thud. I had a very satisfactory, showy but superficial cut which bled impressively but didn’t hurt really. Richard, however, went off to renew acquaintances with his old contacts at the Dispensary and added further to his ever-expanding stitch collection.

One dark winter’s night, we were engaged with loads of the lads in a vigorous game of Relieve –Oh when he took a bad fall on the cobbles. He got up holding his arm and immediately asked me to go home with him.  For him to ask for any sort of help was a first so I asked him why and he said “ I’ve dislocated my elbow“. I asked how he knew and he said “ I’ve done it before“. We walked back to his house but his Mam and Dad were at the pictures and his brother David didn’t believe him. We went to our house and my Mam took one look at his ashen face and told my Dad to ring for an ambulance. The ringing had to be done from the local call-box so we all went down together and waited for what turned out to be a car driven by an ambulance driver. Dad had to go to work (on nights) so I went to the LGI with Richard by myself. Bear in mind that I was about twelve, he was a year or so older and it was about 10pm by this time. The doctor in Casualty had a quick feel through his jacket and said `X Rays – wait here`. Rick said `Carny, quick get me shirt off! ` I asked why and he said `cos me vest’s black bright`. I managed to get his shirt and vest off and nearly fainted when I saw his arm at the elbow. It looked as though the bones had been moulded into a figure of eight and it was grossly swollen. I think by then that I must have looked as bad as he did. The doctor reappeared and ushered him off into the next room leaving me profoundly glad to follow his instructions to sit there and wait while they put the arm back into place. I heard the odd muffled, stifled whimper and they came back about 20 minutes later and Rick’s arm was in a sling. He already looked better and we were just deciding what to do next when Rick’s Mam arrived so we all went home together – me with the offending vest still stuffed up my jumper.

During the school holidays us kids were more or less free agents because our parents were all at work. In some ways I think we very quickly became aware that we were responsible for ourselves and the independence from virtually constant supervision that prevails in these days made us better at risk assessment in general. From the age of about eleven, we used to go all over on our bikes – Otley. Ilkley, Wetherby, Collingham and the like and never gave it a second thought. I often wonder if my Mam and Dad ever really realised just how far afield we wandered.

Collingham was a favourite venue for swimming. We used to go to one of our secret places which was reached by much fence climbing and running crouched down like Indian trackers alongside hedges, all the while dragging our bikes along. It just occurred to me now to wonder how we knew how to get there? Perhaps it was received knowledge passed down from generation to generation of East Leedsers. We used to sneak our swimming trunks out from home and, if we were lucky, a towel as well. If no towel, it was get dried the best way you could – usually on your shirt or wait until the sun did the job for you. Fate decreed one day that it was time for Rick’s next accident. He told me he would show me his newly acquired racing dive technique and prepared to launch himself off the bank. Now, swimming and diving were the only athletic pursuits at which I was definitely better than him so I stopped him, pointing out that the water was far too shallow at that point. He wouldn’t have it, argued that a racing dive only took you just under the surface and launched himself out energetically almost parallel with the surface. He seemed to stop dead as soon as he hit the water and I heard an unearthly, gargling underwater shriek at the same time. He stood up slowly, turning towards me with the water lapping gently just under his knees. He looked as if he had just been wrestling a wolverine or had had a lively encounter with a honey badger which was particularly out of sorts that day. All down the front, from forehead to feet, he was one giant graze – spitting out a mouthful of bloody gravel through busted lips with small stones dropping at intervals into the water from his numerous lacerations. In a very matter-of-fact voice he said `You were right about that, Carny` and retired to lick his wounds. We always thought it was best to leave him alone at these times as long as we were sure he hadn’t actually broken anything again. Later on he came to the conclusion that the water should have been deep enough but that he’d made a minor miscalculation on his angle of entry.  I felt that `minor miscalculation` didn’t quite cover it – a bit like setting off due west fromLiverpooland somehow managing to miss Ireland but we didn’t fall out about it.

In brief, there were the times …………………

When he was wrestling with his elder brother David and brought his head up sharply so that David’s top teeth cut a perfect semi-circle into his forehead.  He explored that wound with expert fingers and pronounced conclusively that it didn’t need stitches.

When, in our early 20`s, we were both playing for one of the Leeds and District rugby league open age teams. He was a marvellous player and completely fearless as always. He was at full back and came weaving through at pace after collecting the ball from a kick through. Suddenly, without being tackled, he hopped to a stop and put the ball down carefully. He sat down on the pitch, rolled down his elastic knee bandage and there was a clean cut right across his kneecap. We had no idea how it had happened but, of course, stitches were involved again. The following Thursday night at training he turned up complete with his bag containing his playing kit. I said there was no way he could train with the stitches still in but he said he was having them out on the Friday and wanted me to take his bag home with me so that he could play on the Saturday without his wife knowing. As it happened, there was no game because the ground was too hard due to frost.

We decided to make some toffee. It was his idea and we were in his house alone during the school holidays. I didn’t know how this was done but he said he’d seen his Mam make it and produced a jar of treacle and a bottle of vinegar. I liked treacle and was all for eating it straight out of the tin with a spoon but he went ahead and mixed it with vinegar into a stiff paste somehow. This was spread into an old enamel baking dish. Their old black cast iron range oven had a gas element at the back and he tried to light it with a taper made from newspaper. The time lapse between turning the gas on and reaching in with the lit taper was too long however and there was an almighty bang and rattling of the cast iron oven plates as it exploded. It blew Rick backwards clean over the sofa. He scrambled up and shocked though I was I remembered to turn the gas off. His eyebrows, eyelashes and the front of his quiff had disappeared and his face was studded with grime and tiny pieces of rusty cast iron but he was still clutching the taper. He had a good swill in the sink and, after tidying up as best we could, he felt that we might have gotten away with it. Looking at his new bland, featureless face with its faintly curious expression and unique hairstyle to say nothing of the remains of the treacle mixture here and there on the wallpaper, I wouldn’t have put money on it but kept my thoughts to myself.

I was stung on the index finger of my right hand by a wasp in 1997. I remember it quite clearly because it was the first time in my life it had happened and was very painful. Being 57 years old at the time, I managed not to cry (well, not much anyway). During the summers of our childhood, it was a daily, sometimes hourly occurrence for Richard to be attacked by wasps, bees or any other insect which liked biting or stinging people. The cure then was to apply a dolly-blue bag or a dock leaf. I personally thought a mainline injection of morphine might have been more effective but the stings didn’t seem to bother Richard much or indeed at all so maybe he had developed some level of immunity over the years.

Richard’s brother, David, had a beautiful J.T. Rodgers` racing bike. Metallic blue with chromed forks. Richard was under a permanent but ineffective instruction never to ride it. Came the time when we crashed together at speed attempting some intricate manoeuvre and the lightweight alloy front wheel of Dave’s bike was buckled into an `S` shape. As usual, Richard was impervious to the cuts and miscellaneous contusions which he and I had suffered but we both realised the enormity of the problem we now had with the wheel. I had a spoke key at home but had no idea how to use it. By trial, many errors and intense concentration we virtually dismantled the wheel and rebuilt it. Few things in my life have given me as much satisfaction as seeing it spin straight again when we put it back on the bike. Dave never found out (unless he ever reads this).

There was a time when he had his chest heavily strapped to the point where it was difficult for him to breathe. I can’t remember now how he had broken his ribs and I’m tempted to invent some bizarre set of circumstances which brought this about such as being run over by the cricket pitch roller or a chance meeting with a water buffalo which had escaped from a private zoo somewhere. It was probably something more mundane such as being head-butted by the Co-op milkman’s horse.

I have dismissed the assortment of broken fingers, cuts, bruises, torn ligaments, broken noses which adorned Richard’s daily existence as being too trivial and numerous to mention. Falling in rivers, out of trees, trapping toes; fingers etc were just an everyday thing for him and not worth recording here. These things happened to all of us but not as frequently as they did to Richard.

Richard left school at fifteen. I had another two years to do because I was about eighteen months younger than him and also at grammar school leaving at sixteen. He joined Andrews Flooring and Tiling as an apprentice. I did think that entering a trade which inevitably involved working with sharp, pointy metal tools, glassy materials and powerful abrasive machinery might just be tempting fate a bit too far but, as far as I know, he stayed at that company which is still on the go for the rest of his working life. Perhaps he used up all his accident quotas in his earlier days. We lost touch completely by our mid-twenties. In those days, National Service, moving to another area ofLeedsand employment or social patterns could mean you would just never bump into each other again.

Rick died a good while ago from a lung complaint, I believe. Jim Croll, his brother-in-law, told me that the doctors never seemed entirely certain what the illness actually was. With Rick’s luck it would have been a unique alien ailment brought to Earth from the Andromeda galaxy by a speeding speck of meteoric dust which managed to travel for 2.5 million light years just to hit him and him only. Mind you, I don’t think he would have been much help to the Doctors in that he wouldn’t have allowed himself to tell them just how rough he felt. There was a marvellous series of comedy TV programmes many years ago called “Ripping Yarns“ and Michael Palin was the star. In one episode his character caught bubonic plague and was covered in running sores and scabs. He passed it off as “Nothing to worry about – just a touch of the bubos“. Through my laughter I thought of Rick immediately. That was him to a T. My hero.

 

 

 

                      And anyone who knew Rick would concur with that!

Audrey: Schoolgirl and Teenager

September 1, 2011

Audrey: Schoolgirl and Teenager

Once again Audrey (ex pat East End Parker – now living in Queensland) allows us to peep into her life at Ellerby Lane School, Leeds, where she particularly remembers the tattoo at Roundhay Park in the early 1950s. (I’m sure a few more of us remember that tattoo, too.)  Later we are regaled by her tales of the type of magical nights you can only experience as a teenager. Well done Audrey! We’re right there with you.

Anything out of the ordinary routine of day to day living was cause for enthusiasm, eagerness to know what was going on.  Be the first one to know so you could tell others.  In other words, being a nosy parker.  A motor car stopping outside anyone house brought neighbours to their doors on the flimsiest of excuses; checking to see if it was raining; asking if anyone had seen the postman, milkman, and the paper boy.  Just an excuse to be out in the street and not being nosey at all.  They just happened to be outside at the same time a car stopped at number???  If it was a small Grey Ford Prefect or a Black Morris Minor you could almost guarantee it was the midwife.  That was to be expected really as Mrs. Whoever was due to give birth.  A dark coloured sleek car was usually a doctor’s car.  Although an ambulance meant someone was seriously ill it still caused excitement in the street.  Any other type of car had tongues wagging and speculation of which it was that was rich enough to own a car.  As soon as the car departed suddenly Mrs. Somebody had to immediately tell Mrs. Who-knows-a-car owner something important.  The rest of the onlookers waited until she came outside again.  She didn’t say anything at all but went into her own house and closed the door.  Seconds later one of the ladies remembered she too had something important to tell Mrs. Who’d just found out who owned the car.

The first time I had a ride in a private car I was about 10 years old. EllerbyLaneSchoolhad organised an excursion to a Tattoo inRoundhayPark.  I’d no idea what it was but I wanted to go.  I was very surprised when I told Mum about it and she knew what a Tattoo was all about.  Seemingly they’d had them before the war and Mum thought they were great.  But the cost of it!  Uncle Joe and Uncle Walt said they’d give me the money so I could see what a Tattoo was.  I paid the money and was given a paper to take home that gave details of date and time and I had to have someone waiting for me when the bus returned us to school after the event because it would be 10 p.m.  Mum said I couldn’t go.  It would be too late at night, too dark, too cold.  None of the other kids who were going lived near us.  I cried.  Uncle Walt saved the day and said he would be waiting at the school.  The day arrived or I should say the night arrived.  Mum took me to school, instructing me all the way not to get lost or they’d never find me, not to talk to anyone, do as I was told and not to walk home on my own if Uncle Walter wasn’t there to pick me up.  Instant panic “What am I to do if he forgets?”      “You stay there and wait for someone to come ”   ” Mr Holmes said we can’t go if there’s no one to bring us home.”  I had visions of being left on my own in an empty playground at midnight because Uncle Walter had forgotten me.  Mum said she’s sure he’d be there and shoved me on the bus.  None of the kids I was friendly with at school went on the trip.  I knew the kids but wasn’t in their groups.  Only the boys had gangs, we girls had groups.  I can’t remember too much about the Tattoo.  As anyYorkshirelass I loved brass bands, the louder the better.  There was a lot of marching in lines, Navy as well as Army uniforms then the pipe bands and men in kilts.  I remember them having to dismantle a gun on wheels then move the bits to the other side of the floodlit arena with rope and pulleys and put it back together again.  After it finished we were told to hold the hand of the kid next to you and follow Mr. Holmes.  I was a quiet kid at school, mostly because I was small and had to watch out my younger brother didn’t get bullied.  Yes, instructions from Mum again.  That was another reason for me wanting to go on the trip;Normanwas too young to go.  The girl next to me was Valerie Kay, another quiet girl.  We were both so quiet and shy we didn’t know each other was on the same bus.  She only lived 4 streets from my street so I thought if Uncle Walt wasn’t there I’d go home with her.  It was pitch black of course at that time of the night and no idea where we were until we arrived back atEllerby Lane.  Lots of parents were there but I couldn’t see Uncle Walter.  Valerie’s father had her by the hand walking away.  Close to tears I daren’t move.  I don’t know if I was more scared of being left on my own or of Mr. Holmes going mad at me because no one was there to take me home.  Mr. Holmes had a fierce temper if you stepped out of line.  A deep voice from behind me “Come on lass.  Let’s be getting thee ‘ome afore tha mam chews ‘re nails down t’  knuckles.”  Uncle Walt was a gate keeper on the locks on the river Aire.  He spoke very broad old fashionedYorkshirelanguage with lots of thee’s and thou’s and as strong as an ox.  

God! Was I glad to see him.  We started to walk.  Mr Kay, Valerie’s Dad asked if we would like a lift home.  Uncle Walt thanked him but said it wouldn’t take us long to walk.  Mr. Kay said we had to walk past the end of their street so why not get in the car.  I was so excited.  Me and Walt climbed in the back.  The interior light was on and I was so thrilled, everyone could see me in Valerie Kay’s father’s car.  As soon as we started moving I was disappointed Mr. Kay turned off the interior light, no one could see us inside.  We stopped outside their house in Glensdale Grove, thanked Mr. Kay very much for giving us a ride and Walt took me home.  He asked if I’d liked the Tattoo.  I said I had and I’d liked all the brass bands and seeing them marching.  He asked what the best thing had been.  I said without a doubt ” The very bestist thing was us having a ride in Valerie Kay’s car.”  He roared laughing and said maybe Mr. Kay could have a side line and make some pocket money charging 2d. a go giving rides round the streets. 

When I was 17 Auntie Maggie next door was constantly asking when I was going to get myself a chap.  Her grand children were either going steady, engaged or married.  It wasn’t uncommon for girls of 18 to be married and by age 22-24 have 2 or 3 babies.  Mum ruled with an iron fist.  I was only allowed to go to the youth club at Richmond Hill Methodist church.  Only because my cousin Dorothy was allowed to go there too and we went together.  She was 2 years older than me and liked playing the general knowledge quiz games they had,  a lady tried to teach the girls a thing called tatting.  It’s something like crocheting but a shuttle is used instead of a crochet hook.  The lady was so damn fast at doing it everything was just a blur.  The boys had the use of a dart board.  I was bored out of my brain.  A boy who went to our school turned up one evening and started playing the piano.  His name was Desmond and he could play like Winifred Attwell.  It was honky tonk lively music, the kids loved it and gathered round the piano.  The person in charge told him to stop and locked the piano lid.  He said we were not at the youth club to be entertained we had to join in.  Desmond went home and that was the last time I went to the youth club.  Auntie Mary, Dorothy’s Mum, told my Mum she should make me go back to the club as it was very nice and I wouldn’t meet any rough boys there.  I didn’t want to meet any rough boys anywhere but it would have been nice to meet some who were allowed to talk and laugh and not to have to sit in a circle and answer general knowledge questions.  Dorothy continued going and was happy with the crowd of people her own age.  Working in a factory broadens your outlook on life so when one of my workmates suggested we went dancing at the Majestic Ballroom my eyes lit up.  No use telling my Mum where I was going she’d have chained me to the table leg.  She lived at Cross Gates and said I could stay over night at her place as the dance hall didn’t close until 11:30 p.m.  My mother would have had a pink fit if she’d known.  I’d never been to a ballroom and imagined girls in long gowns and boys in dark suits waltzing around.  She said it was nothing like that but I had to wear a nice dress.  Mum’s idea of a nice dress was a pale blue or pink with puff sleeves, Peter Pan collar and a flared skirt.  Jean said I could make one.  We worked on a sewing machine we could make anything. Couldn’t use the sewing machine at home so had to sneak it into work and make it in the tea break.  Had to watch out that the forewoman didn’t catch me so sewed like a demon.  At that time some magazines offered cut out material with instructions how to sew it together.  I sent for a tailored dress and jacket.  Had it sent to Jean’s address of course.  It was a simple straight dress with no sleeves and a round neck.  The jacket had three quarter sleeves, a round neck with a collar, and three buttons and barely came to the waist.  The picture in the magazine was a silver grey colour.  Jean said it looked elegant and not to bother making the jacket up because I’d only need the dress to go dancing.  What it didn’t show in the magazine was the top of the dress had to be fitted to the bottom half.  We thought it would be just 2 pieces of material, front and back, with facings for the neck and arm holes.  Couldn’t send it back so I had to make it.  I’d been so devious, told lies, so much planning I was going to go to the Majestic Ballroom if it was the last thing I did.  It took 2 days for me to make it as we only had two 15 minute tea breaks each day.  The material was not a silver grey but a dark grey colour.  Jean said it would be more elegant than silver grey when it was made up.  It was the word elegant that got me.  That, plus the magical world of ballroom dancing.  My head was filled with romantic notions of meeting my Prince Charming.  In my haste to finish the dress before Friday I attached the top of dress to the skirt part but had the back of the dress top to the front part of the skirt.  Not until it was finished did I realise what I’d done.  Couldn’t burst into tears at work everyone would want to know what was wrong.  Rolled it up, shoved it in my bag and thought I was doomed to be an old maid forever.  No one had asked what I was sewing in the tea breaks as the dark grey colour was similar to suit material.  In the lunch break I took my bag into the ladies toilets with my friend Jean in tow.  Nearly in tears told her I’d made the dress back to front.  She told me to try it on and she’d see if she could do anything with it.  We were in the canteen toilets so there wasn’t the usual crowd of women smoking like chimneys.  When I had the dress on she said it fitted me like a glove.  I said she was lying, it was back to front.  ” It’s only the top bit that’s the wrong way round but look at it you’ve made yourself an empire line dress.  Look in the mirror.  It looks lovely.”  Instead of fitting on the waist line it was just under the bust line.  It didn’t look too bad ” But what’s it like at the back?”  She gave a wolf whistle ” Smashing.  If you’d put both front bits together you would have had to fill in the gap with some lace.  It would have been too low on your chest.”  I still wasn’t convinced.  The rest of the week I was thinking up excuse not to go on Friday night.  Friday dawned, more doo’s and dont’s  from Mum before I left for work.  I’d told her Jean and me were going to the Regal cinema at Crossgates.  Lucky me.  I’d already seen the film so could answer her questions on Saturday when I came home.  She only went to see musical films, singing and dancing pictures as she called them.  I knew she would ask the neighbours if they had seen ‘ Interlude ‘ I think it was called.  It had Rossino Brazzi in the lead role and was so romantic.  I knew the answers before she asked the questions.  Nervous as a kitten but excited as well we joined the ticket queue at the Majestic Ballroom inLeeds City Square.  All my Christmas’s had come at once.  Large men at the entrance dressed in tuxedos, white shirts and BOW TIES.  WOW! Just like they are in the films.  They said ” Good Evening ” as we walked passed.  We smiled and said good evening back to them.  In the cloakroom I asked Jean who those men were.  A one word reply Bouncers.  ” What’s a bouncer?”  In case there’s any trouble they sort the fellas out and throw them out on the street she told me.  My God! My mother was right.  I should never have come.  There’s going to be a fight.  She then told me they never have any trouble at the Majestic it’s a nice crowd they have in there.  After putting on more lipstick Jean had given me out into the ballroom we went.  She knew some girls who were already there and we joined them.  The band was playing a slow tune and only a few couples were dancing.  More of a shuffle than a dance.  Suddenly she whispered ” You do know how to dance don’t you?”  I said I did.  Uncle Billie had won medals for dancing and loved to teach all the girl cousins to dance.  Uncle Billie taught us Victor Sylvester style dancing.  A group of young men in nice suits, white shirts and ties came nearer to us.  One by one they asked the girls if they’d like to dance.  Then came my turn.  He was only as tall as me so he’d be about 5’4″ as I had high heels shoes on.  He didn’t dance like Uncle Billie at all.  I could hardly breathe.  I pushed him away, he pulled me back.  We were still in the same spot, we hadn’t moved an inch.  I asked if he didn’t know how to dance.  He put his face along side my cheek ” Sure I do honey ” in a broadYorkshireaccent.  I nearly laughed, who does he think he is? Clark Gable?  I turned my head sharply and caught him on the side of his head with the frame of my glasses.  That made him jump and moreYorkshireaccent ” Bloody hell, what did you do that for ”  Sweetly I said ” Sorry. I wanted to look where we were going you don’t seem to know.”  He stood still, moved back a little ” I haven’t seen you here before ”  All I said was haven’t you?  Maybe it was the dim lights, the music, excitement who knows.  I was a different person.  I wasn’t the shy timid young girl. I was in a dance hall with a real live band and bouncers outside in tuxedos.  I was a grown up. I had my elegant dress on. I had face powder and lipstick on my face. I knew how to dance and dancing is what I was determined to do. He mumbled ” Do you want to finish this dance or what?”  I said I was waiting for him to start.  He left me on the dance floor on my own and walked off.  So much for my dreams of a knight in shining armour sweeping me off my feet. 

I was asked to dance by someone else and he didn’t try to squeeze the life out of me but he couldn’t dance either.  Not many of them could.  A man who Jean knew tapped her on the shoulder.  Smiles all round as she and the other girls said hello to Charlie.  Jean introduced us, we shook hands and Charlie said ” A new face.  Fancy a twirl round the dance floor?”  I had no idea who he was and he was a lot older than us.  Married man screamed in my head.  He held out his hand ” Come on then before the band stops playing.”  So I did.  Just as Uncle Billie had taught me.  He was a terrific dancer.  No squashing, no sweaty hands, no trying to nibble my ear, we danced round and round the floor.  He said ‘ Your really enjoying this aren’t you?”  I said I was and he was the first man that night who knew how to dance.  He laughed ” Did you really think all these blokes come here for the dancing?”  Very naive I asked why else would they be there if not to dance.  He shook his head ” Did your mother not tell you?”  Tell me what?  Still dancing ” What did your mother say as you left the house?”  I mumbled.         ” What’s that you said?”  Feeling guilty and caught out ” She doesn’t know I’m here.  I told her I was going to the pictures.”  I felt sure he was going to tell me to go home on the next bus.   He asked what would Mum say when I didn’t get home until after midnight.  I told him I was staying at Jeans house.  He squeezed my hand, twirled me round, big smile on his face ” That’s all right then.  I live near Jean and give her a ride home if we’re both here on the same night” and twirled me around again.  He brought me back to Jean and her friends when the music stopped playing he’d seen someone he knew and he would see us later.  I asked her who he was.  ” He’s nice isn’t he, lovely dancer, he lives near me, often gives me a ride home.”  Hesitatingly ” He’s a bit old for you isn’t he?”  She laughed out loud ” Charlie’s married.  He makes no secret of it.  His wife’s lovely she just doesn’t like dancing and Charlie adores it.  You’re quite safe with him.  He’ll give us both a ride home tonight so we can stay to the very end and not have to run to catch the last bus.  Well I never did find my Prince Charming on any dance floor.  I had some good times though and plenty of laughs, some sore feet at times as well.  A lot of the times caused by young men standing on them and other times by wearing stiletto heeled shoes with pointy toes.  Ah! The fashions as well as the times we’re a changing.

The first time a ‘ chap ‘ brought me home in a car I’ll swear the whole street knew before he stopped outside our house.  I said thank you for the ride home and opened the door to get out.  He gave a mournful ” Aw don’t I get a kiss goodnight?”  I gave him a smile ” Only if you want a description of your car, licence plate, an exaggerated account of kissing and canoodling at this time of the night to be all overEast EndParktomorrow morning.  I value my reputation too much to be classed as a scarlet woman ” and got out of the car.  His window was wound down and his parting shot was ” I’ll tell all my mates you’re madam freeze ”   I said he could suit himself what he said, making a mental note to tell all my friends to steer well clear of him.  Mum of course was waiting up for me. Who was that? What have  told you about letting boys bring you home?  You’ll be getting a reputation.  I don’t know what I’m going to say to the neighbours.  I told her to tell them to mind their own business and went to bed.  If it had been either of my brothers that would have been an end to it.  Saturday morning she dragged it up again.  Sunday morning once more because I’d gone out dancing on Saturday night as well.   I was doomed to be the object of the neighbourhood gossips she didn’t know how she was going to hold her head up.  I laughed and said if I could weather the storm as I had done nothing wrong I’m sure she’d manage too.  That got me clip round the ear and one of our many shouting matches erupted.  It never entered my mother’s head the entire street could hear us yelling.  The neighbours who hadn’t been behind twitching lace curtains when the car had pulled up were soon informed by those who had.  Auntie Maggie wanted to know about my ‘ chap ‘ practically had the banns read out at the church.  I told her he wasn’t a boy friend just someone who’d given me a ride home.  Instantly from ‘ nice chap ‘ to Jack the Ripper ” Oh you gotta be careful our Audrey.  You shouldn’t be getting in cars with fellas.”  She was the only one who called me Audrey and it grated on my nerves.  Mum thoroughly agreed with Maggie and they spoke about me as if I wasn’t there:  I keep on telling her Mag but does she take any notice?  She’s going to end up like that lass in the next street.  I don’t know what’s got into her but if she doesn’t mend her ways she’s going to get whatfor.”  Maggie tut tutting and nodding her head.  I knew as soon as Maggie left she’d be straight into Martha’s house telling her poor Nellie’s daughter is leading her a merry dance.  They’d be shaking their heads with lots of sympathy for poor Nellie and who’s have thought her daughter would turn out like that ……and enjoying every single minute.  It was me this week it would be somebody else next week. 

By then I was not the timid young girl who never answers back to an adult.  I worked with women older than my mother and we were all on an equal footing in the factory.  Someone yells at you, you yell back.  I’d got friendly with a lively girl called Sandra.  She made everyone laugh, knew all the latest fashions, pop singers, film stars.  I bought vinyl records of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams and she bought records of Elvis, The Beatles and we both loved Aker Bilk and Kenny Ball.  We were both old enough to go into pubs, the pair of us barely 18.  She’d got in with a group of girls who used to go to the Compton Arms on a Saturday lunch time.  Drinking in the middle of the afternoon!  The height of decadence!  She said I aught to join them they had a great time.  My mother WOULD have thrown me out if she’d smelt beer on me in the middle of the day.  One Monday morning at work Sandra said it had been Fab at theComptonon Saturday they’re had been a jazz band playing..  Everyone wanted to hear about it.  She said they didn’t play there regular it just happened their car had broken down so they’d gone into the pub until a mate picked them up in his van.  They were Uni students and had formed their own jazz band and they had a regular paid job to play every Friday night at a jazz club over a pub atKirkstall Road.  Boy O Boy did I want to go???  We worked out how to get there for the following Friday.  Sandra lived at Halton Moor and could get on a number 14 bus that would take her to city square where she would wait for me to catch a number 4 bus that would take us as far as Kirkstall Abbey.  The pub we wanted was across the road from the Abbey.  I had to walk toYork Roadto catch almost any bus that would take me to city square.  I was beside myself with excitement.  We danced to live bands at the Majestic but this was Jazz music.  We got off the bus before the Abbey and crossed the road into a small pub.  She was greeted by all and sundry, old as well as young people wanted her to sit with them.  Back then all pubs were smokey places, didn’t bother us as along with everyone else we smoked cigarettes as well.  We were sophisticated we smoked Peter Stuyvesant king size cigarettes.  Everyone else smoked Players or Senior Service unfiltered cigarettes.  I kept asking where the band was. Every time I asked she stood on my foot under the table.  Eventually as girls do we went to the ladies.  Don’t ask me why, girls go in pairs to the loo.  As soon as the door was shut she said ” Will you stop asking about the band.  It’s not at this pub.  I come in here because I’ve got to know people and they think I go home when this place closes but I go over the road to the jazz club.”  I asked why we couldn’t go to the pub where the Jazz band was over the top.  A startled ” Are YOU kidding?  It’s The Star and Garter there’s a fight outside there every night the pub closes.”  She’d brought me to a pub where they fight every night?  I could almost see my picture on the front of the Yorkshire Post.  My mother would kill me before she slung me out into the street.  Sandra said it would be O.K.  We’d stay where we were until closing time, stay on the same side of the road until the cops had cleared the drunks and brawlers away in the Black Mariah and then we’d join the queue.    There were crowds of people hanging around.  Cop cars and the black van, cops shoving men into the back of the van and eventually they all drove away.  Sandra grabbed my hand ” Come on hurry up, elbows out, they only let a certain amount in.”  We ran and pushed our way towards the front.  We were all jammed together as we moved up a narrow wooden staircase.  A small window at the top of the steps was where we paid our entrance fee.  I think it cost half a crown to get in.  Could not see a thing once we were inside.  Sandra gripped my wrist and yelled not to let anyone separate us as she pushed herself further into the room.  We were making our way toward the only light in the place as she’d said that’s where the band played.  Light?  It was a single red light bulb.  My eyes were getting accustomed to the dark and I could see figures slightly higher than us under the dim red light.  There was a drum roll and a cheer went up from the crowd, then silence.  Suddenly a male voice ” Sandra you made it?  Is that your friend with you?  Come on gents give the ladies a bit of room, let them through.”  There was a small gap and Sandra dragged us both through to the front.  There we were, right at the front.  The drummer crashed the cymbal, a male voice said one, two, and…away they went.  The crowd cheered, the music was loud, and the atmosphere was electric.  We were packed in like sardines and we all had a wonderful time.  They must have played none stop for an hour before they had a break.  There was a makeshift bar near us that only sold cider.  We drank it.  You couldn’t move far in any direction so the band joined us two and introductions all round.  I cannot remember any of their names but I do remember the trombone player.  He was 6ft. tall, bright blue eyes, red hair and a big red moustache.  He was the larrikin of the group.  When Sandra introduced me he took my hand and kissed the back of it.  He wouldn’t let it go ” Come along darling.  Can you play the trombone?”  I said I didn’t have a clue how to play any musical instrument.  ” Lesson number one darling.  This is the bit you blow into.  Take a big breath and blow, I’ll handle the notes.”  I did as I was told.  I can’t remember who’d told me but at some time someone had said you place the mouth piece flat against you lips and blow like hell.  They were all surprised when I got a note out of it.  He picked me up and planted a big kiss on my lips ” You’re the first girl whose every known how to blow a note.  Can you play the trumpet?”  I couldn’t play anything.  They gave me the trumpet.  I did it again.  Johnny one note, that’s me.  They got back on the stage and played for another hour and then it was time to go home.  When we got outside the last bus had gone.  No idea what we were going to do.  If you missed the last bus at the Majestic there was a taxi rank down one of the side streets.  No taxis where we were.  We weren’t scared to walk in the dark but it would have taken us until dawn to walk home in high heeled shoes.  The band saved the day.  We were feeling sorry for ourselves when they came out of the small narrow door at the side of the pub.  They realised we’d missed the last bus so offered us a lift in their van.  We said we lived on the other side of town.  They said they lived at Crossgates, Seacroft, Halton Moor, Harehills andRoundhay Road.  Only a slight detour toEast EndParkso we piled in.  No safety belts back then.  The drummer owned the van so he drove.  I sat on the trombone players lap in the passenger seat.  Sandra was sat on a cushion in the back with the drum kit, a double base, the base player, the trumpeter and clarinet player.  We laughed and sang all the way to my house.  Going upEast Park DriveI said they would all have to be quiet as my Mother would go raving mad as it was with me being so late.   They wanted to take me to my door but I said dropping me off at the end of the street would be fine.  Our house was only the third one from the end of the street.  We were giggling at we drove upEast Park Drivewith lots of telling each other to shush so as not to wake the neighbours.   I got out of the van with lots of whispered ‘ good nights see you next week, hope you don’t get into trouble ‘ and a giggling Sandra ” See you on Monday with the rest of the slaves.”  High heels clicking on the pavement I took 3 steps, turned and waved as the van door closed quietly.  Then they laughed, a blare from the trumpet echoed down the street, much revving of the engine and tooting of the van horn and they roared off with trumpet still playing. 

My Mother threw the door back on its hinges ” What time do you call this?”  she bellowed.  I said I’d no idea but I was sure all the neighbours would be able to tell her in the morning what time I’d got home.  She was so flabbergasted she didn’t say a word, just stood there holding the door open.  I went straight to bed.  I knew I’d have to pay for being cheeky the next morning but tonight I was on cloud nine.  We’d had a fabulous time.  The music was still ringing in my ears, the young men in the band were great fun and I’d had my first kiss by a man with a moustache.  The next morning there wasn’t the ranting and raving from Mum as I was expecting.  She unnerved me asking in a quiet voice where I had been the night before and who’d brought me home.  No more lies.  I’m not a good liar and knew sooner or later I’d trip myself up and she would have shackled me with a ball and chain, mentally if not physically.  On my guard as I was sure it was the lull before the storm ” We went to a jazz club onKirkstall Road.  Sandra knows the people who play in the band.”  Getting ready to dodge the clip round the ear I was certain was going to be delivered Mum yelled “Kirkstall Road!  Why the hell did you go all the way out there?”  Obvious answer

” Because that’s where the club is and these fella’s get paid for playing there.”  She quietened down ” They’re proper musicians then?  They get paid for doing it?”  I said yes wondering what was coming next.  She chewed the inside of her mouth and a lot of hmmm and a sigh.  Still quiet voice ” Well the next time they bring you home tell them not to kick up such a noise at that hour of the morning.”  My God!!! What’s come over her?  I didn’t question it.  Coming home from work Monday night a couple of neighbours called out Hello to me as I walked passed their houses.  Big smiles on their faces.  As soon as I went indoors I asked what was wrong with Mrs. Simpson and Miss Smith.  Mum said she didn’t know and smiled to herself.  I said the were cooking something up and I knew it had something to do with me.  The neighbours were friendly saying Hello, Good Morning when they passed in the street but not usually with beaming smiles for no reason at all.  Dad came in a few minutes later ” What’s up with Mrs. Simpson and old Alice grinning likeCheshirecats.  They said your Audrey knows how to have a good time.  What are they on about?”  He looked directly at me waiting for an answer.  I shrugged my shoulders and glared at Mum.  Dad looked at Mum who was chewing the inside of her mouth again ” What the hell’s going on?  If those two old gossip mongers are saying stuff about her I’ll soon sort them out.”  Mum said they’d wanted to know who had brought me home Friday night as they could have woken the dead with the racket they kicked up yelling and blowing trumpets.  Dad slept like a log and hadn’t heard a thing.  Dad was still waiting for an explanation.  ” So I told them she has a boy friend that has his own band but they won’t be making a noise again because she’s told them not to.”  A few weeks I reigned as the girl who was going out with a band leader.  The tale grew with each telling.  From a bunch of Uni. students to the likes of Joe Loss, Ted Heath and almost Count Basie and Duke Ellington fame I had big smiles from everyone.

YET MORE MEMORIES OF DAVE CARNCROSS

April 1, 2011