THE POWELL FAMILY
3. When we were young: school
Tony and I went to Graiseley infants and junior school. Tony then went on to Graiseley seniors but I went on to Penn Manor Road. Gloria went to St. Luke's, then to the Municipal Grammar.
A Miss Williams was Head of Graiseley. There was also a Mrs. McVealey and a Miss Beard - a quite formidable lady - at Graiseley amongst others. There was also a caretaker at Graiseley called Mr McRichie. I took a glass bottle of perfume - in the shape of an elephant I think - to school once and dropped it. Miss Beard demanded to know who had dropped it. But I don't think I owned up. We sometimes were given rusks at play time. It was bread toasted slowly in the oven. They were lovely.
In our class was Sandra Lane, the daughter of Alderman Lane. Also in our school were Jo and Alan Clarkson, whose father owned Clarkson's furniture shop on Snow Hill.
There was a recreation ground opposite the school which was apparently given over to allotments during the war. Later on there was a reservoir there for a short time which I nearly fell into as I decided to climb down the side. Luckily it was a hard winter and there was ice on it, so I managed to scramble up. There were air aid shelters on the Rec. and also some toilets at the top near where Fellows Street met Lower Villiers Street. We had an Anderson Shelter in our garden for a time.
There were houses and factories all round the school. The Die Casting backed onto my friend's house in Clayton Close. Villiers, Fischer Bearings, later Fafnir, and Star Aluminium where my father worked, were all near by. As I girl I remember being woken by the tramp, tramp, tramp of workers going to work on foot.
4. When we were young: family life
Tony, Gloria and I all went to St Luke's Sunday School. Here we were given little text cards prettily coloured and with a line from the Bible to learn and bring home. Parties at St Lukes were held in a little wooden hut that was at the back of the Church. A Miss Hawks was Headmistress of St Luke's.
Later on we went to Waterloo Road Baptist Church. The minister was the Reverend Leslie Chown. He would visit his parishioners on his cycle, togged up in his waterproofs when the weather was bad. Apparently he had the very best silk lined waterproofs from Halfords in the town. When he visited us Mum would usher him in through the front door while my Dad disappeared through the back door to get to the Club over the road. The Rev. Chown was still the minister at that church at the age of 80 - when the church was demolished.
I was baptised at the Baptist church in Waterloo Road, on Sunday, the sixth of October 1963, by Rev. Chown, at the same time as my sister, Gloria, and a girl called Jackie Doule whose father was the headmaster of a local school. There was a white-tiled pool for immersion behind the pulpit. I seem to remember him standing in the water with his galoshes on. My sister and I had white dresses on. I still have my Baptismal Card which he filled in and signed.
We seemed to have some pea souper fogs in those days. Must have been the smog from all the coal fired chimneys. We used to play running round the block, down Baggott St, along Sedgley St, up Villiers St and then along Bromley St and back to base.
We eventually had a TV and I remember Dad fixing an aerial for my sister to see Andy Pandy. Some friends of Dads came round to see Wolves playing in a Cup Final. A friend of mine in Clayton Close had commercial television and we thought the ads were great. An ad for toothpaste – “You'll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent”; and another for Murraymints - “Murraymints, Murraymints, the too good to hurry mints - with the delicious hint of mint”.
Another friend of mine lived in Clayton Close. I used to go there for tea sometimes. Her Mum’s living room had chintz covered furniture and brasses around the fireplace. They had a couple of Pekinese dogs, goldfish, hamsters and a budgie aviary outside. Their back garden backed onto the Diecasting. They had the factory wall covered with rambling roses to hide it. There was nice wrought iron furniture in the garden and we would sit out there sipping home made lemon juice in the summer. My friend’s Grandad lived next door but later went to live opposite the Red Lion Pub in Wombourne.
In the summer I used to go to Wombourne with a friend, Christine Walton, to her uncle's allotment, off Ounsdale Road. His name was Joe Blower. The allotment backed onto a railway line. I can still imagine the smell of his pipe and the lovely flowers he used to pick to give to my mum. I had another friend, Pamela James, whose granddad lived opposite the Red Lion pub in Wombourne. His name was Mr. James ("Jamo"). My friend's brother was Barry James - now of the well known driving school.
Occasionally Dad and Mum would take us out for the day. Sometimes to East Park, where you could paddle in the paddling pool. We would cross the Dudley Road and go via Pond Lane and Cable St, then pass over the bridge over the railway line at Monmore Green. Sometimes to West Park. We would catch the Number 26 bus. Mum would take a picnic. I remember tureens of new potatoes and other things. I was always fascinated by those huge boulders in West Park. We used to take little fishing nets and catch tiddlers down there too and bring them home in jam jars. They didn't last long poor things. We would also go to Bantock Park and play cricket.
We used to have Christmas parties at the Blakenhall Conservative Club. Dad used to play bowls there.