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Joyce Foster Remembers.

I was born in Reidhaven Rd in 1923 and lived there until I was ten. I can recall lots of fond memories there.

I attended school in Conway Road. One day my friend and I walked home for lunchtime, past the Co-op stores in Lakedale Rd. On the corner were stacked big round wicker baskets, full of shiny red cherries. On impulse, we upped our dresses and filled them with handfuls of cherries. Knowing we daren't go home with them, we went up the Common, beside the lake (paddling pool) and ate the lot. (A luxury for us as I came from a poor family. Nine of us in two rooms and a shared scullery). Needless to say, I was punished for being late home for dinner and did not get anything to eat.

The landlady took pity on me and gave me a piece of cake, but I was sent back to school, walking along eating the cake and sobbing and crying, all at the same time. I arrived at school very late and had to stay in the headmistresses room with my hands on my head, facing a corner, for the rest of the afternoon. So I paid a price for taking those cherries!

One day I overheard an aunt of mine talking to my mother. She used to work at Holdsworth's flock factory in Whitehart Lane. (They made the old clothes into flock that was then used to make the flock mattresses).  She used to do the sorting of old clothes and occasionally find the odd bit of loose money in pockets and save it up and take it to the bank. The only bank us kids knew of was the sewer bank that ran from Plumstead Bridge alongside the Woolwich Arsenal to Crossness.  We played there for hours during the long school holidays looking for where she had hidden the money.

Another pastime was pushing my brother and friends up Garibaldi Street on a plank of wood with four pram wheels. For this privilege I was allowed to sit on it going down. It's a wonder we weren't all killed; but not much traffic in those days; although I can remember flocks of sheep being driven through our roads.

Another delight was watching a travelling show of a barrel organ and a troop of four or five men dressed up as women. They wore large yellow dresses. We thought that they was wonderful and we followed them around all the other streets (All a good free show for us poor kids). They would collect money from folk as they went around the streets but I don't think they got much as we were all poor.

The Cat's Meat Man used to do better, he was like the pied piper, followed by moggies though, not kids!

Every Monday I used to go with my Nan to the pawn shop with granddad's best suit and shoes. The shop was near the Plaza cinema, going towards the baths and museum. Then the same on Friday, this time to redeem the clothes, so that he was well dressed to spend the W/E in the Radical Club.

Round the corner from home was a second hand shop named Petkin's. If anybody had new clothes on we'd say they were like 'Petkin's Mannequins'. He also bought jars and bottles, which he stored in his back yard. I can recall the boys searching the rubbish dump for them. They sold them to him and then they'd jump over the back wall into his yard and get them back again and then resell them back to him!

Every Sunday afternoon us kids who were old enough were sent round to the Sunday School at the Salvation Army in Marmadon Rd. They were very good to us kids. When dad lost his job at Tate & Lyle, across the Woolwich Ferry, he was sent to a 'Centre' to work, in Dartford.
In them days, no work, no money! We did have a 10 schilling voucher, enabling mum to shop at Morgan's in Lakedale Road.

There used to be the 'Tally Man'. He walked the streets with a big old battered suitcase, selling kids clothes and other clothes that you could buy on the tick, by paying the bill off at a few pennies a week. (This was all then 'tallied' up on your bill in the 'book' each week).

We went on a school outing to Herne Bay once; it cost 1/9d; wonderful! Also, each year we went with the Radical Club to Sheerness by train. They gave each one of us 12 pennies (1/10 p) in an envelope. Very rich indeed!

On icy mornings an old man named Mr. Baxter used to stand outside his shop on the corner of Avery Street and give us children a Bulls Eye each (a black andwhite stripped sweet).

Some evenings we went to a play at the centre in the High Street School, opposite the Plaza Cinema.

There was also an 'Indian Toffee' seller.  (I never ever did find out what it was in his tin box that he hung round his neck!)

Then on Sundays we had the 'Muffin Man' with his big tray of muffins. He'd ring his bell and call out loudly, "Muffins", always on a Sunday afternoon, when a lot of the folk were having their Sunday afternoon nap; when they would be, "bleeding disturbed," by him!

I recall the Shrimp & Winkle seller who came around the streets and also the 'Stop me and buy one' Wall's Ice Cream Man, on his tricycle complete with its icebox. You could buy a triangular stick of coloured frozen ice lolly, about 10" long for a 1 penny or he would cut it in half for a halfpenny. You'd get your dress real messy as it melted in your hand as you ate and sucked at it, as it didn't have a stick through it.

I remember the *Hokey Pokey Man as well and also the rude rhyme that us cheeky kids would sing, when well out of earshot of our parents. We'd sing:

"Hokey Pokey, penny a lump!
Just came out the elephant's trunk.

Hokey Pokey, penny a glass!
Just came out the elephant's .... As I'm quite sure, you can fill in the missing word!

Occasionally, for a treat, we'd go across the Woolwich Free Ferry for a trip. We would go for a paddle in the Thames at Victoria Park; very healthy!

Talking of health, I remember when all us kids in our family got very ill. My mum took all of us six kids and pushed a big old pram all the way up to the Memorial Hospital, Shooters Hill.

But we were not admitted 'cos we all had a contagious illness, I think it was scabies or ringworm we were told to go to Goldie Leighs Home instead.  It was a very long way from Shooters Hill, especially for all us little kids and my mum push the pram. When we got to the Home, adjacent to Bostall Woods; we were all admitted and we had a lovely time during our long stay there, which I think was quite a few weeks.

On just about every street corner there was a small shop.  One day mum sent me across for 2 ounces of 'All Sorts'.  On the way back temptation was just too great, so I ate one, but she knew that 2 ounces meant six sweets and I came back with only five!  I was sent sent straight back to the shop and, in deep shame, I said that I wasn't given the correct weight.

The shopkeeper knew what had happened though and took pity on me and replaced it.

I remember May 24th was *Empire Day. The ceremony in the playground at Conway Primary School. Then the singing of "Land of Hope and Glory" ending with a half day holiday and the kids running happily out of the school gate.

*The girl in the Jubilee Celebrations street party photo (second girl on left, with dark hair, leaning forward) is Olive Pollard, and the party was held in Reidhaven Road for the Jubilee celebrations of 1937, I think it was.



*In this photo on the right, "Our Gang" consisted of myself (picture has "me" on it) some of my brothers and sisters. It was taken in the back garden of our house in Reidhaven Road.

When I was eleven we moved to Eltham. Mum was talking to the woman next door and I was listening.  "There was three bedrooms, two living rooms, a bathroom (what's that!?) and a big hall". The only hall we knew as kids was the school hall! (what a disappointment).  "And you had to go around 'a roundabout' to get there!" You can guess, the only roundabout we knew was at the fair on Bostall Heath, or the one on the back of the Rag and Bone man's cart. (You got a free ride if you gave him a jam jar or some old clothes; not that I ever got a ride though as the only old clothes that my family had we was wearing!)

Joyce Hyne

Editor's note:
*Empire Day was an occasion of national celebration for Britain every May 24th, from 1908 until 1958.

*Hokey Pokey was a cheaply-made ice cream made from shaved ice mixed with syrup, giving it a yellow colour.



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