at The Haven, Blakenhall.
We went back to our childhoods with memories of carts made out of wood, orange boxes, string and pram wheels– Joe still knows exactly how to do it and if I can get the materials I’m sure we could make one! Gwen told us about ‘liberating’ pram wheels from the Tansad factory in Tipton, one child would hop over the wall and throw wheels back to their friends.
Whips and tops and decorating them with the foil from cigarette packets, which led us to ask- when did they stop putting that foil in the cigarette packets? and led us to anther conversation about Capstan, Senior Service and the vouchers you got in Players No 6, so you could collect them up and get ‘gifts’ from a book, and then on to green shield stamps.
Back on to childhood toys with hoops and sticks and playing ‘tip cat’, then the inevitable ‘fire cans’. Health and Safety officers stop reading now because children really did poke holes in old tins, light fires in them or put fire embers in and then swing them round their heads on string or wire. Everyone assures me that no-one ever got burned.
If that wasn’t bad enough we them got on to knocking doors and running away (‘red apple’ or ‘rosy apple’) tying door knobs together and knocking both doors, and the bad tempered old woman who would come out with a knife in her hand shouting “I’ll get hold of you lot!”
A safer subject was dolls, old porcelain ones and home-made ones, and jigsaws (Joe has lots of framed ones) and cuddly toys- Tony went to get his (rather large) black panther, Cyril.
The conversation took several more turns then came to coins, and old money, and when did farthings go out? and when did decimal currency come in? (We found out, do you know the answers?)
Joe took us back to Walsall town centre where two women, Joanie and Mary, (friends, apparently) would have a fight every Saturday night, with an audience gathered that included the local constabulary.
Other random information was that Featherstone was known as Chinatown, and Gwen was remembering all the pubs from Ocker Hill to Wednesbury. The Crown and Cushion, Silent House, The Boat, Dartmouth (top and bottom) and The Nelson……. can you add any to the list?