Growing-up With Southall From 1904 (Memories of R.J. Meads)


                         Girls had wooden hoops  and played hop-scotch, chalking the beds on the pavement. There was also “diabolo”. This was a top something like a dumb-bell which they used to spin on a string tied to two sticks, one held in each hand. And, of course, skipping. 

                         I cannot remember toy guns, but we used to buy boxes of caps for a ½-penny. These resembled small pills on a roll, and made a bang. With these we had a small, iron nutmeg-sized device, in two halves groved so that string would hold them together. A cap would be placed between the two halves and when thrown it would cause a bang. You can imagine what pranks we got up to with these. 

                         An incident comes to mind. One holiday us kids planned a paperchase. After tearing up a lot of paper we filled two haversacks, and I was unlucky enough to be the one to lay the trail. Given so much start, going up Avenue Road and down Villiers Road making for the park, unfortunately I dropped the bag with the paper and it went all over the road. Before I could get away “Gaffer” Reid ( schoolmaster ) who lived in Villiers Road was on the scene, and stood over me and the others when they came and made us pick it all up, and followed us back picking up the trail as we went. That was our punishment for dropping litter. 

                         Cigarette cards used to be very plentiful and you tried to collect sets of 25 or 50, swapping with one another. The odd ones we would play games with, like “droppems”; that was up against a wall and each dropped one in turn until one fell on another, which meant that the player could pick them all up. Or, both players knelt down and flicked a card towards a wall in turn until one was crossed, which meant that he had won and could pick them all up. They were also very instructive and featured a great many subjects. 

                         Children’s reading matter – comics etc. , “Comic Cuts”, “Chips”, “Eagle” and the books “Magnet” and “Gem”, both featuring colleges – used to be read and exchanged and some of them now have become collector’s items.