Boys used to wear short trousers, a blouse or jersey, Oxford shirts, knee-length blue stockings, and boots, with flannel vests in the winter. We were lucky enough to have a Sunday-best outfit. It was quite a day when you went into long trousers, starched collars, and bowler hat. A lot of men wore what were known as starched dickey fronts, this was a collar with long flaps which would go inside the waistcoat. Girls would be in dresses almost to the ground, with petticoats and long drawers, white pinafores, woollen stockings, and boots. They had their hair in plaits tied with ribbon at school, but long flowing otherwise. It was a sign that they were growing up when they appeared with their hair “up”. In the elementary schools there were no school uniforms. Perhaps just as well, for poverty in families showed itself in the way the children came dressed, and clothes used to be passed down, and the teachers would help with clothes given by the better-off.
Southall Park played a large part in our growing up. Mr. Billy Perkings was parkkeeper. He was a friend of my father’s, but that did not help us if we got caught up to mischief. Playing all the usual boys’ games was OK but climbing trees and getting into the orchard at rear would be dealt with if we were caught, with stripes with a stick he always carried. In 1910 what was known as Etherington’s Field , on the east side was added. This extended the Park to where Green Drive is today. Just before this Bostock and Wombwell’s Circus opened there, with a parade of their performers dressed as cowboys and Indians on their horses around the town to advertise arrival. This field had a small pond, a wonderful place for us kids to get frog-spawn and very wet and dirty. It was near here that my father took us to watch the train go past containing the coffin of Edward VII on the way to Windsor. This was 12th May 1910. My Mother had taken my eldest brother to London to watch the funeral procession. On the Coronation day of King George and Queen Mary, 22nd June 1911, a children’s party was held in the Park, and after a good tea each child received a medal to commemorate the event.