Ronald Basil Girdler
We didn't have regular pocket money, but we knew Dad would give us a penny for sweets after we had been through the usual ritual. We would ask him "can we have a penny?", and he would put his thumb and forefinger in his top waistcoat pocket where his small change was kept and reply "What do you want it for?" and when we said "for some sweets" he would withdraw a precious penny for us. He always wore a waistcoat, winter and summer, because as well as his small change he carried a pocket watch, with the watch chain across the front to a button-
Friday night was always bath night, or as the ads used to say "Friday night is Amami night", Amami being a hair shampoo. Either Het, Kit or Barbara used to bath us and put us to bed and Kit always told us a story. I remember on one occasion at the end of an "escape" story, Kit said "She got out eventually", and Shirley got out of bed, thinking that Kit had said "Get out of bed Shirley"!
When I was about 10, the school dentist made an appointment for me to attend Guy's Hospital Dental Department to investigate the possibility of having my teeth straightened, as they were very crooked and overcrowded. On arrival I was put in the dentist's chair, surrounded by the dentist and several dental students. The dentist examined my teeth and announced to the students that I would probably lose all my teeth very soon unless something was done about them. I was given another appointment to attend for treatment, and as the day approached I became more and more apprehensive. Finally Mum took me to keep the appointment but as we were walking across London Bridge, my courage failed and I begged Mum not to make me go. She was unable to resist my pleas and we returned home. The Guy's dentist was proven wrong, however, for although, some fifty years later, my teeth are still crooked and overcrowded, 1 have managed to keep them all. But I have had many a nightmare over the years in which I have had to cope with a mouthful of loose teeth.
Also during this period we used to see quite a lot of Dad's brother Uncle Ike and his family who used to live in the Mile End Road opposite the People's Palace. Their youngest daughter Beattie was about the same age as myself and we enjoyed one another's company. Shirley and I often stayed with them overnight and Beattie used to stay with us. They had in their bedroom a huge conch shell, which we would hold to our ears and hear the sea roaring. Her mother Auntie Ginny made lovely cinnamon cakes.
During what seems in retrospect to have been the long hot summers, Mum, Dad and the younger members of the family used to spend a week on holiday in either Bournemouth, Westcliff or Cliftonville. We would travel by train, an adventure in itself, and the weather must have been very kind to us because the snapshots, taken with a Kodak Brownie Box camera show us wearing swimming costumes and sun-
In September 1937 Het married Jack Rosen (later Rogers) -
On Christmas day 1938 Kit married Joe Pinkus and another big wedding was held at which Barbara wore green velvet and Shirley and I wore red velvet dresses with hooped skirts. At the reception, held in the West End, the hall became very hot during the dancing and we three kids-
In 1938 I sat the Scholarship exam which was the equivalent of today's 11-
The school had a tuck shop, and at morning break I used to buy a very sticky bun or Bath bun to eat with my free bottle of milk. On the way home from school we called it at a sweet shop where I bought a pennyworth of treacle toffee which the shop assistant broke up into mouth-
The few years before the war were the good years. Work was plentiful and money, whilst not plentiful, at least was not short, We acquired a radiogram and lots of records, including "One Fine Day" from Madame Butterfly and a series called "Life With the Stars" which consisted of excerpts from many of the best known films of the time. I remember Gary Cooper "The Lives of the Bengal Lancers" -