by Tony (Edward Anthony) Clarke (29 Dec 1919 – 25 Dec 2010)
Here's his home-page
May 2004 [aged 84] plus an Addendum, and some editting and additions after his passing
It begins with an announcement in the “Portsmouth Evening News”, - ‘To William Anthony and Ethel Mary Clarke, a son at home on December 29th 1919’.
You’ve seen it on T.V. The homely looking woman, the Midwife (Doctor only in an emergency) makes for the stairs pushing the dazed looking father-to-be into a sideroom and calls for plenty of hot water. Midwives drank a lot of tea on the job!
For the record the address was 4, Cleveland Road, Southsea, Hampshire and the child was christened (C.of E.) Edward Anthony Clarke but known throughout his long unspectacular life as ‘Tony’.
He had a brother, Frederick William 2yrs. 3 mnths. his senior and they got on well together. On the many rainy days (this was England) they might make a Ludo Board, a Snakes and Ladders Game, even a full pack of Playing Cards. Fred was the artist so no prize for guessing who did the K’s, Q’s, & J’s and who did the monotonous “Pips’. It was no trouble, there were plenty of proper packs of cards and games to copy but presumably it was more fun with the ones you made yourself. There was of course no computer and all you found on the web was a dead fly.
On Saturday there was the cinema round in Fawcett Road - real excitement -- Silent Films!! That lady could certainly play that Piano. The Express train steaming down towards poor Pearl Buck securely tied to the line (we knew she’d be saved next week) and the sad music when somebody died. All for 2 1/2 d. Why that amount I don’t know - it’s a figure that sticks in the mind.
Before proceeding we should look at what sort of a kid he was and how it would influence his life. Whilst having an older brother as a mate can be a plus it can also have its reverse. If he wasn’t born with an inferiority complex it did develop since all the boys he associated with were Fred’s friends and he had no opportunity to make his own until they separated schools after he was eleven. Picture him as the small boy puffing yards behind the four or five larger boys racing ahead. The psychiatrists could say how much and in what way this influenced him from then on. Sufficient that he never put up his hand in class to answer a question, dreaded the master picking him out and blushed at the least excuse even through later years.
He was very much a loner, went to and from school alone and although playing football, cricket and joining in the yearly athletics he never mixed afterwards. Taking part in many sports he has the doubtful record of having no trophy to show for it. No! He didn’t curl up and die - he enjoyed the games and being a loner didn’t mean being lonely. He didn’t think of himself as lonely and in fact could be quite content on his own where extroverts would need company. Let’s move on.
His first school years were at Bramble Road Council a quarter mile from home off Fawcett Road. Then for some unknown reason both boys were sent to St. Jude’s Boys School in Marmion Road, Southsea some mile and a half away. Unusual for a virtual Council school to have attachments to the local church. Can’t be too many of them and I believe it no longer exists.
At any rate this move had a marked effect on both boys’ futures. An enquiry at the front of the class for any boy interested in joining the choir! Imagine this 7 year old who wouldn’t put up his hand even to go to the toilet jumping up saying, ”My Mum and Dad would like us to join” or some such words (even dobbed his brother in). Since as far as he can remember so far back, the church choir had never been mentioned at home and in fact we had never seen inside the church it is at least a little strange. [So we've reached 1927.]
St. Judes would be part of their lives for many years. Both met their future wives there (just the one each) and their interest in music which stayed with them was born there.
Part of the church activities was a Sunday Afternoon Bible Class with a club building - billiard table, table tennis etc., open every evening and run completely by the lads with football and cricket teams in the local leagues. Here again he suffered; he worked on Saturdays and was deprived of an opportunity of being in these teams - but there was evening tennis.
It has to be said that for 70 years he had a strong belief in God and without that faith would not have attempted much that he tried to do. Unfortunately the actions of the Christian churches and the lack of respect shown by so many of the congregations plus scientific advancement brought some doubts - there are so many unanswerable questions.
Whilst Tony was no brilliant scholar he passed an exam. at 11 for entry to the Portsmouth Northern Grammar in Mayfield Road, Copnor. 
They, the family, had moved from Cleveland Road (actually the Maternal Grandparents’ home) to 69, Hayling Avenue, Copnor. By this time the family had grown with the arrival of two girls, Enid Mary and Kathleen Freda and more space needed.
This was 1931 and the depression was in full swing. Dad was in and out of all types of jobs for 4 years and it must have been soul destroying for the men who twice a week, wet or fine, had to join the dole queue and sign on (or you missed at least part of the pittance), and perhaps get a card with a possible prospect. Not much chance of moonlighting under that system. Later in the century you could have your Social Service Payment (sounds less degrading than the ‘Dole’) paid into your bank account while you kept quiet about a job (cash in hand suiting the boss and you). So much for improvement.
In America they’d be ‘Hobos’, in Australia, ‘Swaggies’ (with their mate ‘Matilda’), in England they were bedraggled ageless men with a parcel of some sort (their worldly goods) moving separately along Copnor Road with Tony (who actually sometimes envied them when he was facing an unprepared test that morning). They’d spent the night at St. Mary’s Infirmary and must move on and hope for a meal for an odd job or two. A sign of the times and a memory of school days. Wonder why they couldn’t get the dole?
His education through the 11 to 15 years were the depression years. Later, his two children would have their own rooms and desks. With the need to conserve electricity the family was confined to a 14ft. square room (I believe it was actually 12 ft. but this may seem overdoing it to some). Luckily by this time Fred was out most evenings so the room contained Mum and Dad either side of the fireplace (M. with the everlasting mending clothes etc. - socks were not throwaways in those days - they had to be darned), Kath somewhere amusing herself and Enid and Tony sat opposite each other at the general purpose dining table to study and carry out written homework. His school reports monotonously considered he ‘could do better!’ - I agree under better circumstances he probably would have done. [1929-33]
Each year was divided into 4 classes of around 35 pupils (not considered too much for teachers then), ‘a’ to ‘d’ and throughout he maintained a position of approximately midway in ‘b’ - he could perhaps have been higher but as will be seen, it didn’t really matter.
Let’s have a break and switch to his musical “education’. As previously intimated he talked himself into St. Judes’ choir and learnt that when the dots went up and down the lines and spaces you adjusted your pitch accordingly and if there were funny symbols as well you made less adjustment. So his “ability” to read music began and carried him into his 84th year [which extended to his 88th in performance, and his 90th at practices] with Church, Country Town, City Choirs even the Sydney Philharmonia with the Sydney Orchestra thrown in for accompaniment, twice to serenade the Queen including the opening of the Opera House. The only key signatures he recognised were ‘G’ and ‘F’. He could work the others out from those but provided he was given a bar or two of the accompaniment he could jog along from there with occasional help with awkward passages.
With the move to Copnor came a change of choir at St. Cuthbert's (just down the road from No. 69) so until his voice broke he was a member there - some success, he ended up top boy. [1932?]
By 1938 he was able to return to St. Jude’s in the bass section. Then the war intervened - he returned 6 1/2 years later. Before then he had been introduced by Mr. Turvey (we were awfully British in those days - wasn’t introduced properly so never knew his Christian name) to the Portsmouth Choral Union. The Conductor was Bertram Bradshaw - his French master for 4 years but “Bertie” didn’t really recall him.
His experience of the bigger range of music began including that “Great Moment” your first “Messiah” with full orchestra and organ. Before the war (1939 effort) the Choral Union Concerts were in the Guildhall which was burnt out by German bombing like much of Porstmouth (including Fred’s home and also Tony’s future wife’s home). The Guildhall had not been rebuilt in time for him to sing there again and various halls were used after the war. The annual “Messiah” with such greats as Isabel Bailey, the ever successful Christmas concert, lighter presentations and amongst other “heavier” pieces, the Ninth Symph (whose?), a concert version of Aida and Verdi’s Requiem. A good musical beginning following the wealth of church music from his church choirs both as treble and bass.
Back to school and the question, “Do we arrange our own lives and so influence others?”. He did not enjoy school and exams were not a challenge but something to fear. In his 15th. year with a final exam due, an addition (Ken) about to arrive [Ken was born 8 May 1935], Dad having finally got a permanent job and having to get home (Mum in the nursing home - births at home not as previously, perhaps or maybe because she was over 40 now and 4 kids to feed), he found himself a job as ‘apprentice’ to Smith & Vospers, a multiple grocery firm. He'd seen the ad and written an application. He later discovered there had been 40 applicants for the job. [Tony's final School Report in early 1935 confirms a less than stellar Grammar School career.]
The headmaster lectured him (he’d written his own resignation) - he could do much better etc. - but the Clarkes have a stubborn streak. ('Sorry, but you can't talk to my mother because she's in hospital, and my dad's there with her'). He was perhaps influenced by his Grandfather and an Uncle both being successful managers of reputable stores. Family grocers were a far cry from the supermarkets of today - it was regarded as a trade, and you actually knew what you were selling and managers had full responsibility in running the business.
Of course this meant 50 years of working without formal trade experience and the next unanswerable question is,” What would have happened had he taken the Head’s advice?”. Would he have survived 6 1/2 years of the war? - he knew two brothers, one from his own class who didn’t! [After Tony's death, I discovered his first driver's licence was dated 21 Aug 1939, so aged 19. I've not been able to work out how he got behind the wheel of a car. Maybe Smith & Vosper needed him to do some deliveries.]
His next effort at testing Fate was not wanting to be a conscript. So, when he reached twenty early in the war he went to join the navy but was told to wait for his call-up and say “navy please”. Not He! If the navy didn’t want him he’d see the bloke downstairs and join the army! He’d no idea what he was letting himself in for but the cheerful sergeant assured him he’d picked the right time - he was signing for the Royal Army Service Corps. starting at 2/9 a day plus food and lodging, no need for an alarm clock and not forgetting overseas trips!! [He enlisted on 22 Jan 1940.]
Thus he was a civilian in uniform, did his best to keep out of sight, and stayed a Private for 6 1/2 years. Strange how none of the men he’s spoken to about the war were Privates - we hopelessly outnumbered all the rest. His grandson once asked, “Did you kill any Germans and if so how did you feel?” Answer! If he’d spent 6 1/2 years in a fighting unit you’d probably have to ask a German how He felt about killing your Opa.
“Did He organise his future by waking one morning and deciding to join up?”. Was it ‘Someone elses prompting?’ After all he gets seasick as soon as the ship casts off, a lot of sailors didn’t ‘come back’ and although he went through Dunkirk, Greece, Crete and North Africa he didn’t have to go looking for trouble.
His wartime experience? He went to France early in 1940 in a non-combatant unit - petrol supply - rifles for guard duty, no ammo and anyway no training. Unfortunately the German army was modern and the British Generals trying to continue the war where the last one ended. So the great ‘victory‘ of Dunkirk (bless the real heroes who came for us) and glad to be home again. They were now armed with rifles, Ross by name or design took five 303 bullets fed singly from memory, a step ahead of a musket and leftovers from the Boer War. [May 1940]
Through 1940 he manned road blocks waiting for the enemy that never came. There was a Boyes Antitank rifle that fired a 1/2 inch solid bullet for 5 miles and guaranteed to make a nice ‘whack’ bouncing off a German tank. 1941 saw the unit in the Middle East as part of another blunder, Churchill‘s promise to assist Greece (politicians only keep the wrong ones) meant splitting forces so half the unit to Tobruk to be cut off and the rest to Greece to be chased out to Crete and then to Egypt. After 18 months they were actually supplying petrol.
So 4 1/2 years went by travelling as far as Tripoli then back to Alexandria. [1942-45] He saw out the rest of the war in various units in England, Wales and even the Channel Isles. Join the Army and See the World! His only injury was a torn cartilage in the left knee sustained in France which didn’t earn a ‘Purple Heart’ although it did affect his playing some sports.He presumed he did help keeping the war going; suffered the bombing like the civilians and army alike, even the odd straffing but came through OK. The unit lost one or two in France, Geece and Crete but he wasn’t on the list. He at least felt proud that he had been part of Montie’s Eighth Army. Let’s just say he did his bit for England!
[VE Day was 8 May 1945. He was demobbed only on 21 Aug 1946 – ensuring that what few decent jobs were available had already been grabbed by others who were demobbed earlier. His Record of Service, Discharge Document and Release Leave Certificate bear mute testimony to the schemozzle that was post-WWII England. He was cleared variously on 13 Mar, 30 Apr, 6 May and 25 Jun, and shifted around at least the Channel Islands (pre-Christmas – he told the story of having to take on his OC to get priority over new recruits in order to get home for Christmas for the first time for 6 years), then Ascot, Taunton and Aldershot, before finally escaping more than 15 months after War's end.]
His working life from then was quite a mixture - attempts to upgrade - Insurance salesman didn’t last since his savings were invested in it and the money was needed for his marriage was on the menu - 1948. Manager of a Paint and Wallpaper outlet (a terrible firm) followed by managing an Off-licence multiple, Smeed and Smeed Ltd. - the pay came under the limited but accomodation was free.
Every modern story must have its sex element but don’t get worked up! Of course in his youth he had dates with possibly quite a few girls - he can remember almost none of them now but there are only three that were of any importance. Win - how can parents think of ‘Winifred’? - was an early one who cropped up in between and could perhaps have ended up at the altar but the war intervened and while in Egypt he received an ultimatum - There was a chap who wanted marriage so how did he feel ? He gave his Blessing! They still met but it faded out after his marriage.
Through the choir in Alexandria (he never missed a chance of a choir if he was long in an area) he started dating Perry, the organist’s daughter. He didn’t expect this to develop especially after she showed him a photo of a young lieutenant who had returned to England and they did subsequently marry. It was a pleasant way of spending the last few months abroad especially as he hadn’t spoken to a girl of his age for 4 years. It makes it easy to hate Hitler!! Criminals aren’t treated that badly.
So to number three and again it was music that brought them together. Coincidences always have a way of cropping up. For some reason Rene and her parents had given their church a miss and come to evensong at St. Judes. [Sun 9 Mar 1947] (The full story of the coincidences is contained in “Rene’s Story”). Irene Gladys Whiteman (oh these parents’ ideas of a name) Rene to me, expressed a wish to join the choir and since after morning service a stroll along the sea front was the most pleasant way to go home the rest developed. Call it Love or anything else, they’ve battled it through since 1948 with Roger and Carole (two kids to be proud of ) and considering how unsuccessful marriages are nowadays I guess it’s something for them to be proud of. [Engagement ring Sat 28 Feb 1948, married Mon 9 Aug 1948, and here are some rather nice wedding photos 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, plus a couple of telegrams from his ex-Army mate and his first employers.]
[Roger was born 5 Oct 1949. Judging by a couple of surviving letters, including a letter from Tony to her, Rene presumably had some greater-than-normal difficulties either side of the birth.]
Meanwhile, Fred and May his wife, had emigrated to Queensland, Australia so under the Ten Pound Scheme Tony, Rene and Roger did likewise and arrived in 1951 in Kingaroy. He was offered a job in the head office of the Peanut Marketing Board there where he spent the next couple of years or so operating Remington and Burroughs accounting machines. Nothing to do with wallpaper or wines and the only ‘managing’ was being able to handle the machines. It was interesting work with the Remington quite a complicated set-up. During this period he took an accountancy course but although he passed the first exam with 90+% (a certificate to claim as a trophy?) it came to nought because of a return to England.
With 1 1/2 main streets, the centre of a Peanut Production area, it was a great introduction to Australia and in retrospect the 3 years there were happy enough. Rene got over the shock of a bucket toilet in the garden, possible poisonous redback spiders under the seat and the occasional snake. The ‘locals’ were a friendly crowd as would be expected in the outback and they were accepted more easily than would be done in the average city. They joined the church where May was organist and a choir formed under one James Christianson who later became a professional. One remembered episode: during rehearsal, the conductor was trying to improve the singing by pointing out the markings in the music when a voice from the basses came, ”Shucks, I only read the words!”. It was a happy country choir. James was a Lutheran so the Clarkes often gave assistance to the choir there. But Life, like the Tides creates continual movement and the Kingaroy story was quite short.
Around the the same time as the King died came the news from ‘home’ that Rene’s Mother had also died rather suddenly and to make things worse her Father had contracted Parkinson’s disease. Much effort was put into getting him to Kingaroy including approach to the local M.P. (Aderman) and the Immigration Minister (Holt - later mysteriously drowned). Of course officialdom moves slowly and by the time the OK came her Dad was too ill to come out.
So it was back to England and the drama of a cablegram during a storm in the Mediterranean to say Rene’s Dad had been found dead at home. [Jan 1954] [Here are the Letters of Administration for James].
The London docks on a wet February morning with the thought of starting all over again after having to tidy up Rene’s Dad’s estate and home (they were given two weeks to vacate the Council property) was a depressing beginning.
After what was really a ‘cushy’ job in Australia it was hard to take up work again. His last employers’ (Smeeds) offer was unacceptable so he was forced to go back to the grocery trade before taking a position as a Rep. for Beechams. They were good to work for and it could have ended their travels -- But!!
How disgruntled immigrants feel after a month or two of returning to England is debatable. So 1950 Australia seemed a bit backward after ‘Home’. You were a “Pom”, sometimes a “Pommy Bastard” not always said pleasantly but you didn’t cry “Racist!”. You couldn’t always get the things you were used to (memories of little choice in biscuits, no really tasty cheddar and the poor quality of locally made shoes) but you got a job, accommodation and hire purchase and proved it was a country with a future. Of course if you weren’t adaptable then back home you went (tail between your legs?) after a 2 year stay. You had to stick it out for 2 years otherwise you were responsible for the virtually free passage out and you had to find your fare home. What’s wrong with a country that enables you to save that amount in that short time?
England in fact looked very dreary; the clothes drab and the weather after the Austalian sunshine (forget the drought and floods) well - I ask you!
Tony did not consider himself a diplomat but the need was there so a letter to Australia House with all the necessary information, especially pointing out that they had been very happy and ready to settle in Australia and Behold! Another ten pounds passage offer. They took it and during 1956 started yet again, this time in Bundaberg, Queensland with the addition of Carole who had been born in England. [1 Jan 1955]
Bundaberg has to be regarded as a successful period of some twelve years. Rene found work in the local cinemas becoming assistant manager and Tony in charge of a plumbing workshop and retail outlet. The work was demanding to the extent that an ulcer put him in hospital and it required keeping at bay with tablets from then on. Once it settled it did not have any effect on his eating habits.
Other activities - conducting a Male Voice Choir of some 36 very keen members with one or two annual concerts. Top soloists were engaged from Brisbane and Sydney always to a packed house. Through a request for help from the ‘Bundaberg Players’ who needed a strong male chorus for a Gilbert and Sullivan show he found an unexpected enjoyment with roles in 17 plays, musicals and straight. With no training musical or acting other than church and secular choirs he didn’t regard his efforts as outstanding but generally had good reviews, got on well with most and felt it was an achievement.
The local High School deserves mention. Roger did extremely well there and his later successful careers were born in the training and study he put in there getting the ‘Mayor’s Medal’ as best all round performance in his final year. Carole was handicapped by having to follow her more illustrious brother but if she did not come away with great honours what she learnt still came out in the success she subsequently made in the various positions she held later. [1956-68]
OK! Bundaberg can be considered a definite Plus.
With Roger having gone to Uni. in Sydney it was decided to keep the family together so once again it was ‘up anchor’ and journey south. With her backing in the cinema business Rene started work immediately and our hero back into the hardware game with three different firms until retirement.
Another satisfactory time overall. Both children settled into the work force with success. They eventually married, Roger to Linda , Carole to Peter Waters , with the former two offspring - Kasia and Russell, and the other two g’sons Owen and Lachlan. Their lives are for them to record. It must be recorded that the ‘In-Laws’ throughout the various branches all got on well together which was very satisfying.
Again church choir work and he now went up in the world being accepted into the Sydney Philharmonia. It is something of an accomplishment to sing under world class conductors with a first rate orchestra. Mostly the works were “solid’ Requiems and the like - Berlioz, Verdi, Brahms etc. and various other pieces including Annual ‘Messiah’ and either of the Bach ‘Passions’. Musically some 12+ satisfying years coupled with church choirs in Nth. Sydney. [1969-84] After retirement and the move to the Campbelltown area he spent 5 years with St. John’s, Camden [1985-90].
It was at this time that the lack of reverence within the church and the updating of the Bible and the services brought on doubts. He could not sit in church feeling God (with a capital ‘G’) was also present and if he was only there to support the choir and not feel part of the prayers etc. then he was close to being a hypocrite.
The early retirement years were not too bad. The move to the best house they’d had of many, with room for family and friends to stay! The bridge and bowls clubs which possibly he never took full advantage of but still found enjoyable (he never could make a fetish of these as some do)! Still able to hop an occassional plane, sport on TV, baby sitting the two young Waters, crossword books and at eighty still welcomed as a member of the local choir!
A little interlude here! What did the family do for a holiday? In the early days money, like holidays was scarce, but once both parents were working a ‘getaway’ was on. The Gold Coast in Queensland was not the sophisticated(?) affair of 2000 although it was trying to get that way but in the ‘off season’ the weather was still warm enough for a yearly seaside holiday for the children (Mum and Dad enjoyed it too).
By 1977 the Kids were doing their own trips away so the chance came to start the “been-there-done-that” experience. So Switzerland, Fiji, New Zealand, the Far East were tried and not found wanting. Then of course there were the family and friends in England to catch up with. Once retirement came it was time to see more of Australia. So they got around a bit and the memories are still there.
By and large their health had been good - an ulcer here a hysterectomy there but it couldn’t last. The time arrived when the thought of the Old Folks’ Home became a reality. In Sept. 2000 Tony needed a 4 way heart bypass and an offer of a unit in Carrington Retirement Village, Camden was not to be refused. Of course it ain't just your ornery Old ‘Ome - not for Them! It’s in acres and acres of bushland, tall gum trees, woodland ducks, a bowling green, an indoor pool and a few hundred oldies. With a new unit to take most of their own furniture it was as comfortable as any retiree could hope for.
During 2002 things started to go downhill healthwise. Rene developed breast cancer which fortunately answered to tablets and radiology treatment but arthritis in various ways hit them both with Rene having the first new Knee joint, another to follow and Tony needing new shoulders which were unlikely to be done. So at the time of writing (May 2004) a fair bit of pain is with them but it’s bearable and with good neighbours and a terrific environment life is still pretty good.
Sadly the year ended in catastrophe with Rene dying from the cancer on October 21st [21 Oct 2004]. How quickly 56 years can go!!
He is now getting on for 87. While Rene was with him Carrington was bearable. But we were not ‘local’ and although everyone is friendly enough when met, they don’t go out of their way to ‘drop by’. Fortunately the family is still, as Rene would say, “the Best!” so matters could be much worse. Needless to say, losing a loved one is a great way of restoring one’s faith -- got to catch up with Rene before she gets too far!
[Here are a couple of shots of his surrounds at Carrington, which he took from his scooter – which was his means of mobility as his knees progressively collapsed from 2006 onwards.]
What has he seen through so much of the 20th. Century?
No previous century has had so much - splitting the atom that created nuclear power - we only talked of it being a possibility in the 30’s and certainly didn’t realise what the consequences would be. So did the ‘Man On the Moon’ not the ‘Man In the Moon’ of their childhood. The little ‘Chip’ that could store a mass of information and release it at will. Email and searching the ‘Web’. The records broken, the first 4 minute mile, Bradman almost getting his 99 run average - is he the greatest batsman ever or would bowlers of the Wes Hall class make him look more ordinary? Is it possible to say what has been the most momentous occurrence of this period?
The expression, ”The Empire on which the Sun Never Sets” has faded with Britain’s Power. The youth of today crying out for a Republic have probably never heard or would know the meaning of the phrase. Do they know what it will mean when their Republic comes? He doubts it. Certainly the demise of Britain’s authority doesn’t seem to have improved things. With rebel action throughout successive African countries (freed from the colonists’ yoke?), Massacre,starvation and the world swamped with refugees.
Today’s Toy - the Computer! When today’s child starts school already able to push a ‘mouse’ around our lad was scratching his first words on a slate - but even so he can still challenge them to add up a long column quicker than he can without a machine.
Few houses had electricity - lighting and cooking were by gas or coal-fired stove and even some street lighting still requiring gas manually switched on and off (picture a man riding a bike and carrying a short ladder from lamp to lamp evening and morning!).
Up to the age of twelve he went to bed by candlelight. The first radios (called wireless sets) ran on car batteries. You bought the kit and made it up yourself - he can remember Dad’s first, called a crystal set.
How many can recall having to use the fiendish aid to Clean Clothes - the corrugated washing board that tried to skin Mum’s knuckles? Clothes weren’t clean unless they had been scrubbed and boiled - the “whiter-than-white” washing powders were only just arriving and as for the new electric machines coming onto the market, well, you couldn’t really expect them to get the clothes clean even in hot water! What! No Cold Water Washing Powders?
Of course Swiss Rolls had been around for years but Toilet Rolls? Torn up newspaper was the popular tissue then. How about Toilet Rolls and Sliced Bread the linventions of the century? And Women’s Unmentionables, they must have been a godsend.
In the 20’s Music was a singsong round the piano. The hand-wound gramophone was replacing a tubular effort and becoming popular with the ‘78’ recordings on a bakelite disc (forerunner of plastic) which unfortunately scratched and broke very easily. If you valued your records you changed the steel needle often. Other types of needle were available (as the ‘Ultimate’, straight or bent and one of fibre guaranteed to give perfect reproduction without damaging the surface. You had to resharpen it on a special machine after playing just one side. Getting through a symphony’s 6 or 8 sides -- change needle, wind up the motor, set it going, sharpen the next needle and concentrate on the music - you had to be a music lover! The modern HiFi and CD seems more important than the toilet roll.
Perhaps most effective has been the rise of inflation (pun?). Also the change in shops and shopping! From 1935 (when he began his grocery experience) to the beginning of 1940 there was hardly any increase of prices and he could cost a week’s groceries without reference to any price list (of course people did not over indulge then - they couldn’t afford it). Occasional “Specials” meant there was a temporary glut.
“Sales” were genuine, once or twice a year and mainly to clear slowly moving lines, and Bargains were true value. Retail prices were honest and the meaningless “10 to 50% Reduction” hadn’t been thought up. And of course you got Service - no pushing a trolley - hand your list to the assistant and in ten minutes your order was complete, the bill totalled without mechanical help and change counted into your hand. A quick chat about the weather or the baby and “Good Morning!”. No stupid Americanism “Have a Good Day” or worse - the sign on the way out “Missing-You-Already”!!
Shops were smaller - no SuperMarkets - People couldn’t afford to overspend. Their pets did not have a huge choice of special foods and their other “little pets’ didn’t have bottles of Coke and packets of Crisps always on hand. And No Macdonalds. There wasn’t too much Flab on the kids in the thirties.
So maybe inflation came from the shortages after the war. Short Supply? Name Your Own Price! Costs Up -- Wages Up! The Spiral Begins!
The World Economy run (or ruined?) by manipulation of thr Stock Exchanges, well, as the dear old lady said, ”Oh,My! Where will it all end?” Well may she ask!
But the Nations have their success in Sport to work on and the All Important accumulation of Gold Medals, the Youth their ‘Rage’ Concerts, Thousands of Dollars for Fireworks but not enough for Hospitals. Perhaps you feel depressed? The well meaning Christian body will offer a relieving needle! But God help you if you reach for a cigarette!! Now I’m depressed ---- “Oh,My! Where will--------???
Of course the above shows but a few of what he has seen - almost every thing taken for granted today was new to him and the list will go on as long as he lives!
This a page within Roger Clarke's Family Web-Site
Contact: Roger Clarke
Created: 30 January 2007; Last Amended: 6 March 2011