The two bedrooms upstairs had to be thoroughly cleaned which usually meant all the heavy furniture being moved away from the walls which would be swept down along with the ceilings. Then the beds were stripped down and once a month the springs would be dusted and the flock mattresses turned and pummeled to get rid of the lumps. The clean sheets would be put on: usually just a fresh top sheet whilst the other replaced the bottom one which joined the wash pile! But always clean pillowcases. No vacuum cleaners, so every floor was mopped or it was a hands and knees job to make sure there was no dust left. The rugs would be taken down stairs. Put over the washing line and beaten. Then it was the turn of the stairs which would be swept and mopped.
In summer, we had the Wakes’ Holidays. A whole week when the mills closed and we went away to Blackpool or stayed at home with mother and father. It was a change to look over the town and not see any smoke: on a fine day we could see the hills and the working chimneys of Manchester which were still waiting for their week’s holiday.
Time to make daisy chains, or see if people liked butter by holding a buttercup under their chin, to go fishing in the local streams or make paper boats, to make whistles out of the stems of Sweet Cicely or play roly poly down a nearby hill of slide down it on an old sack, to help the local farmer with his haymaking or to go for long walks. Or just play outside. We could have a scratch game of cricket, kick a ball against a wall, or have a picnic with a drink made from a liquorice stick dropped in water and shaken, bread with fruit slices to eat and maybe a few buns from baking day. The boys had dens and made rope swings from the bigger trees. They played cowboys shooting at each other with catapults. Some of us played house, marking the boundaries with stones, or made shops with scales made from two balanced pieces of wood, and sold pretend fruit made from pebbles and mud. Others made up concerts charging parents and neighbours halfpennies or sweets to see the acts: songs, dances, recited poems, juggling, gymnastics – that sort of thing. And then a trip to the corner shop to spend our earnings.
From a book of Memories compiled by Kathryn A. Booth.
This book of memories is compiled from the stories told about life around the time of World War 1. It is used in some Senior Citizens homes to help recall memories of times past. If you would like to add any of your families memories from this time, please use the contact form below.