My Parents as Teens in West Yorkshire in the 1950’s
– part 2 of my memoir “RESCUED. REDEEMED. RESTORED”
My parents were teenagers when they met. Two young kids from a small town in West Yorkshire, England. Theirs was a small town full of woollen mills and factories. Where most people eked out a small wage and dreams were even smaller. No one dared have lofty ideas of world travel and fame. Their thoughts were on paying rent and buying enough food for the day. Entertainment was a couple of beers at the local pub and, if they were fortunate enough to be able to save a few shillings, a bus trip to the seaside at Bank Holiday time.
Lyndon was seventeen. A young merchant seaman. The son of a coal merchant and a housekeeper. ‘Coal merchant’ may be a tad misleading if you envisioned a smart businessman in a suit, sitting behind a mahogany desk in a downtown office. My grandfather, Arthur, rode a horse and cart down the cobbled back streets, delivering coal to residents. He collected the coal from a depot in huge bags and tipped it into a hole at the back of the house (if there was a back of the house). The hole had a grate that he’d remove and replace when he’d done. The hole led to the cold, damp cellar. Then off he’d go to the next-door neighbour’s house to do the same. The horse dutifully stepping slowly down the tar-covered street. At the end of the day, they’d trot down to the field at the bottom of the row houses. The weary horse would be fed and patted, and told she was a ‘good lass’ before the weary old man shuffled home. It was a hard life, as were many in the small town in the Pennines.
Grandad Calvert also owned many single-car garages and rented those to residents of the row houses. Quite often, there would be a row of houses followed by a row of toilets, followed by a row of garages as time progressed. The houses were attached, often without a back door because there was another row of houses attached at the back. These were often referred to as ‘one-up one-down’ homes. The row of toilets were the same, back to back. Not a lot of privacy, and newspapers for toilet paper. At least we had an advantage during the Covid pandemic. We remembered what we learned as children–use the stock market page!
My father didn’t live with Grandad Calvert. When he was home from his tour of duty he lived with his mother, Edith, a housekeeper, and her sister, Ada, who didn’t work at the time. I don’t know if Ada ever had a job. I know the women worked the factories during the war effort but I don’t know if she worked anywhere after that. Funny how children just don’t feel the need to ask. Now, as an older woman myself, I wish I’d asked more while I still could.
~read the first episode of RESCUED. REDEEMED. RESTORED here~
And you can find more photos of 1950s England on my Pinterest board including a photo of an outdoor loo!
Til next time, know you are loved by the One who created you in His image.