WAR TIME HOBBIES contd…
Another hobby, born out of the wartime motto ‘make-do-and- mend’, was making flowers out of modelling wax. I don’t think modelling wax is around any more. It used to be sold in sticks of a similar shape and size to stage make-up. It came in every shade you could imagine and, if you were lucky, scented to boot!
Every one in the family had a go at this. There weren’t many fresh flowers around (it was frowned upon to use any ground space for growing anything but fruit and vegetables), so this was a good substitute that brightened up a table or a windowsill. First we picked twigs and stripped any leaves from them. Then we softened the wax, broke off little pieces and rolled them into balls. These were then flattened into disc-shapes and secured to the twigs, like petals. With practice, you could get quite good at it. Most households had a vase full of these horrendous ‘flowers’. If it wasn’t wax flowers taking pride of place, it was crepe-paper flowers: equally ugly!
There was no limit to the things one could do with an old sock or yesterday’s newspaper. Even empty baked bean cans were used to make flower arrangements. These were not for us children though, as this floral extravaganza entailed cutting the tin into long strands with scissors, and then twisting them into spirals! One wartime hobby that has now made a very fashionable comeback is he art of making rag rugs. Everyone who owned a sewing machine made these rugs. They were warm, very hard wearing, and could be made from any worn out clothing or scraps of suitable fabric. We made small rugs for putting in the hallway outside various doors, and larger ones for the fireside. The cloth had to be cut up into 4” squares, sorted into pleasing colour combinations, and then machined diagonally onto a sacking back. I used to cut up the squares, the younger children helped to sort them, and Mum machined like crazy. I helped make many of these rugs during the war, and also made quite a few for my own home in later life.
Before I leave the Bradford period I must tell, you the following tale. In the January 1996, I learned that Ruby was ill in hospital. I had not spoken to my cousin Rita for about four years and decided to telephone her to enquire about her sister Ruby’s state of health. Our conversation got around to the good old days and evacuation, and I asked her what had happened to her after we had left her behind in Grange-over-Sands.
‘I thought you knew,’ she said. ‘After you left Grange, Mr. Quarry had a heart attack and I was moved to another house. I stayed there a little while, and then was moved on again.’
‘What happened next?’ I asked. ‘Did you return to Oakfield Road before us, then?’
‘No’ said Rita. ‘ I joined you all in Bradford, didn’t I?
I had absolutely no recollection of her being at Duckworth Lane, but she told me details of the school we attended and the room we slept in, and she convinced me that she did indeed live there for a time. I’ve thought about this memory lapse of mine, and have come to the following conclusion. By the time Rita had come to Bradford I had formed new friends. She most likely wasn’t in the same school class as I was, and we probably did our own thing in our free time. If this was the case, I don’t suppose she was imprinted on any very memorable times we had. I have already found this to be the case with my brother Doug. I know that he came with me to Bradford, but I don’t have any memories of him being there either. Again, he would only have been seven years old (still very young) , whilst I was twelve and almost a teenager.
To be continued…