Sunday, 22 March 2009



Because we were such a large family, we didn’t need many extra people to make ‘a party’. With the coming of Arthur, our family increased by another five people: his parents, his brother Bill and wife Jean, and their daughter Wendy. Doug’s teenage friends accounted for another half a dozen or so more, so party we quite often did! Fancy dress parties were a favourite and everyone joined in with gusto.

One Christmas, Arthur’s brother Bill organised a party for the two families and their friends. Mum went dressed as a Harem girl and Dad as Charlie Chaplin, a role he played almost as well as Chaplin himself! I put all my dressmaking efforts into Arthur’s devil’s costume. I made him a close fitting helmet with a ‘widows peak’. Arthur fashioned a splendid pair of horns, which we painted bright red and attached to the helmet. He had a voluminous black cloak lined with red satin, and sported a wicked beard and moustache. All this, together with a full-size ‘devil’s fork’, also painted bright red, made him look really fiendish.

At another of our parties, Mum and I made Can-Can girl costumes, and burst into the room, high-kicking and showing our frillies, to the strains of ‘Orpheus in the Underworld’.
A regular at our parties was Doug’s friend Fred. He lived with his gran (to whom he was devoted) and he was also a devotee of fashion: the Teddy-boy fashion. In Fred’s case this meant shoes with thick crepe soles (known as brothel creepers), topped by narrow, drain-pipe trousers and a three quarter length, black jacket trimmed with black velvet. Beneath his jacket lay a snowy white shirt trimmed from neck to waist with layer upon layer of narrow, white lace ruffles. Fred embellished this with a black shoestring tie, and an immaculate, Teddy boy hair-do, gleaming with hair cream, in a style that resembled a sculpture.
He was a tall lad; in fact over six feet tall, and he cut a very dashing figure dressed as he was. He didn’t have a great deal of money and so wasn’t able to spend as much money on his appearance as he would have liked. Nothing daunted, what he couldn’t afford he made! Fred would spend hours in our kitchen at Oakfield Road, sitting at Mum’s treadle sewing machine, laboriously stitching yards of lace on to his shirt front, and adding bits and bobs to his clothes. He was always very fussy about looking just right. That is, until one of our family parties when Fred got ever-so-slightly drunk and, feeling very hot, decided to cool off in the kitchen. I shall never forget the sight that greeted me as I followed him into the room a few seconds later. There, with his lace trimmed shirt awry was Fred. His head was scarlet from the effect of heat and booze, and fully submerged in the goldfish tank with fish swimming around his face as he cooled off! The only sound in the room, except for the noise of bubbles, was Dad’s tired, somewhat disgusted but very patient plea: ‘Don’t do that Fred!’
Last photo: Arthur as a
devil,with his brother Bill
as a witch!


Babs (Beetle) said...

Oh what a lovely post! I would love copies of the Charlie Chaplin photos please :O) I also remember the devil suite and seem to recall the fork (at least) was still around many years later!

granny grimble said...

Certainly you can have copies. Arthur made the fork along with the horns. Oh what energy we all had in those days, but it was such fun!

Croom said...

Oh what lovely memories again Leeta. I also remember the fork. Wasn’t Mum and Dad wonderful Leeta, even with little money and seven children they still allowed all those parties with many friends. The parties were still going well into our teens.

Thank you for another great blog.

granny grimble said...


I thik that's what keeps you young. When my children were still at home we were always having parties and Arthur and I loved them. I really miss them now, especially at New Years. I have lots of lovely 'party' photos of them though

weechuff said...

Is that Dougs friend Ronnie Miller threatening Charlie Chaplin in the photograph? Another lovely post Leeta. Such nice memories. I was only small at a lot of those parties, but my overriding memory is one of tall tins full of ice cream that mum got in for the parties. Once the ice cream had almost gone, and all that was left was melted remains, us girls were allowed to take the tin to our room and tuck in with spoons or straws!

granny grimble said...


We used to order the ice cream in bulk from the suppliers, for special parties like weddings, anniversaries, and engagements. You wouldn't dream of doing that now would you?

Sandi McBride said...

Your memories are so much fun. I love the photos of the costumes, too!

granny grimble said...

Thank you. Life seems to be fun when you look back on your younger days. I wonder, is it because there just wasn't the pressure that we have today, or do you think we just prefer to forget what we don't want to remember?

Jay said...

What a wonderful post! I LOVE the fancy dress costumes - they're great!

And the image of Fred with his face in the fish tank - followed by your Dad's comment - that's priceless! ROFL!

GoldAnne said...

Leeta what a wonderful post and so funny lol,
You looked so much like your mother! The costumes were wonderful, You are a very talented lady (alround)
love Anne xxx

granny grimble said...


After all these many years I can still see Fred's scarlet face and hear my Dad's resigned tones.
Somewhere amongst my sibling's photos is one of Mum and I in our Can-can outfits. I've never seen it and would love a copy, but it can't be found!

How lovely to welcome you back. It's been a long time since you visited.
So glad you enjoyed reading my post.
Mum and I were very much alike. In fact I have a photo of me that I would swear was my mother, except it can't be, because it was taken with Arthur, and I remember it being shot!

Swubird said...

Wow, those are detailed costumes. So creative. And I would love to have seen him with his head fully submerged in the fishbowl. I've never seen anything like that.

When our kids were younger, my Queen helped make some of their costumes. Some turned out really funny. Fortunately, we took one picture with my wife, daughter our son and a friend of his at the annual renaissance fair. All these years we've kept it on a table in the living room as a constant reminder of those wonderful days.

Another glimpse into your wonderful life. Well done.

Happy trails.