I was born in 1931 in an old cottage on Common Side, at the top of The Black Pad (the path that connects Common Side with Lindon Road). Shortly afterwards, the family moved to Oak Road, near Street’s Corner.
My Dad was a miner, working at The Coppy pit (Walsall Wood Colliery). My Mom stayed at home, looking after me and, subsequently, my younger brothers. Even though Dad was always working, we were fairly poor. That said, we always seemed to just about get by.
An early vivid, though unpleasant, memory of Oak Road was being bitten by Donald, the little boy next door, when I wouldn’t let him play in my pedal car. Another early memory was an accident at the corner of Oak Road and Salter’s Road where someone was struck and killed by a car. I remember sand being put down to soak up the blood. I was scared to go near it.
I remember on my first day of school, Walsall Wood Church School on Lichfield Road, that Mom made me jam sandwiches to have for morning playtime but I still had them with me when I got home for lunch. I was too shy to eat them in the playground. I always came home for lunch. I don’t ever remember staying at school at lunchtime.
I had been sent off to school, on that cold January morning, wrapped in a huge scarf, that had been passed down through several generations. Mom fastened the scarf at the back with a safety pin. Once in class, warmth was provided by huge open fire.
After Oak Road, we moved back to Commonside where we lived next door to The Lindon Laundry1. This remained my home until I got married in the late 60s and was my Mom and Dad’s home for the rest of their lives. I think we might have found out about the house being available from my Auntie Lou, who had moved into the cottage after we left. When the laundry was closed for the night, me and my brother, George, used to sneak through the fence into the laundry grounds and sit in the vans and pretend to drive them.
Once a year, we all used to make an expedition to Birmingham to visit Auntie Alice in Nechells and to go to John Lewis to see Father Christmas. This expedition involved a bus from Collins’s depot on Lichfield Road to Walsall, then a Midland Red bus to Birmingham.
When I was about 6, Mom and Dad bought me a new coat from a shop in Brownhills. It was in the style of one that the young Princess Margaret was wearing at the time! I must look out the photo of me wearing it.
I think that’ll do for now. I’ll post some more when I’ve had chance to recharge my memory and my editor, my son, has had chance to recharge his levels of patience and understanding.
1: Ed:- The following link contains a little information about the Lindon Laundry in the comments section and the main article shows it marked on the map.