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Recollections of Childhood.

Ruth Reynolds.

I was born in Southmoor two years before the war started in 1937.

My parents were both surnamed CARTER but were unrelated until their marriage. My father worked at the Hop-fields, whilst Mother had been in service at Cholsey for gentry.

My cottage home was the cottage next to Tony & Maud Drew and Mrs Vera Bisp and was two rooms downstairs and two up-stairs with a wash-house attached at the back. Our only water supply was a well in our garden which also supplied 5 other houses near by, the toilet like a brick built shed was in the back garden. Without electricity we had a brass oil lamp with a glass globe fitting on the top. At bedtime we carried a candle up the stairs, the bed-head had brass knobs on each end, and a feather mattress on the bed which was shook and turned over each day.

Young girl making lace in Kingston Bagpuize

Ruth's aunt as a girl, making lace.
Copyright © Ruth Reynolds.

Up the side lane behind the cottages lived my grandmother. Her daughter, fathers sister was a Lacemaker.

Mother would cook on a black range that was cleaned once a week with Zebra Polish it was also the only heat in the cottage, Friday's was bath night and we would fetch the tin bath down from the garden shed.

On Monday mornings mother would light up the copper to heat water for wash day which was once a week and that would mean all day as she would also do washing for the Garrett family at the bakery. The mangle was outside the back door with the blue bag in the rinsing water. When it came to the ironing, flat irons were put on a guard in front of the black range grill to get them hot.

Meat was very scarce, we kept chickens and also were able to keep three pigs for fattening up, with our neighbour having one plus one for us and one for the government.

The butcher, we used was named Ginger Aitkens who lived at Hinton Waldrist. It was a busy day when came to do the necessary to a pig in our garden and I had the bladder to run around with like a balloon. Mother would clean the chitterlings in a bath of salt water daily turning them inside out; father would love them fried for dinner.

Many times I would go out with Mr Garrett delivering bread in the pony and trap, this was before I started school and mother was doing house work at the bakery. Mr Garrett would give me lumps of fresh yeast to eat when he was making the dough; I still like yeast to this day.

I went to the old school which is now the Longworth Scout's Headquarters, in the winter we had an open fire with a metal guard around. The headmaster Mr Shergold, lived in the house next to the school with the village hall next to that, we also had a garden which was next to the hall and went down to the now A415 road. My teacher was Mrs Marjorie Russell. Her sister was Vera Broadhurst who had 2 daughters and lived in the Post Office next to School Lane.

Once a year a fair came to the village it was held in a field opposite Southmoor House and by St Johns Wood. This was where I spent my silver three-penny pieces.

I remember going out with a wheelbarrow to St. Johns Wood for wood chips for fire lightening, this ground is where John Blandy school and housing estate now stands.

When the Americans arrived in the village this all changed and the huts were built. I recall the troops marching down the road, throwing us gum and giving us bowls of ice cream, this was a real treat for us village children. Dad worked at Abingdon Aerodrome and was also in the Home Guard.

Christmas was always spent at home with mum, dad and my sister. Mother fattened up a cockerel for dinner and made the Christmas pudding, and vegetables were from the garden. One year for presents we had a blackboard and easel which father had made, a knitted jumper made up from one of mums old jumpers she had unpicked and re-knitted for me. But my favourite was a black golly-wog and always a Rupert book. Our favourite program on the wireless was Dick Barton Special Agent.

A carrier wagon would bring our groceries one day a week from the Co-op in Oxford; they were delivered to a house which is on the corner cross-roads of Longworth and Appleton 415 road. My sister and I would walk with an old push-chair to fetch them. I ran errands for a lady who lived at Restwood, Faringdon Road taking her wireless battery to Mr Palmer at the petrol pumps for charging.

When the war ended we had a huge bonfire in a field opposite to Southmoor House, in Faringdon Road with three scarecrow images on the top of Hitler, Mussolini and Goring.

After the troops had moved out of the camps we had the prisoner's of war arrive, they put on pictures and concerts for us in their mess hall which was situated along the old Oxford 420 road. My sister played the piano at one concert. One Polish P.O.W. made me a silver ring out of a sixpence, I have still got the piece of paper he wrote his name on but unfortunately lost the ring. After the P.O.W. left we had families living in the huts until they were allocated houses.

The Queen's Coronation celebrations were held in a field next to Sandy Lane. My sister and I were also privileged to watch the procession of the Queens Coronation on the Garretts television; I believe they were the first family in the village to have a T.V.

There have been many changes in Kingston/Southmoor but the one which has made the most significant difference I think is the A420 Bypass.