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The Bearsted Boys

A Memory of Bearsted

I have put 1947 but infact it is from earlier than that to 1954.

I think this was a great place for us as kids as we had freedom and not much parental control, I think mainly due to our parents who had just survived the war years, and thinking how lucky we were all to be alive and not under Hitler.

One of my memories was being lifted from the tin bath to watch Spitfires chase 'doodle-bugs' over the village.

I remember sleeping under the table made from steel with mesh around so if we got bombed we may survive. I also remember a shell or bomb going off very close to our house and we as kids were digging the shrapnel out in the morning, the blast broke tiles from our house and the blue tits nested in there every year.

If they had any money for a drink they met with others from the village down at the Royal Oak, and got the piano going and someone playing the spoons, a good night was had by all and us kids got a drink called Vimto and a bag of Smiths crisps that had a packet of salt in a little blue bag inside.

My parents had the butchers shop on the village green so they were both very busy trying to make ends meet and I think sometimes forgot about the kids. I with some of the other kids did things that I would kick a kid's bum for now.

We got away with murder so to speak, just imagine putting a lighted firework into a letter box and running away it could have caught the house on fire. Also burning stuff in the paper shop window with a magnifying glass.

My first day at school was a memory that I will always remember, dad taking me to school on the front of a tradesman's bike that has a small front wheel and is a bike with access on the front to put a basket in so that he could deliver meat. Of course health regulations would not permit that now. The school was up Thurnham Hill on the left. From that school we went to a chapel up Ware Street, dead opposite a road that I called Fosters Road.

One day I came down the hill from Fosters Road on a fixed wheel bike with no brakes. I ran straight across the intersection and hit the railing fence in front of the chapel or hall. I ended up with a very large bump on my head and my bike was squashed, when along came a prison guard with a German prisoner of war who straightened it out for me.

From that school I went to the village school opposite a pub called the White Horse until I was 10, then I went to Vinters Park. The school was old army huts and was part of East Borough School in Union Street, Maidstone.

While at that tender age I worked 15 hours a week for 1 shilling an hour on a farm called Bridge Farm up Watery Lane. It was owned by Frank Williams who lived at Weavering Street.

While at Bearsted school I had got into trouble with a teacher called Mrs Edwards and she grabbed a handful of my hair and shook my head to and fro. Unbeknown to me a lump of hair came out as big as half a crown, so when I went home my dad was cutting up meat and me being very young and small he could see on top of my head.

He called out "Edie" to my mum, she came and they decided to take me to the doctors. After he had a look he said, "Because he had his tonsils out a few weeks ago, it is the shock coming out", and gave them a bottle of Metho in a blue fluted bottle to dab on to my head. My dad never ever knew the truth about that episode.

Later dad bought an Austin 8 van and for some reason it was parked at a garage owned by Dick Thorp, between the shop and the school. Dad said "Go up and shut the windows in the van", so when I got there I could see two bottles on the seat, remember at this time lemonade was yellow and all the fancy drinks were not heard of. So I took a mouthful from both bottles. When I got home I asked "What was in those bottles?" Dad replied "antifreeze". So I went and sat on the toilet for ages thinking I was going to die, but I still never let on to dad. Had I died it would have been a mystery. At one time I was in the church choir, as we got access to the top of the church. I was also in the Scarlet Pimpernels scouts.   

A memory shared by Ian Simmons , on Aug 15th, 2007.

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