Burnt Oak   A Lasting Memory

A Memory of Burnt Oak

The late 40's through the mid 50's.

Some 50 plus years have now passed, since I was a " kid " on the streets of Burnt Oak. How life has changed.

I now sit at my computer ( here in Tennessee, USA ), and have instant access to Burnt Oak and Edgware online, a place where I spent my younger years.

Having read the first three accounts of life in Burnt Oak in the 40's and 50's, many memories came to my mind, of the place I grew up in. Some bad, but mostly good memories.
The bad memories include having to sleep in a steel shelter in our back bedroom on Vancouver Road during the war. Sweet rationing. Other than that, life was great for a kid.
Some of the things that come to mind, but not in order:

My Saturday morning bread round with the old geezer from Avery's Bread.

Delivering newspapers around the Deansbrook Rd area.

Saturday morning "flicks" at the Gaumont.

Riding the trolleys, all the way to Canons Park, or the other way to Cricklewood to go skating ( Parents would let their kids go anywhere in those days. Too dangerous now. )

Visits to Toni's Ice Cream shop on Watling, and then the " gang " would go down the steps next to Toni's and hide underneath the shop next door, and get out the Willy Woodbines.

Exploring the Co-op with my parents, watching the money go into the overhead belt system, to the office upstairs ( that was true magic ). Going to the Christmas event at the Co-op, and seeing Father Christmas.  Having a pair of shoes fitted, by looking through a machine to see where your toes were.
( More magic. )

Taking a lunch break from St James's, heading down to Watling Ave, buying a loaf of bread, tearing out the centre, and filling that with an order of Chips.
( Such luxury. )

Being the first on the scene, when the plane ( DC3 ) crashed in the garage next to the Savoy.

The cafeteria ( The Civic Centre??? ) where I would go with my half a crown, and get a meal for myself, while my Mother worked at Edgware General, and my Father worked at DeHavillands. ( Now considered Child Abandonment, but was normal in those days. )

Going to the World's finest Aeroplane shows at Hendon Aerodrome.  Watching the mock bombing runs and sitting in the rear turret of a bomber and pretending to shoot down German planes.

Going to the fair at Watling Park. To my young mind, better than Disney World now.

Spending a whole day on Watling Ave and the Broadway wandering in and out of shops. Hassans.  Toni's.  Fish and Chip shops.  Pastry shops.  Helping my Dad carry home wood from the timber yard on Barnfield Rd, etc.

Taking my shilling I earned, to the Post Office and putting it into my own personal account. ( When I was 15 years old, I had 35 shillings saved!! )

VE day on Vancouver Road. The feast on the tables in the street, and to follow, a massive bonfire at the top of the street, which left a 3" deep hole in the road, after the fire eventually died out.

Coal. Fish. Milk and " Ragbone " man, all with carts pulled by horses, with them men yelling out their sales pitch " Ragbone!! " or " Codly-Codly-Oil ".

The Jellied Eel stand outside the pubs, owned by my pal's Dad ( O'Conner ).

The film Rock around the Clock at the Gaumont, and the near riot that ensued, where the first two rows of seats were ripped out by crazy teens during the film.

Making our own carts and scooters, with bits of wood, and ballbearings wheels, that were scrounged.

The day that sweets came off rationing, and I went to Scotts Tobacconist, and bought all I could, and spent the rest of the day, sick as a dog!

Too many memories to list here.

I rarely go back to Burnt Oak now. I am not the young lad that I was, where I could handle myself in Burnt Oak. Kids used to fight with fists then, not knives and guns. No muggings.

Even after a stint in the Royal Marines, I would still feel safe in Burnt Oak, but time has taken it's toll on me, and also the town I grew up in. I'm " worn out " and so is Burnt Oak.

People over here, ask me if I miss Burnt Oak.

My answer is always the same -

" I miss the Burnt Oak I grew up in, but that doesn't exist anymore. "

How sad to think, that Burnt Oak which was built in the 20's and 30's, was such an amazing place to grow up in, and has been virtually destroyed in the last 50 years. Beyond all recognition.

On the positive side.

I still have my memories, and unlike Burnt Oak, those will never fade away.

Dave Miller ( bootneck58@comcast.net )

A memory shared by Dave Miller , on Aug 7th, 2007.

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