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Brenda Burton of Holly Cottage

The Pond c1955, Pickmere
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It was either 1939 or 1940 when we moved into Holly Cottage, I was two years old, there was a  thatched roof and it had been two houses semi det, very primitive, dirt flooring, with a huge stone and I really mean big -  THE STONE COULD NOT BE MOVED we were told, as many people had tried in the past. As the house was over 400 years old we decided to live with it, and my Dad [Erny Burton] tiled around it. There was a largish fire place not far from the stone, an open staircase and upstairs we slept in a bedroom with the underside of the thatch showing.  Coming downstairs again there was a back door which led you down, by way of a small path to the Lav [as it was then referred to].  
 The Lav was covered in ivy and there was a long wooden seating arrangement with two holes, one  for mums and dads and a smaller one for little girls, like me. Beneath the holes were the buckets and  behind the buckets was a small door whereby the the contents of said buckets were taken away, also there was the nail hammered into the wall and a piece of string threaded through torn up squares of newspaper.
  By the front door there was the pump, it needed an awful lot of pumping, was very noisy then suddenly lots of water would come gushing forth and splash all over you, dad placed a large sink underneath it, he also built a wooden lean-to kitchen at the back linking the two back doors.
   Over a period of eight or so years with grandad's help, plumbing started to happen, and then after the war we acquired electricity.
  Opposite lived Mrs Hankey [I don't think the spelling's right] and the Post Office shop, she was grandmother to my friend Elsie.
  Next door was Dones Farm where John and his sister [think she was called Mary but might be wrong] were born, I spent many happy times on the farm, in those days people helped each other when needed, as I grew older there was collecting eggs, keeping the barn tidy after playing on the bales, and riding on the cart during the hay cutting, helping with the ropes, riding back on one of the horses that pulled the cart, and when the threshing machine arrived  collecting the chaff and distributing it to the various places where the hens laid, and the potato picking, making friends with the land army girls, [whether they wanted my company or not].
  Now I am reminded of the Italian prisoners of war, they were wonderful, they liked to play with me, calling me Bambini, dressing up my bike with flowers, laughing and singing.  Farmer Done said they didn't know the meaning of hard work,  Dad said they were like children.  They were fun.  They were eventually replaced by Germans who were well aware of the meaning of work but no fun at all.
  Another memory - evacuees -- Lots of children from London arrived in a charrabanc [bus], whoopee, there was, I think her name was Janey who stayed with Mrs Hankey, and she told me that she used to have tea with Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret at the palace every Sunday.  I believed every word she said.
     Pickmere was popular as a holiday place and after the war we had the Yanks who were stationed nearby.  There was a small fun fair and a dance hall owned by the Cheetams who were well off and owned a car, and the lake of course, for swimming, fishing and boating.  Farmers rented land that they weren't using to caravanners, people with tents and small wooden huts were being built for holidaymakers, the Yanks were great they would give us chewing gum, and anything else when we followed them, particularly if they were arm in arm with the beautiful ladies that had arrived soon after and Pickmere became quite lively. There were mutterings like 'over paid and over here' and some people did not seem to approve of the beautiful ladies, but for us kids it was a chance to develop our own skills at earning a bit of pocket money on the side.
  'Got any Gum Chum' we would call out as the Yanky Doodle would attempt to walk off with the beautiful lady, we learnt to be very persistant netting not only gum, but also candy and eventually down to the brass tacks of money.   We were not the only ones, I remember two magic words that were whispered then a number of people would gather around somone who would be selling somthing, and money would exchange hands, the words were'black market'.  
  Dad said it was against his principles to obtain stuff on the black market, we kept quiet because we had the special knowledge of - what Dad didn't know would not worry him.
  There was much merryment in those days, dancing, singing and drinking until one day, the word went out that we were all to be raided by the police.
  We didn't have the communicating networks of today,  but probably more efficient was the kids with bikes, teenagers and toffs with horses, Mrs Hankey at the switchboard in the Post Office and the collective spirit solidarity that no longer [sadly] exists.
  The raid eventually turned up and the Yanks, Beautiful Ladies, music makers, and noisy people had all gone to ground.  Instead there were some very drunken pigs who had made a brave and very wild bid for freedom, these pigs were big, they were MASSIVE and they were MAD.  They chased the brave band of policmen back into there large van and away.  I remember the sound of squealing to this very day, and that must have been about sixty-eight years ago. I didn't ever find out if it was the pigs or the police who did the squealing, it was probably both.

Written by Brenda Burton. To send Brenda Burton a private message, click here.

A memory of Pickmere in Cheshire shared on Thursday, 31st July 2008.

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