Those Were The Days 6 - a Memory of Barking.

Continuing up the street on the right was a long parade of various shops and we come to Salisbury Ave on the corner was a large modernistic furniture shop later the shop nest door became a KFC and across the street next to the station was the Spotted Dog and directly Across was the Magnificent towering Odeon Cinema where we spent many happy hours at the Saturday Morning Picture Shows for kids. We could go there and see a stage show usually a magician or singers and the like games competitions cartoons and a main picture usually a Buck Rogers cliff hanger film or a Laurel and Hardy comedy. It was always great noisy fun. I knew there at least my ear would be safe. Sometimes we would go with mum and dad to a feature film like the musicals of the era South Pacific and such like and mum would pack sandwiches and orange drinks and we would be allowed to buy ice creams bars from the tray ladies who walked up and down the isles. It truly was a magnificent building ne Palace all white marble with gilt accents and red velvet drapes and seats sumptuous to the extreme.

Set back next to the Odeon was a Telephone box red sweet shop and later next door to that was the first Doner Kebab shop (in the early the 1970s I think).

Both sides of Longbridge Road were full of shops and funeral directors that I have mostly forgotten that lead to Barking Park. Now this was an adventure to us. Going over the park meant a day full of playground rides, swimming at the Lido, A band in the band stand, tea at the little ice cream shop, Saluting the fallen at the Cenotaph and Guns. Taking a ride on the miniature railway past the Bowling Green to the lake where rental row boats and a paddle steamer took you on a leisurely trip around the islands. Where you could see all the Swans, ducks and geese that made the park their own. Fishing for tiddlers and tadpoles were the order of the day along with bringing your toy sail boats for racing I can't remember how many times I fell into the lake or through the ice in winter but usually ended with the inevitable clip around the earol for being a klutz. Mainly I believe cos dad got wet wading in to get me.

Then once a year Barking had it's Parade which meant one thing and one thing only the traveling fair came to town and took over the Parks football, cricket and rugby pitches for a week of carnival funfair excitement. All us kids were wide eyed and awe struck. We would run in screaming with joy right into the barrage of loud music bright colorful flashing lights but not knowing what to go on first, the bumper cars the high swing chairs so many choices and so little time. Games of skill and chance in the penny arcades, a ride on the Big Wheel and the smells of those rissoles, chips and onions permeated the air. Hot dogs, Ice cream and candy floss abound all ending with a massive fireworks display.
And we all went home happy, contented and a little worse for wear then, got the usual clip around the ear cos you threw up all those rissoles you were warned not eat but did anyway on dad's shoes. Happy days mate, happy days.

A memory shared by Chrs on Mar 15th, 2010. Send Chrs a message.

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