Dave Grylls, aka Isambard Kingdom Brunel, kindly sent in this audio clip about his childhood in the 40s. Children would make their own barrows, from crates and pram wheels, and use them to ferry things they could sell, such as jam jars, wood and flowers.
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with thanks to WikiUpload
Hello. This is Dave Grylls again. This is just another memory that I have of when I was a child, growing up.
During the war years, things were perhaps a little bit scarce. We were rationed and all sorts like that but nevertheless we managed to carry on with a little bit of endeavour we enjoyed life to a degree and had many happy times.
However this is all about earning, and I repeat, earning pocket money not thrown around but earning it and how to earn it in the 40s as a young boy. I grew up in the time when pocket money was earned and not freely given away on a weekly basis. Money, as you can appreciate was scarce. Every penny had to be accounted for and consequently parents found it very difficult to reward children. If we as young boys really wanted something, then we worked together to gather enough money to buy it. This was good for all as it taught responsibility at an early age. And also, how to look after it once you'd got it.
Often items were handed down from one child to the next and because of the value of hard work and care it represented, almost these items were as good as their first day of purchase.
There were various ways in which to earn pocket money; some easy maybe but some needed some effort at least. The most lucrative demanded some hard work. Before the commencement of all these little earners, we had to consider some way of transportation of our goods and suchlike. Many youngsters, with a little initiative, built their own little wheelbarrows from wood, an old tea-chest or box, old pram-wheels, 2 shafts, a few nails or screws and we were away. Initial outlay was quite small as most grocers had an unwanted chest or box. Pram wheels were also easy to come by so with a little bit of initiative, hammer, screws and nails you could create something quite reasonable.
Almost all children of my generation can remember the Jam Jar Run. Collect enough jam jars from your neighbours to fill a wheelbarrow and off you go to the back entrance of Maple in Hopkins Lane.
The manager would count each jam jar out and pay up accordingly. 2 or 3 ... shillings are not to be sneezed at. The Maples stores were recycling jam jars long before most modern-day supermarkets were even thought of. Half a penny for the 1lb jars and a whole penny for the 2lb jars.
All radios and wireless of the day - if you were lucky enough to have one - were powered by what we termed cumulators1 . These had to be charged on a regular basis by the local electrical shop so we would collect the cumulators, take them to be charge and return them for a fee.
The wheelbarrows really worked hard and often wheels buckled down with the strain,. Quite often, running repairs were necessary. Often there were 2 of us pushing. And as some of the loads were quite heavy - for children - However not too wise a move to have too many pushers, 'cause it meant splitting the profits.
Most homes had log fires; some coal maybe, but most burnt logs and proved to be a real earner. We'd make several trips to Culls' wood yard where whole trees were sawn into logs while you waited. Lovely smell - freshly sawn wood. Empty barrows down the hill; loaded barrow up the hill which, believe me, can be quite back-breaking at times. Sometimes we would amalgamate the wood run with the paraffin run as some customers had paraffin heaters. This was actually sold by the gallon and it was essential to screw the lid on securely, or you would smell of paraffin all day. Any leakage also cut down the profit.
Spring and Summertime came and it could have proved a bit lean for child business so we picked primroses, foxgloves, bluebells violets; and made them into bunches. Good salesmanship could make this quite lucrative however we always found time for play.
The surrounding countryside had much to offer and all absolutely free. And as a child you work this hard to earn your pocket money, then, believe me, you really appreciate the end result.
This story I penned on 22nd November 2009 and it came to me just out of the blue and this I think is a great thing. If you fail to record all these little stories, however silly they may seem to be, unless you put them on paper or record them, they are lost forever. And some stories are really quite delightful.
Thankyou and bye-bye.
1 cumulators was us chillen's word for electrical accumulators, which is an obsolete term for capacitors: electrochemical cell, a cell that stores electrical energy, typically used in rechargeable batteries wiki
|Dave Grylls as Isambard Kingdom Brunel at the Starcross History meet|
|Dave Grylls as Isambard Kingdom Brunel in Dawlish|
Unearth event recorded some Starcross Stories from Starcross residents. This is a first step in the Starcross Oral History project. We have been offered the facilities and expertise of the Hear and Now recording studio in Dawlish, and we have people who are willing to tell us more Starcross stories. We need a leader to take forward the Starcross Oral History project. Please get in touch if you would be that leader.