Beds, boys and toys are among my theme this week - not forgetting a look at girls.
What has struck me in writing for Sepia Saturday is how limited the photographs were in my childhood - either taken on a seaside holiday or formal school or studio shots. Of course there was no flash for the average home camera - so no photographs of parties, or playing inside - nor do I have any taken in winter. So finding photos featuring toys was a challenge.
My uncle Harry Rawcliffe Danson, c.1916 No toy here but this is my favourite photograph of my mother's brother. Harry's middle name came from his grandmother Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe.
24 years later Harry survived the Battle of Dunkirk. He retained his good dark looks all his life.
Below are two photographs from the large collection left by my Great Aunt Jennie (Danson), who grew up in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. She had written names on the back, of the majority of the cards, but otherwise little is known about the people in them. I suspect they are the children of friends, and date from the period 1915-1925. I was unable to make any headway in further identification through a search of the 1911 census.
Here I am, aged around 2, clutching a soft ball, which i think is one my mother probably made. She enjoyed making such balls from felt and embroidering the sections in contrasting colours with numbers, or motifs for sale at village fetes etc. Today the picture of my father smoking a cigarette by me, would be distinctly frowned upon!
I was a "dolly girl" - I loved my dolls, which, as my mother was a dressmaker, were the smartest on the street. With my best friend, Carol, we would wheel our prams up and down and put the dolls in their cot (an old box), with a crocheted blanket and lace trimmed pillow and quilt cover, again courtesy of my mother, or set up the doll's tea set for a tea party.
I had a "Last Doll" for my 11th birthday, which seems in today's lifestyle, really old for a doll. The inspiration came from the book "Sarah Crewe or the little Princess", by Frances Hodgson-Burnett, where Sarah was given a grand doll with an extensive wardrobe on her 11th birthday. I saw the book serialised on television and decided that would mark the end of my "dolly" era - it didn't really, as I went on to collect costume dolls.
Funnily enough I cannot remember having any favourite soft toys, though presumably the one I am clutching in this studio photo must have been high on the list.
As for other toys, I remember being given (from the TV series) a Muffin the Mule and a Sooty puppet and these formed a major part of the "make believe" games we played. We got a new jigsaw every Christmas. The one I best remember was of a winter scene of skaters at the White Horse Inn, near Salzburg in Austria - 45 years later I actually visited the inn on holiday. Games were popular such as dominoes, snakes and ladders, ludo, tiddlywinks and colouring books and join-the-dot books.
Puppets were a favourite pastime. We would set up a makeshift theatre in the front room with the clothes-horse and a sheet, and make simple glove puppets from felt and bits and pieces from my mother's trimming box. I was usually the script-writer and my brother did the sound effects, with my father the hero or villain role and my mother and aunt the audience.
I loved getting in my Christmas stocking a pristine notebook to write in, a blank scrapbook to show off my collection of scraps and a new pencil case, with new pencils, rubbers and sharpener to take to school at the start of the fresh term. The really classy one that everyone wanted was wooden where the top swivelled round to show the bottom compartment - the only drawback was it was heavy in your satchel.
I enjoyed playing at shops, so a toy till , with play money was an ideal choice. We also played at libraries, so I was in seventh heaven to be given a date stamp - and I went on to become a librarian!
Books remained one of my favourite presents for any time of year, with an Enid Blyton at the top of my list.
For my brother it was meccano, marbles, conkers, his train set, Dinky cars and Airfix models. Outside, he had his pedal car and football, whilst I had my tricycle and skipping rope to practice "crossovers" and "bumps".
Onto the next generation and my daughter's favourite toy -
donkey, ridden later by her own daughter.
And finally back to bed with a menagerie of soft toys. My daughter was never a particularly "teddy" girl - panda was her favourite. Here is Scottie dog, with two owls perched on top of him and alongside two pandas, a koala bear present from Australia and a Brownie, knitted from a pattern in "Woman's Weekly" magazine - a great source of ideas for home made toys for children.
Looking back, toys seem very simple compared with the range
today's children have in their crowded toy boxes, but none then needed batteries!
I have happy memories of what we did have.
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