dinsdag 17 juni 2008

Molly's Tale Chapter 10 - Learning to Drive

The first car owned by the Thompsons was a Bull Nosed Morris; they bought it round about 1933-1934. Molly remembers that it cost 10 pounds, which was quite a bit of money in those pre-war days. It was in quite good condition and was a two seater. Meg, her daughter, remembers going on holiday to Scarborough. Molly drove, Meg sat on Grandma Elliott’s knee in the passenger seat, and Bill on the back of the seat will this legs round her neck. Joan and Jack travelled down by train with the luggage. It meant that they had a car to tour in whilst on holiday – and Joan and Jack sat in the “dickie” (the boot) on “crackets” (stools) with umbrellas. If it rained too hard they all climbed inside.

But before they were able to go on holiday Molly had to learn to drive. She was taught to manoeuvre by Uncle Eddy, in the bit of spare ground between the back of the butchers shop and Eddy’s workshop. For the rest she chugged along the lane then onto the Front Street and back to the shop.

The car was useful, as Baden sold meat from the butchers van at various places in the area. On Friday nights he would be outside “C” Pit at Backworth selling meat to the miners coming off shift with their pay packets. Molly’s first motoring venture was to bring more sausage to him there one night. It was getting dark, and going up there she didn’t get into top gear, but once she arrived, Baden turned the car round and put the car into 2nd gear running alongside her, as it was uphill all the way home, and she got home in top gear.

As her driving improved, Molly was able to collect the frozen meat from North Shields sidings. Once the war started, and their butchers assistant, Micheal was called up, Molly always spent Tuesday morning delivering orders to the districts which did not get the van until Wednesday.

There was also a super story of the time Molly had to go up to Hill Top Farm to collect another pig for slaughter as the butchers shop was very busy, and no one else could go. She had the butchers apprentice with her, and between them they caught the pig, and put it in the back, with the apprentice sitting on top of it, and drove it back to the shop to be butchered. I cannot imagine how noisy the pig would have been!

The car was also used for family outings, and not only the trip to Scarborough. On Sundays they often went to Tynemouth sands and Bill would put the tent on the running boards at the side. When they got to the beach Bill sat in the corner of the tent with his bathing costume on. He hated coming into the open.

With the family on the beach Baden would come from the Golf Club for a bit of lunch, then pop off back again for more golf. Often Molly would take the children home, feed them, and put them to bed, then collect Baden from the Golf Club.

Meg, Molly’s daughter, remembers on one trip back from the beach they passed two tramps pushing an old pram. Meg remembers that the woman looked quite young. Molly gave them all the picnic that hadn’t been eaten and the two tramps were very grateful. It made a lasting impression on Meg, but its strange now to think people then could have been so desperate, before the advent of the Welfare state, I suppose.

This first car was eventually replaced round about 1938 by a very good Wolsley. The family were able to use it for a couple of annual holidays, until war rationing limited the petrol available and holidays were no longer possible.

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