Many people, thinking back on spring in the l930’s associate it with spring cleaning. This was more necessary (with the smoky open fires) and much more difficult than today. Loose covers, curtains, carpets and blankets all had to be struggled with, with housewives looking out anxiously for a nice blowy day on which to dry these bulky items.
There was an old saying:
“Wash blankets in May
Wash all your friends away”
Which meant that the task had to be done prior to the start of the warmer weather. The chimney sweep would also call, and charge 1/- for what in those days was a messy job. Then the walls could be washed.
It was also of course, a busy time in the garden and allotments, with much planning going on, to provide vegetables later in the year. There were allotments at South Road and at Bloomfield, which were a sight to see, freshly dug by the miners who kept them because they didn’t have gardens. There was a wonderful atmosphere among the men on the allotments – a relaxed and sociable attitude where one would help and advise another. One old gentleman was well known for being the last on the allotments every night. Nobody ever seemed to stay longer than he did. One day a younger man decided to outstay him, however long it took. He was there until it was dark, and then the old man seemed to have gone home. Well pleased the young man went home too, but then old Joe came back to the allotment with a hurricane lamp. The young man had to admit “Joe, I give thee best.”
Spring was very rich in traditional festivals. On Shrove Tuesday everybody had pancakes for tea, and children usually gave up something for Lent, which could seem awfully long if you were waiting for your next bar of chocolate! Mothering Sunday wasn’t the commercialised day it is today, but was a family day, when girls in Service would have a rare day back at home, bringing primroses for their mothers.
Good Friday was much looked forward to. If you wanted them, you could get hot cross buns at 6 in the morning, the bakers having worked all night to produce the delicacies. Many people had Good Friday off, and would take the opportunity to put in their potatoes. But Good Friday was a solemn day, with people remembering its religious significance more than today. No meat would be eaten, so fish was the traditional fare. Rev. Meade-King would show a Good Friday ‘film’, actually magic lantern slides of the Crucifixion, shown on a ‘lantern’, which ran on oil, and emitted smoke from a little chimney. The children loved this which was intended to keep them quiet and well-behaved, as games were not considered suitable on this day. Easter Sunday was livelier, with bright Easter eggs either of chocolate or real eggs painted or coloured by boiling them wrapped in onion skins, which would turn them a lovely mottled yellow. In the parks, people would roll eggs down the hills which made a colourful spectacle. Mothers would cook delicious Easter biscuits for the family.
Spring was a time of rebirth in the countryside, with the hens starting to lay eggs to replace the pickled ones which people had eaten through the winter months and hazel catkins, primroses and violets appearing in the hedgerows much more than they do today. Cowslips, dandelions and elderflower were early crops for winemaking.
Reproduced from ‘Reflections of Old Timsbury’ by kind permission of The Cheshire Home.