It is amazing how far we have come in the last seventy years.

Many of us once lived in city residential areas, some in houses with just two bedrooms upstairs and two living rooms down stairs, many of the homes had gas-lighting, no bathroom with the toilet in the backyard.

Prior to the advent of the 'pill' families were usually much bigger, some with as many as six, or seven kids, so sleeping arrangements were usually one in all in, kids packed in beds as sardine in a tin, head to foot.

Money was certainly scarce for the average single wage family and it wasn't unusual to put coats on the bed to supplement the blankets and a chamber-pot or bucket on the landing was the norm for most families.

The end of the Second World War wasn't the end of poverty but living became a little easier with the introduction of hire-purchase. Not hire purchase on a massive scale, initially in Liverpool it was introduced by stores such as Freeman's and Sturler's from whom you could request a 'Cheque', usually a set amount to purchase a particular item, or items from their store and they would organize collector to come to your house each week to collect a repayment; these collectors were known colloquially as the 'Jew-man' which had nothing to do with their religious denomination and more to do with the denomination of store owners.

Wartime rationing was still in effect right up until 1952 when sugar and sweets came off the ration. By this time the kids born in the 1930s were leaving school and entering the workforce and more often than not they were expected to help their parents by paying a small amount for board and keep; it was the done thing and gave households just that little bit of extra income.

That extra disposable was put to good use by householders becoming involved with Home-Improvements ... The old cast iron greats and fireplaces were ripped out to be replaced with swish art-deco tiled fireplaces, homes mostly rented, were receiving a facelift, new paint and wallpaper became almost an annual event.  Changes were also taking place amongst the young people, they were becoming more fashion conscious and in the early 50s Teddy-Boys', so called because of their Edwardian dress, were becoming obvious, young men were buying tailor made suits with the long flared jackets with narrow lapels, buttoned down the front and matched with tapered turn-up less trousers, some young men really looked dapper Edwardian and the tailor made suits cost a pretty penny ... The times they were a changing.

Soon families, boyfriends and girlfriends were going to the theatre, especially the Empire, and it was usually to see one of the latest pop idols such as Guy Mitchell, Connie Frances, Johnny Ray or the great Frankie Laine; this was the very beginning of the Liverpool renaissance and I was now living in Australia but I will forever be a Scouse who's mind often wonders back to those halcyon days in 'my Liverpool'.


Story by Tony Dwyer



By Matthew Matthew

This story was added on 22nd November 2010

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