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Jam Jars and Drinking Chocolate

by Dunstable Town Centre

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Archive List > Rationing

Contributed by 
Dunstable Town Centre
People in story: 
Una Basham
Location of story: 
Dunstable, Bedfordshire
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
02 December 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War site by the Dunstable At War Team on behalf of the author and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

There were six of us, Mum, Dad, Grandma, and three children living in the same house. We had a good roomy cellar in which to shelter, also a blast wall was built opposite the sitting room window. Several of the houses had to take in evacuees; some of these children attended our school, Burr Street, Dunstable (now Icknield School). Older girls living in our road took us to school and frequently during the winter months the lane was so muddy, we had to go the ‘street’ way

Dad and numerous other men in the road worked at Harrison Carters in Bull Pond Lane. They made disintegrators and crushing machinery; he was a wheelwright and did a certain amount of out-work at factories in London, the midlands and the North. At the rear of Harrison Carter were allotments and a static water tank for use in the event of fire. Dad had one of these allotments and we also had a large garden at home to grow vegetables. Dad would take us in the wheelbarrow into Church Street to buy potatoes and seeds.

Our coal was delivered via a chute in the passage way down into the cellar. A baker would come from Smiths in Church Street in his horse and cart and sometimes I would get a ride up to the Stipers Hill area.

At that time National Savings were introduced; mum had a float of about £5 and sold stamps to whoever wished to purchase, as a means of saving. They would canvass a road and then find someone to collect. She loved to go out on a Friday night, hearing the local gossip was an added bonus!

In order to buy meat you had to register with a butcher; Mum got her meat from Lonleys in West Street. Furniture, rugs and other goods came from Bakers in Church Street and Durrants. Things were often bought on approval and paid off week by week.

We bought our dress material from Monks. At the bottom of our garden (now Hawthorn Close) was the dump, containing old tyres, scrap metal and iron railings. In fact one day, Dr B came and looked out of our window and said, “There’s my gates!”

Mr C had a smallholding off Bull Pond Lane at the top of Gordon Road and kept pigs. There was a pig bin half way down the road and we’d put our peelings and kitchen waste for him to collect. Rose’s and Burdett’s had a dairy nearby and the Post Office and corner shop was on the other corner of Gordon Road. On the corner of King Street was Roberts, another grocer, further down Lynn’s, and on the corner of Lever’s Walk, Parkins which Mum patronised. I didn’t know anyone who owned a car until the late 1940s. An ice-cream man would come round on a tricycle with a container for the ice-cream.

Once at school we took a jam jar and got an amount of drinking chocolate which was scarce. Milk was beaten into marg or butter to make it go further and we’d have a stick of rhubarb and dip it in sugar as a treat. Sometimes we made toffee in a tin

At the end of the war I remember dancing the hokey cokey with my friends near the Town Hall!

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