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Chocolate Beans and Floral Gums

by Dunstable Town Centre

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Archive List > Rationing

Contributed by 
Dunstable Town Centre
People in story: 
Margaret Lewry
Location of story: 
Dunstable, Bedfordshire
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
05 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.

We lived in a three bedroom terraced house in Ridgeway Drive in Dunstable at the start of the war (myself, my brother, sisters and parents). We had some evacuees but I can’t remember where they slept! An RAF man called Tom was billeted with us; he used to play the violin but we never knew where he went, when he left home in the mornings.

My father had two allotments where he grew vegetables. He used to ride a big bicycle behind which, he attached a cart. Basically a sturdy wooden box mounted on an axle with two wheels and long handles. He would somehow fasten this behind the saddle to carry his tools and/or produce from the allotment. I used to go with him sometimes to help with the weeding and watering. We kept chickens and rabbits in the back garden at home. Sometimes my sister and I would be sent over the open fields at the back of Ridgeway Drive, to a farm in Houghton Regis to buy day old baby chicks at a penny each. We'd put them into a deep round basket to carry home, where they would be reared at the hearth until they could go into the garden.

I can remember sweets being rationed. My sister and I would go to a shop along the Luton Road on a Sunday morning to buy sweets for the family. My parents hadn’t a tooth between them but my mother always had toffees and my father had mint imperials. I had either chocolate beans which are now called Smarties or my real favourites, floral gums because they were tiny and you were given lots for your allowance.

When outside, we played hopscotch and skipping. We wore gymslips for school; I think my mother bought them from a Tally man who called at the house. Every day when I took off my school skirt, I would put big cross stitches in the pleats of the skirt to hold them in place. I probably wore a lot of hand-me downs outside school, after all I did have five sisters and one brother.

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