My Winters Remembered

by Northern Life

By Mary O’Rourke, Clayton-le-Moorswinter

During the Second World War in the 1940s when I was a little girl, I remember that every winter lots of snow fell and stayed with us for what seemed like forever.
It snowed while we were sleeping in our beds. Ever so gently and softly it floated down, and when we woke up to a beautiful white winter wonderland, we couldn’t wait to get outdoors.
We slid and snowballed all the way to school; it was magical. As we sat in our classrooms the snow continued to come down. Playtime and home time couldn’t come soon enough. All we could think of was going out to enjoy it.
We sledged down the slopes on Nelson Square on old shovels, pieces of metal or wood, anything that could accommodate a small bottom. We made slippery slides that looked like glass on our streets and in the  playgrounds. They stayed frozen for days and days giving us so much pleasure. We never wanted to go home; we were frozen to the marrow and our wellies were full of melting snow that made red rings of chapped  skin where they flapped against our little bare legs.
All the girls wore the regulation ‘pixie-hoods’ made out of old scarves sewn halfway down and with the ends tucked across our bony chests. We had great snowball fights against the Protestants from the school up the lane, and we never wore gloves or mittens and were always reluctant to go home, but when we did we gulped our tea down to get out again to play under the street lamps. In the scrunchy snow we built snowmen, huge  snowmen. We never came to any harm or caused any damage; just innocent children’s fun.
As we went home to our beds, cold, wet, tired but happy we couldn’t wait for tomorrow to come to start all over again.
Our house was cold and draughty, often without even a fire in the grate, only cold water to wash in and an outside longdrop smelly lavatory where you froze to death whenever you went for a wee. We sleptfive to a bed  top-to-toe to keep each other warm, covered by old coats for blankets. But we accepted the good with the bad, because that is how a lot of families lived in those days. But we survived.