1928: DECEMBER: GLEN STREET WESLEYAN SCHOOL:
By that time, we were in the midst of the great depression of the twenties and thirties. Like most other people, my Da’ was unemployed. I believe that he was a good local footballer. When he was asked to sign on for his work’s team, (Hawthorne Leslie's), it was most unfortunate that he had already signed on for St. Cuthbert's team, and could not break the contract. He was
consequently paid off at work. Never to work again for five full years. When he did manage to get employed, it only proved to be spasmodic, on a casual basis. It was 1937, before he secured work on more permanent terms.
Such hardship meant that I qualified to suffer the humiliation of having to be registered for free dinners at the district's communal canteen at the Glen Street Wesleyan School. It was a great hardship in itself for infants of five or six years of age, as I was, to have to run unsupervised, from that infant school, situated at Hebburn Colliery, to the canteen in Hebburn New Town.
When we arrived there, puckered out, we were at the rear of the queue of hundreds. We would be lucky to get a bowl of Patterson's soup and bread - Mrs Patterson being the name of the cook in charge.
All the children sat upon long rough wooden forms, with tables to match. Mrs Patterson was a nice lady really, but she could certainly shout and bang her ladle upon the table to keep order and quietness. At Christmas time, all of us children looked forward to the Christmas treat given by the authorities. A nice dinner with Christmas trimmings was served on that day. Then all the children would form a long line, to march over the Station Bridge and on to the Hebburn Theatre Royal, where a pantomime was presented for them. Then we all were marched back again to the Wesleyan school, known as the Tuppence Halfpenny School, as that used to be the weekly fee, paid by the parents of the pupils. There, we were supplied with the usual high tea, set upon dressed tables and given a bag of goodies. It was magic. A wonderful time was always had by all.
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