We have collected both published accounts and reader contributions about boyhood in the 1930s. Suits were still very common. Unlike the Continent, sailor suits do not seem very common. Most English readers recall wearing short trousers. Flannel and corduroy shorts were common and cotton during the summer. Boys often wore shorts with knee socks and sandals. Most boys did not attend secondary schools. There were still major class differences in England. The younger boys at scondary school also wore short troiusers and knee socks. In addition to clothes we are also collecting information about boyhood activities including toys and games. Of course boys in the 1930s were confronted with World War II in the 1940s. London and other British cities were targeted by the Luftwaffe in the Blitz..
Grafton describes the Christmasses he remembers in Wales during the 1930s. "I was born in 1925, which implies that my conscious memory extends back to the late 1920s. So, by 'Prior to World War Two', I refer to a period, which begins hazily in 1928 and ends with clarity on 3 September 1939. In the late 20s, Britain still reeling from the cataclysm of WW1 was sliding into the morass of the Great Depression. The resulting mass unemployment played havoc in communities everywhere, but nowhere as bad as in South Wales, where Mumbles had its quota. This then was the background to a Christmas of this period with little work and much poverty a situation, which eased little until the end of the 30s. One can only marvel at the near miracles performed by parents in attempting to create a day worthy of this celebration, but succeed they did.
A British reader writes, "Apropos your image of the play street in Salford, That was a wonderful imahe of working-class children. I hought you might like to see a middle-class family. I was reminded of one of my favourite toys as a child. We didn't have a play street, but we did have a small back garden (Americans would say back yard). And this photo was taken in our back garden in London during 1936. I am (Aged 5) in my pedal car, my elder brother (7) is on the tricycle which he has clearly out-grown. my sister aged (2) is sitting in a folding high chair, which in the low position makes a floor level table and chair. You can see from the dents in the car that it was much used." It looks to us like this lot had quite a good time together in their back yard (figure 1). The older broher looks to be wearing his school clothes--notice the tie. Often mothers made boys change when they came home. A few years later London was targeted by the Luftwaffe. Our reader and his brother were evacuated to America.
An English reader recalls some information about the clothes he wore as a boy. This ccount is especially interesting because his memories include early childhood as well as during part of the 1930s--a period for which HBC has few personal experience.
Here is a photograph of me taken about 1936. I have very few pictures of me as a child, for from the age of 4yrs six months to 10yrs six months we were in the midst of The World War II with all its difficulties. Curiously, I feel rather proud of the fact that I lived through those momentous years, but then, due to my
tender years I was saved from a full knowledge of what was actually going on, I think that if I really been aware of the situation I would have become mentally unstable.
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