Friday, 2 October 2015

The Harpenden years - before the fostering storm clouds gathered

I don't remember much of my first few years in St Albans and my first clear memories seem to be just before I started school after we had moved 5 miles north to Harpenden. Although I didn't realise it at the time we moved there because our previous home in St Albans had too many sad memories for Mum to cope with.

Mum needed to work lots of hours to pay the bills. At different times she worked at Woolworth, Boots and J S Sainsbury which I seem to remember were almost, if not actually, next door to each other on Harpenden High Street. On "Early Closing Day" she worked for a few hours as a cleaner at a large house on Station Road Harpenden.

Because of the hours she worked she had to make arrangements with other people to get me to school. There was a lady who lived quite near us - we were living near the old Harpenden East railway station - that Mum was friendly with. So after breakfast Mum walked me round there and her friend used to walk me and her own daughter to school. I think that went on for about a year and a half. Mum decided then that I was old enough to manage on my own. There were not any busy roads to cross so this wasn't quite as dangerous as it sounds!

After school I used to walk home and let myself in the back door using the key hidden in the garden. I would play in my bedroom and then I would watch Children's Hour and eat the sandwiches Mum had prepared for me and wait patiently for her to come home. I think this used to be about 5:45PM.

I was quite happy at school and never got into real trouble. I was in the A stream and I can remember Mum being quite proud about that.

School holidays were a problem. Mum couldn't afford not to work so I was left on my own all day. The old lady next door kept an eye on me, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. I was quite happy either playing with friends or on my own and I didn't realise until much later that Mum was probably breaking all sorts of rules by leaving me unsupervised.

I was sad when Mum said we were moving back to St Albans. I had lots of friends in Harpenden and when we moved house I never saw most of them again. In the summer of 1966 we moved into a small rented house just off Holywell Hill, just in time for me to start secondary school.

I never guessed that I was soon to become a foster child!

1 comment:

  1. I stumbled across your blog on the FB page of Old Harpenden where I lived briefly and still have lots of connections there. I have read the October entries and I particularly enjoyed reading about life in Harpenden and St Albans back then. I am looking forward to reading the other entries.