Monday, 22 February 2010

"Messin' about in Summervale in the 1950s".

When we weren't playing those endless games of cricket and football, and riding bikes around the green, we did a lot of messing about:


1. Scrumping. This was an activity for autumn evenings in Britten's orchard down Brewery Lane (our prefab backed on to it).
One evening we were pinching some apples when up towards the house someone came out flashing a large torch, heading towards us. With hearts pumping, we leapt over the hedge and sped towards the Rec. and hid. We waited quite a long time before creeping back home. I don't think we did much scrumping after that.

2. Rattling door knockers. This was another favourite, especially in the autumn. We'd go along Silver Street and West Street knocking on doors or stuffing something through a letter box, then would leg it back to Summervale. Once, someone suggested putting a banger (lit) through one old lady's letterbox, but some of us thought this was a bit cruel so it never happened. Once, one woman, came out and chased us along West Street but, fortunately, we were much too fast for her!

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3. Banger in the wasps' nest. Once, in late summer, there was a wasps' nest in the bank in Brewery Lane, quite near our house.

My brother, David, decided to have some fun with the wasps. He lit a banger and placed it in the nest and stepped away.
The firework exploded and loads of wasps emerged into the daylight. Some of them, obviously quite agitated, headed for David and he got very badly stung. After that experience, he didn't play around with wasps again. All good experience for the growing child!

4. Nets, catapults and air rifles. Looking back now I think nature must have taken quite a lot of punishment from Summervale boys. Mind you, I think there was a lot more wildlife around in the 1950s, before spraying and pesticides became more widely used. We would take butterfly nets out into the fields and capture butterflies, pop them in jars, then take them home and mount them on a display board. Fortunately, we didn't do this for too long.
Catapults were great fun and we always made our own from hedgerows and a bit of thick rubber. The favourite targets were bottles placed on the bank in Brewery Lane and, I am now ashamed to say, birds in the trees. Mind you, I don't recall us ever seriously hitting our prey.
Once or twice someone brought an air rifle along to one of our outings. (Was it Alan Dixon?) I was allowed to have a go with the rifle, but, like everybody else, was never successful.I think Alan was, on the odd occasion.


5. Railways. Once, I remember some of us caught a train out to Ilton. (Was there an Ilton Halt on the Chard-Ilminster- Taunton line?). We were playing some arranged boys cricket match at Ilton. After the game we realised we couldn't get back to Ilminster (no money? missed the train? Can't remember the reason now). So to get back to Ilminster we decided to walk along the track, which we did all the way to Ilminster. Not advisable, but we did it. This was when I first learned to place an old penny on the line, then see what an oncoming train would do to it when it ran over it. I never found out that evening but we did try a few other times elsewhere (Donyatt, I think), and I can remember finding the odd squashed penny
after a train had passed over a carefully placed one. Of course, many times you couldn't find them. They were probably sent flying!

Just a few of the crazy things we got up to in those wonderful early years in Summervale!
Best Wishes
Peter Westmacott

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