Wednesday, 31 August 2011


Watching the riots on TV really brought it home to me how very lucky we are to live in the relatively peaceful area of South Devon. Although we see in the local press on a weekly basis that someone has been killed of badly injured in a fight it had no impact on me at all. Well, no impact other than not want to go into town on a Saturday night anymore but when I was 16, I was more frightened of Dracula appearing from behind a bush than seeing anyone have a fight.

There were the Teddy boys of course with their slicked back hair, tight, tight trousers and brothel creepers; the bikers ( more my type) with leather jackets and powerful bikes and then later, there were the Mods with their parkers  and scooters and umpteen mirrors decorating the handlebars.

At the Jive Club on Thursday night in the Church Hall there was never any trouble despite the fact that knuckle dusters and flick knives were mentioned- no I never saw any. Neither was there any drunkenness, just hours of jiving to the latest records – Elvis, Bill Haley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Everly Brothers  et al. This was around 1958 – 1960 when I could dance all evening mostly with my girlfriends, the boys were propping up the walls waiting to take someone home if they were lucky.

Remember Elvis’s King Creole ? Loved it!

Fashions were varied, for jiving we wore sloppy joes ( usually our Dad’s jumper ) over tight trousers and baseball boots on our feet for that extra spring in the step. For “ going out” we wore pleated skirts, rolled up around the waist over several paper nylon petticoats which crackled as we walked. On our feet were the winkle picker shoes with the highest heels we could find.


Remember those wonderful Jukeboxes in the corner of every cafe belting out the Top Twenty but not deafening as is today's music.

Along with the Jukebox went the Espresso coffee in chic glass cups. The machines took some getting used to with the fresh coffee in the filter and the steam jet, very hot, to froth up the coffee – I just loved it. We were never taught how to make pretty patterns in the froth though – that is a modern idea.

The coffee bars were mainly for teenagers, we were quite content to drink coffee of coca cola or juice in those days – alcohol was not on our minds. Perhaps drinking laws were enforced more strictly then and, of course, it was not easily available. You could only buy it from a pub or an off license. Perhaps we should return to those days – definitely  take it out of supermarkets. Other countries are far stricter :-

Alcohol in America

Legal Issues

By and large, alcohol consumption rules are set by the states, and in some places, by the counties or cities. Closing times vary from city to city, and in some states (primarily rural areas) there are still 'dry counties' in that you cannot buy alcohol in that area.

In many areas grocery stores can sell beer and wine, but not hard liquor, for that you will need to go to a liquor or 'package' store. In some states, the sale of liquor is controlled entirely by the state and you will need to go to an ABC (Alcohol and Beverage Control) store to buy it.

A few important rules:

1) You cannot drink alcohol in public. Taking a beer out of a pub onto the sidewalk is illegal in most states. Public consumption of alcohol, while tolerated at places like sporting events (the 'tailgate party'), drive in movie theatres and a few other situations, it is generally not allowed in the US. At most bars, you'll either have the cup taken from you at the door by security, or channelled into a 'beer garden' which is separated from the public sidewalk by a small fence. Walking down the street with a glass of beer is certain to get you a citation for 'public consumption'.

2) The drinking age is 21 (with LEGAL PROOF). You are 50, you have grey hair, you look like a geezer, technically, this is not enough to buy alcohol in many states. To get into many bars and buy alcohol, you often have to produce a government issued ID (drivers license, passport) that shows your picture and has your birth date. Some stores will only accept a US drivers license or liquor ID (ID for people over 21 who do not hold a drivers license), so not even a military ID or US passport will be accepted, but this is usually the exception to the rule. In some cases, only ID from that state or a neighboring state will be accepted. It may seem silly, but many a bartender can tell you about how they have turned away grey-haired old ladies because they couldn't produce proof of their age. If you plan to go out drinking, take an ID and avoid any problems. Whether they 'card you' (ask for ID) varies, but better safe than sorry.

3) Driving while drunk is a big no-no. This happens thousands of times a night, and some bars miles from anywhere you have to just ask 'how the hell are you supposed to NOT drink and drive with a place like this." But getting stopped for a DUI test can really cause some problems with your insurance, losing your license for a minimum of six months in many states, and also creating a lot of problems for immigration and VWP. It's best to find a 'designated driver' (i.e. the buddy who gets free Cokes from the bar) and have them deal with you getting home.

4) Every state has a minimum alcohol purchase age of 21 (18 still persists in some US territories). Before the mid 1980s some states had a lower age (it's a matter of state law) but the federal government made certain highway funding conditional on adopting a 21 drinking age. However, the laws still differ in detail by state (for example, in some cases it's illegal for under 21s to consume alcohol as well as buy it, in other cases it is only illegal to purchase alcohol). Providing alcohol to under 21s may be banned by a specific statute or something more general like "contributing to delinquency of a minor". People have been jailed for allowing under 21s (their children, or more usually, friends of their children) to drink alcohol at a party in their house.NIH APIS explains some of the complexities regarding underage possession or consumption of alcohol.

5) In some states, under 21s are not allowed in certain areas of bars, hotels or liquor stores.

6) Taking alcohol across state lines brings you within the scope of federal law. It is not a problem to bring alcohol for your own use from one state to another, but anything, for example, involving under 21s, could lead to offences under federal law as well as state.

7) Being deemed an "alcohol abuser" - which can happen if you are convicted or cited for alcohol related offences (eg DUI) - can cause complications for your immigration status, if you are not a US citizen. Even if you manage to overcome the problems DUI will cause in getting US resident status or citizenship, it could prevent you entering Canada (Canada is even stricter on DUI than the United States) and especially if you live in a border state, this could be a real inconvenience.

8) US state and federal laws on alcohol use among recreational watercraft users (many waterways are under federal jurisdiction) and commercial drivers are stricter than in many other countries. Also, if you cause an accident or injury/death while under alcohol influence, US laws are also stricter and you face the real risk of a jail sentence (and deportation if you are not a US citizen).

Perhaps if we did tighten up on alcohol abuse by young people my grandson(aged 15) would not have been rushed to hospital recently in an ambulance , having been knocked unconscious with a savage blow to his right eye. Perhaps I should make a comparison with “then” and “now” in my next post.


Sunday, 28 August 2011





Please let me or Peter know if you might be able to make this reunion next year. If not, what date would work for you?


Thursday, 25 August 2011


Hello Jean
I am looking at the following possible dates: Wed 24 May, Wed 31 May, Wed 27 June, Wed 4 July or on the Tuesdays or Thursdays next to these dates. Do you have any preference amongst these dates? Can you see any problems with any of them?
When I am in Ilminster in October I'll certainly have a look at other likely venues. I agree with cyou about Travelodge; not the ideal place really. We did stay in the Horton once a couple of years ago, which was fine for one night, especially at their cheap rates. I think we got it for £19 for two! A good deal.
Best Wishes



Monday, 22 August 2011

Two Replies to our Reunion.

From Adrian Hooke

I would like to attend a Summervale reunion, given enough advance notice (since we would have to travel from California). Please add me to the "interest" list.
PS: I went to the school on North Street when I was about six. I remember girls being at the playground break, so there must have been a girls component. From there I went to the Ilminster Junior Boys' School in Ditton Street, which now seems to be some kind of Skills and Learning Center; then after the 11+ exam, on to Ilminster Grammar School. We probably moved into Summervale about 1946 or so - does anyone know when exactly it was built? I distinctly remember my 6th birthday in 1950 because we lived at 6 Summervale and I recall looking at the number on the front door. We left Summervale in 1954 when my Dad built a house up on Higher Beacon, leaving Ilminster permanently in 1957 to follow STC down to Paignton.

My Dad moved down with STC in 1940 but my mother stayed in London for a bit. My Dad had really gloomy digs in Chard and then my mother came down and they got married in June 1941. They lodged at at Sea Farm out on the Chard road for a while. I was born in Bridgwater in 1944 and we lived in Watergore and Puckington when I was very young. I suspect that it may have been 1945 when we moved to Summervale.
I first went to Chard Convent as well - my Dad had some wacky ideas about how I should go to private schools. I hated the place with those really mean old nuns (do you remember how they would beat kids and then give out rice paper as a treat?) and I would throw a screaming fit every morning when my parents tried to put me on the bus to Chard. Finally my mother got fed up and told my Dad that I was going to the North Street school - end of subject. Excellent move. I do remember that there were girls at North Street because there one one girl called Valerie Hallett who was a bit weird and who would poop her drawers just about every day.
I just took a Google Maps video tour around Ilminster - the place is still so recognizable. And Dyers down by the church should be a national monument. I remember getting my school uniforms there; they had this wonderful spring-loaded overhead wire system for sending your money to the central clerk's cage, who would return the receipt and change the same way. The little metal containers holding the money were always whizzing around overhead.
I hope that the reunion works out. We are still working for NASA in Washington DC but I have some health problems so we will relocate back to California in a couple of weeks. I will think about retiring if the economy and the stock market ever gets out of the current hole. We are hoping to visit the UK later in October

Here is a great photo of Adrian from his website -

Adrian Hooke


Still signs of that red hair!







Hi Jean and Peter, hope you are well and thanks for the e-mail regarding the possible Summervale reunion. I will be passing on the information to my mum Edith (known as Edie and Ede) Drayton who was 89 in July - she has been poorly after breaking her shoulder in a fall and then contracting the Norwalk virus in hospital but is now recovering well. I will also let me brothers know - the oldest is Derek and the middle brother Michael - I am Robert, the youngest of three children. My dad Dennis sadly died seven years ago and we lived at Number 15. In fact I was born there in 1951 - a true Summervale boy then!
Just a few comments regarding some of the request on the blogs:
The photo of the children immediately below the photo of the ladies in the sack race - I believe it is brother Derek top left (I will check when I see him next).

Old Friends - 1950
Regarding Derek Johnson, I vaguely remember that he passed away a few years back but will try and check that also.
North Street School: this was the home for the infant boys and girls and the junior girls - the infants went through the left-hand door and the junior girls through he right-hand door; when the infant boys were old enough they transferred to the junior boys school in Ditton Street (headmaster in my time was Tom Wade), the infant girls moved over into the junior girls section. After that, they would all go to either the boys grammar school in Silver Street, girls grammar school in Cross House behind the Minster, or the secondary modern in Ditton Street; a few might have gone to he convent in Chard. One of the teachers I remember at North Street was Mrs Kierstan - her son Richard (deceased) was in my class and he had a sister Peta; father Steve Kierstan was chief bull stockman at Horlicks cattle breeding centre. I also remember another teacher at Ditton Street junior boys was John Chislett.
I hope that brings back a few memories - I have been writing a book about my life and times at work and play in Ilminster which I will get around to publishing some time and reading the blogs is great fun.
Many thanks for reading and best wishes to one and all.
Rob Drayton (incidentally, I became a grandad two months ago - I prefer to call myself

Wow, I love that!


Sunday, 14 August 2011


Hello all Summervaleans
Before I moved to Summervale permanently in 1954, my brothers and I lived in Princes Risborough in Bucks. During last winter I came across an old photo of our my primary school football team from 1953. I began to wonder what had happened to the boys - I hadn't seen or had any contact with any of them since moving to Summervale. Where were they now, what had they done with their lives, what were they like now, and were they still alive? The outcome of all my reflections was a reunion of the team - half attended - just a few weeks ago. We had an absolutely brilliant day! Lots of reminiscing, a lunch together, a fascinating visit to our old school, a walk around our old haunts, and so on. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it and we all wondered why we hadn't arranged it years ago. We have agreed to meet again next year!
Then the great thought came to me a few days ago. WHY DON'T WE HAVE A SUMMERVALE REUNION IN ILMINSTER!!! What do you all think? I would be prepared to organise it if enough people thought it would be worth trying. I should think the Shrubbery Hotel in Ilminster might make a suitable venue. We could meet, say, around lunchtime or a bit before, have some drinks and a meal, loads of reminiscing, a stroll round the Sunmervale site, etc. Whatever you like!
What do you all think? Is it worth giving it a go? Let's be hearing from you Summervaleans!
Peter Westmacott
I have often thought of doing this but, quite frankly, I never felt up to the organising of it.
If you would take it on Peter then I’m first on the list and I will send a copy of this post to those I have email addresses for and send a post card to those I only have addresses.
Anyone who looks in hear and is interested leave a message in the comments below.
First to reply - Bobby Chambers. See Comments


Hi Jean,
Thanks for the lucky were we to have had such a wonderful carefree childhood..building camps..hide an seek on the green..sledging on Herne Hill..picking bluebells in the woods and trudging home with arms full and mum not knowing were to put them all..Mick getting caught scrumping or caught up to some mischief or another..Val out with her mates never wanting me to tag along but Mum insisting..Dad coming home from work me running to meet him..both past away now but never far from our all the memories come flooding back I shall dig out the old photos and post them to you.                                            
Thanks Jean..will be in touch....Christine x



Dear Jean

Since last Oct Your Blog has been a life line for me, so good to get lost in the past for a few minutes ... Thanks too, to others that have sparked memories... I remember from your posting that you lived in Love Lane, Mum and Dad lived there too, she told me she was happy to move to Summervale. The posting of all the food really got me going, I love British food , but now with a little flair of French in it, thanks to my Hero Gordon Ramsey, and to think he may come and live in my Home town... Well better go, THANKS again for the Blog I love it

Love Jan xoxox

Hi Jan,

Thanks for your email posted above. You do not remember Summervale as you were only three when you moved to Paignton so I need to put this right.






Here is a photo of you ( in the front) with me on the left but I don't know who the other girl is.

That is Joe, our lovely dog sitting quite happily dressed in my navy blue knickers and school tie. He was a real character and loved by many – especially by Nell Hewitt and family.

You can just make out a row of runner beans in the background – I still love them.







Here you are being carried by your Dad as we all make our way to the beach at Weymouth. you can just see your Mum and Aunty Pat behind us.I guess the boys had run on!

I am carrying my favourite tennis racket complete with press , my Mum has the coats ( just in case) and my Dad is carrying everything else! I have been trying to work our how old my parents were, only late 40’s but don’t they look so much older compared with today? Fashion has changed hasn’t it?

Summervale was the estate of prefabs where we all lived. There were no road names, we all just lived in Summervale.


This photo shows our homes in Summervale, Ours on the left and yours on the right. Playing cricket are Gloria Dixon, batting. Me ready to catch the ball and Bobby Chambers behind me. Can't quite make out who the other boy is. Barry in the foreground does not looks like a very enthusiastic fielder does he? My Dad with arms folded looks like a proper umpire and Joe is ready to catch and run away with the ball if he can.

Take a close look at the gardens – beautifully kept and, I’m sure very pretty in colour.

Love Lane was a road in Ilminster just off East Street , up past the post office. We never lived there we just had friends who did. Your Mum and Dad lived at 28 Summervale, Ilminster, Somerset. Next door to us.

Hope you enjoy these Janice and get your girls to post a comment.


Monday, 8 August 2011

Instant Recognition

Went into town today to try to get a watchstrap ;  went in several jewellers but no luck as it is an unusual fix.

I was getting a little cross with myself having lost the spare links ( well, not lost more misplaced I think Ha ha) and as one lady was trying to find me a strap I thought I know you !

Do you know who this is?????


She has a brother who is my age and an older sister. Answers on a postcard to …………….

Only kidding. It is Christine Jolly who. like me still lives in Paignton. How she recognised me I will never know but she did – immediately despite the extra stones I have acquired over the years not to mention the wrinkles.

Her sister Valerie and brother Michael are well and I forgot to tell her that I met Michael in our doctor’s surgery last year. He lives in Chelston. He looks very much like his Dad who played the drums at STC – remember him?

Just for you Christine I will see if I have any photos of your family…………….

Your Mum in the sack race.

sack race

All three of you in this oneOld Friends - 1950

I’m not sure but I think this is your Dad in the back row on the right.

STC group

STC group

You will have to let me know.

Well, Mike wants his dinner so I had better turn off this laptop.

Lovely to see you Christine and love to your brother and sister too.


Monday, 1 August 2011


Hi Peter
I think I am a little younger than you. I was born in 1959. My memories at Whitelackington are limited but I am sure we lived in one of two thatched cottages. My father was in the the Navy based at Yeovilton. I only attended infant school in Ilminster for a couple of years as we moved to Yeovil. I have been trying to remember just where my Grandma and Grandad lived in Ilminster but can't remember the name of the road. What I do remember is that the front room overlooked fields (where we used to play)and you could see the Horlicks factory. I will see if I have any pics from Whitelackington.

 Is it possible to upload to this site?

No, I don’t think so but I can if you email the pictures to me. As I’m a little wary of posting my normal email address on this website – please email me yours to and I will reply from my usual one.

Hi Jean
great to see a picture of the old school. I thought it was only up the street from my Grandad's shop. The only thing that I really remembered was the fact that there were two doors at the front and boys used one and girls the other. My other memory is the knickers that we had to wear for PE....not a pleasant memory and put me of PE for life. It's just a pity that my grandparents or parents are not around to read these posts

Navy blue knickers with a pocket – yuk! When we were there  we never mixed with the boys as far as I remember. Did you?

P.E. in the freezing cold in the playground, warm milk in the summer, dreadful toilets which meant you did not go all day if you could help it.

Miss Lye was one teacher I remember and Mrs Pratt. Wracking my brain trying to think of the head mistress’s name ……………….

I have just come across this information :

1853 – National School for infants and girls in North Street erected by voluntary contribution. A cottage in North Street (formerly Langport Street) had previously provided the town’s first elementary education.

I am wondering now if the boys were there or was one side the infants and the other the junior school – anyone know?

Here is a better photo of the school

Ilminster: old school house in North Street

  • Under the Creative Commons Licence, the image must be credited as specified by the contributor, an example of good wording is shown above.
    (The contributor of this photos is Chris Downer)
  • You should also mention that the photo is copyrighted but also licensed for further reuse. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a similar licence.


Right, it is 10a.m. and I’m still in bed. I get carried away with my blogs !

That’s all for now