Monday, 23 June 2008

Page 11

I had made some great friends since being there they had really brought me out of my shell. Christine the window dresser was my best friend ,from dressing in what I would call school girl clothes she encouraged me to grow up, her Mum was a dressmaker and she made Chris and I teddy girl suits, mine was made out of black and white herringbone tweed with black velvet collar and lapels it also had razor pockets trimmed with black velvet, the razor pockets were just for show I might add. Christines was charcoal grey with black velvet trimmings both had splits at either side. Most of our male friends were teddy boys we had great fun, . we used to meet up in Pont Street bus station in Sheffield most nights, we were a bit rowdy but harmless it was mostly about showing off our outfits.

I remember well going to the cinema to see Rock Around the Clock with Bill Haley it was amazing, the first film of its kind, the onset of Rock and Roll. Yes it did get a bit rowdy, putting it mildly, in the cinema a bit of dancing in the isles and a few seats torn up. Just about everyone was dressed in teddy boy clothes it was truly a new era. At last there was something for us youngsters. Needless to say you did get the bad element who did actually sport flick knives but they were few and far between at least in Sheffield. The newspapers had a great time.

Our neighbours in Whitehill where we lived called me all sorts of names , not to my face but I didn`t care I was only 16 yrs old my Mum and Dad knew I wasn`t a tearaway and they trusted me. I suppose we were given bad names just as later in the in the 60`s with the mods and rockers.

One day I was looking through the local paper when I saw a job advert for trainee G.P.O. telephonists, I liked the sound of it I liked the job I had very much but I didn`t want to be a shop assistant for the rest of my working life. I knew I was capable of better things. I applied for the job and several weeks went by, I had forgotten it when I received a letter inviting me for a preliminary interview, I suppose to sort the wheat from the chaff.

I got myself smartly dressed (not teddy girl clothes) and went for the interview I was led into a large room with three men sat at a huge table .I felt very nervous they fired questions at me ,asked things like why did I think I could do the job and loads of other questions which seemed irrelevant to me. After that I didn`t think I stood much chance but it had been worth a go.

Weeks passed nothing, about 3 weeks later a letter arrived offering me a 2nd interview. I was really proud of myself, I didn`t tell my Mum and Dad in case it came to nothing.

I went for the interview , this was much deeper but I must have come across alright as a week later a letter came offering me the job to start two weeks from that day. Initially there was a six week training course split between the head office and practical work at the telephone exchange in pont Street, Sheffield. My Mum and Dad were really pleased.

It was quite a sad time really as I had made so many good friends at B.H.S. but thats life so they say, onwards and upwards.

My Dads health had not improved he was still unable to keep a job for very long but he still kept trying, my Mum was very good she didn`t have a go, just encouraged him to try ,she was sure one day he would find something that was right for him. Dennis was now 6 yrs old and a little monkey but lovely with it, we were so close ,my Dad still struggled to put up with him but it wasn`t too bad.

I started work at the G.P.O. to do my training, there were about 20 of us. It started with the history of the G.P.O. and what it stood for, the motto being Accuracy, Courtesy and Speed it still sticks in my mind, its like Pavlovs Dog Syndrome(brain washing).

It was good I thoroughly enjoyed it. I also made a good friend named Ann we seemed to hit it off straight away, we both had this zest for life, a bit daredevil, to hell with the consequences. We worked hard all day learning codes for all the towns and cities around the country ie. Rotherham RH, SF Sheffield and so on it was great to this day when writing down a town I write the code. At night Ann and I would be out and because I lived a distance away in Rotherham I would just have a sandwich in the canteen. After our night out I would catch the last bus home which was at 11.15pm this would get me home about 11.45pm then I had the dreaded walk up a mile long lane that had only fields either side and just one house right in the middle, it petrified me but didn`t stop me. I did the same journey just about every night for the next 2-3 years.

The 6 weeks passed very quickly, then came the dreaded tests the outcome of which would determine whether we would become fully fledged telephonists, a lot hinged on this. Hurrah, we both passed and were scared stiff, it was nerve wracking going on the live boards for the first time.

We soon became familiar with the way things worked, although getting used to the Supervisors standing behind you making sure you were working not talking to each other was a bit unnerving, there was approx. 1 for every 12 girls, yes all girls, the men worked the night shift.

Sometimes we worked on sundays, this was overtime, we had great fun then as we weren`t supervised, there was only one supervisor for about 50 girls (skeleton staff- dem bones ,dem bones) we used to call the American Air Base in Stergate,Lincs. and chat to them, make dates as they had brilliant dances at their bases.

Quite a few of the girls married G.I`s and eventually went to America. I met a a lad called Jonny Ortega we met a few times on his base and then he returned home ,he was supposed to be part cheyenne indian I wrote to him for quite a while but it gradually fizzled out.

Ann and I continued our hectic life, work all day, play all evening it seemed like I would just get home then it was time to get up again, still you are only young once .

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