Return to Wavertree
Betty and I left the farm in July, 1942, and what a change Wavertree was from farm life! People who had even a tiny garden had converted it into a vegetable patch, and those with no garden at all tried to get an allotment where they could grow a few veggies. Most residents walked or rode old "sit-up-and-beg" bicycles as cars and lorries were almost non-existent, so milk and coal were delivered by horse and cart. No street lamps were used, because their glow in the night sky would indicate a city to German bomber pilots. Car headlights had to have Venetian-blind-like metal covers pierced by narrow slits to direct the light downwards so that enemy aircraft could not see the car lights. Instead of curtains, every house had to have black close-fitting window blinds securely closed after dusk. The restrictions on lighting had a very personal connection for me as I started to use the attic as a workshop which had a light bulb and a skylight. But the light switch was located at the bottom of the staircase leading to the attic. "Switch it on as you go up, and switch it off as you come down" was endlessly hammered into me by Mum and Dad. One night, there was a loud and almost-constant hammering at the front door, so Dad went to see who was there. It was an A.R.P. warden, furiously demanding that we immediately extinguish the light in the attic as it was shining through the skylight. Dad realized that I was the guilty party, so he made me switch it off and personally apologize to the warden.
My schooling was resumed at the drab St Bridget's School on Bagot St. It was dirty and rundown even before the war started. One afternoon, a friend showed me a prank . . . growing in between the joints in the pavement were small tufts of grass, so with care, these could be gently eased up, roots and all. Next step was to dip the grass into a dirty puddle until it was quite soggy. Then we sauntered past the school, threw the grass blob at a school window, and fled. The soft thud never broke any glass but it would stay on the glass or slowly slide down, leaving behind a very dirty trail. Next door to the school was St Bridget's Church, where Mum and Dad attended. As Dad was in the choir he insisted that I become a boy soprano, although I did not like it. Twice every Sunday I had to don my cassock, surplice, and a stiff white collar while the vicar, whom everyone called "old Clarke", warbled out some chant, to which we chorally responded. After St Bridget's School, my next one was Sefton Park, where I attended for 3-4 years. Then, at age 13, Dad thought that I should go to the same school as my three older brothers, so I was enrolled at Old Swan Technical School.
My father had a shop at 142 Wavertree Rd, at the corner of Moorgate St. The large red signboard spelled out "R. Cameron, Ironmonger". For a few years we lived above the shop, later moving to Salisbury Rd. Next door was Parry's Fish and Chip shop. Very close to our shop was the Tunnel Rd. Cinema and they were required to have lighted EXIT signs anytime they were open. My father used to supply them with a special oil for burning in the signs, but the flame was not smoky and was relatively safe. The other corner of Moorgate was a pawnbrokers, probably Evans by name. On the other side of Wavertree Rd was Franklin's the butcher, whose shop was at the corner of Nuttall St. My father also ran a home repair business, his storage yard for materials and handcarts being on Thorburn St.