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Tommy Wellock’s Memories

Tommy Wellock judging leeks at Kilnsey  Show, July 2016.

These are memories of playground games and activities when he attended Cracoe School from 1943 – 1947 whilst living at Sun Hill Farm. They were recorded by Cynthia Rymer.


His first memories were those related to winter activities ie. sledging, sliding, snowball fights and making snow forts for sheltering when the opposing side retaliated.  Other pastimes for autumn and winter days were conkers and pea-shooters.


He remembers that freshly picked conkers tied to a string did not last very long, but if conkers were stored away in a dry place for a year they dried out and became almost like stones on the end of the string.  The hawthorn tree which grew by the stile into the parish field used to produce ample ammunition for pea-shooters in the autumn and winter months, and boys gathered the haws to load into them.  I was assured that the best pea-shooters were made from sawn-off bicycle pump handles which were hollow and which a haw fitted perfectly.  Tommy, twinkle in his eye, remarked that this weapon was deadly accurate at 10 yards!


Cricket was played with improvised stumps, usually coats and there were close shaves with the school windows when a match was in progress in the parish field next door, especially when a hand ball was being used and the batsman really let fly.


Another game played by the boys was marbles/glass alleys/taws.  For this game a small hole or crack was used as a target and marbles were rolled on the ground aimed at this, or at an opponent’s marble which was in the way of the hole.  The most prized marble in your trouser pocket was one flecked with red, called a blood alley.


Punishment for minor offences consisted of a ruler wrapped smartly across the knuckles.  More serious offenders received swinging strokes of the cane, either across their palm or on their bottom.


Swapping items between the boys was an interesting pastime, more especially when the items to swap were blank cartridges, still containing explosive powder.  They were found in the woods by Tommy and taken to school to swap!  All was revealed when the Cracoe village constable at the time, a Mr. Watkinshaw, heard a loud explosion from his next door neighbour’s shed and going to investigate, the PC. discovered that the son of the house had been using a hammer and nail to break into the cartridge, thus igniting the powder.  WHOOSH!  PC. W. marched straight down to Cracoe School and demanded that all cartridges be returned, and threatened dire consequences for any who withheld even ONE.


Those were the days!

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