20 June 2022

Being six years old – a memory of childhood

I was about six years old, so we are talking 1952 or 1953. My mother had collected me from school. As always, I picked up a book to read and bring back the next day. I know I was past the structured readers by then. I remember being told to take a “proper” book instead of a reader, which of course I did – very proudly.

Anyway, on this day we were on our way home, when my mother met one of her friends. Now, if I was a reader, she was a talker, so we stood for quite a while and like any six-year-old, I rapidly grew bored. I sat down on a grassy bank beside the footpath and started reading my book.

I don’t recall how long she talked but, by the time we started off again for home, I had finished my book. Given my eagerness to read it, it is possible that this was the actual day I graduated from the readers to real books.

I can remember the precise location and could take you there even now. It used to be a colliery (coal mine), but by then it had long closed. The old colliery yard had become a scrapyard surrounded by a high, stone wall, presumably left over from the colliery days.

These days the school, the stone wall, and the scrapyard, have all gone. Where I sat is now housing. In my mind’s eye, though, I am still six years old, sitting on the grassy bank with his back to the wall, lost in a book. I looked for a photo of the school too, but all I can find is this postcard from 1905. It is the same building as the one I attended.

post card from 1905 showing St John's Church and old school buildings at Sheriff Hill Ga
Schools and Church Sheriff Hill Gateshead 1905

1 Comment

  • Graduating reading skills would be a significant day. Recalling events from our childhood often trigger even more memories. Visiting sites from those days usually finds lots of changes. Interesting that the older postcard pictured the same building you remembered.

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