The memories of my childhood always contain trees. Slippery Jack was a challenge to all. I was determined I should get up the trunk of this hawthorn tree - just as well as Barry Collins! It took me a great deal of effort but I did it. Whoever invented the pastime of climbing to the highest possible branch, easing oneself out to clear the trunk and then - dropping! - ? We spent many hours over "The Action" which was a clearing between the 'middle road' and the road to Leyton Cross. There were many trees, to cater for all abilities, there. The eighth elm, in The Dell, was hollow and on occasions there were as many as half a dozen of us kids, swarming all over it. If our parents had seen us, especially looking into the water-filled hollow, they would have had heart attacks. I also remember going with my sister Barbara over to the Penny Royal (Glory Bumps) and catching newts. We never had a bike, so couldn't go flying over the Bumps but still, it was lovely just to spend the day wandering over the Heath.
I remember the winter of 1947. I was five years old and really wanted to go out to play with the other children, although Mum said it was too cold and I wouldn't like it. I did get out there and there was a 'slide' of ice outside Carlton Ball's Dad's garage. This was about ten feet long and was really something! My brother Dennis took our bookcase out, down the Dell, for tobogganing. He took the doors off it and the boys carried it up onto the Heath. He couldn't have damaged it, surprisingly, because I remember it there, after the War.
Does anyone remember the patients from Bexley Hospital? "Sunshine" always had a cardboard attache case stuffed with comics and we kids would clamour round him and find a spot - usually the pit near The Dell, to sit and swap comics with each other. Lovely, lovely days.
In 2002, the Maypole School had its last reunion and I was absolutely delighted to meet up with 'boys' and 'girls' I had last seen in 1952. We left the Maypole to go to Dartford in October that year and I hadn't seen most of them in 50 years. They came from all over the country and even Canada and Australia. It was wonderful to reminisce that afternoon in the Black Prince lounge. Later, in the School, we met up with other long-lost school friends. The Maypole holds many memories for my older sisters and the photograph of the pantomime, produced by my big sister Joan, brings back wonderful feelings. We were a community, knowing everyone and caring for all.
Sheila Lusher (nee Houlton)
ex of Baldwins Road