Playing at Grandma's House

Playing at Grandma's House

I was thinking about my mum and dad and grandparents this week and playing at grandma’s house. I loved the DDT bug killer for the garden, the old iron range in the kitchen and the mangle for the washing.

I say grandparents but I never knew a grandad. One died in the first World War, while the other died of pneumonia before I was born. Antibiotics weren’t to be had in those days which is tragic as I would have known him. It left me with a longing to have a grandfather, but it wasn’t to be.

Bug Killer for the Garden

Here I go then, I was thinking about when I was a child playing at grandma’s house, after Jane showed me a photo of the old metal sprays. The ones that people used in those days to disinfect, use weed killer or whatever.

DDT sprayer like the one that I used when I was playing at grandma's house
DDT sprayer like the one that I used when I was playing at grandma’s house

It brought strong memories back of me as a child in my grandma’s garden where I spent a lot of my childhood due to my grandma having Alzheimer’s, as those who have read my past blogs will know.

My mum practically lived there, with me in tow as I couldn’t be left at home alone, so every night after school we would walk the mile to her bungalow where my mum would have to look after her.

Playing at grandma's house
Playing at grandma’s house

She lived in a council bungalow, and in those days they didn’t make all of the gardens one open plan one for easy mowing like some councils do now, so she had her own long back garden which was full of weeds and grass.

I thought it was lovely to go out there and play, usually on my own, and I was always drawn to the metal sprayer as you had to pump the handle up and down to get out whatever was in it. Of course I didn’t care that the cylinder near to the head contained DDT and off I would go, pumping like fury to see the mist come out at the other end.

I would often have a go with it and it’s only in later years when it was banned from use that we discovered how toxic DDT is. We have wondered if that’s why I got cancer because I must have breathed in the toxic fumes, and as we now know DDT is cancer causing, so bingo, I won the prize!!

Watch the Tub when Playing at Grandma’s House

In her garden was a great big zinc tub, to me it was big anyway, which caught rainwater. I would summon up all my courage to have a look in it as there were always dead birds in it, usually at different stages of decay, which upset me awfully.

There was a zinc tub similar to this I remember from the garden when I was playing at grandma's house
There was a zinc tub similar to this I remember from the garden when I was playing at grandma’s house

How things change, compared with what pensioners now expect from a council bungalow. She had a fairly long kitchen with, of all things, a coal storage room, which of course was scruffy due to the coal but handy for not going out in all weathers to get it. There was a bath in there, covered with a well scrubbed wooden lid which you had to lift and fasten up to have a bath in the kitchen in full view of everyone, imagine that today. There was also an indoor toilet next to the coal house, which again wasn’t wonderful to be where it was. I can remember going in quite a few times to a ‘whiff’ pervading through the place!

Watch your Thumbs!

She also had a huge mangle, like this but hers was painted green and black, which I loved to have a go with. There were two long cream rollers which you put your wet washing through and turned the handle to squeeze the water out into a bucket from the rollers.

Using the mangle when playing at grandma's house
Using the mangle when playing at grandma’s house

When my mum was a girl she decided it would be fun to put her thumbs on the rollers and turn them to see what happened. She found out at a quick pace when she yelled to my gran that she had got her thumbs stuck in it. The result was she had very flattened thumbs right up to her dying, although I never found out what they did with them at the time, as there was no racing to A&E in those days.

There was a black range in the living room with an open coal fire with metal trivets that she would put her pans and kettle on and then swing them into the fire to get them hot, there were no posh cookers in those days.

Kitchen range, remember playing at grandma's house
Kitchen range, remember it when I was playing at grandma’s house

She also had a big wooden chair in front of the fire where she would sit me on her knee and tell me stories about when she was young, which I loved. She certainly sounded to be a monkey which didn’t surprise me as she was always full of fun until that awful disease took her away from me.

I would say to her ‘tell me about the olden days gran’ and off she would go, with stories like when she used to fetch her dad beer from the local shop in a jug, there were no beer bottles then. She would then have a drink of it on the way home and fill it up with water when she got back, he never even noticed apparently.

I remember playing at grandma’s house as a safe time with lots of love, which all changed when her disease kicked in and she didn’t know me anymore which was heartbreaking to me as a child. At least I have my memories to look back on which is always good.

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