My father loved to round off Assembly with a song or two, such as Strawberry Fair or Shenandoah, in which everyone joined. But he had to give up Strawberry Fair when, to his amusement, one girl led the others to change the words from, as I recall, “Rifol, rifol, fol-dee-diddle-dido” to “Eyeful, Eyeful, got your bloody eyeful!”
In 1930, as a newly joined mixed infant, I was ‘put into’ Miss Alcock’s reception class, or the ‘baby class’ as the older children called it. Miss Alcock was an old friend of my grandparents who I had always known as kindly, indulgent ‘Auntie, Nellie’. As I filed through the classroom door, that personal link ceased and she was instantly transformed into Miss Alcock.
Above all I recall the dramas of the raspberry drops. After playtime on most Friday afternoons Miss Alcock would announce that, because we had mostly been good, she would tell us a long story until ‘home time’. But first all the children who had been good would be given a raspberry drop, which we were forbidden to crunch!
One child who had been very, very good indeed was sent to Miss Anthony’s class [the senior class] to borrow one of the monitors. The monitor then escorted the infant across the road to Mr Povey’s shop to purchase a paper bag of raspberry drops. They then both came back to our classroom where the monitor was given a raspberry drop and sent back to Miss Anthony’s class.
The drama began
Then the drama began; – “Let’s see who has been good this week”. We were agog. She called out a name and that lucky child went to the front of the class and took a raspberry drop from the bag, and so it went on as the names were called one by one.
The tension was awful.
What misery and shame it would be if one was not called…Now I can only recall the tense mixture of anticipation and fear of not being judged good enough to receive a raspberry drop; I cannot remember if any one was left out and excluded from the class of relieved and happy raspberry-drop-suckers, but I feel sure that I would remember if anyone ever had been.
This article is part of a collection of reminiscences held at Warwickshire County Record Office. The article is under reference CR4914/10, although it’s worth noting that some of the collection is unavailable for general access.