Diary of a 60's Child

Diary of a 60's Child

Jenness Fisher-White

Format: 13.5 x 21.5 cm
Number of Pages: 64
ISBN: 978-3-99064-323-5
Release Date: 16.10.2018
The story of a 60s child as told by a 60s child, filled with heartache, guilt, drugs, rock and roll and lots of sex. The era of “make love not war” and “flower power,” progressively spiralling into a life of substance abuse and a longing to be set free and to find happiness.

A child is born. Yep that was me on February 28th a healthy 7lb 5 oz squawking bundle.
My parents were living in one room of the paternal grandparent’s house, having been ostracized by my mother’s family for daring to conceive my sister before wedlock. After my birth they were allocated a three bedroomed council house. Better than one room but far from perfect; one fireplace in the living room being the sole source of heating in the entire house. The walls were running with damp and at the age of three months I was hospitalized with pneumonia. After my recovery we continued to live in that same house.
The 1950s a new era after the ravages and ruins of the Second World War that had ended in 1945 but its effects were still felt. There was still rationing of some staple foodstuffs such as sugar and eggs. Sweets had only just been taken off rations. The most important event of 1953 had to be the crowning of a new queen. Queen Elizabeth the second who’s coronation took place on the second of June. The Prime Minister was Winston Churchill presiding over a Conservative government.
Now with the end of the Second World War, the enemy seemed to be the communist East against the capitalist West. However good things were happening too. There was the beginning of rock and roll in the USA with Bill Haley and “Rock Around The Clock”. Meanwhile in Britain, number one was Frankie Laine singing “I Believe”. TV was becoming widespread with more and more families owning a TV or renting in many cases. Commercial breaks started appearing on the TV in the mid-fifties. However TV only showed a moral world where authority was respected and class barriers were still in place. Yes, we were most definitely the working class.
We got our first TV when I was five years old and I remember distinctly watching my first programme ever which was good old Lassie. Our living room was full of kids off the street where we lived, who had come to watch this new phenomenon the TV, in black and white at that time, as colour TV was yet to be invented.
My childhood was spent going to school which was just at the top of our street then playing outside after school. As a street we were all relatively poor we didn’t have a lot of toys or anything like the gadgets of today. Our time was spent playing out in the road as cars were infrequent. We played games such as British Bulldog and “Queenie, Queenie who’s got the ball”. We would tie our skipping rope to the lamppost and stretch it out across the road to play skipping games. We were happy without material things and the time to go home, as every child knew, was when the street lights came on, so the long nights of summer were the best. However, religion still played a big part in everyday life. On Sundays there would not be any kids out on the street. My Sundays were spent going to church on Sunday mornings and sometimes on marches, as my sister and I were members of the Girls’ Life Brigade, a religious organisation. After church we had to remain home, which was so boring.
In the 50s, before health and safety took hold and recycling was a natural occurrence, each house had a small metal dustbin at the front of the house, but in those days, there was not much waste. Vegetable peelings went onto the compost in the back garden to be used for the growth of more vegetables. Milk was delivered in glass bottles which were dutifully washed out after use and put out front for the milkman to collect for re-use.
At the local chippy, fish and chips would be wrapped in used newspapers. Then there were the pop bottles, lemonade etc., not that we had a lot of those in our house. Anyway, we could take the empties to the shop and get a penny back on each bottle. We used to go knocking on people’s doors asking if they had any empties.
“Got any empty pop bottles mister?”
More often than not we were told, “Get out of here pesky kids!” However, we did sometimes get some and used our pennies to buy penny sweets.
We would also go to the chippy and ask, “Can I have a bag of Batter Bits mister?”
This was the remnants of the batter which fish had been fried in. Other than that, there was the bakery where at the close of day you could find stale cakes on show in the window, which you could buy for pennies. Sounds awful now but they never did us any harm. Not forgetting the rag-and-bone man. He used to come around on his horse and cart … Bellowing out … “Any ole rags, any ole raaags!” He would take anything you wanted to be rid of, yes nothing was wasted in those days.
The highlight of our week had to be the Saturday morning pictures. Held at the ABC Cinema it was kids’ morning. My sister and I were given one shilling and six pence, which paid our bus fare and got us into the cinema, and even a little left over for sweets. There would be a compere on the stage before the films came on and he would lead us into singing our membership song. “We come along on a Saturday morning, greeting everybody with a smile … with a smile, we are the minors of the ABC!” The films were mostly a plethora of old black and white cowboys and Indians films.
The 1950s saw the beginnings of sub-cultures amongst teenagers with the Teddy Boys the first of many that would emerge as the years went by. The Teddy Boys were identified by their clothes. They wore long drape jackets, drainpipe trousers and thick crepe soled shoes, and of course the quiff hairstyle. They were looked down on by society generally, and were regarded as something quite evil. With rock and roll taking hold in the mid-50s the Teddy Boys adopted this genre as their own.
When I was about eight years old my father acquired his first car. It was an old Standard Eight. We had so much fun with that old car.
When approaching a hill Dad used to talk to it … “Come on my beauty, you can do it, come on, come on. Okay girls get out.”
So, my sister and I would get out of the car laughing, and we would get behind the car and push it up the hill, clouds of black smoke enveloping us! We thought that it was hilarious. Then there was the time when we went to the seaside for the day. On the way back home, it started raining and the car was letting in the rain in various places. We had our buckets and spades from our day at the beach so we utilised our toy buckets to try and catch the raindrops.
But soon my carefree childhood was going to become marred by darker times.

Darker times

The year was 1962 and I was nine years old. As an avid reader I used to read the newspapers that my father would bring home. Little did I know of the horror headlines that I would read. Headlines such as Third World War imminent! Atomic bombs, nuclear weapons. I knew about Hiroshima and the thousands killed there, and now there were weapons even stronger than the ones used in Hiroshima. I was terrified and extremely worried at my tender age, as to what would happen if this war began. Yes, I am writing here about the Cuban crisis which had its beginnings in 1959. Fidel Castro had seized power in Cuba, which under his regime would become a communist country. With its proximity to the United States of America (USA) this caused considerable concern.
By 1960 Cuba had been recognised as an ally by the USSR or Soviet Union of Socialist Republics, or Russia, as it was also known. In retaliation the USA sanctioned exports to Cuba. As time went by Cuba’s relationship with Russia grew closer and trade was established between them. This prompted the USA to close its embassy in Cuba, cutting off any relationship that they may have had.
The year was 1962 and the President of the USA John F Kennedy announced a complete halt to any trade with Cuba. At the same time Russia was transporting nuclear weapons into Cuba. The situation was becoming very tense between Russia and the USA. The placing of nuclear weapons in Cuba by Russia alarmed the USA so much that they sent ships over to place an embargo around Cuba, making it impossible for Russia to transport any more weapons into Cuba. President Kennedy announced to the world on TV that this would not end until Russia removed their weapons from Cuba. Hence the headlines in the papers causing panic and alarm around the world.
The situation became more and more ominous. President Kennedy held meetings with the head of the USSR Nikita Khrushchev. Eventually the Soviet Union agreed to remove its weapons from Cuba if the USA pledged not to invade Cuba. An agreement was made and by the end of 1962 the nuclear threat within Cuba was resolved. Phew! What a sigh of relief for everyone, me especially as I had taken the continuous news of that year to heart. I was to learn then that I was a born worrier and in later years would become involved in the fight against nuclear weapons and other world issues that caused concern.
When I was thirteen, darker times struck again. The year was 1966 and the headlines in the newspapers captured my attention. It was the trial of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady for the murders of three young people. I remember reading with my heart in my mouth, the bone-chilling events of the murders. The one that upset me the most was the killing of Lesley Ann Downey, who was only ten years old. I identified myself with the horrors that that poor child had gone through. She had been stripped naked and photographed, sexually tortured and raped. The worst of it was the tape. They had taped her begging for her life and asking for her mother, as she really had to go home as she would be in trouble with her mother. I began to realise that the world could be an evil wicked place and that not everyone was your friend. Thus started my fear of strangers and my fear of being alone, scared of the dark and disturbed by thoughts of something happening to me.


The year was 1963. I was ten years old. At that time my father was moving up the ranks at work, having progressed from the warehouse floor into the offices. My mother was also working. This meant that in the school holidays my sister, cousin and I would be dispatched to the grandparents for care. This was my mother’s mother and father, who had a big old Victorian house in the heart of the town. As they were in the town my sister, my cousin and I would venture into the high street. My cousin was three years older than me and one day he took us to a rather seedy café. It was down some rather dark stairs and on reaching the café I was to see for the first-time, people who were known as “Beatniks.”
The café was just one room and wreaths of cigarette smoke hung in the air. The Beatniks were a fascination to me with their clothes and appearance. All of the men appeared to have goatee beards and wore berets, and some of them wore striped shirts and all were in black. Some of them were even wearing sunglasses indoors! The women had long hair and wore all black and smoked cigarettes held in long cigarette holders, which were like the ones that the women had used in the 1920s. There was a juke-box and I will always remember the predominant song “Dominique, nique, nique” by the singing nun, which seemed to be played over and over again. I felt a connection to these people, but of course I was too young to become involved, although my cousin at thirteen seemed to think that he could. I learnt through my cousin that the Beatniks were a group of young people who were disaffected with society in general, and were usually made up of aspiring artists, musicians or poets. Their favoured music was jazz. My cousin already had a guitar and a ukulele and was moving in that direction, even though he was a bright grammar school boy. Me, I was still playing with my dolls.
In 1964, I became aware of another sub-culture that of the Mods. They had sprung out of nowhere and were related to the music and the fashions of this new decade. A Mod would be smartly dressed and have moderately long hair. Their true fashion was Levi shrink to fit jeans and Ben Sherman shirts, topped with a green Parka Jacket. Their favoured mode of transport was a Lambretta or a Vespa scooter. This was the advent of the mini skirt which Mod girls began wearing. The scooters would be decked out with several wing mirrors on either side and badges of favourite pop groups. However, this was the first time in history that there was another sub-culture amongst youths. These were the Rockers, a group that had sprung up from the Teddy Boys. They wore leather and rode motorbikes. Inevitably, the two groups did clash, being so different in their outlook on life. There were several clashes between the Mods and the Rockers, at seaside resorts. The most famous one being at Whitsun in 1964 in Brighton. This was the clash that would become immortalised in the film Quadrophenia. The fight at Brighton was in all the newspapers and this is what drew my attention to this new group of people known as Mods.
I was eleven years old and had long hair way down past my waist.
“Mum, I want my hair cut.” My mother was mortified.
“What would you want to do that for?”
“I want to be a Mod!”
So Mum took me to get my hair cut. It was in a long plait and the hairdresser firstly cut off my plait. then the hairdresser cut my hair really short into a spiky pixie cut, which was favoured by the Mod girls. Mum sold my plait, as human hair was worth quite a lot of money,
The next thing I had to do was to beg my mum for a pair of Levi jeans. Eventually I got them and they were my most treasured possession. At the weekends my sister and I would swan off to the local Aquadrome where the Mods would gather. I would be there in my shrink to fit Levi’s, with a colourful hankie hanging out the back pocket. I thought I was the real thing, and I would look jealously at the older girls perched on the backs of scooters. Oh how I longed to have a Mod boyfriend with a scooter, but of course I was too young.
In the mid-60s another sub-culture was evolving, that of the Hippies. It began in San Francisco with a merger from the Beatniks. The Hippies had the idealistic view that was “make love not war”. This was mainly brought about by the resentment and concern about America’s involvement in the Vietnam war. Hippies wore bright, colourful clothing and beads. The guys had real long hair as did the girls. The messages of peace and opposition to the norms of society appeared in the pop music explosion of the 1960s. Flowers became a major thing for the hippies, as a symbol of peace. I believe the saying “flower power” was coined by a poet at that time. Then there was the classic song by Scott Mckenzie “If You’re Going To San Francisco,” a song of peace, love and flower power. Hippies were known to be into mind-bending drugs. It started with Marijuana and escalated to LSD, which coined the phrase “psychedelic”. It was then in 1967, that the Beatles released their epic album “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” which focused on the mood of hippies and psychedelia. I still have my copy of that album in a cupboard somewhere. I decided then at the age of fourteen that I would grow my hair and become a hippie.

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