The first house was a large, detached house set in it’s own grounds, and it was named ‘Bryn Ardrem’. Please don’t ask me what that is! Alan Millichip and family lived there. Alan looked like Alan Ladd! He played on the left wing for Mumbles Albion and also played golf – at Langland Bay G.C. – and snooker at the Churchmen’s Club opposite the church. A good-looking sod! He gave me some of my very first golf-clubs.
Also living there was a stunning-looking lady with two small kids. She had the face of Bardot and the rest of her was Sophia Loren! She always wore a nice figure-hugging black costume and sported a brooch in her lapel. It looked a bit like an R.A.F. badge. (Wings). Somehow I get the feeling that her hubby was in the R.A.F. and got killed in the war.
No.3 was the home of the ‘Plants’! John was a bit older than me but had the next ‘peg’ to me in the church choirboys’ vestry, meaning that he was just that bit senior to me. His younger brother, Edward, was a right character! He was Bilbow’s age. He was, I’m afraid, a bit of a simpleton. No offence intended. He just was. Couldn’t read or write and spent his short life as a grave-digger at Oystermouth cemetery. Spoke with a very gruff voice but was quite harmless really. A ginger-haired lady also lived there who was, I think, the boys’ parent. She went off after the war with a yank, if I remember correctly!
Bertie Kift was the next house. Bertie was a very smart man and a Sidesman (Warden) at St. Peter’s. Always wore a super navy-blue suit to church. Very quiet man who hardly ever spoke and when he did, he spoke so softly that you couldn’t hear him anyway!
Tox Williams was next door. Funny man. Always spoke to me. Always in good humour. Never ‘pushy’! Had some kind of manual job I think. His wife was a bit of a strange one. Always wore a navy-blue beret with a rough, brown overcoat. Very fashionable, I’m sure! Nice enough though.
Then came the Jeffereys. Lewis and Nancy. Daughter Emily and sons Gerald and Brian. I remember my mother once saying that Nancy had gone to church just once in her life, and that was when one of the Jeffereys was taken PoW by the Japs! (You may recall that more of the family lived on the other side of the street and I mentioned this at that time). Lewis was ‘big’ in the Horticultural Society in later years. I remember my Mum saying how he stopped her in the village when we were small, with the words, “Bloody fine boys you’ve got there.” Mum immediately waited to hear the worst, but he said, “I mean it. They never pass without saying hello. Most polite.”!!!!! Very sadly, all three children were very overweight and all died very young. (Strange, because Nancy was tiny and Lewis not much bigger!)
Next door – No. 11 – was my mate/arch enemy, Keith Hickson. When nobody was at home, Keith would take me into his house and let me switch the electric light on and off! Unbelievable! Instant light, with no matches needed at all. Wow! No more gas mantles or candles! Crikey! Keith had the strictest Mother in the world and one thing was for sure – He was definitely the cleanest boy in the village. That caused a bit of a prob once. He was, as always, duffing me up in the street, when our faces became touching. All I could smell was bloody soap! I was so disgusted that I sank my teeth into his cheek. Probably the only time that I beat him in a fight. He ran home screaming and Emily Jeffereys came running up the road to remonstrate with me. I remember her saying that he had teeth-marks all over his cheek. I told her that it served him right for duffing me up, and he was a year older than me! So there! But, I have to say, Keith and I grew up together, and learnt about everything – you know, smoking, girls and all that, together. Keith also died far too young. He was a plasterer, like his Dad Fred.
Next to the Hicksons was a flat over an empty shop. The ARP Warden, a silly old sod called Mr. Lloyd, was based there during the war. He was an elderly gent who had a big white moustache. He always seemed to be in his navy-blue uniform, and always shouting, “Put that light out” whether the German bombers were overhead or not!!
In the flat above lived the Thomases. I went to some birthday parties there. Roger was just a bit younger than me and years later, Mrs Thomas had twin boys, Robert and Roland. In 1964, when I spent some time in the local police force – Swansea Borough – I was on duty one day when a call went out about somebody falling into the docks. I’m afraid that it turned out to be one of the twins, who very sadly, drowned.
To be continued.