In the following excerpt Ron Jones recalls coming home on leave from National Service in the early 1950s to be greeted by a stranger in what he thought was his house. He recalls how his mother’s desire to live in a house with a garden meant the family exchanged their house in the inner city for a house further out in the suburbs of the city:
length of audio: 4 mins 24 secs
Ron: I went in the pay corp in March nineteen fifty three and I got posted to Nottingham. Now I’d been in Nottingham, you get your posting and you go direct from basic training to your posting so of course I informed me dad, cos he used to do all the letter writing, of the new address, Royal Army Pay Corp, Chalfont Drive, Nottingham and you were there for about a fortnight, this was a settling in period and then they gave you a fortnight’s leave you see after your basic training. So right, good. Closed me barrack room locker up, gets on a train, they give you a pass to get on the train, comes home, gets off at Lime Street, gets the tram car up to Lodge Lane, gets off at Lodge Lane, walks down to Dove Street, walked in the hall and there’s this fella, total stranger, sitting in the house. He looked at me, I looked at him and he was up out of his chair like a shot. “What are you doing here?” I said “Well more to the point”, I said “what are you doing here.?” He said “I live here”, I said “no you don’t I live here.” So we had a little bit of a tete a tete and he said “who are you?” and so I told him. “Is your mum and dad Ron and Sissy Jones”, I said “yes”, “we’ve done a swap with them.” And he had to tell me where to go [laughter]. I had to go out, I got the tram car to Kensington and from Kensington, how did I get there, I got the number ten.
Edna: To Page Moss.
Ron: To Page Moss. There was no buses at all down Stockbridge Lane then. I got off at Page Moss and it was like getting off on the moon, no idea where I was. So the first person I stopped “Excuse me do you know where Sleaford Road is?” No idea. I must have asked about half a dozen people. In the end I found out where Sleaford Road was and I went down Stockbridge Lane, found out where Sleaford Road was, went to number two, knocked on the door and me dad answered the door and I said “thanks very much.” “What for”, I said “I’ve just been to fifty one Dove Street” and I said the fella there, he got a shock I got a shock. I said “and it’s cost me two and a half hours to get here.” “Well I did write you a letter”, I said “yeah when?” “I wrote you a letter on Friday.” I said “we’re not in the office until Monday” because all our letters used to go to the office. And that is the gods honest truth of while he’s away, lets move house [laughter] […] and of course my dad must have thought, oh write him a letter not thinking about the day, posted it and I didn’t, well I didn’t get it until I got back a fortnight later. “Dear son, please note we have moved house, we do not live at fifty one Dove Street anymore. We are now at number two Sleaford Road in Huyton. Have drawn you a map on the back of the letter [laughter]. Thank you very much.”
Hilary: Why did they decide to do the exchange?
Ron: The house that my mum and dad lived in in Dove Street was private landlord and it was one of these houses with the great big steel rods through. They were condemned oh during the war weren’t they Ed?
Edna: Well they must have been yeah.
Ron: But they were still up in I would say the nineteen sixties and my mum always wanted to move out of Dove Street. I don’t know why but she always wanted a house with a garden whereas inner city houses your front door went onto the street, you didn’t have a back garden you had a back yard, concrete and it was very narrow. She always wanted a house with a garden.