The best decade of the century

RE Picture of the 50s (Letters, August 4).

Although I didn’t see Charles Braithwaite’s letter regarding his recollection of the ’50s, I must take issue with Mick Thompson’s letter.

The 1950s to most people and especially of my age was a decade of hope and opportunity. It was our decade. At 17 in 1949 I was in the Royal Air Force and in the early 50s I was helping train National Servicemen and devise their six weeks’ square bashing. Some were the so-called Teddy Boys - a bit like Goths I suppose and underneath their assured identities most were likeable lads. We thought we had done a good job when we taught them something about discipline and self-respect. Most were discharged standing a foot taller than when they joined. We certainly had no confrontations. There is always the odd rebel.

In 1954 my wife and I were married. Jobs were plentiful and new council houses were built at record levels. We eventually had a shop on a large housing estate and loved it. We sold, among other things, all kinds of gardening equipment and people took a pride in both their houses and their gardens. I don’t remember a single incident of vandalism or damage to properties, gardens or even public conveniences.

Telephone boxes were still a necessity of life and were kept clean by a lady on a bicycle - her cleaning materials were kept in a handlebar carrier and a basket on the back. Even a telephone directory in good order was provided.

There was the Memorial Gardens by the public library all beautifully kept and not even a flower taken or disturbed. People pushed babies in prams then and sat on the seats provided to enjoy it.

I had a motorcycle and so did a lot more people - with a sidecar you had cheap family transport and could more or less park them anywhere without fear of theft or damage.

No, Mick Thompson, I am not looking through rose-coloured spectacles. So to us the 1950s will always be the best decade of the last century, and as a former rugby player I can’t claim to be a saint either.

We certainly shouldn’t generalise about today’s youth and there are a lot of young people who are still a credit to us.

Unfortunately we see far too much evidence of the ones who are not.

Tony Jenkins

Shirehouse Farm