THE GOLDEN SUMMER
ALBERT WELCH – HORDEN (1925-2000)
Perhaps everyone has a special time, an outstanding year, or period in their lives. 1947 was such a time for me. In my opinion, the most splendid summer in the last sixty years, maybe, for a lot longer than that. Important things also happened before the year ended, but I would like to dwell on a day early in the summer, it was Whit Monday. I had met my future in-laws and they invited me to join them on their annual excursion, on the said Monday. Doreen would be going, I couldn’t refuse.
At 10.00 am we left the railway station. It seemed as if the whole village was on the move. The congregation chattered and laughed, till at last the train appeared around the bend and pulled to a halt. The doors opened and everyone moved forward. It appeared as if there was no accommodation, people were already standing before anyone had got aboard. Miraculously, as if by magic, the platform was deserted, everyone had somehow boarded. The whistle blew and off we went. Blackhall was another stop only a couple of miles further. Unbelievably, everyone waiting there somehow boarded and we were off to the seaside. It was not a long journey in distance, but it was a very slow transport.
Redcar beckoned and eventually we alighted to a cloudless sky, a burning sun, and the sea air. I had promised Doreen fish and chips in a restaurant and as it was already 12 o’clock we proceeded to the sea front. Alas the diners were full and queues were formed outside. We hadn’t spare time to spare, so I must do something. Standing outside this diner, I noticed people were let in and no one departed.
“Let’s look round the side,” I said.
The satisfied customers were leaving from another door round the corner.
I said, “The next that come out, we’ll go in.”
“No,” she said, “That’s wrong.
As the door opened again, I pulled her in, climbed a flight of stairs, and entered. A table at the window was vacant. It had a magnificent view of the blue and expanding North Sea. Not a word was spoken till the waitress came and took our orders. North Sea cod and chips, a bit of an adventure, yes illicit, but very special. As I said there was a timetable, we were going to the races. Everyone would meet at 1.30 outside of the stadium, and spend the afternoon together.
After leaving the café, we joined the throng walking the seafront. We gazed at the crowded beach, the swimmers and paddlers, the kids riding the donkeys, the swings and roundabouts, while the sun blazed down.
Half past, we met and entered the track, found accommodation on the grass and sat chattering, till the racehorses appeared. It was my initiation to this entertainment and I was quite taken. The jockeys’ colours, the magnificent animals, the excitement and the shouts of bookmakers amounted to a great atmosphere. I’m afraid I became hooked. After a couple of races, Doreen’s mother said we'll have something to eat in half an hour and off I strolled. Another race passed and still I was absorbed in the surroundings. Time stood still. My friends would wonder where I was.
“You’ve been a long time,” said Doreen.
“I’ll have a piece of pie,” I replied.
“You’ll be lucky. I’ve had yours. Serves you right for neglecting me.”
Not to worry, I was having the time of my life, but as always things come to an end.
Slowly the crowds drifted away. All roads led to the station. We would try to get seats for the return, especially for the ladies. It had been a tiring, but special day. Arriving home, we sat around, had tea and discussed Whit Monday. Later on, Doreen and I went down to the local and had a drink. Mostly we wanted to be on our own, discussion was in the air. What was decided on has lasted for 52 years and discussion still takes place. Yes 1947 was very special, the memories very vivid. In every aspect it remains the year of my existence.