Thursday 29 December 2011

Alice’s Story .... Jam Jars ... and my goddaughter’s remembrances ...

Do you remember going to the cinema and paying with a jam jar, a piece of lead pipe, tin cans, or rags .... Or?

In the 1930s, those Depression years, and during the War – children could gain entry to the Matinee cinema performance by paying with a jam jar!!

1930s children
Children came from all around, usually on bicycles if they were in the country, eager to join the queue – every effort was made to earn or have the 2p admission ... but, if not, a jam jar would do!

Extra farthings, half-pennies or pennies went towards sweets, oranges or buns ... Ice-creams only becoming available from the usherette in the middle of the 20th Century when refrigeration became cheaper.

A farthing - 1/4 of a Penny
The Corporation trucks would collect the jam jars to go to the jam factory; the rags and rabbit skins would go to be cleaned and made into rough blankets; the tin cans and lead pipe were headed to the aircraft factories .... all legitimate for the War effort.

The glass collection continued on into the 1970s when beer and pop bottles were collected and returned for cash ... great for pocket money and/or recycling.

The Curzon Cinema Eastbourne:
opened its doors in 1913
Nutty neighbours? – well one man used to tell the local kids that he would go to the cinema and pay with a jam jar – they assumed he was off his rocker or nuts ... he was usually    - but just not with this particular remembrance!

One question – if the jam jars were at the cinema:  “Where did the children keep their minnows and sticklebacks?”
Large! minnow in jam jar!

This raised a point with my honorary goddaughter D – as mentioned in my last post ... she reminded me of the time when (her twin) Amy and Simon came down with their mother and Gogo (grandma) to stay.  They must have been 8 and 5 at the time .... when we went to see my uncle.

Derek’s big garden was wonderful for children – lots of shrubs to run around amongst, trees to hide behind, the raised house with its ‘stoop’ (African balcony) for us to sit on and have tea – keeping an ever watchful eye on darting youngsters.

Similar full bordered pond to
my uncle's
Then right in front my aunt had dug a huge pond – she was petite, probably less than 5 feet, which to clean (my uncle told me!) she took off her clothes and went in up to her neck to sort it out!  She had fisherman’s waders for the lighter jobs!

This pond was a relative monster having been based on a Dew Pond ... my aunt was a perfectionist ... and it had been very well constructed (a necessity coming from an engineering family).  She had planted it with rushes, water lilies, added goldfish and Koi ... it was a lovely sight from our balcony vantage point ...

There was a slightly wobbly path running around the back, with a tall, full border of perennial shrubs – azaleas, roses, et al (can’t remember in other words!).  Not really room for adults and kids ... but that’s the way it goes.

Public Pond - Yacht Racing
Derek had all the mod cons out – or ancient much loved relics of childhoods gone ... two model sail boats ... that would get marooned in the middle and our tall stick couldn’t reach them ... til the wind blew them free.

The kids delighted in these running around, rescuing the ships out of the rushes, darting to the back as they sailed further out of reach to the far shore .....

.... then a Cri de Coeur – Hilly, Hilly ... can we have a jam jar?  Why?  There’s fishes here and we want to catch them ... oh look there’s babies too .... oh, oh please can we have some jar jars ...

Fish in the Faroe Islands:
 Stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) – 
Faroese stamp issued 7 February 1994
... so jam jars they had – poor fish extracted from their watery living quarters to be fair and square deposited on the hot paving slabs of that path ... where they slithered unhappily ... as the kids squealed and screamed with delight.

A good memory from D of happy days in Derek’s garden ... which ties in well with Jam Jars ... so the chap was right to question – but what about the sticklebacks and minnows .... ours didn’t last long as they quietly ‘fried alive’ .. my sloshing with water didn’t help much I don’t think!

Still these are good laughter memories – the jam jar trip to the cinema – was new to me ... as well as D’s remembrance of another time over at Derek’s .. that resonates very happily in her mind to this day .... so Jam Jars too have stories to tell.

Quick update on my mother ... I think presents trigger her interest!  Christmas Day went .. but Boxing Day she came too and I asked if she wanted to open some presents ... we did – and she raised her head up trying to look round me to see what I was doing as I was setting something up – quizzy as ever, not wanting to miss out! 

Garden Dew Pond with water lilies
She was really interested ... and then I read the cards and Christmas notes/letters I had up in her room ... but that was enough.  The main thing she was happy and interested ... and today I read some of my A – Z short blog posts ... we read A – D ... not bad.

My Dew Pond post ...

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories



Wonderful to read Hilary, I have never heard of the jam jar payment to the cinema. Excellent post.

Happy New Year.


Sylvia Ney said...

So very interesting! I never knew about the jam jars. I can see you writing a short story about this! ;-)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Glad your mother had a good day! Really interesting fact about the jam jars. I feel sorry for the fish, though.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

How interesting! And your aunt sounds like quite a lady! That would have been a tough job.

Bob Scotney said...

Fishing for minnows and sticklebacks was a regular occurrence when I was a boy in the late 1940s. We had a big waterbutt just outside the back door to keep them in.
1lb jars were used for fishing and a precious 2lb jar for transporting them home.
Great memories in this post.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Your aunt does sound like quite the lady. And I'm glad your mother had a good day. I read on another blog that you got a great book for Christmas. Nothing like the real thing with acutal photos. Have a great New Year, Roland

Rosaria Williams said...

Such beautiful writing here, as you weave these stories and clothe all your past days for us.
Thank you so much.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Yvonne .. glad you enjoyed it - it's a fun story.. HNY to you too ..

@ Syliva .. so pleased you enjoyed it too .. but the fish yes - sad really!

@ Elizabeth .. thank you .. my aunt was some lady (to put it mildly) .. she did have a digger .. but it was all her own work as such!

@ Bob .. ah a young boy amongst us .. we had our fair share too .. I don't remember the distinction between 1lbs and 2lbs jars and their 'true' usage! Thanks loved your thoughts ..

@ Roland .. my aunt was very special .. yes, I was pleased my Mama has had a brief bit of life and happiness ..

My book is special - story anon!

You too Roland .. hope you have a very good year ..

@ Rosaria .. many thanks for your comment - so grateful you enjoyed it ..

Thanks everyone: Yvonne, Sylvia, Alex, Elizabeth, Bob, Roland and Rosaria - Happy New Years to you all too ... cheers Hilary

Patsy said...

I remember taking drink bottles back to get money - obviously I was very very young!

MorningAJ said...

I never realised that jam jars were so interesting!

Unknown said...

What I should do is start collecting jam jars. You never know when they come in handy. We still use them for keeping nails or other small items in. Great post.

Old Kitty said...

The last time I went to the cinema (Barbican) I paid just over £10! LOL!
And that was the cheap tickets!

Take care

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Patsy .. I don't remember doing that - but certainly remember it - and saw it in South Africa.

@ Anne .. amazing isn't it!! Jam Jars let's go .. tell your stories!!

Thanks Patsy and Anne .. great seeing you here .. cheers Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Clarissa .. might be an idea for story collecting in the jam jars ... we did too and certainly when my aunt and uncle's house was cleared out - it was full of 'useful goodies'!!

@ Old Kitty .. I'd have thought £10 for tickets in London was cheap - even for the cheapy tickets ..

The film society plays at the Curzon - 12 films for under £2.00 each!! .. and then we get in for £4.30 for every other film = a good deal.

Cheers to you both - Clarissa and Old Kitty .. thanks for your comments .. Hilary

Betsy Brock said...

Oh what a wonderful story! Who knew jars had such a varied use over the decades! And I love the look of that farthing. I wish there were some US coins with a wren on them! :)

Arlee Bird said...

We used to use glass jars for keeping various insects. I still save bottles and cans that have cash-in value to pick up some pocket money. I try to recycle everything I can.
Another interesting post today.

Wrote By Rote

A Lady's Life said...

what a lovely post
We always kept all our jars.and my Mom bought new covers for them for pickling.and other things she cooked for the winter stores.
I never heard of paying with them at the cinema though Thats a new one.
I can understand this though cause times were tough and every little bit helps.

Lisa said...

I am touched by the story of your Mother and how you are taking care of her.

Happy New Year Hillary.

Golden Eagle said...

Interesting history about the jam jars! We keep all of the jars we get; they come in handy quite often.

It sounds like it was a nice pond. :)

Anonymous said...

What lovely things to do with your mum on Christmas Day. It sounds like a feel good day for you and her as it was for me and my family. Good, good!!

My parents remember the Depression. I, having been born in 1940, don't; but I do remember turning in pop bottles for pennies back, and to recycle them. Now the bottles have turned to cans and are tossed in with other trash.

I also remember my mother pickling and "canning" mostly peaches in glass jars.

Thanks for the usual awesome post, Hilary. And have a wonderful New Year weekend. A hug for you and your mum from Ann & Jen! XXXX
Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

Empty Nest Insider said...

Glad your mother is feeling perkier! I guess you'll be wrapping lots of little things for her to open on visits to peak her interest. I never realized jam jars had so many practical uses! Wishing you, your mum, and the rest of your family, a very happy and healthy New Year! Julie

klahanie said...

Greetings Hilary,
Thanks for this fascinating article. Most importantly, your mother seems in fine spirits.
I'd vaguely heard about jam jars being used as 'currency' at the cinema. Not quite the same, but you triggered a memory of going to Saturday morning matinee's as a small lad in Vancouver. Disney films cost five cents more to see. Thirty cents for the matinee, rather than the normal twenty five cents, or a quarter, if you wish. So, bless them, the cinema handed out each kid a five cent, or nickel if you wish, candy bar to make up the difference!
And um..thanks again for reminding me about that darned A to Z blogging 'challenge' :)
Cheers and thanks for your kind interaction.

Susan Scheid said...

Another truly lovely post from you, chock-full of wonderful memories. And I did love hearing about you and your Mum, at the end, with you reading to her from your A-Z. Best wishes for the New Year to you both.

MunirGhiasuddin said...

I remember my kids telling me about kids collecting alluminium in the thirtees but I did not know about the jam barter. This whole post is very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Juliet said...

What interesting stories you come up with Hilary. I'd never heard that about the jam jars, but when I was a kid we used to collect bottles and get pocket money for them.
And I save the jam jars to return to the local organic grower, who fills them with delicious relishes and chutneys, so in a way I am carrying on a time-honoured tradition.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Betsy - when Alice told us .. we all started laughing .. and it's made a great post! I'd forgotten what a farthing looked like - the wren is quite delightful isn't it.

@ Lee - can you get cash for bottles and cans .. still? I know they do in South Africa. I recycle things - but I certainly don't store as much as I used to.

@ A Lady's Life .. empty jars and kept, then reused at harvest time - I can remember those too.

I was fascinated at Alice's remembrances .. fun thought - but necessary one ...

@ Ocean girl .. mothers are so important - aren't they and especially at the end of their lives.

@ Golden Eagle .. I don't make jam or preserves (in fact failed dismally when I did give it a go) .. but I recycle the jars now ..

The pond was a wonderful place for the kids to play - remembered 11 years later by a 19 year old - must have made an impression!

Thanks Betsy, Lee, A Lady's Life, Ocean Girl, and Golden Eagle .. lovely seeing you here - have a great New Year ahead .. cheers Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Ann .. it is great when Mum does come too sufficiently to take an interest. So pleased you had a happy family day - excellent news.

Post war times .. times were tough - but we were kids, so I don't remember they were tough ... it was part of life. We certainly saved everything and reused it ..

Yes - we had a larder with loads of pickles, jams and jellies made from the garden produce

Thanks for the hug for my Mama ..

@ Julie - sadly not really .. it's just nice when she does come to properly for a while and takes an interest. She enjoys having us there. Thanks for your New Year thoughts ..

@ Gary - Mum has her moments, which is lovely to see - thank you.

Well I think the currency idea is exactly right .. incredible that Disney charged 5c more for its films - I wonder why: I suppose they cost more to hire?! What a lovely gesture giving each kid the equivalent of a candy bar to solve that problem!

Sorry Gary - Lee .. seems to be pressing us and reminding us about the A - Z .. I'm slightly worried too - going from 100 to over a 1,000 in a year .. will it be 10,000 next year (it is next year still!)?

@ Susan - thank you .. it's interesting bringing the memories out from other residents, let alone my own. My Mama certainly at times is still very interested, but mostly is happy to be quiet and not chat or be fussed over .. but essential to have her massage therapists visit as well as the input we can give.

@ Munir - I'm sure life in India was very different and you were part of a large dynastic household; Interesting that Americans collected cans .. but obviously different cities had different policies. Glad you enjoyed the post.

@ Juliet - well nor had I and I guessed many would be amused. We returned bottles .. but I don't remember getting money - but we were in the countryside ...

Good for you - so you're really recycling and I bet the organic farmer is pleased to be able to reuse the jars. Continuing on the tradition, as you say.

Thanks so much Ann, Julie, Gary, Susan, Munir and Juliet .. lovely having your comments and thanks very much for your thoughts re my Mama ..

Have Happy New Years and successful 2012s ... cheers Hilary

jabblog said...

Paying with jam jars - now that's what I call barter;-)

The dew pond sounds amazing - quite puts our little pond to shame.

Good to hear that your mother has perked up and is taking an interest. I think you must be a real tonic for her.

Paula RC said...

How wonderful to hear Jam Jar was once used as money for kids. I remember going fishing with a net and a jar down by the river. How simple and easy was life then. Now I collect them for my friend who fills them with jam. Glad to know your mum took an interest in Christmas and enjoyed her time with you and your family. We spent time with my mum too She's doing well and enjoying her life. Best wishes to you both for the New Year.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Janice .. it is like bartering isn't it .. and such a sensible idea .. jars got back to the factory, and kids had a great afternoon.

The pond was fairly big .. but then so was the garden - space for a largish pond .. and they had a second with a waterfall, pump et al .. my aunt was an exceptional gardener.

@ Jarmara .. I think we must have done too .. certainly there were bournes nearby which we paddled in ..

Glad your mother is still enjoying her life .. and you were able to spend some time with her.

Thanks Janice and Jarmara for your thoughts re my Ma - it is lovely when she comes to .. the staff always perk up too!

Happy New Year to you and yours - Hilary

Rosalind Adam said...

It must have felt good to see your Mother's interest in the presents. I certainly never paid for the cinema with a jam jar but I do remember taking pop bottles back to the corner shop and getting money back on them... happy day.
Hears hoping for a happy and healthy new year for us all.

dolorah said...

I remember turning in glass soda bottles for cash :) Recycling seems to be such a new idea.

Glad your mom is doing so well :)

Happy new year Hilary.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Ros .. it's always nice when she's awake and can take an interest in things. I'll talk to her about the jam jars soon ... we return the beer bottles - I remember that as a kid .. perhaps we used the other jars for our own jams, bottling, pickling etc .. we had a big garden - so very possible. Happy days - they were you're right ..

@ Donna - it is crazy how we've been recycling things for years .. yet it's a new concept ..

Thanks Ros and Donna .. re my Mama .. and have very happy and healthy New Years yourselves .. Hilary

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Hilary, you're posts are amazing! I had never heard of jam jar trading. :)

So glad your mom responded with curiousity. Good sign and pleasant.

Happy New Year!


Julie Flanders said...

I'm so glad you had that special time with your mother, I'm very touched my that as my father suffers from dementia, and I know how special these moments of interest can be. It also made me smile that she didn't want to miss out!

Loved reading about the jam jars, I'd never heard of that before. Thanks for sharing your memories!

Happy New Year to you, Hilary! I wish you all the best for 2012. :)

Jannie Funster said...

WOW! Amazing what was done in poor times to economize.

Love to you and your mom.


Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I've never heard of jam jars. Wish my grandmother was alive so I could ask her. But she came to Canada when she was 5, so possible she wouldn't know either.

I love your stories, Hilary. Your family sounds so delightful. The perfect characters for a book or play.

Happy New Year.

Sue said...

Hilary this brought back memories, not of jam jars, but of catching taddies (tadpoles) and bringing them home in jars. We'd go to a local dam (which would be securely fenced these days) and dip in the jars to catch the critters at different stages of growth, then take them to school for show and tell.
I hope they bring bottle recycling back, that was great for pocket money!

Have a lovely New Year - best wishes to your mother.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Teresa .. funny old world isn't it! Thought everyone would be amused - and they are! Yes .. it was lovely seeing Mum take an interest .. she really does interact at times.

@ Julie .. these special moments do make life really special don't they .. and not missing out - she did love life.

Those jam jars have stories to tell!

@ Jannie .. it seems they're still collecting in different parts of the world in exchange for a few pennies ..

@ Joylene .. I did confirm Alice's story and found a forum where the rags and rabbits came in, as well as the minnows ... it seems to have happened around the 'English' world.

Both you and Sylvia .. writing a book or a play - not sure that runs into my skill set!

@ Sue .. ah yes tadpoles .. those too. Definitely fenced in now. Do you not have recycling in Aus? Theoretically we do .. but then you hear stories of it all being bundled up / mixed up together and sent off .. I hate to think where.

Thanks so much for your wishes to my Mama .. really appreciate your thoughts .. Teresa, Julie Jannie, Joylene and Sue ..

Happy New Years everyone and a blissful successful 2012 - cheers Hilary

Chase March said...

Happy New Year!

Wishing you all the best on 2012!

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

Hilary - the jam jars - so interesting! What a wonderful, fun and interesting blog you have. Happy New Year.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Chase .. you too .. see you before 2012 comes around!

@ Carol .. it's a funny old world - these jam jars have us talking ..

Presents are a challenge - but she enjoyed me opening them ..

@ Melissa .. thank you - I just do what happens!

Thanks Chase, Carol and Melissa - here's to you and your families .. Happy New Year .. and lots of success for us all ... Hilary

Arlee Bird said...

Yes, in California they have a fee on certain containers and they can be cashed in for a refund--it adds up to quite a bit. The city collects all other recyclables and makes revenue off of those.

Wrote By Rote

Sue said...

Hi Hilary - yes we definitely have voluntary recycling, but we used to have a refund scheme on bottles. Different coloured bins for different types of rubbish or recyclables. But as kids we would collect as many bottles as we could, take them to the local milk bar and get around 5 cents per bottle. They still have it in South Australia, but not in Victoria - I understand the CokeCola company isn't keen on it and is fighting its reintroduction.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Lee .. interesting to learn that in CA they have cash refunds for returnables .. and I can believe it'll provide a little essential extra. I guess the city corporation does sell our rubbish for revenue .. makes sense - where there's much there's brass!

@ Sue .. interesting how different states and countries vary in their policies. We separate ours .. then it all seems to get mixed up and exported .. there's a muddled thinking ..

I'm very ambivalent about the Coke co. .. having read a book about them fact big business in general ...

and on that note Lee and Sue .. Happy New Year ... joy, contentment and peace abound on our four continents (I have two - SA and Europe!) and elsewhere if the world gets lucky .. cheers Hilary

emergency locksmith said...

This is interesting. I never knew that they have something like this but such a good way to recycle and earn.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Abbots Locksmiths, Sydney .. the idea operates in some places around the world apparently .. I just loved the lifestyle of sending your kid off with a jam jar in the late 1920s early 1930s so they could have some pleasure and dream some dreams via the cinema.

Thanks for coming by and commenting - cheers Hilary

Liara Covert said...

Your presence is present enough. Kindness and compassion are priceless gifts you offer every moment.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks Liara .. it's lovely to be there with the kids - and Derek loved those days .. made his life worth living.

Great seeing you here - Hilary