Recycling – a way of life

Recycling – a way of life

When I was a small boy we recycled everything
war had shown everyone to make do and mend
All children were taught about scrimping and saving
Good management and prudence were our best friend.

Our milk was delivered in bottles each dawn
from an electric milk float if you please,
The empties were rinsed and put out the next morn
then refilled again and recycled with ease.

With no freezer or fridge mums shopped every day
fruit and veg was loose, and sold in paper bags,
Just a basket or trolley to carry them away
including your groceries, newspapers and mags.

Through Winter no salad, shredded cabbage instead
plus onion with carrot dressed in salad cream
A sort of fifties coleslaw with unsliced bread
and haslet or luncheon meat was supreme.

Milk bottle tops saved and sent to Blue Peter
for the nineteen sixty four Guide dogs appeal
Pink paraffin primed the old landing heater
while baths shared on Sunday was quite an ordeal.

Loaves would be wrapped in a paper tissue
paper also wrapped around Butchers meat.
Unravelled old sweaters would become re-issue
when knitted as mittens for a Christmas treat.

Socks were darned and most clothes were mended
while old garment buttons were saved in a tin
Clothes were passed down no-one was offended
frayed collars unpicked – nothing went in the bin.

The ‘pop man’ came around and sold bottled drinks
kids were paid threepence for their safe return
In the week we saved water, bathed in kitchen sinks
then we stood by coal fire till our kegs would burn.

No old chip fat down drains, for it would congeal
but there were lots of people who always did.
Our Household dustbins were galvanised steel
it had ‘No hot ashes’ painted upon the lid.

Newspapers recycled in the local fish shop
maybe cut into squares for the outside loo,
potatoe peelings swapped for a lollipop
from the lady who had a big chicken coup.

The bins were well battered, yet never quite full
because nothing was wasted, all was re-used,
Onto the dustman’s back the big bin was pulled
Most dustbins were light so his old bones weren’t bruised.

The trumpet from faraway called for rag and bone
a soft clicking of hooves coming down the street
Old rags swapped for a goldfish or donkey stone
While the stuff on the road gave the roses a treat.

These days we learn lessons from when I was young
we use far too much plastic, so recycling is rife,
Householders today think they’re hero’s unsung
But when I was young, it was a way of life.

About the author

eric1
2303 Up Votes
Hi, I am a grandfather of four beautiful Grandchildren, I have one son and three daughters, We lost Vickie to Cancer in December 2013, she was 23 years old, whoever said time heals haven't lost a child. My profile picture is of Vickie and I haven't changed it since she died, I have a wonderful loving wife without whom I would not have made it through. My escape is writing poetry, I have had five published to date, I now have two books published 'World War One In Verse' is available on Amazon books and 'Poetry From The Heart' is available on Amazon or Feed a Read, just enter the title and my name Eric Harvey.

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