MEMORIES OF RAINHAM
l have lived in Rainham most of my life give or take a few years when I lived on the Isle of Sheppey. When I was growing up in the 60s Rainham like most places did not offer much in the way of entertainment. Of course there were the pubs: the Cricketers, the White Horse and the Green Lion and the local cinema. People called the cinema, the Bug Hutch, it was in the building now occupied by Gerald Luckhurst shop on the High Street. I remember going there with my Nan when I was about 8 years old it was 9d a ticket. When the cinema was ﬁrst converted to a shop Liptons went in - our ﬁrst big grocery store.
As a child in the 60s there wasn’t a lot of money about, not like today, so to get some pocket money I took a dog out for a lady who lived along Tufton Road. He was a scruffy dog named ‘Boy’. We had a lot of fun especially when I used to take him along Berengrave path to scrump blackberries and damsons. I got into a lot of trouble especially if the farmer happened to see us. I came home with bramble cuts when we had made a quick escape. I took all the fruit to my mum who made jam and fruit chutney.
My mum was an excellent cook her pastry actually melted in your mouth especially when she made her famous blackberry and apple pie. My dad loved walnuts so I used to check the weather forecast and if it said rainy and windy conditions I knew that was the correct time that the walnuts would drop. There is a big house in Webster Road that had two walnut trees near the road (now long been cut down). When I was about l0 years old I often went on my way home from school just to see if any nuts had fallen l could take a short cut through an unmade road called the pokey, into Tufton Road. My dad was very pleased if I came home with walnuts.
One particular day I set off to Webster Road I had a jumper on which was too big for me but it was brilliant for storing nuts in. I waited and looked up at the walnut trees, the wind was blowing, the rain came down with such a force I had to hide behind a car, I waited and waited until ﬁnally the nuts fell. I collected them all up and put them in my jumper and was just about to tum and go home when I heard a shout - Mr Mountain who lived in the big house came out with his black Labrador and called - where are you going with my nuts? He frightened the living daylights out of me so much I immediately dropped all the nuts and ran home. I ran as fast as my legs would carry me and told my dad what had happened. In between deep breaths I remember my dad saying that if the nuts were dropping over the Wall on to the road I could pick them up and have them.
I took this in and thought right I’ll go and get them. Can you picture the scene a ten year old with attitude! I ran round the pokey and not looking where I was going bumped into Mr Mountain taking his dog for a walk, I told him what my dad had said. At ﬁrst he didn’t say anything just looked at me then he smiled saying your dad is quite correct you may go and pick up the nuts. And I did and every day after that till all the nuts had gone. I remember this incident as if it was yesterday especially as I now work as a gardener in this big house and I don’t need to scrump walnuts anymore because the lady who lives there gives me some every year for Christmas from the other trees in her garden. But this year there are no walnuts as the squirrels have had them all - greedy little monkeys. But funnily enough there seem to be a lot of young walnut seedlings popping up all over the garden so perhaps the squirrels hid them last year and forgot Where they had put them.