I noticed it a long while ago, but never thought much about it, but today I saw it again and began to wonder what it was all about!
In the dilapidated garage of the house I am currently restoring is a wooden sword, the sort that kids have to play soldiers or whatever; not just any old two bits of wood nailed together, this one is shaped nicely and obviously someone has spent a little while lovingly making it. But what is it doing in the garage? and just who has it been made for? The previous occupants of the house, my aunt and uncle, never had children; OK, so my uncle could have made it for one of his nephews perhaps? Fine, but which one? It certainly wasn’t me – in any case, when they moved to this house in 1978 I was no longer a kid, neither were any of the other nephews, so had this sword moved from their previous residence? It still doesn’t answer the question as for whom it was made and I guess we’ll never know!
Anyway, appropriately for St David’s Day I suppose, it sent my mind back to childhood days when we were allowed to take a sword to school. The girls would all parade to school in their Welsh costumes on that day and us boys would be allowed a wooden sword and a wooden shield if we had one. A sword was not something I would have liked to brandish so I guess i went swordless. This was the usual St David’s Day regalia a boy in the 1950s would have, in later decades it became fashionable to dress up as a miner but in my day we made do with a wooden sword. The boys from the cottage homes would usually find an old stick and then raid the school dustbins for a lid to use as a shield and would then go charging at each other in a wild, boisterous game; all too much for me though! In junior school in the 1950s, I guess we didn’t realise the significance of this day, as far as we were concerned it was a morning of a lot of Welsh singing and recitation and then an afternoon off school to do whatever we wanted!
Earlier on today I had a quick look round the internet to see if I could find a photograph from the 1950s to illustrate this story. I looked in all the usual places where I have been successful before but no joy there. Then I remembered I had a very useful photo in my own collection; taken at Litchard School in the 1950s it shows a group of eight boys complete with wooden swords and shields – sadly no dustbin lids though!