Small Snippets of memories of a boy from Fairview by Wyndham Jones I was born in Glenavon Terrace in 1935 where I was told that mam and dad, Cecelia and Idris lived in apartments, by this, I think it was meant that they rented a room. When I was a year old, we moved to Fairview, now this is hearsay - I can't remember anything about it. About the earliest memory that I have is that of my
grandfather Evan [Ianto] Jones taking me for a walk near the school at the top of High Street before I started there. Again by hearsay, I started there at three and a half years old. During the time we lived in Fairview, Mam and Dad proceeded to give me two brothers and a sister, Brian, Cyril and Patricia We lived at first, near the bottom end of Fairview - about number 12 I think, then when I was about 4 or 5 we moved to the top, no. 39. This was the start of very happy time with wonderful memories. By then I was old enough to join the "Fairview gang" which consisted of Bryn and Arwel Roberts, Jackie Davies, Gwyn Morris, John Jenkins and many more and boy, did we get up to many things, too many to write about here but I will tell some of the stories, Up behind Fairview there are the remnants of a street, Tai Grey and we boys used to go up there to build cabins out of the many stones that were and still are there. One day during the war, we
were building a cabin when an airplane flew over the mountain directly over the top of us, we all watched for a while then went back to work on the cabin except me, I watched the plane fly right across the valley, I can't remember the plane falling but I can vividly recall the huge gout of flames that suddenly shot into the sky when the plane crashed. Many years later when I drove to Swansea Leisure Centre, I saw another plane crash, it was a micro light airplane. It must be very unusual for someone from a small village like ours to have seen two plane crashes in which the pilots were killed. About the cabins that we built, we made them so waterproof that rain never came in no matter how heavy it was, they even had fireplaces in them including chimneys. The fires were kept going, not by coal from our houses even though that was very plentiful with all our dads working in the collieries, we used to dig the coal ourselves from the side of the path along from
Fairview to Glamorgan Terrace, I know now that the coal must have come from the coal levels that were dotted along the path. I was one of the younger boys of "Our Gang", the older boys used to cook chips on those fireplaces, they would get a few potatoes from home and chip them into an old saucepan, to get the oil for frying the chips in, we used to go home and ask mam for a piece of bread and butter, well marge, and to spread it thickly, then we would take the bread and marge back up to the cabins where our leaders would scrape the marge off the bread into the saucepan and cook the chips, I think we invented breaded chips with all the breadcrumbs that they were cooked in. One day, as I said this was during the war, someone set the grass on fire and the fire just shot up the mountain, we boys tried to put the fire out by beating it with our coats but we failed. We were terrified because we had been told if there was a fire on the mountains during
night time, German bombers could drop their bombs there, thinking that bombs had previously been dropped. One of the older boys went down to get Mr. Tommy Davies [Wagons] to turn out the Home Guard to put out the fire. We had such a lecture over that, that no grass fires were started by us again.
The mountains were our playthings, when I go up the mountains now, I never see children up there any more, perhaps the reason for that is that when the valley was full up of collieries, colliery waste tips and railway lines, there was no room to play in the valley and many places were forbidden to us, so that is why we took to the hills. The mountains were where we picked wimberries, we slid down them on homemade sleighs or mostly pieces of cardboard that were
carefully smothered with candle grease to make them slide better down the grassy slopes, we flew our homemade kites on the mountains. We learned the craft of red - Indian stalking, sometimes we would sometimes see young couples, boy and girl, walk along the mountain side and disappear into one of the old coal levels, the craft of red - Indian stalking that we learned in Saturday MatinĂŠe came into full use then, we would creep up to the levels hidden by the ferns to try to find out what the couples were doing, sorry to have to tell you, we never did. I now have got a good idea what used to happen. We used to go across the mountain to the pond that we called Pentrefer pond, I suppose it should have been Penrhiwfer pond, this is where I learned to swim. In the spring, one side of the pond always swarmed with tadpoles but it didn't matter to us boys, we swam with them. I can only just remember that during the war, a couple of hundred yards from the pond, soldiers used to have rifle training with live ammunition
and loud bangs. When I was older at about 12 or 13, we used to have paper chases across the mountain over to the place we called Nant Woods which is near Barn Hill in Tonyrefail. There would be up to about 20 boys on these runs. I am going to be a bit controversial now, we boys seemed to have all the fun, all that I have mentioned plus marble playing, cricket, football every Sunday morning on top of mountain, cutting and collecting ferns for bonfires, making Guy Faulkes effigies, hours wrestling each other in the grass, playing hook and wheel and skating down High Street on one skate while all the girls seemed to do was to play whip and top, hopscotch and to make babies' rattles by platting bull rushes together, mind you, I was always a bit jealous of that because I could never do it no matter how much I tried in secret. I went to Gilfach Goch Mixed School at the top of High Street where during the war there were
several evacuees. At that time you would stay the school until you were 15 years old or passed the "Scholarship" , the 11 + , and went to Tonyrefail Grammer school. An incident happened one day when I was about 8 or 9 and I could never understand it, one of the evacuees who must have been about my age was being beaten by some older boys and they were shouting at him "You are a Jew, you killed Jesus", I remember thinking that Jesus was killed many years ago, so how can the boy have done it. That is about all I remember, I don't remember the boy's name or what happened to him but the incident left a lifetime impression on me although it only lasted a few minutes. The school was badly damaged by a fire which gutted it in 1955 and was never fully restored to the school it once was.
My mother was one of 12 children, she being the eldest of 8 girls, she was then, Cecelia Watkins. they all lived with my grandparents in a house Thomas Street. About 1935 when I was born, all the family moved away to Slough, the only one that didn't go was my Mam, she was married to dad by then. When the war started mam's two youngest sisters, Delina and Jenny stayed with us as evacuees in Fairview and both attended school at the same time. They were both trained tap dancers and I still feel miffed
now that when they put on a little show in one of the classrooms for the teachers, I wasn't allowed to watch them. When the school shut down a few years ago, I attended an open day just a few days before it closed forever. I was very touched when I went in; the teachers were playing one of my Gilfach DVD's on a television. I was allowed to browse through the old registers, while I couldn't find my name, nor my brothers and sister's, I found Aunty Jenny, the teachers kindly photocopied it and printed it for me, which I still have. On the same page there are the names of several evacuees and the families who they stayed with. Up until mam passed away at the age 42, one or other of her family from Slough used to holiday with us. When mam was gone, we lost all contact with them. One day, I went on a day trip to London with the social club of a factory I worked in, this was about 40 yrs. ago. On the way we stopped in Workmenâ€™s club in Slough
for some liquid refreshment. Talk about "Of all the joints in all the world --" while I was there, aunty Jenny came in, I hadn't seen her for years, she said it was her regular club and went there every Saturday, of all the clubs in Slough, we picked that to go in we picked that one. I can just remember a young girl with her of about 10 yrs. old. After this, I completely lost track of my Slough relatives until 3 yr. ago, when a woman knocked at my front door and introduced herself as Debbie, my Aunt Jenny's daughter. I have been in contact with her and Jenny very often since. Only last week, I and my youngest son, Kerry and daughter - in - law Moira went to Maidenhead to celebrate Debbie's 50 th. birthday in the company of Jenny. Jenny told me that she was the last one left of the brothers and sisters but I did find another cousin at the party, she is aunt Delina's daughter, Carol. Debbie has visited me here in Gilfach many times since then
Anyway - back to Gilfach Goch, this is to be continued