Childhood memories with Stephen Hartley

Stephen Hartley
Stephen Hartley
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David Curwen, centre, hugs his mother with whom he wa sreunited. Completing the group is his brother Keith

THIS WEEK IN 1975: Reunited after 30 years – but only thanks to a kind stranger

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Stephen Hartley is a senior negotiator at Pearsons estate agents, having worked at the Southsea branch since 2001.

Here the Southsea resident recalls some of his fondest memories.

· What is your earliest childhood memory?

Christmas Day at my nan and grandad’s cottage. Being their first grandchild, they would put up a real tree for me and, not having electricity, they would light the gas lamps. Then, with grandad’s hel,p I could light the real candles on the tree. Those were my favourite Christmases.

· What do you remember about your birthdays?

Being the eldest of four, I always had siblings there and my friends and some of theirs. So there were lots of children and usually sandwiches and cakes in the garden. Back in those days, September was always hot.

· How was school?

I remember right back to nursery school where my grandmother used to walk me there and I was happy at my other schools too. Maths was my best and favourite subject but I left at 16 to go and join the Royal Navy.

· What did you get up to with your friends?

We lived on the edge of a Yorkshire town, Guiseley, so we had woods to play in and farmers’ corn fields to chase each other through. There were also lots of streams we could build dams on.

· What toys did you play with?

One of my earliest toys was a large tin turtle which my uncle, who was in the RAF, brought back from Singapore. It was on a cable with a squeeze handle that moved the legs and made it walk. My father worked for Silver Cross prams so he made us the finest bogeys in the area with shiny wheels.

· What clothes did you wear?

Always uniforms for school and shorts and T–shirts to play. When I got into youth clubs I had to be fashionable with hipster trousers and at 17 I had my first tailor–made suit made. Of course, joining the navy meant uniform came into play again.

· What did you watch on TV?

The first-ever programme I saw on a neighbour’s TV was the Eurovision Song Contest in black and white. But when we got our own set I remember William Tell and Robin Hood, then a little later Pan’s People on Top of the Pops.

· What was the naughtiest thing you did?

My brother and I used to light candles in our bedroom late at night to have midnight feasts and pour hot candle wax on to the backs of our hands to peel it off. On one occasion I remember pushing the candle too near the bed and the sack cloth base suddenly went up in flames.