Blue Suburban Skies
“John was going to present his to me as a gift from him, but some creep of a hanger-on in London got his mitts on it, so I lost it!
“We could go on a round trip into Liverpool city for a few pence, firstly on tram cars, then on buses. We’d go on to the Overhead Railway, nicknamed ‘the Dockers’s Umbrella’, which would take us all along the docks to view the famous liners that were docked along the quays. We’d also go for trips over the River Mersey on the ferryboats.
“Going to spend a day at Speke Airport was another favourite of ours where we’d watch the planes taking off and landing. They built tanks at Speke Airport and the men would test them along Menlove Avenue and stop outside ‘Mendips’ for a smoke and a break. They’d then offer John, Liela and I a lift on the tanks to the end of the road.
“We would go swimming at the miniature swimming pool in Woolton Village, which is still in operation today. Paul McCartney went back there recently on a sentimental journey.
“We would also go to New Brighton Baths, Southport Baths, Fleetwood Open Air Baths and the Blackpool Indoor Baths where we all perfected our swimming.
“My mother and Aunt Harriet were both swimming and Diving Champions at school and they taught us all to swim.
“I was the first to own a bicycle, then Liela and lastly, John.
“We did a lot of cycling, mainly in and around the Woolton and Allerton area. We would cycle to the Abbey Cinema and the Gaumont and up as far as Speke Airport. But we were never allowed to venture on our bikes into Liverpool city proper.
“We loved our cycles.
“We all thought that Woolton, Halewood, Allerton and Penny Lane, along with Rock Ferry, were lovely districts to be living in.
“Of course, in our early childhood days it was very countrified with not many houses at all.
“People from the city of Liverpool actually came out to Woolton for their holidays, it was considered to be so healthy out there. Hence they built the Woolton Convalescent Home up on the hill there, for the same reason.”
Discussing John’s early musical interests, Stan recalled, “He was always musically included. Our grandfather George Stanley had taught his mother Judy the ukulele and banjo and our grandmother taught her to play piano. Judy taught John all the basic chords on the banjo.
“My mother also had a baby grand piano at our home in Rock Ferry, which also ended up in our Edinburgh home. John would always sit at it for hours tinkering away on the keys.
“I had a half-size piano accordion at Fleetwood which I could not master playing a keyboard sideways, so I gave it to John and he mastered it straight away. He took it back to Liverpool with him. He also had a cheap little mouth organ that he played about with a lot.
“In the early days the clothes John wore in the summer holidays were mainly short trousers, sandals and woollen socks, otherwise it was shoes and Wellington boots. He also wore plain grey woollen pullovers, sometimes tartan shirts – and his school blazer.
“When he entered his teens he progressed to the ‘teddy boy’ era with a D.A. haircut, sideburns and tight trousers or jeans. Mimi hated it and always tried to get me to take him for a haircut, which I did. But he only allowed a very little hair to be trimmed simply to pacify Aunt Mimi. She was always on to him to smarten his dress sense, but it fell on deaf ears.
“John was rebellious all through his schooldays and as he grew older would rebel against teachers and any authority.
“However, John was a coward. If you faced up to him and stood your ground, he quickly backed down and was meek and mild after that.
“Radio was also something special in those days and John was a radio enthusiast. His favourite shows were ‘ITMA’ with Tommy Handley, the Frankie Howerd radio broadcasts, the Goons radio broadcasts and the wartime radio series ‘Into Battle’.”
Stan says, “Under the bedclothes, against our parents wishes, we used to tune into Radio Luxembourg to hear all the latest pop records.
“My mother used to listen to the American Forces Network and she also got John and I hooked onto listening to the station. At the time the American big bands, such as Glenn Miller were being played.”