Chapter 1: Introductions

 

Chapter 1

 

My name is Bryan George Rogers.

At the moment, I am 80 years young.   I decided about 5 years ago, to write my life’s story called,  “ Dirty Filthy Lucky Bastard”

 

  Update 2021. I have just been informed by Carol Comber,s son that Cass passed away last year. She was a very good friend and could have been so much more. I dedicate this book to her. 

 Quote from Cass “I came looking for you but I could, not find you.”

  Me, You didn’t  look hard enough!”

I should warn you now, that some parts of this book may be rude, crude, or even worse, but it is what it is. This book will not be a literary piece of art, so if you are looking for good grammar, etc.,  you won’t find it here. I am looking to spread out my life because it has been very varied.  I have done a lot of things, not necessarily exciting things, but things that may have been slightly different from the norm.   As you go through the years,  I think that you will notice that I have added things that have touched my life and that may be of interest to the reader.  These “things “ may or may not break up the flow of the story, but what’s the rush!  Here we go!  

 

My Parents with my grandmother Butler 1939.

 

  would like to start by giving the background to my parents.   My father was George Rogers and he was born on the 15th of July in 1914, in  Kilburn, Willesden, Middlesex, London, England. The Rogers family lived at different times at No. 2 and no. 4 Stafford Road, Kilburn. Which were 2 blocks from 201 Carlton Vale. ( Which comes into the story later ) For many years he volunteered in the army reserves and loved to go away every September to an army camp. Even though dad was not a very big bloke. (He stood  Five feet 4 and a half inches high.) He loved to play sports. He swam on the swim team at senior school. He was also on the cricket team, football team and loved to box. He left school at 14 years of age. But still continued on with his sports.

So, When dad was 85 we were having a chat in the retirement home that he was in, in Plymouth England. He showed me a photo of the football team that he was in.; He was 18 at that time. The footballers on the team were all sitting there in their white vests with their arms folded across their chest and their hair all slicked back 1930’s style. He then proceeded to name all the players one by one. He told me that this team that he was on were winners of the second division and played the winners of the first division for the ‘”Cup”. He went on to tell me that they won the “Cup.” And that they got free beer for a week. I asked him.

“How was that ?”

“Well,” he said.

“We took the Cup to every local pub for a week and all the locals bought them beer all night.”

September 1939 at the age of 25 dad went away to the annual camp with the army and came back 7 years later. Because, while he was at camp Neville Chamberlain Prime Minister of Great Britain, was the one who declared war on Germany when Hitler attacked  Poland, on the  3rd September 1939. Not only was my dad in the army in WW2, but my Grandfather George Rogers was killed in action in WW1. His memorial is on the wall in the cemetery in Arras in France, on bay 2  of the Bay Walls. 

Arras Memorial Bay 2

 

 

  We were able to go to Arras in France in 2011 and Mitzi  my wife found his name on the Bay 2 Wall. Acting Sergeant George Rogers. To say that I was very proud of him is an understatement. That was a tough sell! The Army never found his body, that’s why he is on the bay wall instead of in a marked grave: “Acting Sargent, George Rogers. Killed in action 16th May 1917 Arras France.”As far as I can ascertain he was about 40 years of age when he died,  at that time dad was about 3 years of age, so I’m almost lucky to be here.

  My mother’s name was Francis May Butler she was born in Kilburn London. My Grandmother Butler sent my mother away when she was a young girl, to relatives in the country, to Ipswich to live with them. When mum was 14 my grandmother brought her back to London. Made her get a job then took most of her pay away from her. Mum worked at a big high-end London store as a shopgirl. The store was in the Bayswater district and was called Whiteleys.

Back in thoughs days 1931 onward I would guess that things were really tight when it came to money, and getting your kids out to work was a priority.

 

 

 

 

 

I was born 10th December   1940 In Hitching Hertfordshire.

I went back there to Hitchin many years later with my second wife, Peggy but could not locate the exact hospital where I was born. It would seem that around the time that I was born they (Whoever they were) changed hospitals.

Hitchin Hospital nurses

When I returned there in the 1980s there were three hospitals.  The personnel at the one hospital that I visited then said that at about that time (1940) they were Changing Hospitals as they had built a new one. So it was tough to know which one I was born in.  Especially as at that time, the war was on. I would think that record keeping was not at the top of their priority list.

 As a baby in my first early years or maybe months, we, (Mum and I) lived at 84 Kilburn Park Road. Kilburn, Willesden, Middlesex London. But, as I have already said. I was born in Hitching in Hertfordshire why I was born there I have no clue but I was. When we moved from Hitching to Kilburn I have no idea, but I do know that mum was “ in service “ in the Hitching area.   Meaning that she was a maid in a knobs house or the like.

Kilburn, you could say, was the family base of operations. On Kilburn Park Road we lived mum and I on the fourth floor of no. 84.   It was a Victorian terraced house., as were most of the houses in this part of Kilburn were. As a matter of fact, in this section of London, the houses were mainly all terraced houses they were either two, three, or four-story, usually with a family living on each floor. There was an old lady living on one of the other floors in 84. Mum used to tell me that the old lady used to sit me on her knee, bounce me up and down, and sing “Here comes the galloping Major. “

Kilburn Park Road is to factor into my life in the early years. I first lived in # 84 which was basically opposite the Williams basement, where my best friend Reggie Williams for many years, was to first live. I first met Reggie after I fell on the freshly tarred and pebbled road where I had slipped and fell, ripping open my left knee. Reggie helped me back to St. Augustine’s infant and Junior School, and we were friends for many, many years after this accidental meeting.  Incidentally,  I still have a scar on my left knee.

Kilburn Park Subway Station

Kilburn Park Subway Station London England

In the very early  1940’s when we were living at 84 Kilburn Park Road. 

I’m not sure when mum found 201 Carlton Vale but I don’t think that I was very old at the time. 201 was about six blocks away from Kilburn Park tube station,  and three blocks from Queens Park Station.

Queens Park station London icon near number 201

queens Park London tube icon

Later she used to tell us. (My sister and I. Who was born in January 1947) that she moved the two of us and all of our belongings in my Pram (Baby Buggy).I am sure that there could have been not much to move. I would guess that at the time of this move to 201 I was about 12 months old.

It was wartime, and the Germans were bombing us everywhere in London. Even though the bombs fell all around St. Paul’s Cathedral which is in the center of London, st. Pauls was not hit, and St. Paul’s survived the war. St. Paul’s was built after 1666 it replaced the previous church on that site. which was destroyed by the great fire of London. Sir Christopher Wren designed the Cathedral in classical baroque style. and supervised its construction. Along with Westminster Abbey St. Paul’s is used for many state events.

 

St. Paauls Bomb damage                                      

 Rationing in wartime could and did mean shortages. 

rationing in britain in ww2
rationing in England in ww2

To continue …….

At 201 Carlton Vale, mum had rented the lower floor of a three-story  Victorian terraced house.

 

This is a shot of Carlton Vale from 1907. It had a dirt road back then. in the distance, you can see some horse-drawn carts. Also, note the gas street lighting in the middle of the road. there are three stores on the bottom left on the far corner. there was an electrical store a small grocery store and a paper and tobacco shop. Three bay windows up from the paper shop  is  201 where the Rogers family  lived for almost 20years,

 

We moved to 201 Carlton Vale in1941.  Mum had rented the lower floor of a three-story  Victorian terraced house. was a large bay window in front of the house. In front of that was a tiny garden with a low brick wall that was 3 feet high. And then there was the sidewalk or pavement.    We never used the garden for anything.  The only thing that was ever in this small garden was cat shit.  The pavements ( sidewalks ) back then consisted of flagstones.   This was where the dog shit was to be found. I guess that they have to shit somewhere. 

The front door of 201 was solid wood a purple plum colour.  I never remember in the 19 years that we lived at 201 that the door was ever painted.  The door had a  long knocker set in it high up on the door.  It was one knock for us as we were on the ground floor. 

Two for the Hatton’s on the second floor and Three for the Redleys on the top floor.  I can still to this day still hear the sharp loud sound of that knocker in my head,  This, by the way, is where the phrase “I’ll knock you up in the morning “comes from. Back then in the day, only knobs had electric bells instead of door knockers.

As you entered the Victorian-built terraced house, there was a dark unlit passage and along the front part of the passage on the right was the door which opened into a damp front room. As you passed the front room door the passage had a right-hand jog in it.  Here in the corner, there was the one and only bedroom, which obviously as a family we all shared for many years, from the bedroom the passage here continued on straight ahead to the kitchen door.  To the right of that was another door that led to the yard.

 On entering the small kitchen there was a small coal fireplace in the middle of the left-hand wall, and then in the left-hand corner beside the kitchen door, there was a large dark larder. Across from the fireplace, there was a window. which looked out at a brick wall in the yard. The wall was about ten to twelve feet away and about forty feet long.

The yard opened up into a garden that was surrounded by a five-foot-high brick wall. When I was really young there was an air raid shelter made of corrugated steel in the back right-hand corner. In later years, this was replaced with a huge lilac tree, which always had beautiful deep purple flowers on it. Talking about the air raid shelter reminds me of walking to school in 1946-7 with mum and one day I asked her where are all the metal railing s from all the houses in all the streets. Mum told me that in  1943. metal railing s were removed to be used towards the war effort.

So the railings were melted down and used for guns and tanks and the like.

iron railing used for tanks

 

Above the kitchen fireplace was a mantelpiece that held a small clock and ashtrays which were always filled with dad’s dog ends and cigarette ash.  Above the mantel was a smallish mirror, there were no pictures or any type of decoration, things in the kitchen were very sparse. Strait thro’ the kitchen was a step down to another smallish room.  At the time they called it a scullery on the left-hand side of the scullery wall we had an electric stove sitting up against the middle of the wall, and an old chunky sink in the far right-hand corner. To which hung mahogany-colored draining board. The sink had a silver cold running tap no hot tap. 

In the far left-hand corner, there was a coal bunker that had a split in half wooden stable-like door.  Once a week,  over the top half of the door the coal man deliver a hundredweight of coal ( 112 lbs) which we used to keep the kitchen fire going. By the right side of the kitchen sink, there was a door leading to the yard. If you went outside and turned left and took a couple of steps, there was a door where the lavatory was in the corner of the house behind the scullery. The lavatory had an overhead water tank you flushed the toilet by pulling on the long dangling chain. Squares of the Daily Mirror hung on a hook on the back of the toilet door, this was used instead of toilet paper.

Behind the house was an almost square backyard – garden. At the back of the yard and at the two sides was a strip about four feet wide. Their dad would grow flowers and tomatoes and lettuce. Then at the house end of the garden, there were always two beat-up grey zinc dustbins.

Just to make things perfectly clear to anybody reading this who was born in the last twenty or so years.

No Land Phone, no 4th generation cell phone, no personal computer no printers no Skype no texting, none of any combination of these, basically we had by today’s standards nothing.  We only had a coal fireplace to heat the kitchen, an electric light with a cord coming from it that ran to a Marconi radio. We had an electric stove, an electric iron and that was it! No calculators, we were drilled into learning our time’s tables up to 12 times 12. So we could figure things out on our own.

Carlton Vale itself was an almost major road for its time.. It was wide but only single-lane traffic each way. There were no cars parked on the road. Because in our neighborhood nobody had a car.  And if they did have one, it would be black. 

I would guess that at that time Carlton Vale would be mainly used by commercial traffic at the 201 end.  The other end of Carlton Vale was the end where the knobs lived. The people who had money.  About twenty houses away to the left at the end of Carlton Vale there was a lavatory, set in the middle and below the road level of the road.  It was protected with black wrought iron railings and stone steps that went down below road level. It had an attendant and all the toilet doors were green. The W.C. had highly polished brass and chrome fittings everywhere. walls of this Lavatory were filled with white tiles.  With brass fittings on the urinals,  these were kept bright and shiny by an attendant. It would cost you a penny to have a poop but to have a wiz in the urinal was free.

Even toilet paper was rationed.

toilet paper rationing ww2

Back then the toilet paper was pulled out of a rectangular shaped box through a slit. It was a ministry toilet paper with L.C.C. on it. (London County Council). You would pull out a sheet one by one this paper was famous for being really slippery when you wiped your rear end and it was almost brittle and almost hurt to wipe your arse.  You had to be careful not to put a crease in the toilet paper because then it would almost cut your anus.  The Lavatory was lit through a glass roof which as I remember it made it bright down there.

There were no buses running up and down Carlton Vale, which was a blessing. But we could catch a red double Decker bus around the corner on Malvern Road. There was the 6, 28, 31, and the 187 even after all these years the numbers spring to mind. 

Carlton Vale,  many years later was to touch on the face of worldwide acclaim… Why? You ask. Because at the other end of Carlton Vale was the world-famous Abbey Road. Yes, the same Abbey Road that is on the cover of one of the Beatle albums, and named just that…Abbey Road. I probably went across that crossing many times when I was a youngster (The Abbey Road Album was released  Sept 26th, 1969 ).

album cover abbey road

Pictured above is the famous Abbey Road album cover. I crossed at this famous crossing zebra crossing for years as a kid.

Rewind back to 1941

As already stated. I was born at the end of 1940 on the 10th of December. Surprisingly I was not born in London, but in Hitching in Hertfordshire!

The first recollection I have of this life was the night sky,  it was almost pitch black.  I was in the arms of my mother Francis May Rogers. 

There was a huge yellow moon in front of me across the road where once there was a block of houses. It was so big that I could almost reach out and touch it.

The year probably 1942. I was in my dark blue siren suit. We were in my Grandmothers Street; Alpha Place Kilburn London n.w.6. The war was on! I was later to discover that most of these houses on Alpha Place had been seriously wiped out or damaged by fire and most were in an uninhabitable condition. Behind my grandmother’s house on Alpha place, there were two maybe three blocks of houses flattened by the German bombs.

Also, close by,  my Aunt Ruby’s ( my mother’s younger sister) house was burnt to the ground. She was lucky to get out alive.  Aunt Ruby went on to live to 94 and passed in 2017.

kilburn park the tube icon

Kilburn Park Underground station was on the other end of the street from my grandmother’s house on the same side of the street, on the corner. The tube was fronted by Cambridge Avenue. On the other corner across the road from the Tube was a pub. Going back to the other end of Alpha Place on the same side as nannies house was another pub. The pub names I can’t remember.At 80  some memories are as clear as crystal but other memories have faded into the fog of the past.  Across the road from Nans place, as already stated, there was nothing but knee-high rubble, the reason that I was able to see that big yellow moon was that two blocks of houses had been flattened by German bombers.  

This is what was called “ The Blitz “ by Londoners Adolph Hitler would switch to sending rockets with wings on them. Doodlebugs. The Doodlebugs were sent from Germany by Hitler the first Doodlebug to land in London was the 13th of June 1944.  The Doodle Bugs had just had enough fuel in them to reach London and when they ran out of fuel they fell out of the sky and smashed down onto the streets and houses of London.Hitler wanted to bomb and burn us into submission but failed.  

Nazi’s loading a V-one bomb

Nazis loading a V one bomb

The first time that dad came home to 201, Carlton Vale was on leave from the army.  So the first night of sleeping there he got up about 2.a.m. to get mum and himself a cup of tea.  I guess because they were having a hard time sleeping.   So dad makes a pot of tea in a silver teapot, with some milk in a silver milk jug along with some cube sugar in a silver sugar bowl, and sugar tongs.  All this on a round fancy silver tray along with some fancy bone china cups and saucers. And of course a tea strainer. He turns off the kitchen light and opens the kitchen door and goes up the dark passageway to the bedroom. This was the law in wartime England. Called the “ Blackout “.  Any lights on the ground could be seen by the German Luftwaffe, a German night bomber.So dad makes his way in the dark along the passage to the bedroom. He knew that at the end of this part of the passage that there was a wall. Once that was reached the bedroom door was on the left. He was in his bare feet. So when he thought that he was close to the bedroom door, he started to feel his way along with the pitch dark passage with his feet. Once 1944 having felt the wall at the end of the passage he knew that the bedroom door was on his left.Well! His foot feels the toe of a boot and then next to it he felt the toe of a second boot.  Right away he thinks there is somebody there. With that, he drops the tray and lets rip with a hard right hand. And punched the wall.   Unbeknownst to him, my mother had put his army boots outside the bedroom door by the wall because she couldn’t stand the smell of them.  I can still remember the sound of the sirens that were turned on to warn Londoners that we were being attacked by the German Rockets or by German bombers and to take cover. If i remember correctly the warning sound was a  loud wailing up and down. Then the all-clear would be one continuous single note held for a few minutes in the Forties the treats and some of the foods of the day were.

Tizer an orange-flavored drink. Mars bar a chocolate bar that is still around today. And I also remember Wagon Wheel a large chocolate-covered biscuit.  Which was named because of its size. Which today should be maybe called Tiny  Wheel  Because it is barely bigger than an Oreo cookie. The Drink  Tizer was a great drink that we liked to buy on a stinking hot day to quench our thirst.We would go to the local greengrocer on the corner of Kilburn Park Road and they would pour us a glass for a penny or two. Brown bread “Hovis “ as it was called, was a bit of a luxury to eat in those times. Remember we were at war and after the war, food was tight and still in short supply. We also ate and liked Smiths Crisps. Which came in a bag with its own twist of blue paper with salt in it. Smith’s crisps were and still are sold in the pubs in England today. Back in the 40’s and the early 50’s Mum and dad would bring a bag of Smiths crisps (chips) home as a treat from a night out on a Saturday night at the local pub .

Be it the Nelson the Albert or the Falcon. And they would bring home a copy of the War Cry a salvation Army publication, which the Salvation army would sell in the local pub to the drunks on a Saturday night. it was a good found raiser for the Army.

In the ’40s, Weetabix was the cereal that mum would buy for us along with Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. Porridge was also a staple in our diet at the time In my early years, I seemed to have fun. I didn’t know any better. What went on was what went on.

 

Bryan Rogers at 2 maybe 3

I,m about 2 years of age here.

 

.  Two or three years prior to going to school  I was evacuated out of London. With all the other London kids. We congregated at Victoria station ready for the train ride up north to Derbyshire.I remember that I had been given a colored book with Spitfires shooting down German fighter planes. 

In  Derbyshire, we were sent to and lived at a  place called Kettleston Hall. Kedleston hall was a huge mansion that youngsters were sent to be out of the bombing area.

Was used as a safe house for kids from London. Also for cohort spying

 At Kedleston Hall, there was a big wide driveway coming off the road with big huge trees on the sentry guard on each side of the driveway. This all leads up to a huge house, Kettleston Hall at the end of the driveway.  . There are only a few things that stand out in my mind from that time period. I remember being a summer  Fate that they held at the Hall one hot summer day. And I was stung by a bloody great big Bumble Bee. was also sick and being in my bed and mum coming to visit me from London. I don’t know why but  I pretended to be asleep.I heard someone talking to mum. Telling her that I was asleep and that I was “poorly”, so mum had to travel all the way back to London without even seeing me.    On the 5th of November, Guy Fawkes Day, to celebrate, the people in charge of Ketteston Hall piled a lot of branches up on the back lawn and tried to set it alight. They eventually put petrol on it and tried to light it that way.  I think it was raining that day. I can’t remember if they lit it or not. At that time it had been raining a lot, so there’s a good chance that they never did light the bonfire.

Guy Fawkes was a political activist from the 1600s who tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament. But he was caught trying to do so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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