Ours was the typical terrace. Some had houses with small front gardens and a path down the middle to each front door.
Not so Alex Avenue; a short dead-end courtyard with seven houses on each side.
Alexandra Ave, Arundel Street
Foot traffic only, in fact the head of the terrace was enclosed by a hoop topped iron fence with a gate which I never saw closed. Its bottom rail had been submerged in the tarred surface of the area and it remained fixed until it was taken away with all the other railings for scrap metal when the War began.
Our houses were probably luxurious compared with many others in early-thirties Hull.
Each one had a small parlour, generally called the front room or simply, the room. These were mostly kept for best unless the family was large. Behind them was the kitchen cum living room.
Here was the coal fire which warmed the house and heated the oven and boiled the kettle. Behind this room was the scullery with a sink and draining board and pantry.
The back door led out to a tiny yard with an outside toilet in the corner. In my memory (just) this used to be a privy, emptied once a week by the night man, and the back gate opened to a narrow passage down which he carried his fetid burdens.
Here lived the dust-bin and the coal-fired copper; the dolly tub, the dolly stick and the mangle.
There was a coalhouse as well and the heavy footsteps of the coalman and the thump and crash as he emptied the sacks were a familiar part of our lives. The night man's visit, as the name suggests, was more discreet. Those were the days when the chamber pot was still a household necessity and its status as an antique a long way in the future.
No bathrooms and no hot-water. The tin bath hung on the scullery wall for weekly use when the copper was boiled and the water heaved in, in buckets.
The terrace ended in a wall about six feet high. Over the years this was neatly decorated by unseen hands with a succession of patriotic messages.
Crowns and dates for the silver jubilee of George the Fifth and his wife in 1935, more crowns and not-bad portraits of the royal couple for the coronation of George the Sixth in 1937, Victory! on the outbreak of the war and welcome home boys, at its end.
Eldorado Ave, Arundel Street
In this space the washing fluttered, the kids played, and women of the houses carried on shouted conversations from doorstep to doorstep. Breasts were casually lobbed out and babies fed.
Aukland Ave, Arundel Street
Now and again friendships would collapse and a row would break out.
These followed a pattern. Insults were yelled from own front doors. Confidences swapped in better days were hurled like daggers. All at an angry screaming pitch.
These exchanges were enjoyed with open interest by the rest of the terrace and usually ended with one of the contestants breaking down and retiring into the house and slamming the door, leaving the winner in satisfied possession of the field.
It usually took a few days for the contestants to start speaking again but things always settled down apparently without long term grudges. Close quarters living has its own ways of working things out.
Some people kept to themselves. At the bottom end lived a woman resented as posh. She spoke to no one. Widowed, she was said to have been left well-off.
She did not need to work and some in the know said that her husband had been well insured - although not well enough to see her housed among her social equals.
Alexandra Ave, Arundel Street
Her daughter wore a uniform and went to a grammar school. She too spoke to no one. The sound of piano practice came from their front room. One day in 1938 a removal van carted away their effects and the mother and her now-grown daughter disappeared for ever.
In one house lived a man who every day came home from his work on the dock carrying the hook he heaved pit-props with.
Pit-props arrived in Hull by the shipload from Scandinavia and were dispatched to distant collieries by the Hull and Barnsley Railway which hissed and clanked its way along the embankment running between Arundel and Craven Streets.
This man also had a piano in his room and he gave lessons.
Sometimes he just played, and the notes of what I now know to be Chopin and Liszt sang out into the terrace. On foggy mornings when the signals were invisible to the engine-drivers, fog signals laid on the rails cracked like ragged salutes from small cannon.
In another house lived a local celebrity and his family. He was not a tall man but his shoulders bulked almost to deformity. Enormously strong, he too was a docker but he played rugby league for Hull Kingston Rovers and was admired, although he was a wild and unpredictable man who, alone in the neighbourhood, was occasionally drunk and hauled up in the magistrate's court.
There was a youngish couple who won cups for ballroom dancing and travelled to compete in distant towns.
Aukland Ave, Arundel Street
Some folk were territorial about their space and chased away the children from outside their houses. One house contained a lady who had been bed ridden all our short lives and who we had never seen.
Hearing us so chased she would call to us, Come and play under my window, I like to hear you playing, but her gentle request frightened us more than angry yells could and we would run out into the main street leaving her calling softly.
We spent most of out time in the street and there was an informal but regular calendar of activities which began with marbles in the Spring, when the weather warmed up and the pavements dried, and ended with conkers when the Autumn horse-chestnuts turned a rich brown and the spiky green cases burst to show the even richer polished brown of the beautiful but inedible seeds inside.
In between were whips and tops, skipping (girls mainly but boys joined in often in a highly competitive way) cigarette cards.
These were swapped, gambled with, used as currency.
Arundel Terrace, Arundel Street
Dartboards, skittles, and home-made impromptu games were set up on the footpath and you got a go for a cigarette card. For a few days each year the shout cig card a go, echoed until the craze was replaced by another.
There was cricket and football. If nobody had a ball someone would roll up a tight cylinder of newspaper and tie it with string which made a usable ball. Especially if that was all you had.
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