Bindi sent me this cutting which was published in Whalley's World. She asked me to edit it for her so I have tried my best to make it readable and to try to keep it as it was published. I am sure Bindi can can explain further and fill in the details on this thread.

A sentimental teardrop fell when Irene Watkins opened her bundle of mail at home.

It was shed, writes Irene from South Australia, "because of the wonderful recollections which came flooding back of idyllic years spent with my friends as a child and teenager."

What brought on her accute bout of nostalgia was a copy of my recent article featuring a stroll back in time to the alcyon days of Happy Valley, by the banks of Carr Mill Dam, that St Helens watery gem of a million memories.

A childhood friend Pat Morris, had enclosed the item, entitled 'Happy Valley Echo's' (Aug 11) And it set Irene, who once lived a stones throw from the dam, burrowing into her treasure trove of pictorial souveniers.

A section of those snapshots from the past, including those featured today, have now made the 11,000 mile jet journey to my desk.

by an amazing coincidence, another letter from Australia, from former St Helens lass Jean Rafferty, also popped up in my postbag. She touched on the Happy Valley of fond fifties recall.

More on Jeans message later, back to Irene (nee Roberts) who once lived in Esthwaite Avenue, Carr Mill, but now resides in Seaford Rise, South Australia.

"When I was a child," she writes, "my mum, together with Mrs Hughes, from next door, would take a tribe of us little kids to Happy Valley."

"Yes there would be the old thermos flask, usually filled with that dreadful chicory flavoured coffee - and yes, I did eat jam butties and home-made Eccles cakes.

"I loved sitting in the water on the 'steps' (taking the overflow from the dam down into the steep grassy valley) and many a bruise did I get from slithering on the Ginny Greenteeth weed.

My brother, Mervyn, and the rest of the little boys would attempt to catch sticklebacks and took home jars of frogspawn while I delighted in picking huge bunches of bluebells from Bluebell Wood.

"Too soon those summers of childhood ended, and I was a teenager!" she adds.

But Irene didn't wave goodbye to bankside haunt. "Now Happy Valley and Pleasure Park served a different purpose for me and my teenaged girlfriends." she recalls, it became the place to meet boys.

"There are lots of places to take romantic strolls - and we made the most of them! We'd gather at the pleasure park and roller skating rink, and recall that the lads who worked there wore splendid red jackets. There was one in particular who set the young female hearts fluttering. He was blonde, blue-eyed Jackie.

"I wonder," says Irene wistfully, "what happened to him and all the others I remember, including the twins Norman and Jimmy who, I think, came from Blackbrook were at Carr Mill throughout every summer.

"And I am sure that none of the girls from that era will ever forget Frankie who would cruise up and down in his powder blue car. With his dark good looks he was the favourite among the girls."

In those days less pushy days, the flirting ritual was rather more formal and innocent. Few of the girls ever got to know the surnames of their particular 'worshipped from the afar' heart-throbs.

And what, asked Irene, became of those teenaged girls who were among her close friends, Pat, Irene, Carole, Angela, Vivienne and the rest.

"I recall times when we bopped till we dropped, in stiff net petticoats and flared skirts, to the hit songs of the Everly Brothers, Jimmy Jones and Little Richard, finishing up with the invitable fish and chips from the Cat's Whiskers cafe."

There wasn't much money about. "But we still had a ball." Irene remembers, "and above all we felt safe and secure in those days."

Five years ago Irene paid a visit to her hometown. "And on a warm summers day it seemed that, on their own accord, my feet led me to Happy Valley.

"For a moment, I let my imagination take over and once again I saw those hundreds of happy people and the faces of those children and teenagers that I knew so well. I wonder if they all remember too?"

And Irene signs off kindly: "Thank you for that article; and most of all thanks for all the memories."



Jean Rafferty describing herself as "the reluctant exile", also paid a generous compliment to this old page in a letter from her present home in Langwarrin, Victoria.

"After receiving another batch of 'Whalley's World' items from my dear sister, I felt I really must write to thank you for all the pleasure (and, for me, a tinge of sadness) which your page brings to my family."

Jean, in common with many kiddies from yesteryear int he Lowe House area of St Helens, remembers warming herself on chilly wintry days on the hot bakehouse wall of Morton's bakery. "My Nanna," she explains, "lived in Morley Street."

Such a rush of memories were evoked, Jean adds, by my recent mentions of Victoria Park, Carr Mill, Happy Valley and the Chicken Run - a stretch of town centre pavement where lads and lasses used to promenade on Sunday evenings in the hope of catching each other's eye.

"I remember the German prisoners-of-war, sitting around a place known as the Spillage. "We had been warned not to speak to them," but she confesses "we enjoyed listening to them singing. Such happy, happy days!"

And though she now lives in a most beautiful part of Australia, Jean admits: I yearn for the place of my childhood."

Her sister Anne Laird, though, help to keep the threads intact by sending Jean a regular supply of articles from this paper. "So once again." Says Jean, "many, many thanks."



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