From Harry Foy's Book 'Growing up in Portadown in the Thirties and Forties'
You entered by the front door which was never closed, except at bedtime. In the linoleum covered hall there was a large round stone to keep the door open. Off the main hall there was a door to the "Room". You were not allowed into the room except on special occasions. It was keep good for visitors and clergy. It contained the best furniture. A small table in front of the window was decorated with a large coloured pot containing an aspidistra. A large mirrored sideboard and mantle contained the best china cups and photographs of the family adorned the walls.
A second door, off the hall, led to a large kitchen cum living room. In the middle of this stood a large white table on which there was an oil lamp. On this table, food was prepared and served, games were played and homework was done. When not in use, it was placed against the wall to make more room. The floor had large stone tiles which were scrubbed every week. The coal fire had two small hobs and a smoke board. In front of the fire was a fender which was rubbed with emery paper to make it shine. The rest of the fireplace was done with black lead. The mantlepiece, on which stood a clock, usually a chimer, was decorated with a brass fringe. All the food was cooked on the fire, falling soot adding to the flavour. Turf was used for baking bread as the hot turf could be placed on the oven lid to help brown the bread. Country butter on hot fresh baked (and turf flavoured) bread was a treat.
Upstairs there were two bedrooms. In one bedroom the parents slept with the very young children. The rest of the family slept in the other room. If one child caught the measles we were all thrown into the one bed so that we had them all together. I recall one family with four young boys who shared a bed - they were all bedwetters and there was a fight every night to see who got to sleep in the shallow end.
Families were reared on cheap meat cuts, porridge, champ and plenty of home made bread and jam. When a family ran short of anything they could always go next door to borrow it. There were no fridges but each family had a meat safe. This consisted of a box covered with wire gauze and hung on the yard wall out of the reach of prowling cats and dogs. Buttermilk was used for so many things and was stored in a large crock. It was used for baking bread, a refreshing drink and it was also put in porridge. Front doors were left open so that people could pop in for a chat anytime.
It was a time when neighbours were neighbours.
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