To be a Farmers Boy

'Most of the people in this village, when I was younger, were farm labourers. There was a lot of land and you needed a lot of people. You'd see them all bike home at teatime'. A sight that must have been well worth a second glance. A sight that was to be joined by the speaker, one John Albert Haylock. He would never go unnoticed with his flame-red hair. Did they call him Ginger? 'No I don't think so, but I suppose that was because I was such a nice chap, wasn't I'.
Northwold was a different place in those days. 'We had loads of shops and there were four pubs too'.
And how many farms?
'There was Arthur Barber's, William Royal's, George Wright's, Rome and Silkstone's, Harold Smart's, Leonard Crisp's, Hopkin's (which is now Eyles'), Art Jones', Roy Jenkinson's, Spinks and Bateman's - not all big farms though. And it was mainly mixed farming then'.
John was born in 1932 near the recreation ground - 'the house right on the corner. My father worked up High Farm, Didlington and then for the Great Ouse Catchment Boards. He had a few years of retirement until he died in 1975'.
When John was very young the Haylock's moved away - to Little London.
'In those days there were lots of children up there. We went swimming, paddling, fishing -  you name it. We used to go up the Water

Mill because there was a sluice up there. That's where we used to spend a lot of our time.' 
What about School?
'Well, there was a school next door to the village hall. That's no longer a school now, that's a house. That's where I started. Then you moved up to what they called the big school, the one we still have now. That's where I spent the rest of my time. I reached the heights of School Captain but I never was very interested. I just wanted to leave and to go to work'.
'I was always interested in farming. I mean, in those days, the latter part of the war, you could have 'exemption' time from school. You could have three exemptions a year, I think, which was a fortnight a time. I used to go and work on the farm. This farm I'm talking about belonged to two of the finest bosses you could wish for - Charles and Major Bateman. It was the only farm I ever worked on.'
'We used to lead the horses - us young boys - and there was a man with a hoe behind what would steer it. You used to walk up between two rows of sugar beet, which was 24 inches apart in those days, and the man behind told you if you went out a bit - with a few harsh words and few choice whispers in your ear.'
'I didn't go back to school after Christmas 1945 because I was 14 (school leaving age) on January 9th so I started work straight away'.
'We worked everyday from 7am to

4pm, and 7am to midday on Saturday. You'd have a quarter of an hour 'lunch' break at 9am of sandwiches and a piece of cake. We'd have half an hour at midday for dinner and then we'd have our cooked tea at 4.30/5.00pm when father came home. Sometimes I'd catch a rabbit in the morning and I'd take it home at dinner time and we'd have that for our tea and that was very good'. In fact, he often told his sister Doris to 'come up to the fields after school and get a stick to catch the rabbits'.
How much did he get paid?
'I really can't remember how much we got in the beginning, maybe that'd be a pound or two a week. That wouldn't be much, farm labourer's wages were very low. I 'd give me mother some and save some. And that was you life wasn't it'.
When John started on the farm full-time it was the days of hand hoeing

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