Spending a half Crown

When we arrived in Wales, it was the middle of a school term and the school did not want to take a new foreign pupil so close to the end of their school year. It was a case of private tuition or miss more schooling, and as there was a girl of about my age a couple of houses up the road being privately tutored, it was arranged that I should join her for the rest of the term.

After the holidays, I went to the next town by double decker bus to the catholic school in Rhyll. The bus would drop us off and pick us up at the school gate so there was no chance to go exploring on my own. I used to like sitting on the top deck of the bus because it was scary. When we went round sharp corners it felt as if we would tip over but we never did.

The school was a large concrete building one street back from the beach, but the only sight I got of it was from the top of the bus. You could see lots more from up there and it seemed so high to a little girl who had always been at ground level. School was a strange place for me as it was so big, and we had to have our lunch there, all together in a big dining room. We were not allowed to speak or ask for something to be passed to us unless we spoke in French. We quickly learnt the essential words for bread sugar salt etc. I was teased horribly for my accent and one nasty little brat pulled my chair away just as I was sitting down. Of course I landed hard on the floor and got told off for causing a disturbance in class.

When I left home, Mum gave me a half crown [worth two shillings and sixpence or twenty five cents in todays currency], and I had to put it away in a drawer in my bedroom for safe keeping. I had never had my own money before and was not supposed to spend it, but I could not see the point of having it just to sit in the drawer. So one day I put it in my coat pocket when I was going to school and there was a small sweet shop where we caught the bus. I went in and bought sixpence worth of sweets and when I got home that afternoon I put the two shilling piece back in the drawer and hoped it would not be noticed.

No such luck, it was noticed at once and was taken off me, and the next time we went shopping I was sent into Woolworths to see what I could buy for two shillings. I was not given the money but had to go back out and say what I wanted. It was a little black wooden baby doll with moveable arms, legs and head, and it was only one shilling and eleven pence. So they gave me back my two shillings and I got my very first doll. I had to give them back the penny change which I was made to buy a stamp with to put on a letter back home to Mum, telling her what I had spent her half crown on. By the way, the aunts would not go into Woolworths with me as it was beneath their dignity to be seen in such a cheap shop.

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