Watching All The Boys Go By”

I think I remember how it began, but time plays tricks so if anyone has different memories, please say!

One day, probably in 1962, Christine Pickup and I finished school for the day and set off home. We got off the bus at Shaw Lane and went to the sweetshop on the parade at the bottom of St. Anne’s Road. Whilst Christine was buying sweets, I bumped into Arthur Pickard, Christopher Rickeard and Roger Wilkinson (I think it was all three of them). Arthur, Chris and Roger and I had been primary school classmates at Shire Oak School. At one time, we had all lived a few doors from each other in Beckett’s Park Crescent, and our Mums were friends. I now lived in Beckett’s Park Drive, but still crossed paths with Arthur, Chris and Roger from time to time. Having known them since Kindergarten, I stood and chatted to them for a while. When they left, Christine was amazed — “D’you know those boys?” she asked incredulously. “Yeah, known ’em all my life,” was probably my reply. (Having known them since the age of five, I could only think of them as surrogate brothers. The effect on Christine didn’t register with me!)

The next day, and the day after that, Christine really needed to buy sweets after school!

Soon, ‘hanging around at Shaw Lane’ became the thing to do. Christine’s old friend and neighbour, David Bill came along. Our school friend Susan Carroll (who lived on Bennett Road) took to getting off the bus a couple of stops before usual to join us at Shaw Lane.

The group grew because people brought other people along. Shaw Lane was the central point for the suburbs of Headingley, Weetwood, etc. So, when a passing LGS boy saw several of his schoolmates hanging around with girls, it wasn’t long before he would join them. Same with the girls — Katy Brady lived at West Park, but often used to get the bus down to Headingley after school just to join the growing Shaw Lane crowd. She brought her good friend Karen Metcalfe, who was at Pitmans College. John Mitchell (LGS) brought his sister Jane (LGHS), and Jane brought several of her High School friends. Brian Johnson was at Leeds Modern, but knew some of us so came along anyway. Frankie Gauld was at Allerton High — she can’t remember how she came to join the group, but was accompanied by her friend Joanne Agar (LHS). And so it went on; one person bringing another. Boys spotting girls they fancied and joining the group to be near to them.

I guess the Shaw Lane crowd ran for about four years or more. At one time, several Shaw Lane boys were members of St. Chad’s Tennis Club, and so the two groups overlapped for a while. This brought in more girls and boys, so fresh blood all round!

The LGS boys had their weekly sports day on Wednesdays at their Lawnswood playing fields, and it wasn’t unusual for some of them to hang around the gates of Lawnswood High School, waiting for the LHS girls to finish school. We would then all make our way down to Shaw Lane to join the others.

The group was always very fluid. There were a number of stalwarts who were constantly around, but during the years various people came and went. I don’t recall Arthur Pickard or Christopher Rickeard being part of the group for very long, and maybe David Bill dropped out quite early on.

We were never all together in one place at one time. Those who were later additions to the group won’t even recognise the names of the earlier members, and vice versa.

And what did we do with all this friendship? We stood at Shaw Lane corner and gossiped. We blocked the door to the sweetshop. (The name of the sweetshop was Reg Watson’s and I can picture Cecelia, who served behind the counter. She died of cancer a few years later.) We made plans for weekends and evenings. We flirted, dated, started going out with each other and fell out again. We followed The Raiders to Saturday night dances.

We were very lucky to be amongst such a good crowd of friends and we had a wonderful time. To really know what it was like, you’d have to have been there. But, if you’re reading this, I guess you were!

Sandra Midgley (née Baker).