Letter: Fond memories of a latchkey kid

Share
Related Topics
Fond memories of a latchkey kid

Sir: I must be one of the oldest surviving "latchkey kids" ("Working lives bring back the latchkey kids", 12 February).

In 1924, for economic reasons, my mother went back to work. She was one of only about 9 per cent of married women who did paid work outside the home at that time. At the age of 10, not only was I responsible for the latchkey, which I carried in a purse slung over my shoulder along with my dinner money. I was also in charge of my younger sister and two other younger children on our mile-long walk to school (no school buses then).

My mother left the house before we did. Sometimes my father, whose work was irregular, was able to see us off, but often I was responsible for seeing that the front door was securely latched.

We were able to get a bus home from school and arrived home at about 4.30pm to an empty house. It was my job, as the elder, to light the gaslight (no electricity then) and the fire (laid by my father before his departure in the morning).

It was then our job to lay the table for tea. We took pride in doing this correctly. There was no sliced bread in those days and I was not allowed to cut the loaf, so that task had to await my mother's return at about 5.15pm. We filled in the short time before her arrival by reading comics (Tiger Tim or The Children's Newspaper) or starting our homework (no television or even radio to entertain us). When my mother arrived we had a light tea, helped her with the washing-up and then finished our homework while she prepared our evening meal. We had a family supper when my father came home.

This routine continued until my father obtained permanent work abroad and we accompanied him. My mother enjoyed working so she continued to work until retirement age, but was able to afford help in the home.

All is not doom and gloom for latchkey kids. The home atmosphere is what matters. Ours was a cheerful home and we all mucked in when necessary. I do not think we suffered from our experiences. My sister and I received a better education than would have been possible had my mother not worked, and are glad that she did so.

AUDREY HUNT

Woodford Green, Essex

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Manager - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This web-based lead generation ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Benedict Cumberbatch attends a special screening of his latest film The Imitation Game  

Benedict Cumberbatch race row: What's the actual difference between 'coloured' and 'person of colour'?

Matthew Norman
Pressure is growing on Chris Grayling to abandon the Government bid to advise Saudi Arabia on running its prisons (Getty)  

What in sanity’s name is Chris Grayling doing in the job of Justice Secretary?

Matthew Norman
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore