Friday, March 29, 2013

Sepia Saturday 170 : Did Café Society Pass Us By?

It's been a funny old week : perhaps I will tell the story at some point, but there again perhaps I won't. 

But here we are, approaching another weekend and with another Sepia Saturday challenge before us . Our prompt this week shows a couple of characters standing at the door of a Sydney Coffee House. This was always going to be difficult for me because my family come from Yorkshire, and Yorkshire folk are reluctant to pay for a cup of tea or coffee in a Café when there is a Primus Stove available. 

I can hardly remember ever going into a café when I was a child. We would go out for endless weekend "runs" in the car, tour the Dales and the valleys of West Yorkshire, pass endless little tea shops and coffee lounges - but never, ever call in. "Tha don't want to be wasting tha brass in places like that", my father would say, and my mother would give a supportive nod of the head as she took the fold-up table out of the car boot and lit the little Camping Gas stove. Our café was the road verge, our coffee house was the lay-by.

But I did manage to find one photograph of my parents looking uncomfortable in a café. It dates from about 1962 and it was taken during an outlandishly adventurous camping holiday in the South of France. Not only does the photograph show them sitting down at a café table, it also shows my father drinking a glass of beer! This is a double rarity as my father avoided alcohol with the ingenuity of a fully paid-up miser. You couldn't save a bob or two by mashing your own pot of beer and therefore it was best avoided. But fifty years ago they were abroad, in a foreign country, spending foreign money and therefore a rare bottle of beer or a bottle of Coke might be justified. I can still hear my father saying to the neighbours months after we had returned from the trip, "and do you know how much we paid for a glass of Coca Cola, do you know ....!" 

I suppose the truth is, on the whole, café society passed us by in Bradford.


The prompt for Sepia Saturday 170 shows two men outside a Coffee Lounge. Sepians from all over the world have been using this prompt as a springboard to visual journeys into the past. You can trace their steps by following the links on the Sepia Saturday Blog.

31 comments:

  1. How wonderful, as it seems we share the same bit of experience in growing up! I still remember with great-glee when my parents allowed us to finally visit a McDonald's for lunch! My parents were firm believers in eating at home and any long road trips we always brought food and beverages along! Even up to the day my mother left this lovely earth, she still frowned upon spending good money out- especially when the best food was usually never found in any restaurants! She was however, a fan years later, of sitting in outside cafes or inside mall garden cafes, just to watch the people go by! So no family photos again for me this week either...but that won't stop me from posting, on Saturday!

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  2. Ah yes, I remember endless car journeys as an (unapperciative) young kid, with the thermos flask of tea that had a unique flavour that never quite tasted like anything else ... and the time my mother used salt instead of sugar in my nan's tea.

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  3. Yes, your first photograph took me right back to my own childhood - "runs" out in the Morris Minor and brewing up by the side of the road!

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  4. Yes the Picnic element of a trip was always part of the fun!Why did thermos alway leak in those days.i remember tons of soggy sandwitches by the time we arrived somewhere!?
    Your Mad & Dad looked very Chilled (in all senses)in the top photo.It Makes sense...the whole idea was to 'get a bit of fresh air' .And driving was more restrictive then.Why exchange a cramped car for a cramped cafe?Your 2nd photo looks a tad warmer! MY! Your Dad looks to be enjoying that beer!!!
    Ah Family Trips in the car! I remember us taking loads of Big Pop bottles with us.Which were quite practical as on the trip out we drank in the car en route.& on the way back ,stuck in traffic jams on the back seat(usually around Skipton I recall)I would use,the now empty bottles,to pee in !
    Re;Your comment on mine:Alan: I don't remember Stephs Although,when I went to Primary School (St Mary's on Gibbet Street) A Polish lad in my class had parents who owned a coffee bar on King Cross.He was a popular fellow! When it was his Birthday his dad would hold his Birthday Parties in the Coffee Bar.Free pop&sweets for party guests!!!!
    There was a Greek Cypriot family who owned the Corner Coffee Lounge in Town (it later was The Pride of Whitby )They were Tony & Jackie Iannou.My wife Cathy worked there a spell in the 1970s.Cath's sister Su got engaged to one of their sons (Mick).
    The Iannou's later owned The Blue Dahlia,also in Halifax.

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  5. The Sunday afternoon drives with sandwiches, a thermos of coffee and another of milk. The stopping points were called rest areas back then, too, but featured a massive wooden picnic table, a 55 gallon drum for trash, and a one-holer out house. Sometimes a two holer.

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  6. I expect that your mom and dad just had to sit down at a French cafe. Hang the cost. It was part of the experience.
    Nancy

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  7. Oh my, what memories! Our family certainly did drive about (at least on Sunday afternoons I recall) and it started with seeing the floods around Houston, TX, (lots of snakes on the raised roads) but then when we became Missourians, it could be watching tugs go through the locks on the Mississippi. The lunches were definitely boxed up, including coffee for adults in wonderful old glass lined thermos bottles, and I guess we children got water from a big bottle. Nobody even thought of making tea or coffee along the road, so you were much more civilized. And yes, hand-made quilts were our dining tables on the grass (though not in the flood area of course).

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  8. Why did the Thermos always leak, Tony? It was cork...remember. It had a knack of going 'pop'. I know its a bit late to tell you now, but I seem to remember ours were always inserted with a piece of grease-proof paper.

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  9. The beer probably tasted better than the coffee

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  10. Your sepias are not just great photos, but super stories. My wife was born in Yorkshire and she says , " the only thing tighter that a Scotchman is a Yorkshire man. " So that comes from one who should know! Not from me!

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  11. So they preferred The Roadside Cafe? haha. My parents were the same way. We never ate in a restaurant unless it was McDonalds. haha. Still, it's fun to see your parents at the roadside and in the cafe!

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  12. That is an excellent teatime interlude. It appears that not wanting to waste any brass in "places like that" was pretty common, even when driving a Roller. I always thought that pretty extraordinary, but I suppose it's part of the English psyche.

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  13. I remember trips in the car and my dad's military rations and his Coleman stove...

    Great photos!

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  14. Café society may have passed you by, but years later you engage us in stimulating conversation, fuelled with food for thought, on a regular basis, Alan.

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  15. I think it is mostly a thing of the modern era, The cafe society, I mean.

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  16. A fine ride. I enjoyed the look back as it rang a few distant bells for me. My wife Annie is a Yorkshire lass.

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  17. The snack bars in Stamford in the 1950s would never have been classed as the 'Cafe Society' - besides I was too broke to go there often. Thermos in the car came much later for us; university days were the only time I spent time in what we would now call coffee bars.

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  18. I remember packing sandwiches and cookies for long trips, but no one fired up a stove for coffee along the way. Now that I think about it, there are not many wayside stops along the highways like when I was a youngster. I guess they've been replaced by McDonalds and convenience stores.

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  19. The photo of your folks standing by the car with the cups is wonderful. I guess we were just crazy spendthrifts and always looking for some place to have a drink. The ambiance of such places was always a large part of the travel experience for my family. We'd drink our drinks and drink in the
    details of the stops and then talked about them for weeks after the trips. We saved straw wrappers and paper doilies, match covers and menus - if they'd let us take one.

    My Dad always had a hangout. I did too for many years...as a teenager at the local soda shop, later a pub, later a coffee shop for early morning stops. It provided the opportunity for a short visit with someone - none of the formality of an actual at-home visit. Actually most of the hang-out people were a separate category of friends - not necessarily the kind you'd expect your whole family to enjoy.

    Thanks for stirring up some excellent memories.

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  20. I don't think people here carried stoves for ordinary car trips. Thermos bottles were useful, but they were more a convenience than a money saver when coffee was only 5¢ or 10¢ a cup.

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  21. I live in a city filled with cafes but I'm too cheap to pay for coffee that I can make myself. So I can relate to your dad's frugality, Alan. But it is also a city of good beer, which I can't make, so that's where my brass goes. In moderation of course.

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  22. Picnics are nice! Switzerland always had beautiful Cafés, and we had always a café culture what it is called now. It was a lovely treat to eat a meringue with whipped cream, or a coupe Melba, Vanilla Ice cream with peaches and raspberries. At this time silver cutlery and silver tea- or coffee-pots were used. I guess that would beat any Thermos flask! In the meantime I had many coffees on the side of the road, very enjoyable too.

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  23. I can't really remember any visits to cafés from my childhood either. When on holidays, we did go out for lunch (the main meal of the day), but my parents too always brought their own camping gear for making coffee/tea along the road, to save money.

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  24. Alan, I totally relate to this post. Although in a different country, I was brought up the say way. "Don't waste money buying things that you can make at home". "If you look after the cents, the dollars will follow"

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  25. How fun! No matter where they are or what they are doing, they seem to really enjoy each other's company.

    Kathy M.

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  26. ha you bring back the memories....the only time we ate out growing up was the occassional sunday after church with friends but only if we were not going to grammmas.....

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  27. No primus stoves, but thermos flasks a plenty. Until about five years ago when Dad gave up his car, my parents would drive down to Salisbury from Nottingham. The first thing Mum would do on arrival, to the great amusement of her grandchildren, was 'rinse out the flasks'. Lovely pictures of your parents Alan, and look, you have the ubiquitous 'boy on a bicycle' managing to 'photobomb' (as Kat call it ) in the second one.

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  28. Thanks for inviting us along for a ride with your family! I'd be right there enjoying a little ice cream cone with your mom.

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  29. You fulfilled all my imaginings of a Yorkshire family out and about. If I haven't already seen this on a show done by the BBC, I'm sure I eventually will. It reminds me of when I heard an English friend at a riding event near Worcestershire say "Cheerio" to another rider. It was classic and until then I'd only ever heard it in the movies.

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  30. There was no way my parents would have taken us into a cafe on our car journeys - five demanding children would have broken the budget!
    Lovely family photos Alan.

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  31. My father was a good cook, but my parents were the total opposite to yours:
    Let's go out for dinner!!
    Any pretext was good and none were actually required,
    especially if you left it to my mom...
    There's a few places here I truly trust to eat fine fare,
    but there is something about home made dinner...
    Comfort food?!?
    :)~
    HUGZ

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