Oldham Historical Research Group

'Oldham Stories'

     'Oldham Stories'
by Mary Dickinson

May Day

Today is May lst. and as I listened to the News my thoughts went back to the May Days when I was a little girl. In those days the children made quite a day of it. Every street had a Maypole.

The children in each street negotiated for a few days beforehand. With our few coppers we bought coloured paper. Then we borrowed a crutch or a brush handle from someone and one of us would go to the grocer's for two rings from a barrel. We went in someone's backyard and decided which songs and dances we would use. Then we chose a very young girl to be the May Queen.

When all that was settled we wrapped up the crutch in different coloured paper and nailed the two hoops to the top. We tied lots of coloured ribbons to the hoops. We had to borrow a white dress and some lace curtain for the Queen.

When the big day came we got ready in the backyard and set off through the streets. The May Queen sat on a small stool holding the crutch and we all held a ribbon. We danced in and out round the Maypole singing the songs that we had practiced. We enjoyed every minute of it and the Queen was really proud sitting there in her finery. Someone would go round with a box collecting coppers from our neighbours. We looked forward to counting our money when we got home.

One year we let the boys do the collecting. We sang and danced all aftemoon but when we got home tired and weary the collectors were missing. They came home later having had a good time with our money.

Sometimes the Maypoles were out all day. They brought such a lot of happiness.

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