Sam Taylor was born 5th Feb. 1915 at 5 Intended St, Cradley, the home of his maternal grandfather. He died 3rd January 2010, aged 94, an active member of the Cradley Then and Now group until just a few short weeks before his death, and a poet to the end.
He was well known locally for growing his own vegetables, walking from Fatherless Barn to High Town Ragged School every Sunday evening, although he did usually get a lift back up the hill, and writing poetry until well past his 92nd birthday. He was the winner of the Cradley Day Poetry Competition in October 2007 with his poem, Ode to Geoffrey our Local Tramp.
I took a walk down Memory Lane,
And became a boy just once again.
I saw my mother in her long black dress,
With knitted shawl and no headdress.
I saw the old house in which I was born,
With the brewhouse, chainshop and little brick wall.
The single toilet down the yard, where you took your chance
If occupied you stood outside and did a little dance.
There was the single tap that stood under the wall,
With ice-cold water, it was used by all.
When it froze in the winter the water stopped,
It was thawed with a hot iron from the chainshop.
We played in the street, there was nothing to fear
You could become a gladiator with wooden spear.
Football and cricket with stumps chalked on the wall
There was never no LBW as I recall.
Five jacks were played with the greatest skill
To scoop up all five was the greatest thrill
There was tipit, kick the can and games galore
But the best of all was Jack rap on the door.
We played cowboys and Indians and had great fun
With bows and arrows and a peg for a gun.
You could become Tarzan or Elmo Linkon and lots more I recall,
But if you became Jeronimo, you were chased by all.
We marched round the streets and formed our own bands,
Banging on drums that were made from tin cans,
Blowing on bazookers, made with paper and comb,
Or just singing, shouting and clapping your hands.
When you came out of school there were errands to run,
Or a baby to mind, this was no fun.
Then out came yer dobbin to fetch cokes for the chainshop
When all this was done, then you could stop.
We played round the gas lamp in the street at night
And made great plans beneath its flickering light.
We chased the girls and pulled their hair
And sometimes a kiss, it was all they would dare.
We went home at night and slept four in a bed
There would be two at the foot and two at the head.
When the wind blew on a windy night
The window would rattle and need to be jammed tight.
When rain was coming the wind blew from the south
Smoke came down the chimney and filled the house.
When it blew from the north, there was a draught under the door,
Which had to be stopped with a rug from the floor.
Yes I often take a walk down Memory Lane,
And become a boy just once again.
Those happy and unhappy days have long since gone,
But there is so much to remember, when you are just ninety-one.