Kenny Pye

Daniel Windever

© Copyright 2023 by Daniel Windever

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
I was sitting on the roof of the shed in my back garden, it was a favourite place of mine as from up there I could look over all the back yards as far as the flats on Clamley Road. It was from this vantage place on high I would watch a lad of my age playing alone three backyards down and one back. Summer was coming, the days warm and filled with birdsongs. He had set up a cricket pitch and was dressed in cricket gear. I was intrigued as he placed his bat on the ground just in front of the wickets then from the other end of the pitch he would bowl a ball. He would go to the wicket end of the pitch pick up the bat and the ball then throw the ball in the air and hit it with the bat and run the length of the pitch. He was bowler, batsman and fielder all by himself. He looked in my direction and I gave him a wave, he waved back and continued his game. I jumped from the shed roof hit the ground and rolled over in the grass I realised the roof was higher than I thought and I was lucky I didn’t hurt myself. As I went into my house I thought it might be good to meet this lad. A few days later as I was walking to school with friends I spied the lad walking alone heading in the same direction as we were. I caught up with him and introduced myself and my friends. His name was Kenny Pye.

Kenny was a short lad, immaculately dressed in his school uniform, turned out his dad was a tailor and his blazer and shorts were tailor made and stitched by hand, no wonder they fit him so well. He was an only child who was sports mad. He knew the names of all the English cricket teams going back years and he was able to recite how every goal had been scored by Liverpool Football club players in every game since the clubs inception. What was more he was an accomplished player of cricket and football. He had moved into the estate from Childwall. He invited me to his house on the coming Saturday. This was the start of a friendship that would last for many years.

I knocked on his front door on the Saturday morning and his mum answered. She was a short lady, not much taller than me, his dad appeared at the door and he too was short I asked if Kenny was home and I told them my name and that I lived around the corner. They invited me into the house. I followed them down the hall into the kitchen and out into the backyard were Kenny was playing cricket on his own. I joined him and bowled a few balls and had a few hits with the bat. The way Kenny played was that each of us was eleven players and so got to bat eleven times. Kenny kept a score of the number of runs, who batted, who bowled and who caught who out. The game took all day to play with time out for tea. His mum brought out cups of tea and biscuits, whole biscuits not broken ones. And we sat on the small grassed area of his yard. At lunch time his mum brought out more tea and pieces of cake. At the end of the day I went home and we agreed to meet each other on the corner of Clamely Road and East Millwood Road on Monday morning and walk to school together with other kids. I rarely saw Kenny in the school yard or at lunch times but at the end of each day we met up and walked home together. Kenny went to his house and I to mine, he wasn’t allowed to play out on the street in the evenings. Saturdays became our day together. We graduated from playing cricket all the time, as it was a game I became bored with, to playing with matchbox and dinky cars, lorries and buses. As the school holidays came around we had plenty of time for games. We turned Kenny’s backyard into a city by pulling out sods of grass and making roadways with roundabouts, T intersections, cross roads and major roads. There was a city and some country towns. This building of roads took us nearly a week to complete and we stood back to survey our work. We had built on almost the entire backyard. We drove many different model cars along those roads and streets. Kenny was lucky as he had so many toys, every week he would add to his collection. We played our games day after day in the summer sunshine until one day the rain came. Our metropolis was obliterated and washed away. When the sunshine returned Kenny went back to playing cricket and I went to play and explore the countryside with others as Kenny wasn’t allowed to go to the Millwoods or the Oglet Shore or play on the Alderfield

Before the summer was over Kenny called across the backyards asking me to come around and play. Once more we built a system of roadways, towns and villages but we had started to make Airfix plastic models of WW11 military aircraft. We built a complete airfield at one end of the garden and another at the opposite end. One was British and the other German. Between us we had five spitfires, five Hawker Hurricanes, two Messerschmitt 110’s, four ME109’s, one Fokker Wolfe, three mustangs, two Lancaster Bombers, two Mosquitoes’, one Defiant and a Sunderland Flying boat. Kenny got to be the Squadron Leader of the RAF and I was commanding the German planes because Kenny owned more planes than me. We had many aerial battles and did many bombing runs over each other’s territories. To simulate bombs we made tiny mud balls and let them dry so they disintegrated when they hit the ground. We also used marbles as bombs to get the effect of craters being made in our roads and highways. We went to the pictures one Saturday morning and watched The Dambusters. This sent us into a building frenzy as we dug a few holes in the dirt in Kenny’s backyard, we built dam walls all around the holes and filled them with water. With one Lancaster each we took off from the English airfield and flew several times around the yard pretending to be on our way to bomb the dams. We collected some flat stones and threw them over the water to simulate bouncing bombs. Finally  we made holes in the dam walls and stood back watching the water run over our roads and highways, our mission was successful it was time to fly the planes home and pack up for the day. Except for meeting to go to and from school Kenny and I stopped seeing each other for quite some time. I joined others riding scooters, roller skates and bikes and wandering here there and everywhere while Kenny stayed home. His mother kept him close and wouldn’t let him have dangerous toys or play rough games with anyone.

Days, weeks, seasons and school terms past and the early teen years came round and found Kenny and I and indeed most of the people we were associated with leaving behind our toys and getting into playing sport, being boy scouts and members of church groups. Kenny’s mum had started to let him get out and play his cricket with others on Oak View and the Alderfield. For a while we played football every Saturday morning. The lads were a raggedy team, most didn’t have footy boots so they wore old shoes, old school socks and various styles of shorts and shirts, except for Kenny he had a complete kit of gear all in Liverpool colours, he stood out from the rest of us. He would pick a team from the assembly of lads and those who were left made up the opposition team. Kenny ran the game as it was his casey we kicked around. There was much fun playing on Oak View as the pitch had oak trees in the middle of it and you could bounce the ball off the trees to gain an advantage. In the afternoon it was rugby time and Kenny would come out in his full Wigan kit while the rest of us wore what we had worn for the football game during the morning. Again Kenny owned the ball so he got to pick the teams. We played the game hard and tackled with force and many times Kenny’s mum would come and ask us not to be so rough when tackling her Kenny. I remember I was quite adept at kicking goals, an oak tree with a fork in its trunk served as the goal, I was almost always successful in getting the ball between the trunks. In the summer the football would end and it was time for cricket, we needed room for this game so we played on the Alderfield as it was a large open space. Once again it was Kenny who picked the teams as it was his bat, ball and wickets we used. We dressed in summer shirts, shorts and old school shoes while Kenny wore his full kit of cricket whites, trousers, shirt, pads and red cap. He kept score in a book. We had fun in the sunshine but cricket being a game only the bowler, batter and wicket keeper get any action out of for most of the time we grew bored quickly. To add some action we got a tennis ball and put away the hard cricket ball, now the batsman could belt the ball for miles and it would take ages for a gang of lads to find it in the long grass. Kenny was so staunch about sport he played in school teams and the Congregational Church team. The other sport we got into was swimming, every Wednesday afternoon we would leave school by bus and go to the baths. As Kenny was an A student and I a B student we didn’t see much of each other during school so going swimming was something that put us on equal ground. We liked the swimming so much we started going to the baths on weekends. It was great fun but we only got one hour in the pool, a lifeguard would blow his whistle and get everyone out of the pool then let the next lot of kids in to swim. One year Kenny and I were in the school swimming team and went to Garston Baths on a Friday night to participate in races. Kenny did well in the heats but didn’t get to the finals, I think his mum being there and telling him to breath in deep breaths and to make sure he didn’t swallow any of the pool water made him lose some of his competitive edge. I got to the finals and came third so I had a sense of achievement. In the diving competition Kenny did well as he had no fear of heights and dived from the high board, while I didn’t get past the middle board but we enjoyed the night. Going to the swimming carnival that Friday opened a door in our lives and led to some years of great Friday nights. Kenny’s mum and dad asked if I would go their house on Friday nights from six o’clock until eleven o’clock and be with Kenny while they went out to the pub for a few drinks. I said yes and a whole new adventure started.
The first night was spent eating a bag of crisps each and watching TV, when Kenny’s mum and dad arrived home they had a had a large portion of chips which the four of us sat and ate then it was time for me to go home. Being summertime it was still reasonably light and I enjoyed the walk along East Millwood Road then down Sandham Road to Alderfield drive. It only took me five minutes. One Friday night I arrived at Kenny’s place and he was so excited, he wanted to show me what he had got for his birthday. We went into his lounge room and there was a record player with half a dozen 45’s. Kenny switched it on as his mum and dad left for the evening. We played the records nonstop first one side then the other. Every Friday from then on Kenny would have six more records to add to his collection. He became a Cliff Richard and The Shadows fan and he started modelling himself on Cliff Richard. Kenny combed his hair like Cliff and dressed like Cliff. The two of us would pretend to be rock stars singing and prancing about. Kenny started collecting Adam Faith records and added Frank Ifield to the mix and when he discovered the Everly Brothers they too were added to the collection. We had the best of nights with the music and finished off with our feed of chips. Kenny started inviting two other lads we knew from school and the church, Rodger and Gordon, to his house unbeknown to his mum and dad. They brought some of their records and we had the best of times. Rodger and Gordon had good singing voices and they would pretend to be the Everly Brothers and sing along to the records their rendition of the song ‘Bird Dog’ was perfection to watch and listen to. At 10.30 Rodger and Gordon would leave and Kenny and I would tidy the lounge room, pack up the records and turn the TV on for when his mum and dad would come in not only with chips but with pieces of fish that they had added to the menu. At this time Kenny’s mum and dad started to allow Kenny to go out on Saturday nights to the church social evenings. At the same time I became very friendly with a young girl and Kenny with her younger sister. We were invited to the girls house every Saturday morning to have cups of tea a selection of broken biscuits and sometimes a piece of cake while we listened to Saturday Date on the radio. Our weekends were becoming busy, Friday night at Kenny’s house with Rodger and Gordon, Saturday morning at the girls house, Saturday afternoon a game of football or rugby, Saturday night at the church social and Sunday morning at church. Kenny escalated the Friday nights by inviting some of the girls from the church group. Rodger and Gordon brought their girlfriends and they brought two girls along, the lounge was crowded as we danced and sang along to the ever growing collection of records. It was inevitable that things would come unstuck. One night Kenny and I didn’t get the house back in its usual order when his mum and dad came home, there were some cups in the sink from the tea we had had and the girls had left face powder on the sink in the bathroom. I had no supper that night and future Friday nights were cancelled.

After a few weeks I was once again invited to spend Friday nights with Kenny, his mum and dad didn’t like leaving Kenny on his own while they went to the pub so it was back to Kenny and I and the records and TV. One Friday was to be more memorable than others. I arrived at Kenny’s place as his mum and dad were at the front door leaving for the pub. I was invited in and as I entered the lounge room my heart did a dance. A princess stood by the corner of the fireplace, her dark hair teased high on her head and combed in a bob, blue eyes surrounded by black eye liner, eye lashes curled to almost touch black pencilled eyebrows, lips painted red with lipstick what a captivating face she had as she smiled at me. She wore a white blouse unbuttoned enough to show the start of her curves, a rock and roll skirt coloured deep blue with a red scarf tied around her waist, sheer stockings and a pair of black flat heeled shoes. She said hello and introduced herself to me as Linda a cousin of Kenny’s and she was staying at Kenny’s house for the weekend. Linda explained she was dressed for rock and roll as she was to have gone out dancing but her parents had other ideas and sent her to Kenny’s house. The record player was switched on and the rock and roll records played. With a bit of rearranging of the lounge room we had a dance floor in front of the fire. Kenny danced with Linda and she tried as best she could to teach me the steps to the Jive. In the end I found it more pleasing to sit on the lounge and watch Linda twirl and whirl with her rock and roll skirt spinning and showing layers of tulle petticoats. It was time for a break so we switched from rock and roll to ballads and sat sipping dandelion and burdock and munching on crisps. We put the lounge room back in order and when Kenny’s mum and dad came home we had our supper of fish and chips. It was a once only night that I met Linda and never saw her again.

During one winter Kenny and I watched TV as we wanted to see Qatermass and the Pit. This was an idea that backfired as being alone and with the only light in the lounge room coming from a standard lamp in one corner, the glow of the coal fire casting shadows all around and the glimmer from the TV screen we scared ourselves to death. The first two weeks weren’t so bad but then the series started to get scarier and scarier. We almost climbed over the back of the lounge many times as the shadows danced around the room. The third week found us keeping the main lamp on so we could obliterate any shadows in the room. I was becoming so scared I would get Kenny to walk part of the way home with me. We would walk in the cold air along East Millwood to the corner of Sandham Road. Kenny would turn back and run home while I walked along that road. On my right was a brick wall the full length of the road. On my left was a dark deserted field that held a large storm water pipe, which kids played on and in, but late on a freezing cold dark Friday night that pipe was very similar to the thing that had the quatermass creatures in it. I would walk fast, holding my breath, making sure I placed my feet on the ground as quietly as possible, I looked straight ahead for fear of seeing anything, doing my best to keep my imagination under control. When I got to Alderfield Drive I would exhale and take deep breaths then run to my front gate, jump it and knock on my front door hoping it would be opened quickly so I could get inside. As the series continued I started walking home by going down East Millwood Road then along Clamley Road to Alderfield Drive, it was lot further to walk but it kept me away from the concrete water pipe and the danger it posed in my imagination. Kenny and I were never happier than when the series finished, it had held us captive for six Friday nights, terror stricken but unable to turn it off. It was good to get back to playing records once again.
 It was summertime, time for the annual family holiday. Usually my family went to Wales and camped out in tents but one year Dad hired a cottage in the tiny village of Powfoot in Dumfries in Scotland.
I asked if my best friend Kenny could come away with us so I would have someone to spend my time with while away from home. I was a teenager and the most important things were friends, music, girls, music and more girls. So mum and dad gave the OK. The whole family piled into the Bedford van, my six sisters, two brothers, my friend, me and mum and dad. Suitcases were stacked under and between seats then with a wave to Kenny’s mum and dad who were standing at the kerbside, we took off into the night.
It was a long trip from Liverpool to Scotland especially at night the little kids couldn’t play I spy, or count how many sheep, cows, Rolls Royce cars and people we passed. Sleeping was difficult at first with the cries of mum she’s touching me or mum he’s breathing on me and I don’t want to catch his germs. After threats from dad that he would stop and leave us all on the roadside in the dark or worse still he would turn around and take us back home we settled down .
Early in the morning sunshine we pulled up in front of a tiny white cottage that looked like it was a thousand years old. Dad unlocked the front door to let us in and in we went to claim a bedroom and make a cup of tea. Now when you entered this cottage there were two steps down into the lounge room. So we fell in rather than walked in. After the scramble, the baby was crying and crying she had fallen down the entry steps and hurt her wrist. It was realised she had done some damage as it was swollen so while us older kids organised the younger ones mum and dad took to the baby to the hospital. Sometime later, they returned with the babies arm in a plaster cast, she had broken her wrist. This was just in the first few hours of the holiday what would be next.
Suitcases were unpacked and when it came to Kenny’s case, it was full of dirty washing. It turned out Monday was washing day in his house and as we had left on Saturday night, he didn’t have any clean cloths except those he was wearing. Mum wasn’t impressed with having tons of washing on our first Sunday. With Kenny’s washing done and hanging on a line in the back garden, it was time to explore. The cottage fronted a quiet road, across the road was the beach, and on the beach was a long line of tall poles with netting tied between them that ran into the sea then turned in a circle. Dad explained it was a fish trap. When the tide came in the beach disappeared and the poles were under water, then when the tide went out large fish such as salmon would be caught in the trap. It was an ingenious way of catching fish. On the Monday, we saw how it worked when the tide went out and there were salmon and other fish left wriggling on the sand. The fishermen came and collected them while we watched in amazement. After they left we ran along the net line paddling in the little pools of water when one of my brothers called out “Look what I got” cradled in his arms was a huge salmon the fishermen had missed. That night we had salmon steaks for dinner and my brother was the hero of the day.
On the Tuesday Kenny and I sat in the back garden reading the New Musical Express so we could keep up with what was going on in the world of rock and roll music. Having read the paper, I walked through the long grass and found clumps of rhubarb. The stalks were the largest I have ever seen even to this day. So we harvested it and that night it was rhubarb pie for dinner and I was the hero of the day.
The Wednesday was a blisteringly hot day, so every one of us spent the day swimming, sunbaking and exploring the shoreline for shells... we watched the tide change and the sea disappeared for miles. Our backs started to feel sore; we were burned to a crisp. That evening was spent oohing and aarghing as mum and dad dabbed our backs and shoulders with camomile lotion to cool our fried skin.
On the Thursday, Kenny and I went into town. There was a pub, a grocer come sell everything shop, a bus shelter, a garage, a café and nothing else in the main street. Kenny and I spied three girls in the café having a milk shake so in we went. We sat down at a little table and ordered a pot of tea we were very cool guys. We said hello to the girls and asked them if they lived here or were on holidays. They looked at us, giggled, giggled some more then said, “Wha kinda language are talking in?”

“We’re from Liverpool,” Kenny told them.

“Oh then warra you doin here then?” they asked. We told them we were on holidays. They told us they were going to the gathering of the clans on the weekend and we should come along. After they explained how to find the location of the big clan gathering they said, they would see us there on Saturday. The holiday was going well, baby sister breaks wrist on day one, little brother catches huge salmon on day two, I find the worlds largest stalks of rhubarb on day three, day five we are burned to a crisp and Kenny gets us an invitation to the gathering of the clans and a date with three girls on day four.

 Just as we are about to leave the café a man comes in with a case and starts opening up the juke box. We ask him what he is doing and he explains he changes records on jukeboxes and he is putting Connie Francis new release breaking in a brand new broken heart on the jukebox. When he finished I put sixpence in the slot and played the record. I loved it, Kenny loved it but the girls said what kind of misery song is that if that’s the music you boys from Liverpool like don’t worry about Saturday and left.
Friday found us all at a castle, scrambling over turrets, along narrow corridors and having a great deal of fun reliving the days of knights and damsels and barons. From the castle we went to Gretna Green and explored the place and learned that this was the greatest place to get married and more people had eloped and married here than Las Vegas in America.
Saturday we went to the gathering of the clans and watched all the Scots people dancing, playing bagpipes, tossing the caber and sword dancing. Kenny and I saw the three girls but they ignored us, I guessed playing Connie Francis’s new record had been a big mistake these girls were into bagpipes and drums not ballads and rock and roll.
Sunday we arrived home, piled out of the Bedford van and left mum to a weeks washing while we caught up with friends in the street. Kenny’s mum asked Kenny why he brought home a case full of dirty washing didn’t we wash cloths while on a weeks holiday. It had been a good week it never rained once. In all the years I knew Kenny this was the only family holiday he went on.
December 1961 saw the last of Friday nights at Kenny’s place a cousin of his started to visit every weekend and Kenny’s mum and dad considered two was company and three was a crowd so our Friday nights came to an end. It was also the last time Kenny and I attended school, we both got jobs in Liverpool city and started our employment in early January 1962. For a while we met up on Saturday nights at the church social dance and at the Sunday service. I said a final farewell to Kenny when I left home on the 17th October, 1962 to travel to Australia. We corresponded with each other quite regularly up until 1966 then we lost touch. I often wonder where Kenny went to in his adult life.   

I am Daniel Windever, aged 77, living in Lake Tabourie NSW Australia. I write stories about my childhood days. in Liverpool UK.

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