chapter  5
5The Childhood Spaces of Suburbia Introduction159 Schools as Sites of History159
Pages 48

With this chapter we move, as Peter grows up, far and wide, considering his – and his family’s – world beyond Ivy Cottage, its garden, the surrounding streets and immediate neighbourhood. We consider the infrastructure of suburbia: schools, borstals, libraries, public houses, working men’s clubs, cemeteries, the railway, and so on. Thus, the chapter will be an exploration of the social institutions of suburbia that Peter, his family, and his neighbours, engage with on a daily basis. This chapter is not only concerned with such suburban social institutions that were integral to Peter’s – and his family’s and his neighbours’ – notions of ‘suburban community’, but it makes explicit the physicality of those institutions: that is, not just the size and scale of those institutions, but the tactile nature of the raw materials out of which they were constructed. For, in Environment and Children – Passive Lessons from the Everyday Environment (2007), Christopher Day, in considering children living with the ‘elements’, makes explicit their engagement with ‘stone’ and, to them, the centrality, and solidity, of stone in the construction of buildings, whereby ‘[s]tone endures’ and, as a result, ‘[s]tone buildings more easily feel ageless than brick, stucco or wooden ones’ (Day, 2007: 223). Furthermore, considering that, for example, ‘[m]asonry arches are held together by gravity’, and ‘[h]eavy, flared bases root buildings into ground’, such ‘solidity and reliability are characteristics of earth-element buildings’ (Day, 2007: 223-4). For, ‘[t]hese qualities are all about security’, and ‘[t]his is a major need for small children’ (Day, 2007: 224). As such, this chapter considers metals, minerals, stone, concrete, and so on, and how those substances were made reference to in the children’s texts of the 1970s.