Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Kids in wartime

As a child growing up
When times were so tough
Just didn't have enough
And what we did have 
We would barter and trade

What I really liked best
In fag packets poked
That our dads smoked
Were all sorts of cards
So we'd barter and trade

With filmstars and airplanes
And fifty to collect
Swapping them the object
Each one had a value
So did barter and trade

Some were worn or torn
In albums they did not go
Were not wasted, oh no!
But kept to play a game
Not to barter and trade

Boys six feet from wall
Played game that was not hard
In turns would flick a card
Nearest to wall would win
Far too damaged to trade

Most cards issued long past
Though stopped in World War 2
Still abound for me and you
Too precious for a wall
But still barter and trade

Image found at

Although not a collector of cigarette cards now I was addicted to the hobby in my early school years in WW2. Even though cards in Britain were not issued then cigarette shops still had the albums available for the latest sets and my dad who worked in London could find them somewhere in the city! Most kids were serious about collecting some issues to get the whole set of 50 and use their swaps to trade for other collectables or if the cards were unpopular or worn they could be used for the wall game. Rules were loose but occasionally thirty or more cards could be won (half of them yours) by you having flicked one card nearest the wall! If you lost, too bad but not drastic as they were not usually in the best condition or you had no interest in them but they were merely ammunition for the game!


  1. Long after the days when children bartered and traded those cards, the adults are still doing it---with the very same cards!

  2. And the trading staved off the sense of deprivation, I'm sure. You've given a sense of the constant cylce of trade, here, the power of the game.

  3. Cards, marbles ad conkers! Those were the days, Robin.

    1. Yes, I played conkers and came home with bruises on my hand! With marbles you had to be adept at flicking the marble from your hand with your thumb and knocking the opponets marble from a prime position.

  4. Robin, the above comment is a spammer, a horrible troll. Your poem made me think of my grandpa, who lived through the Depression and bartered his bookkeeping services for coal, to heat the family home, or for whatever people could give him in exchange for his services. Hard times. As a child, I collected photos of movie stars, and boys collected hockey cards. Such fun.

  5. Robin- please delete that cruel comment­čś«. Love the history of the cards...I had no idea!

    1. Don't know how that got through the spam filter Vivian. I hadn't noticed it as I was fast asleep in Australia!

  6. Many moons ago Robin, I found (and bought) some silk cigarette cards - flags of the world - at a jumble sale. I still have them.
    The same spam appeared on my blog this afternoon. I went to comments on the dashboard, clicked it as spam and it disappeared.
    Anna :o]

  7. I love your stories about the war years!

  8. This is a familiar episode when growing up without the social media advantage of present times. Hank had experienced the same hobby before!


  9. Another peek inside War years. Thanks for this share Robin


  10. Barter system!...I wonder, where did it all start, why did it stop, why n when did money come into the scene and could it possibly replace money in today's time? So many questions come to my mind after reading this poem. Lovely....

    1. Bartering started before money...and before the third party profiteers appeared. Money was good idea too until profiteers decided to trade that as well!

  11. I hadn't realized cigarettes ever came with trading cards. Can't say I approve.

    1. The whole idea was that kids would take up smoking themselves as teens. As indeed I did myself!