Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy

3/10/2005

MEMORIES OF CHILDHOOD

The street in which I was born and spent my early years was typical of the back streets of Glasgow, a street of tenement buildings like many hundreds of others in the early 1900’s. No salubrious apartments, these; they were built to be lived in, not for their beauty. They were usually three storeys high and built of red sandstone, though the stonework even then had been blackened by the soot and grime from the chimneys of the great shipyards of Clydeside. In them were housed hundreds of families whose whole lives revolved around arid depend ed upon these same shipyards.
“Our” street, like all the others, had its quota of little shops. There was the dairy where, before going to school in the morning, we youngsters were sent to get the morning rolls fresh from the baker’s oven. We would run back home clutch ing a bag of those lovely4iot rolls so that we could have them with a cup of tea, still warm and spread with plenty of butter, or more likely, in those days, margarine.
The favourite shop for us was Nellie Morrison’s wee sweetie shop. The mouth-watering odours within, emanating from a mixture of home made Puff Candy, subtly blended with the aroma of still warm Toffee Balls with just a hint of Milk Tablet and just a trace of newly- made Fudge – all combined – gave a schoolboy’s idea of what Heaven must be like. It is not surprising then that on Dad’s pay day, when we would be given our weekly pocket money, the sweetie shop was a priority.
The Saturday afternoon matinee cost ing one penny for admission, was another avenue for expenditure. It was more or less traditional that when going to the pictures one had to take a snack. There were no hard and fast rules regarding what constituted a snack: but it was generally accepted thai it would be sweets, or more in keeping with the occasion, a bag of broken biscuits. What excitement there was when among the rather off colour digestive and tea biscuits was discovered part of a cream, or even a chocolate biscuit! An acceptable alternative to broken biscuits was a hag of chipped fruit costing the same, a ha’ penny.
In our neighbourhood we had not one, but two picture-houses. in one of which, my chums mother was manageress – equality for women is not so new! This edifice was named The Premier Picture Palace, a rather grand, if not wholly deserved title. To be quite honest, there was definitely some room for improvement; however, as my friend could take me in free. I had no complaints.
An added attraction in the summer time was emerging from the “pictures” into the sunshine and feeling the sun-soaked concrete pavements warm our bare feet after the cool interior of the cinema. In those days, at the first sign of summer sunshine, the cry would be echoed in every home. “Maw, can a hiv ma berries’?” Then, if permission was grant ed, as it usually was – Mother working on the assumption that a refusal would carry weight only as long as the lad was in sight – then we would remove our boots and stockings for as long as the good weather lasted. There must have been a considerable saving in leather and wool during this period. This, however, could be offset by the trouble caused from cuts by broken glass and the job of removing melted tar from the soles of the feet. To us, of course, such things were of little consequence, unless we sustained a cut so bad that it required stitching; that was serious, as it would most certainly mean being ordered to get those socks and boots back on again. This greatly out weighed the brief fame of having the stitches inserted, even though the wear ing of boots, in an otherwise bootless society, would be recognized as a badge of courage, particularly when accompanied by a severe limp, whether real or for effect.
We were, masters of amusing our selves. We played “Leavo”, “Kick the Can,” “O’Grady says,” or “Hunch cuddy-Hunch”. Now, being in a city that lived and breathed football, theft were proper facilities to be had for this in the Public Park; but we preferred to play in the street, a practice frowned upon by the local constabulary. Even after having been caught and having received a court summons, nothing daunted, we still continued to play in the street, but with someone to act as lookout.
A rather stout lady, leaning out of a second-storey window, kept addressing the police officer who was taking our names and addresses in a rather loud and strident voice, and advising him to: ‘Leave the weans alane, ya big mug ye!

George Brown, 235 ,Anniesland Road Glasgow
Reproduced from Scottish Memories by Kind permission.

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