So ,I have 2 reminders of that cold,cold night in February, a sister and a scar.
I'll be back,
Love it Brian,hoping to hear more
So ,I have 2 reminders of that cold,cold night in February, a sister and a scar.
I'll be back,
Love it Brian,hoping to hear more
Winter tightened its icy grip after my sister was born,the snow brought all transport to a halt and that meant no fuel for anyone.
It was not long before our hearth was empty,no coal meant no fire,no fire meant no cooking.It must have been hell for my mother,3 kids to feed and no chance of doing it.
We got up one morning to find that the road had been stolen!All of those wooden blocks had been dug up overnight and there was black smoke curling out of chimney pots up and down the lane.But not from our chimney.
My Granddad turned up that day and took us all back to his house in Eton Street,just 6 doors away from Goodison,(this was protestant Granddad,an avid Evertonian!!)
The feeling of relief that we felt at being taken into a clean,warm, house was immeasurable.My Gran was of the old school,her house glowed with shining brasswork and mansion polished furniture,The floors were covered with linoleum and strewn with home made rugs.The electric lights meant we could read at night time and the radio brought music and laughter into our lives.
My baby sister was so small that she had a drawer for a cot.With feather beds and counter panes, our cup was running over.
I used to go with Grandma to get the "rations",the shopkeepers in County Rd. all knew Maggie Hengler and I would often get slipped an apple by the greengrocer,a cake by the baker a biscuit by the grocer, and sometimes,if I was lucky, a piece of slab chocolate by the lady in Meesons.
This was a fair exchange for helping Grandma carry a few packages.
My Grandparents had raised 11 children,and had excercised a regime of discipline to keep them in line.They were'nt cruel,our presence in their house was proof of that,nor were they harsh,they just expected children to be well behaved and if they stepped out of line,they got strapped with a leather tawse.
Their children were now adults and lots of them had children of their own,but that tawse still hung on the wall by the door to the kitchen.
One Saturday,Grandma was getting ready to go for the rations and, when I went for my coat,she told me I could'nt go with her.I asked her why,thinking of Meesons,and she told me I could'nt because it was a" Surprise"
As she left the house I started to imagine what the surprise could be.
In my fevered 5 year old imagination the surprise took on many guises,a box of sweets,a Dinky car, a toy gun;I eventually settled on it being a box of lead soldiers.Thats what she'd meant,yes, a box of the Kings Guardsmen in bearskins and bright red jackets ,we'd seen them in the toy shop window last week.
I sat on the step awaiting her return,I ran to her when I saw come in sight ,relieving her of one of her bags I hurried back to 69 to look for my box of soldiers.Granddad was sitting at the dinner table, picking out his horses for his afternoon bet,I started pulling the stuff out of the bag,there was nothing in that bag, and when Grandma came in I stood on tiptoe waiting for her to empty that bag too.There were no soldiers...........just spuds carrots and assorted groceries."Wheres me sojers" I shouted,Grandma looked puzzled."What soldiers?","My Surprise Sojers" I shouted back.
Granddad was nonplussed" Get in here Jessie" he called to my Mum in the Kitchen.(She related this story to me years afterwards.)" Theres no soldiers ,no surprise ,now behave youself" Grandma shouted.
"****in Bastid" I yelped,............she reached for the tawse and hissed"What did you say?","****in Bastid",I replied ,the tawse lashed across my face ,"****in Bastid",lash and so it went for a dozen times until Granddad grabbed her arm and told her to stop.
From that day on , I added fear and respect to the love I felt for Grandma.When Spring returned ,we packed our bags and went back to Mozart Street.
We still went to Grandmas every Sunday,somehow Mum had got us kitted out in Sunday best to make the journey,she did'nt want us to look like the Bisto kids.With these new clothes we became members of the "Indigo Club".
On getting home of a Sunday night our clothes were neatly folded and wrapped in a brown paper parcel,ready to be taken to the pawnshop first thing Monday morning.The cash we got, paid for our school dinners for the week.
There used to be a long line of kids outside of Uncles every Monday morning.Indigo Monday, out de come Saturday.And thats the way it stayed until Dad came home.
'Til next time,
Last edited by brian daley; 07-07-2008 at 02:20 PM.
Soon I'm going to have to make a thread all of its own for these wonderful memories
So we're back in Mozart Street,how to tell of that awful abode?
Our living room had a Dinner table 2 dining chairs and a chaise longue. There was a kitchen cupboard beneath the gas mantle and a wall cupboard alongside the hearth.No tablecloths or matching crockery,last nights Echo was our napery and we ate off plates courtesy of Cunard and other great shipping lines.
I could'nt take friends home,there was nothing they could have done,no play room.I suppose I felt ashamed of how we lived,but we got by.The house on the opposite corner was occupied by 2 families,the Browns and the Heslops.
Our houses were as different as chalk and cheese,where ours was dark and gloomy,theirs was full of light and life.
Maggie and Eddie Brown were fabulous people,they had 5 children ,3 girls and twin boys,they very quickly made friends with our small family and that made a change for the better in our lives.
Maggie and Eddie knew how kids worked,we wanted magic and excitement in
our lives and they created it in many ways.The biggest room the first floor was made into a childrens playroom,there was a dolls house , a rocking horse and boxes and boxes of toys.All of them made by Eddie,he also had a giant meccano set and had built a scale model of the transporter bridge.
Only the children of that house and my sister and me were allowed in that room,it was a little bit of paradise.Eddie also had a hand cranked film projector and would sometime screen old silent comedies.
Downstairs,in the cellar,they had converted the old kitchen into a family room.There was a big hearth with a great brass fender,which was big enough to seat three adults.Most days would find Maggie,Mum and Mrs Heslop sitting there supping tea and setting the world to rights.
Of a night time the room would be occupied by us kids as Maggie told us the tallest of tales of the time she lived with the Red Indians in America.
She peopled her stories with characters so real that we each identified with a particular one ,not realising that those characters were based on us.
We kids were putty in Maggies hands,this is what she could do........I'm playing ollies with my mates,she and Eddie are sitting on their step,she waves to me,"Come here Brian",I scoop my ollies up and run over to her,"What ?" I ask,"Eddie and me have been watching you,and I told him you looked just like Wakplonk the young Indian brave I told you about" I was Gobsmacked,me ,like an Indian Brave!"Eddie said that he did'nt think you could run as fast as Wakplonk,but I told him that I thought you could"
Just let me prove it,I thought ,she could read us like books.
"Wakplonk could run a mile before the Big Chief could count a hundred,now Costigans is about the same distance,so ,if you run there and back I'll count and we'll see if I'm right.Oh by the way,get me six rashers of bacon while you're there".With that she'd stuff the money and coupons in your hand and you would take off to the sound of her counting aloud,"One,two................"
When you came dashing back,there she'd be,still on the step," Ninety eight ,ninety nine,There you are Eddie ,I told you he was faster."
I was a sucker but I loved it.
Ahh,those shops in Lodge Lane.There was a gradual renovation of all the vacant properties we had the new grocers, Holdens and a toy and model shop opened next to hers,at the end of that block a greengrocers opened Percy's it was called and we got more than potatoes from there,the son of the owner became my baby sisters husband a couple of decades later.
The shop for us kids though was Dickie Woods.It was ancient,dark and grubby,it was more a cave than a shop,but Dickie would let you buy a comic for threepence and buy it back off you for tuppence!!You'd see kids sitting outside on the window ledge,heads stuck into this weeks Beano and then going back inside ,coming back out with a pennyworth of chews.
It all came to an end one dark November night.
On the way to school we saw policemen outside Dickies shop,There was a buzz going round that something terrible had happened the night before.
In assembly rumours were flying around the room when we we called to silence by the presence of the Headmistress,Miss Bell.Those of you who had met her will remember her fierce countenance,she had iron grey hair that looked like was electified,she never wore make up and had very masculine features.She always wore tweed suits,lisle stockings an brogues.It was rumoured that she smoked a pipe.
That morning she strode across the stage,a wild look in her eyes.Thrusting her arm out and pointing a trembling finger at us primary school kid,she shrieked,"Murderers!!!!"The finger swept around the hall like a search light,"One of you killed Mrs.Woods",she thundered."You know what happens to murderers?"We blanched,each one of us trying to look not guilty,"THEY HANG!!!!!"
You could smell the fear in the room as she told us what had happened.
Some miscreant had gone into Dickies and bought a banger firework off his Mum,a half blind,deaf old lady.They lit the banger and gave it back to her,whereupon it exploded in her hand and she dropped dead of the shock.
We kids were terribly cruel,when we got in the playground we were screaming with laughter,saying "bang,you're dead"
Thats all for now folks
Last edited by brian daley; 07-07-2008 at 02:26 PM.
It's a late welcome from me Brian but welcome to Yo and happy posting, it's been great reading your tales so far!
Thank you for your warm welcome,I'm beginning to feel at home here.
I clicked on your pictures and I thought they were wonderful.You have the eye of an artist!I could say so much more,suffice to say, they bring the viewer enjoyment,
Brian you must write a book !
I'll be reading some of this to my dad who was brought up around the County rd area. I'm sure he will remember the greengrocers and Meesons.
My sister Jess and I were inseperable from the Brown family,Margaret,who was known by all and sundry as Chicken,was our leader.She was a year or two older than my sister and was very worldly wise.
Her two sisters were Joan and Rosalie,Joan was a older than me, by about a year,and Rosalie,who was my age.Rowley,or Rollie,how do you spell a nickname?, was my mate.She had a happy disposition,blonde curly hair and a lovely smile.Truth be known,I was half in love with her.
Those long ago summer days would find us trailing off to the parks,Sefton and Princes,where there were lots of things to fill our days.
In Sefton Park there was an open air theatre where they had lots of shows,we penniless kids would stand outside the railings ,enjoying for free some wonderful entertainments.I developed a love of the of the theatre whilst watching those shows.
The boating lake was another of our favourite places,watching the model yachts skimming across the waters,their "captains" ashore watching over their course,I was thrilled when one of the boat owners would call across the lake for us to turn their boat around when it neared our side.
We would watch enviously at the families in the little motor boats,chugging their way around the vast expanses of that wonderful lake.Would we ever ride on one of those?
Now ,I don't know how Chicken managed it,I'm just happy that she did,but one magical afternoon she disappeared from our party there at the lakeside,had she gone for a pee? No,oh no,about ten minutes after leaving us she returned.............in a motorboat.It was driven by a big ,burly man,who had his little daughter by his side.She was exquisitely pretty and dressed in the nicest clothes I had ever seen in real life.He looked foriegn,like a Lebanese,and was wearing a light, pastel coloured,suit.
He pulled the boat into the shore and waved at us to get aboard!!!
Chicken had that kind of magic,she got us many more rides with that man that summer and I used to dream of being rich enough of being able to dress and live like him.
In Princes Park,Chicken had the ice cream situation sorted out.Ice cream was an unattainable luxury for us back entry diddlers.We could,at a push afford a ice ly between the five of us but an ice cream cornet! Dream on.
One day Chicken introduced us to a lovely old man she had met in the maze,he had a kind face and he could do little conjuring tricks which kept us all amused.After watching his little "show" he would buy us each an ice cream,that was real magic.
After the parks,the "pictures" was our next best form of escape.Those Saturday matinees,with the serials,cartoons and the big picture,which would invariably be a western.Oh how we loved those westerns,Gene Autry,Tex Ritter,Roy Rogers and all of the rest of those heroes from that make believe world where the goodies wore white hats and the baddies(with the exception of Hoppy),wore black ones.
I was an emotional kid,if the cowboy lost his dog,I'd get upset,but if he lost his horse..........There was a scene at the end of a Gene Autry wessie,where his horse had been killed by the badmen,and after getting his revenge,Gene was walking into the distance while up above in the clouds,Tony his horse was galloping through heaven,while Gene walked on to the end credits with Tonys saddle over his shoulder and "Empty Saddles in the Old Corral"played out the film.I sat there blubbering as the lights came on and the usherette,who just passing my seat looked and asked "Whats the matter son?"And I replied "Its all the cigarette smoke Missus"
You might ask yourself,"how could we afford the pictures?" Well at the tender ages that we were Jess and I had a little job in the timber yard that was next door to our house.The man there used to sell bundles of firewood that were made up from the odds and ends of his"leftovers".We would make the sticks up into bundles by by dropping them into a mould and tying them with a wire ,it was'nt hard work but it earned us threepence each a night,enough for the pictures and an ice cream too.
The Pavilion theatre at the top of Lodge Lane was a place that Mum and Maggie could always scrape the cash together for when there was something special for the kids.It was always an early evening show that we went to with acts like Old Mother Riley,George Formby,Sandy Powell etc.
I was enchanted by the theatre,the auditorium,the lights,the proscenium arch and the rich draperies all combined to create an impression that was fantastical.As you sat in the gods and beheld the scene,the fire curtain with the colourful adverts for the local shops,the musicians bustling about in the orchestra stalls,and the audience, settling in their seats,waiting for the lights to go down and the tap of the conductors baton signalling the overture as the band sounded the beginning of the evenings entertainment.
I was well and truly stage struck,I did'nt just want to be part of the audience,I wanted to be on that stage,entertaining.
I was to get an opportunity to do just that sooner than I would have believed.
Thats another story
Last edited by brian daley; 07-07-2008 at 02:42 PM.
I love reading your stories & I agree with LindyLou you really must write a book
If you can't dazzle them with brilliance,baffle them with bull
http://www.bmycharity.com/laurenrobinson please give generously to childrens cancer charity Clic sergent
Thanks for your kind remarks,I wish I could write a book,it seems too great
a task and I would rather have your approbation than the rejection of some profit only publisher.
Writing this has given me a great deal of peace,I have known what I wanted to tell of;I did'nt know whether anyone out there wanted to hear it.
I want those of you who take the time to read this,to know that my world has been peopled with some wonderful characters,and I only hope that I am up to the task of doing them justice,
I'm off to have a madeleine,
For many years I have had memories that would be better left unspoken;they want out and I can no more stop them than I can stop the sun rising tomorrow.
It is still the year of 1947 and,after the harsh winter, we were rewarded with a gentle spring followed by a warm summer.
I was becoming a little more aware of the world I lived in and was becoming to understand that "The War" was not a place but something that moved around..........There was now a war in the land where Jesus was born, Palestine ,I still could'nt make out what wars were or who an "Enemy" was,but they were out there ,and my uncles were involved in them.
One summers eve,Delly,Ikey,Bernie and me were playing at the top of our street when a different sound came drifting down the lane,it was hard to tell what it was.Like when you hear the distant sounds of a band,the sound just a whisper above the street noise,then growing louder as it nears.
We could'nt make head or tail of this sound,we could hear a mass of voices,indistinct,and the sounds of crumps and tinkles.
We shot past the watching eyes of our parents and hared off up the Lane to get a look.The sight we beheld was hard to take in,there were hundreds of men and boys filling the road,yelling at the tops of their voices. Shop fronts were being smashed in and all manner of foodstuffs and goods littered the pavement.Bousefields, the greengrocers,had its wooden shutters pulled off and people were passing out fruit and vegetables.It was like a devils banquet,we did'nt know why it was happening. it just was.
We filled our pockets with apples as all around us chaos reigned.
There were some smartly dressed men in the crowd who looked like policemen and we prepared to run in case they caught hold of us,but ,to our surprise, they pointed to Platts sweetshop and told us to help ourselves.
Could this be true? "Go on lads,get the Jew boys sweets" This was official?
We tore over to the sweetshop and started stuffing our pockets with as many sweets as we could get in them.As I was doing this,I could see, Mr Platt crouching behind the remains of his counter,his arms around his little daughter, protecting her from the ravening mob.Young as I was,I burned with shame.We emptied our pockets and made our way back to our street.
I did'nt know about the Holocaust,had'nt heard of Belsen ,Dachau or Auschwitz.I did'nt know about the Yids or the Jews,but I was hearing about them now.
The crowd were chanting "The Yids ,The Yids ,We've Gotta get rid of the Yids!!!"
As we neared Mozart St, we saw a crowd of people standing around the lamp post on the corner,there was a man who appeared to be standing on something,we could'nt see what,but he was head and shoulders above the crowd.Was it a meeting,outside our house?
There was jeering and yelling,and as we got closer we could see that the man was wearing a green cow gown.It was the man from the Chandlers shop next door but one to our house.He was wearing a noose!
The rope was thrown over the arm of the gas lamp and he was standing aloft,his shoulders slumped and his eyes expressionless.
There was a womans voice coming from the middle of the crowd,it was so filled with rage that it was frightening to hear.we climbed on the windowlege of the butchers shop opposite to get a better look.
It was my Mum,whirling around like a dervish,brandishing our meat knife,screaming at them to" F@@k Off!!!".The men at the front were trying to push away from her wrath .Then,thankfully some men charged in and started dragging the thugs away.And all the while that green coated figure stood on that chair,resigned to his fate?
Many years later I was in a slaughter house in Brisbane and saw sheep walking up the ramp to their imminent deaths with that same look in their eyes.
I dropped my apples in the gutter as the crowd dispersed, and ran to Mum, my tigress.
I learned at school that two British soldiers had been hung in an orange grove in Palestine ,................and Mr Platt and our Chandler were to blame?????
Pretty soon life returned to its regular rhythyms,the summer holidays would soon be upon us and we had games to play,errands to run and money to earn.
It's still '47,and a boy could not be seen without an old bicycle wheel(spokeless
of course) or a car tyre.How else were you to get about?
I was one of the lucky ones for I had found an old car tyre on a bomb site in Granby St.All you needed to make it go was a short stout stick.You just gave an initial push and then twocked it with you stick to keep it in motion.
A boy coud go places with the right tyre.We would even race each other ,
bike wheels versus tyres.The bike wheels were faster ,but noisy,you got a smooth silent ride with a tyre.
I was going towards St Bedes church one day,gently coasting along in first
(thats one Twonk a second ) when this car shrieked to a halt,smoke coming from its tyres.A fat man jumped out and ran over to me,he grabbed the tyre and had a good look at it" ere Yar kid " he said as he thrust half a crown into my hand and and drove off with my tyre.I'd lost my only means of transport,but gained a blooming fortune.
It was off to Capaldis for my mates and me,ice cream cornets and tall fizzy drinks all round.
You think ,life can't get any better than this,but it does,oh yes it does,and its still only summertime!
Sweet Summertimes of days gone by,
Last edited by brian daley; 07-07-2008 at 02:48 PM.
I hope there's lots more to come Brian, keep up the good work, I'm addicted
I wish my memory was a fraction as good as yours, but even though I'm only about 5 years younger than you, I didn't go through the things you did.
Your last memories started out by reminding me of the riots in 1981, which I witnessed in Lodge Lane, but as your story went on to describe Jews' shops getting looted, and in 1947 (when the world was supposed to be learning about the Holocaust), I was very surprised.
I don't doubt you for a minute, but it just proves that not so long ago we were only told the news that the establishment wanted us to hear.
We were told about Jews being persecuted in Germany in the 1930s which eventually led to "The Final Solution", but that was all done by the Nazi's.
Not once were we told that things that were happening in Germany in the 1930s were happening in England in the 1940s.
I'm saving all your writings.
Your stories are truly captivating, I really look forward to reading more!
Well done ,
"Don't Ever Think Too Much..."
I can understand how you feel,so many people have no udea of what happened that night in '47.
I have been haunted by those events for 60 years.I never read about them anywhere,as the years went by,my Mum would say "Oh it was'nt like that" and my elder sister had no recollection at all.
But the images would not go away,this could'nt be imagination,surely not?
A friend of mine loaned me a novel last year,it was about a Jewish girl who fell in love with a Christian boy in post-war Liverpool.It was a fairly pedestrian story but the description of Liverpool 8 in the 40s were very good.And then there it was, the Toxteth riot!!
I was'nt dreaming,it had happened.
Yesterday,I entered the the above heading into my search engine and was faced with the bigger picture.Do it yourself,you will see that the singers of the siren songs,those peddlers of the old lies, were active then ,as they are today,They wrap themselves in the flag of our fathers and lead the simple to that road that leads to smashed up shops and a green coated man standing on a chair with a rope around his neck.
I'll be back with a happier tale
With the coming of autumn,Maggie and my Mum enrolled the girls in a dance troupe,I was mortified,I wanted to be on stage;was'nt I going to be a Hollywood star?If I was going to get some practise,I needed to be in that troupe.
After much whinging on my part,everyone agreed that I could join.Those girls could smell talent and I knew I had it in aces.
The rehearsal rooms were over a shop half way up the Lane;Madame Cox,the owner of the troupe,was a tall glamorous lady,quite unlike the women who frequented the pawnbrokers queue.
The rehearsals were very hard work,having two left did'nt help,but I knew I would come good.
We spent weeks practising the same steps,it could have been boring as hell but for the fact that there were some very beautiful girls in the dance group.I was five and a half(but six and a half for school purposes and four and a half on the trams)and I really liked girls,one girl that I developed a crush on,Brenda,had legs taller than me.She was gorgeous,and I was her slave;I dont think she knew I existed,but you know how it is when you're a kid.
Our gang did'nt spend all its time rehearsing,there were still some days of summer left and we spent these in the park.
One Saturday we were sitting by the lake watching the model yachts tacking to and fro,when one neared the bank where we were sitting.I pulled off my pumps and waded in to turn it round when all of a sudden I plunged into deep water.To this day I don't know how deep it was in that particular place,just that it was deep enough for me to sink without a trace.
I watched the waters closing over my head, the sun, shimmering into nothingness.Down I went and a blackness came upon me,I gulped and and everything went silent.
I came to on the bank with Jess and Chicken kneeling beside me, they had dragged me out and got help to give me artificial respiration.
I was shivering because everything was wet through,there were no rides with our fat man that day.
Everyone was sworn to silence because,we thought,if our mothers found out it would be the end of our trips to the park.I was O.K. afterwards,but I had a terrible fear of the water for years .
Well,Christmas was in the offing and we were practising routines for a Panto at the David Lewis,we were dressed as soldiers,in sleeveless red coats,white shorts with a stripe of red and gold braid,red tap shoes and it was all topped off by a little red pill box hat.
The 5 of us were taken by our Mums to a photographic studio on the London Rd. where we had several pictures taken.
We were all so proud of ourselves and I wish that I had some of those pictures now,but they were lost in the mists of time.
The troupe did a show at a military hospital before the Panto,it was great because the audience were special.There were a lot of men in wheel chairs ,with every kind of dressing,behind them sat the walking wounded,the hall was packed to the rafters and all I can remember is the sound of non-stop applause and cheering.
The journey home on the coach was electric,if this was show business then roll on the Panto!
The day duly arrived when it was time for the show,this time the mums and dads ,and aunts and uncles ,would be in the audience.This was the big time,watch out Gene Kelly,Daleys on the way!
Being the only boy in the teenies line up ,as well as being the smallest child ,they put me at the head of the line to lead the dancers on.The orchestra struck up,we we went onto to our steps and,as we got half way across the stage,I spotted Grandma and some of my aunts,so I stopped to wave hello.The only trouble was,the rest of the line carried on dancing !!
That scene got the biggest laugh of the evening........and I was'nt chucked out of the group.
Christmas was just around the corner and New Year was going to bring us a big surprise.
Til next time,
Last edited by brian daley; 07-07-2008 at 02:54 PM.
As Christmas drew nearer the shops in the Lane began to take on a festive appearance;a new model shop had opened next door to Bessie Holdens.
The window was full of the best models and train sets that I had ever seen.There were aircraft hanging from the ceiling and boxes of train sets,dinky cars and trucks,it was nice to just stand and look.Best not to wish though,we were old enough to know that those toys would not be in our stockings that year.
There were one or two other shops up the lane that had window displays that were nice to look,we would stand with our noses pressed to the window,pointing at toys and saying "I bags that!" You were not allowed to bags something if someone else had bagged it first.
The best treat we had was when Grandma took us to the Grotto in Lewis's.
They used to pull out all the stops,one year they had a "Magic Carpet Ride To Santas Workshop".We children were led by one of Santas helpers through a tunnel and ,at the end of it we were led on to the "Magic Carpet",There was a moving screen on either side of the room,at the carpets edge ,and this gave us the impression that we were flying through the air,over different countries,until we came in to land at the North Pole.
A door opened in front of us and we were led into the presence of Santa.
All our cares were left behind because we believed.we were handed a little gift and walked out sparkling.
It was only when Grandma took me to T.J.Hughes and then on to Frosts on the way home that I began to wonder how Santa could have got there before us and why was his beard and hat different?
We children were plagued with that conundrum for just a few years,but was'nt it lovely to have that belief?
We were going to spend Christmas at Grandmas,that meant we would be sleeping in real beds,have the radio,comics and,best of all,be surrounded by our many Aunties and Uncles.
Grandma had pictures of her children scattered on walls throughout the house.They were mostly hand coloured pictures and we had grown up knowing them as just being part of the background.But there were two that were special,one was of a handsome young man in a Petty Officers naval uniform,that was Uncle Tom who was "lost" in the war,the other was quite unique,it was'nt a photograph but a very good crayon portrait.It was done in various shades of green and,when I first became aware of it,I thought it was a picture of a film star.This was my Uncle Bill.
He was my Mums favourite Brother.Trouble was he had been away from home for 11 years and we kids just knew him by the storys that were told about him.
When he was 15 he stole some money from a slot machine in a fairground,he was caught and given a clip round the ear.He was afraid that the men would go around to the police and that they would go around to his parents.So great was his fear of the punishment he might receive,that he ran away.
My Mum told me that the family were frantic with worry,days turned into weeks ,weeks turned into months,and there was still no word from Billy.
Twelve months had passed when Grandma received a letter from an officer in charge of a regiment that was about to be posted to India.It was 1935,the Raj was still in existence and young Billy Hengler was being sent out to keep the King Emperors peace.
Granddad and Grandma we invited down for the embarkation parade.
They were down to Lime Street ,taking the next train to London.They were going to bring Billy home.
They came back the next day,without Billy.
Grandma said that when she saw how much her son had changed,how smart and well mannered he had become,and the Colonel telling her that her son was a credit to the regiment,she felt she had to let him go.
They were in India when the war broke out and he came home the long way,via Egypt ,Iraq,Persia,Sicily,Italy,Austria and Germany.
I had never met him but he was one of my very first childhood heroes.
11 long years....... I was sitting in the hallway by Grandmas front door,Mum was bent over her bucket scrubbing the front doorstep when the sound of a big engine came up the street.A car in Eton Street?I ran to the door and looked,the most fantastical car I had ever seen came growling up the street.I now know that it was a Wehrmacht staff car.It was covered in badges and pennants and was driven by a man so handsome that I could'nt believe he was real.I had never seen a really suntanned person before.The car was open topped and the driver braked to a halt outside Grandmas door.
He looked at me and winked ,as though we were sharing a joke.He was in shirtsleeves but wearing his beret.He did'nt get out of the car,he leaped out of it! Jumping over the car door ,he tweaked Mums bottom and she swung round,hitting him with her floorcloth.I was amazed,who was he?There was a short moment before Mum screamed "BILLY!!!!"
Pandemonium broke out all around me Grandma and aunty Betty came hurtling down the hallway,neighbours came running across the street and that was the start of one of the biggest parties I had seen in my young life.
The days passed in a whirlwind of activity and we children were heartbroken when our magic Uncle Bill had to go to some place called Demob.
So this Christlmas at Grandmas was going to be extra special for not only would Uncle Bill be home but so would our Uncle Charley,he was cook in the Merchant Navy and always managed to bring a little something from those foreign places he sailed to.
Although we would be considered poor by todays standards ,we were rich in the relatives we had around us.Christmas Day was spent at Grandmas,all of her Children were there, and their children too .The womenfolk had all taken a hand at preparing the food for that day.........the table was groaning with Christmas fayre.A goose was our bird,no poncey turkeys or chickens.The goose was more than just a meal,it provided the fat that would be rubbed on our chests when we had a cold and was good for making gravy too!!
After christmas tea we would play the traditional party games ,postmans knock,musical chairs,charades,we loved it when the grown ups made fools of themselves,it made things so much more enjoyable.
All the families ,but ours, left at the end of the evening,we would meet again
in the afternoon of Boxing day when we would go to the Pantomime and then back to Uncle Charlies for tea.Boxing night was for grown ups,they would all go off to the pub and we children would be left to play games.
I was'nt keen on this part,my sister and I were the youngest and our young Aunt Betty liked to put on plays,in which she would be the star,the next oldest in the pecking order would get parts requisite with their age.
As a consequence I was always playing a horse or a donkey,which Bettys character was required to ride.
It got better when our parents got back from the pub,they never got drunk ,just a bit merry and then it was singsongs,sandwiches ,beer and pop
after which we would all go home.That tramride back to Mozart street was special,your head full of festive images,your arms full of presents and your pockets full of pennies.
1948 was knocking on the door and we were looking forward to that party because it was going to be at Maggie Browns!
Last edited by brian daley; 07-07-2008 at 03:02 PM.
I just can't imagine kids now playing donkey rides Brian, they don't use thier imagination. I wasn't born at the time you're talking about, but I remember similar Chrismas's to yours. Brilliant
These are just some of the people who appear in the story of my childhood and youth.
The next episode will appear very soon, I am recovering from a rather hectic 50th anniversary reunion of sailors from the Vindicatrix Sea Training School.
See you soon
The period between Christmas and New Year was spent going to the pictures,pantomime and getting to see those aunts and uncles who had failed to make it to Grandmas.It was also time spent waiting for Maggies New Years party.
Maggie, Mum and Mrs Heslop spent some days before the great night, baking cakes and making trifles and jellies that would be set out for us all on the last night of the year.That New Years was special because some of my aunts,uncles and cousins came too.It's a good job that Maggies house was big because we filled every room.
She was very inventive in creating games that children would find fun in playing;there was one game in particular that we found gave us all the biggest laughs.I don't know what it was called,but I have never forgotten how it was played.
First of all the lights were put out,so that the room was in total darkness.
A candle was lit and this was held low down, at a small childs height,above it was held a saucer.Eddie Brown held these and Maggie,in her Indian Princess role,would ask us children questions that could only be answered with a Yes or No.We were each asked a Question in turn,about 5 questions each in total.If we gave a wrong answer,we had to wipe our fingers across the bottom of the saucer and then wipe them across our face.Wiping the left cheek first and the right cheek next.Oh those politically incorrect days.Maggie said that the stupidest child would turn black if they gave the wrong answers.We couldn't see beyond the glow of the candle so we didn't realise what was going on.When the lights went on we screamed with laughter for we looked like little piccaninnies.We knew nothing about soot and smoke.
So here we are in 1948,a brand New Year and great changes about to come in our little world.
I had always wanted a Dad,....my Dad,I felt it when my pals talked of the things they did with their dads,when their hands went up in class to tell teacher of what their dads did for a living.Oh ,there were sad kids in class who would never see their dads again because they had been killed in the war,but mine was around ,somewhere and he never came to see us.
I was 6 now and I had spent three and a half years without him.He had stopped being Dad, in my mind, and had become Billy Daley,a stranger.But life goes on,and we were full of it,we were also unthinkingly cruel at times.Anyone who was disabled ,or too small or tall came in for a terrible barracking from our little gang.There was one poor man in particular who we treated atrociously.He was the same size as me,about 4 foot high,he was well dressed,always wore a collar and tie,a nice suit and a little flat cap.
He must have been short sighted for he had glasses with very thick lens.
Whenever we saw him he had a leather case,which was in proportion to the rest of him.What caused us to notice him was not his size,but his head..........it was flat!
We called him Billy Bullethead,shouted it whenever he passed by,causing him to turn and shake his fist,which would always be answered with more jeers.
Lodge Lane was slowly recovering from the war,shops were beginning to open in the empty spaces and some of the older shops were being spruced up.The shoe repairers on the block facing our street was having a new window fitted which was covered in a lovely green film ,upon which was the legend "Charles Richardson"done in gold flake scrolled letters ,underneath it said something about bespoke repairs,also done in gold.We holy terrors were stood on the pavement outside Charleys ,gazing in wonder at the gold lettering, when someone called out that Billy was coming up our street.We turned away from the window and started shouting "BILLY BULLETHEAD" at the top of our voices.This enraged the little man and he set down his case,
opened it and pulled out a small jar of something which he flung with all his might ,hoping to hit one of us.He did hit something.............Charlies window!We stood rooted to the spot as it shattered into nothingness.59 years later I can still see the look of horror on Billys face as Charlie came storming out of his shop.Even then I felt sorry for the trouble we had caused him.I can't recall seeing him ever again
By now my Mum had got a job at Vernons,at the other end of the world.She was getting up to work before I was awake, leaving my sister Jess to get me up and ready for school,washing, dressing and feeding kid sister Bette,and taking her off to our Aunty Sallys in Pembroke Place,all before getting to school herself.She was eight and a half.We were latchkey kids and our Jess was cleaner,cook and babyminder too.After school she had to go and pick Bette up and bring her home again.Mum wasn't intentionally cruel,but life was very hard for my big sister.
One day we came home to find our room covered all over in soot,great mounds of it.Jess was more frightened of what Mum might say than of the actual circumstance.So she organised the clean up.Now, two doors down on the other side of the street lived Mr Bishop ,the chimney sweep.Jess and I hadn't a clue what to do with all the soot,but I remembered that Mr Bishop always seemed to be carrying bags of the stuff on his bike,so perhaps he wouldn't mind a bit more.We filled the coal bucket with the stuff and I carried it to Mr Bishops back door.After God knows how many journeys,we emptied our room and filled the back entry adjacent the Bishops backyard door.
Mum came home to a clean room ,and a very angry Mr Bishop.
I don't know she settled things but life proceeded onwards.
And then one day I saw my Dad across the road,right outside Charlies shop....................Was he coming home?
Bye for now
Your writings are well worth a read.. ta for sharing.. waiting for the next chapters.. ta
Hengler is a very rare name.
I see there's only two in the 1936 Liverpool street directory.
Were they all related to the Hengler's Circus people?
Brian, I enyoy reading your stories but I find the one about a man being lynched in Lodge Lane very disturbing. Are you sure it really happened? Liverpool had quite a large and influential Jewish community at that time. What did they do about it?
He didn't say that somebody was actually lynched, just that he saw a frightened man standing on a chair with a noose around his neck.
It was the looting that came as a surprise to me.
Minority groups have always been singled out from time to time.
Hi Phillip and Jericho,
To answer your question first Phillip,I didn't become aware of the circus connection until the !950's.All through my childhood the name seemed untraceable.My Uncle Bill tried to find out if there were any leads that might lead to the origin of the name(remember,this was in the 40's).One day he had to deliver a grand piano to the Shakespeare theatre in Liverpool ,it was for an act called The Hengler Brothers.He was so excited to have such a good lead........alas,they were Polish and had chosen the name from an old circus handbill that they had found,because their own name was unpronouncable.
When This is Your Life started on the BBC in the 50's they had Britains ,then ,oldest actor as the subject on one show.Eammon Andrews told the audience how he,A.E. Matthews,had started out in showbusiness as a stable lad with Henglers Circus.I was agog ,here was the first mention of the family name outside of our little circle.Eammon went on to relate how the Circus had now become the London Palladium theatre.I was more than agog now,how the hell had our family gone from being famous circus owners to hard up tenants in a council flat?.Well the story is a long and an ironic one.We all believed for years that we had circus blood in our veins,but it turns out that our ancestor was,like those Polish brothers,an alien with an unpronouncable name who adopted his new one from a circus poster.My cousin Robbie researched it on the Net.
As for that poor old Chandler,Jericho,he wasn't killed.My mother and the good people of Mozart Street saved him.He went back to his shop and was still there in the summer of 1950 when we left for pastures new.
I don't think anyone mentioned it too much,because of the shame?I can't say, I was too young to know what went on in the wider world,and as to knowing if anyone in the Jewish community even knew about it...........I did't know what a Jew was,or come to that a Hindu or whatever.But I know what I saw, and still feel the emotion that charged my very being on that awful eve.
The man across the road was tall and handsome,he was wearing a cream trench coat which was open at the front,showing a nice suit and tie.
He was so smart.The look on his face was quite forbidding,his brows were furrowed and his lips were curled derisively.This wasn't the tall smiling man who had gone off to the army.
My Mum crossed the road and they talked hurriedly,Mum holding Bette out to him,Jess and I watching apprehensively from the other side.
I can't remember what happened next,did I erase the memory because events did not go as I would have wished? I don't know,but we didn't have the happy return that we had dreamed of.
Something did happen though,one weekend shortly after that visitation Dad came and took we three children to see our Nin.This was a strange experience,nearly three years had passed since we had seen them and we had forgotten what they looked like.They lived in Tintern Street, not far from Grandmas,but a different world.
Nin was kindly,but not too fresh,she had an aroma that was totally different from Grandmas,not a pleasant one ,I was uncomfortable when she hugged me.Granddad Daley was like my Dad but older,he was distant and quiet.
We were, after all,little strangers to them.Mum had gotten our best clothes out of pawn and we looked as we felt.....posh!In truth ,we were prigs,although we were poor and at the bottom of the heap,we never felt that way.Grandmas was our real world,a world of Brasso, Mansion polish and lavender.When Nin offered us a cup of tea in a cup so badly stained with tannin,I nearly gagged.Dad wasn't pleased with my reaction.
When Nin asked me about the things I was doing,I was quick in telling her about our dance troupe...........not the best thing I could have talked about.
A boy in a dance troupe?She asked me what football team I supported??????
Living so close to Goodison I had never been to a match!Living in a fatherless household I had never been initiated into the rites of the game.
There was only one team I supported,The Winslow.
This was the pub team which Granddad took me to watch on a Sunday.I loved it ,getting up early to travel across town to Grandmas.Granddad taking me by the hand to the coach full of players and supporters.It was all aboard and off to places unknown as the Winslow played other pub teams.
There were one or two other lads my age who would be with their Dads and we would go off on adventures in these new far flung places.
When I grew up I found out that we never travelled more than 10 miles away.But back then there were no Kirkby or Croxteth estates,that was the end of the world.One Sunday that sticks in my mind was when the team went to play, out near an airfield.We boys were so excited to see a Lancaster bomber,seemingly right behind the goal! We were off and running as soon as the coach stopped ,a real "Lanc",we'd only ever seen them in the sky or at the movies.We didn't see the fence,nor the tank traps,until it was too late.I got a wound that bled profusely and the first aid man from the Winslow did the business,so good that I never had to go to hospital.When I went back to Grandmas with my arm in a sling poor Granddad got what for from Grandma.
So there I am in Nins living room trying to explain why I didnt support any of the big teams.I am afraid that I never made a good impression.
So it was back to Mozart Street,and back to normal,or what we had
come to think of as normal.
I don't know what passed between Mum and Dad during that period ,were they making plans to get back together? I suppose so ,but thats looking back at it. We were more concerned with getting through the week,especially poor Jess.
I've written of that wonderful model shop just around the corner,I had to pass it every day on my way to school.One day, there appeared in the window a beautiful model of an Auster airplane.It was about two foot across and three foot long,made out of paper and balsa wood,there it hung,as though in flight.I loved that plane and wished that we were rich enough to buy it,but it was nineteen shillings and sixpence.An impossible dream.
But every day,after Jess had gone to take Bette to Aunty Sallys,I would linger by that window dreaming about that plane.
On one such a morning,I closed the door behind me to begin the journey to school, when I saw the unbelievable.There ,in the gutter,lay a one pound note.I snatched it up and went back to the step where I just held it before me wondering if it was real.I'd never had a pound before,then a dawning realisation came upon me............the plane!! I could buy the plane!
I determined to wait there until the shop opened at nine,to hell with being late,I was going to claim that which would soon be mine.
Time seemed to crawl by,I didn't have a watch but I knew as soon as the shops opened so would the model shop.
The man in the fish shop came out and lifted up his shutters,time to go.
Just then our Jess came around the corner with Bette,she was breaking her heart crying.I asked her what had happened and she told me that she had lost the pound that Mum gave her for Aunty Sally.The look of relief that came on her face when I gave her my new found wealth more than made up
for an old airplane.
Did I tell you that our kid had a wonderful voice?Having no radio,she would sing to me and Bette,songs that she had learned at school,songs from our concert party and songs from the musicals we watched at the pictures.Up in our room with just the three of us,she created a little bit of magic.
For some reason or other,we had to move bedrooms at this time.we hated it for our new bedroom was at the very top of a dark and gloomy stairway.There were no lights,not even gaslights.We had to make our way to bed by candlelight,the glow casting eerie shadows on the walls.Big sis and I didn't like going up on our own but there were many nights when we had to.Jess used to sing "Me and my Shadow" as we made our way up the stairs.
By now we had a cot for Bette so Mum, Jess and I all slept in the one bed.It was comforting to be so near to your loved ones, and made the world a less frightening place to be.
And then one night, when I was in the fastness of sleep,a big pair of hands lifted me out of the bed and shoved me in Bettes' empty cot.........Dad was back!
I can remember waking up very tired the next morning,my head was pressed against the bars of the cot,making me wonder where I was.Dad was home!!
It was a strange feeling,to have something you have wished for,for so long, come to pass.So much time had gone by since he had been our Dad,there was a wariness, no kissing and hugging.Just a strained politeness that strangers have when meeting for the first time.
Now I am older I can empathise with how he must have felt, no little lad running to greet him,just a fearful boy wondering if the stories he had ovrheard at Grandmas were true.Poor old Dad hadn't had a "good press" amongst the Protestant side of the family,he was,and would remain for a few years more,"that Billy Daley"when referred to in their conversations.
We were glad he was back though,we had been suffering from a bit of bullying by a neighbours teenage son,and now we had a Dad to stand up for us.
Things started to change shortly after he moved in ,I was given a bed of my own almost immediately.The sheets and blankets came later,in the meantime I had Dads army greatcoat as my covering,and thank god he was an N.C.O as the stripes on the sleeve gave me extra warmth!
I cannot speak for my sisters in this account,this is a purely personal memoir,
but one of the first memorable things he did, concerning me,was buy me a pair of boxing gloves.
Now,Tiber Street school was a boxing school.From infancy boys were encouraged to take up the noble art. When I was in the last class in infants I can remember having an enormous pair of boxing gloves put on me by Mr.Bath and being stuck in a makeshift ring with John Gerrard and urged to knock lumps out of each other.He was one of my mates,wore glasses(still had them on)and felt the sameway as I did.WE DID NOT LIKE IT!!
So,Dads first gift went down like a lead balloon.He tried though,the next thing he tried to get me interested in was football.He took me to a match at Goodison,his holy ground. I spent the whole time looking to see if I knew anyone in the crowd,I had absolutely no interest in what was happening on the field.He Tried to make connections but I must have been fairly set in my ways,I was six going on seven and all I was interested in was the pictures,the Pavilion,comics and our dance troupe.
He was very worried that I was less than a boy and certainly not the son he would have liked me to be.
I started to hear him urging Mum to stop my attendance at the dance school.I may have been the worlds worst dancer,I can't say how good or bad I was,but I loved being in that colourful place and hearing the music and songs.We still had no radio at home.
My exit from the world of showbiz came in a most unexpected way.At school my closest pal was Tony Sproule,he asked me where I went to of a Tuesday that stopped me playing out with him.I was proud of what I was in and tried to explain that I was involved in real show biz.We were rehearsing for another production in the Co-op hall the following Tuesday and I asked him to come along to see what went on.He seemed very keen,I made it sound like it was going to be a Hollywood style extravaganza
That night it was a dress rehearsal and I was done up in all my slap and a toy soldier outfit.Tony had brought his brother John and they had a grandstand view of proceedings.When we had finished our number,I went over to them,fully expecting them to overawed by my appearance.With horror struck faces they said "You look like a bleeding Tart!!"And thus ended my journey on the road to Holywood.I couldn't get out of that stage outfit quick enough.They had achieved what Dad had failed to.
Remembering the Coop hall has brought back memories of the queues that used to form outside the Co-op butchers on a Saturday morning.It was nearly all kids in the Queue,standing in line to get the meat ration.We aways went early Jess and I ,it was almost like a cinema queue.It curled around the block and if you didn't get there early you would be left with scrag ends.We were given a little treat, by one of the butchers,he would come down the line with a big jar of sweets and give them out to all of kids.I still remember Mums divvi number,49908.
After the shopping we would go home and get our picture money and then go to the Tunnel ,Capitol,or Cameo.Jess had developed a tremendous wheeze,having got our tickets at the kiosk,we would slip past the usherette collecting the tickets,this was done when there were a lot of other kids going through at the same time.She would keep hold of the tickets and put them under a flat iron when we got home.That way they always looked new.We would go to the same cinema many times with the one set of tickets,always ready to give them in should they be asked for ,the picture money would be used to buy ice cream or lies.
Bette was now old enough to come with us.All went well for a long time until I, in my stupid boyish way, demanded that I look after my own ticket during the week.
You know how busy a boys pocket can be,marbles,cigarette cards,lead soldiers and the odd sticky sweet all find their way in and out of your pocket during the course of a week.Imagine then,the state of my ticket for the next matinee at the Capitol.We slipped past the ticket box,I sauntered in a superior manner,I had my own ticket and didn't need our Jess to tell me what to do.I dawdled along the corridor looking at the posters, savouring the moment.I looked toward the ticket collector,Jess and Bette were through,there was only me in the corridor."Wheres yer ticket lad?" she asked. I fumbled in my pockets,pulling out a very soiled and crumpled ticket.I gave it to her,"Where did ya get this?" she demanded."Off the the ticket lady"I whimpered."What Bloody Year?" she yelled.I was taken to the lobby and the police were called.I was terrified.My Dad would kill me if he found out.Granddad,my Uncle Bill and all my auntys would be ashamed of me
At length ,an old Bobby arrived,he took me along the passge to a place by one of the windows.It was lighter there, he told me that what I had done was very wrong and that I could be taken away from my family and school.He could see I was frightened,so he took me outside and told me to go home and stop being a silly boy.I was lucky to have met a real policeman.
It didnt stop us getting into other japes though.At the Cameo, and the Kensington cinema,they would have sing songs before the films and they would call up the kids who had a birthday that week and give them a free iced ly and some other little gift.The three of us would take turns in having birthdays in alternate cinemas.We were never caught.
Woolworths also took a terrible hammering from the Saturday matinee crowd,we would swarm through the doors and reach up to the open counters,unable to see what we were grabbing,shove whatever it was in our pockets and go like hell out of the other doors.Divvying up the loot outside we would find things like hairgrips,rubber bands and maybe a comb ,crime most definitely did not pay.
When the pictures let out ,we boys would be astride our invisible horses, macs tied around or necks like cloaks and,slapping our behinds, we would ride off into the sunset,going home for our tea and then our weekly bath for tomorrow was Sunday.
As to those Saturday baths,since Dad had come home we were treated to a new tin bath.Our living room,such as it was,was situated on the first floor,the nearest tap was in the bathroom on the half landing,one flight above.for some reason or other,we couldn't use the bath in there.So prior to the arrival of the small tin bath ,all our washing was done in the small handbasin in the bathroom.
I still wonder just how Dad managed to fill that little bath with hot water.There was no boiler for hot water on tap,he had to heat the water in a pan on the fire in our room.How many journeys to the bathroom it took to fill that I do not know,but he did it.The bath was placed in front of the fire and we kids took it in turns to have our scrub.Being a boy,I had to go last,Bette, being the baby,went first ,then our Jess and then yours truly. I had to sit on the stairs until the girls had finshed;by the time it was my turnthe water was grey and there were grey bubbles on the surface.After getting dried we were covered from head to foot with DDT powder.The house was plagued with fleas and our parents took every measure to ensure that we were kept free of them.Our bed sheets, pillows and mattresses,were dusted regularly.
Worst of all was the nit comb,we had our heads washed in Derbac,which smarted like hell,and then that steel weapon was dragged through scalp to gather every one of the little blighters that hid amongst our follicles.
I can still hear the cracking sound they made when Mum crushed them with her thumbnail.
So,scrubbed and deloused,we made our way to DDT powdered beds and awaited the morning.
You know,I never did find out how Dad emptied that bath.
Since Dads arrival home Sunday mornings changed.He loved salt fish and we would awake to the smell of it boiling on the fire.He used to put a bit of smoked bacon in with it to give it flavour.We were called down to breakfast when the fish had been cooked to such a turn that the meat practically melted in your mouth.I have sailed the world over and have never had salt fish the way Dad cooked it ,boiled in milk,a touch of smokey bacon ,it was fit for a king.
After breakfast,we had a quick swill and then it was on with the Sunday best,retrieved on Saturday,and then off to Walton.
Dad would put Jess and Bette on the bus to go to Nins,and then he would walk me through the town,a different route each Sunday,and he would relate the history of the places we passed on our way to Walton.I still treasure those golden Sunday mornings.Dad was erudite,he should have gone to college,but ,as the eldest boy in a poor working class family,he was needed as a wage earner.So he was destined never to fulfil his potential.
He never spoke to me of this,he told my daughter many years later.
But there ,on those Sunday morning walks,I learned of the building of Liverpool as a great commercial city,of the railway and canal pioneers,how Crown street and Edge Hill were at the forefront of the railway revolution.
The walks through the cathedral cemetery,where he would point out the good and the great,the stroll past the Goree Plaza where he told me of our shame.History used to live on his lips,his words made things come alive.
I never felt bored as he illustrated things.He deepened my love for the city.
I remember, clearly,when he showed me the Oriel Chambers in Water street,explaining how the design of that building enabled architects to build the skyscrapers in America.
I don't know how long it took to get to Nins,but we always arrived at the same time as his brothers and sisters ,who had brought their children as well.
Now that we were family again we were discovering our catholic cousins.
And there were many of them.My favourite uncle on Dads side was his younger brother Gerry.He was now a docker and he used to get Yankee comics!!!!They opened up a whole new world to me.That was where I first met Superman, Captain Marvel,Tarzan,Casey Ruggles,(surely the finest scripted and drawn comic ever).He also got the funnies from the American newspapers,Li'l Abner,The Katzenjammer Kids,Terry and the Pirates and a host of other favourites used to spill out from their pages.
The Liverpool Echo had a two frame strip of Curley Wee and Gussie Goose plus Dick Tracey,which I loved.It wasn't until the appearance of The Back Entry Diddlers that I really got interested in English newspaper comic strips.
Another uncle,Harold, was a prankster.One of the first Sundays we were back at Nins,and the first time I had seen Uncle Harold ,he saw me standing by Nins chair and called out"Look what he's done" pointing to the floor behind me,where there lay a huge turd.It certainly hadn't been there when I walked in for I would have seen it.I was mortified,I must have looked a picture,guilt written all over my face ,and yet I was innocent."it wasn't me" I stammered.Everyone burst out laughing for Harold had just pulled off another of his pranks.I didn't know it was a joke turd,and when he stooped to pick it up I was horrified..........I had a lot to learn.
When all of Nins sons were congregated,we kids would have a short play on the bomb site opposite her house,with strict instructions not to get dirty.As soon as the pubs were open ,Dad would walk us along Walton Road ,across Spellow Lane and to the bottom of Eton Street ,where he would watch us make our way to Grandmas.They never became reconciled ,Dad and and our Hengler grandparents.
At number 69,Grandma and aunty Betty would be busy polishing and cleaning as well as preparing the Dinner,Granddad would be up at the pub ,so Jess,Bette and me would sit and read the latest editions of the Beano,Dandy,Radio Fun and Film Fun while listening to the radio.It was blissful.When we got there,it would be Time for 2 Way family favourites withJean Metcalfe and Cliff Michelmore,this would be followed by the Billy Cotton Bandshow,with Alan Breeze and Kathy Kay,around this time we would have fetched Granddad from the pub,with his big bottle of shandy,and then it was down at the table while Grandma served dinner to the sound of Ray's A Laugh ,Up the PoleTake It From Here,or one of the many other shows from those golden days of radio.
Pudding was always eaten to the sound of Jack Payne.
After making our rounds of the various aunt and uncles who lived at the top end of Walton,it was Jess's job to get the three of us home.We used to ike sitting on the long seat at the back of the tram so we could kneel and look out of the window.
hen we got home now Mum would have prepared a Sunday tea with a trifle and biscuits too!! Life was getting a little bit brighter.
But life with Dad was not all cakes and ale.
He worked long hours and would come home in some terrible states;he had a job at Stanlow,working in the new oil refinery.As a welder, he was working on the towers and would be filthy at the end of his shift.Mum gave him little treats because he needed something to cheer him up at the close of day.So,there appeared in our cupboard things that were for Dad only,things in that time of shortages that we had never seen before.
One of them was a tin of Nescafe instant coffee.Jess and I would look at these forbidden things and wonder what they were.
The tin looked nice,with its rich brown and gold lettering,it looked just like something chocolate.
There were just us three kids at home at the time.I lifted the can up to look inside and Jess warned me not to do anything,I was trespassing and could be punished.I told her I was only going to have a look.I opened the lid and saw the shiny,chocolate coloured grains,was it chocolate?
I wet my fingers to have dip.........ughhhhh!It was awful.I snapped the lid back on and put the tin back.
Shortly afterwards Mum came home from Vernons and put us to bed.
I was sound asleep when I was wrenched from my dreams by my Dad, he was holding me by the shoulders,shaking me and asking if I had been in his cupboard.
I can't remember what I said for I was so afraid,he was in a rage,screaming as he pummelled me with blows.I don't know how long the beating lasted,,but when it was over I was bleeding from my ears,nose and mouth.He had shouted that he would leave us again if I was going to behave like a thief.I can remember crying ,holding on to his arms and begging him not to go away again.I was frightened of being fatherless again.
Things were never the same between us after that night, we disappointed each other.
I must tell you a little about our baby sister Bette,she was terribly unlucky in that she was always having accidents,broken bones,sprains and a particularly nasty scald.We had to be very careful for the slightest fall could cause her an injury.
One day our gang was in Sefton Park and we were down by the boat hire place,it was very crowded and, as I made my way to the waters edge,I could see our Bette in the water.It looked like she was swimming for she was face down;there were hundreds of people about and I was so scared of water that I couldn't bring myself to go in to stop her swimming away.
All of a sudden people ran past me to drag her out,she was drowning!!
She was taken away in an ambulance with big sister Jess.When I got home she was already there ,safe and sound ,and I got a telling off for not trying to save her.
But life goes on,and our life was lived mainly in the streets.In spring ,summer and autumn,the family lived outside ,the kids playing their games and their mothers,and some fathers,sitting on the steps ,talking to each other and keeping a watchful on us.Sometimes play would be interrupted by a street singer,bellowing out sorrowful popular songs, cries of "Eres a penny go the next street" would often accompany them.
The Aunt Sally man with his horse and cart,with its barrels of powerful liquid soap,was always a welome caller with the ladies.they would pile out their houses with bottles and jugs to buy this universal cleaner.
The potted ,or pickled, herring man would always do a roaring trade as did the knife sharpener who had wonderful little cart which would unfold into a fullblown grinding machine.All of these visitors had their own cries which would herald their arrival.
Our streets resounded with the noise of life,the shrill cries of children at play,the barrel organ outside the pub,the peddlers calls,and the distant hoots of ships on the river ,the whine of the tramcars electric motors and the clang of their bells embroidered a sound picture that was truly Liverpudlian.
At school I was now in the juniors,the playground seemed enormous,so there was lots of room to run about in.We used to act out scenes from our favourite films at playtime,Cowboys and Indians,Romans and whoever,Japs and commandos,we weren't allowed to play ball games but it was permissable to massacre each other.
At the top of our playground stood the boys and girls toiletsThere were two separate entrances with a dividing wall in the middle.There were little cubicles on either side but instead of separate pedestals,there was one long trough with seats in each cubicle.The trough was spotless white and was flushed through at intervals.I was told ,by one of the older boys, that if I went into the cubicle by the dividing wall I would see the girl in the next loos bottom reflected in the water.I crept in and peered down,only to see the face of a girl looking back at me!!!
The Olympics were held in were held in London in 1948, not that we kids knew anything about them,a man from the middle of our street won a bronze medal at them for weightlifting.His name was Julian Creus and I don't remember him because of his medal win,but because I watched from the pavement as he was carried out of his house on a stetcher to an ambulance and I heard people say"thats Julian Creus, the Olympic champion ." It was years later that I read of his achievement.
The National Health Service came into being in 1948 and with it came hope for all the short sighted and toothless people of Great Britain,was I to young to know about such things?Absolutely not,our close neighbour was both shortsighted and toothless and she was so excited at the prospect of getting both false teeth and spectacles free of charge.
She was a grandmotherly type of lady,easy going and submissive to her husband, he was so uncouth in both appearance and manners,that he would have made Alf Garnett seem like Noel Coward in comparison.
He was a navvy and always bore a 5 o'clock shadow of ginger bristles,his oily flat cap was never off his head and he always ate his meals with one hand curled around his plate.How do I know this ? we shared the same lodgings!
He would keep his head lowered to the plate,snuffling and grunting as he wolfed his food down.
Come the day when Mrs.E is sitting at the table ,replete with new teeth and glasses,her husband hasn't noticed a thing,"What do you think Love?" she said, new teeth and glasses glistening in the gaslight.He lifted his face from the plate,glowered and said "You look like a f*****g 'orse!!"
The last of the great romantics............
1950 was looming over the horizon and maybe the half century would bring even greater changes...........lets wait and see.