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Thread: childhood memories. part one/four

  1. #1
    chippie
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    Post childhood memories. part one/four

    THE NEIGHBOURHOOD

    On the right hand corner of Desmond Street looking up towards St Benedict,s Church was our local greengrocers. Although the entrance was actually on Heyworth Street, there was a side window in our street. Harry Howarth and May Dreaper owned the shop and did a good trade there. I,m not sure why these proprieters had different names, were they living over the brush or living tally? as some called it in those days.

    I used to go shopping her for the vegetables for the pans of scouse that we had in our household. Sometimes we were lucky enough to have meat in with the vegetables, moreoften not as there was not enough money for a trip to the butchers at the bottom of our street and across Breck Road.

    May Dreaper would always give me an apple or orange or even a pear if she was in a better mood, when I went into her shop. The fruit always had a bit of bad in it, these we called "fades". The shop always smelt of thyme or sage and there were bunches of these herbs hanging in all corners of the shop, drying out. I would ask for a pennyworth of potherbs and would get a brown paper bag filled with carrots, a few potatoes, a small swede, a parsnip, an oinion and some of the dried herbs that were hanging up. This was all that was needed for our scouse or stew as it is called outside Liverpool.

    At the bottom of the street across Breck Road was Unsworth,s our local butcher. Nan, my guardian, almost always insisted that Jim, the older man serve her as he always gave us a bit more or a bit better joint for our money. Ken, the son, never got a look in to serve the older customers who had been going to the shop during the war years and getting good rations.


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    Then there was our paper shop, Jim Maxwell,s. They lived in New Brighton over the water and travelled over to the shop each morning to open for six o,clock to give the workers their papers and cigarettes. I especially liked Jim because when I was ill and off school, nan would go up to the shop and tell him and he would send me loads of comics, dandy, beano,hotspur,beezer,topper and film fun. O.k. they were all out of date and old stock, but they kept me quiet all day reading and doing the puzzles in them.

    Mrs. Mudd ran a cold meat shop at the bottom corner of Desmond Street and Breck Road. We never bought anything in this shop as it was too dear for us, but I did go there for my Auntie Louie who lived at number 40 Desmond Street. Mudds had some lovely Holland,s meat pies and puddings and her salmon paste was out of this world.

    Another grocers shop where we didn,t go was Jim McQuaid,s on Breck Road, on the right at the top going into town. I used to go there for Auntie Louie,s weekly shopping order until the shop employed a delivery boy to bring the shopping to the customer,s houses. I used to wait for the order to be made up in the shop and sit on the steps behind the counter, or go into the room beyond and look around for the mop or brush that Stan, the man that took over the shop when Jim died, wanted. The lad who did the deliveries was a boy who used to live in our street next to Auntie Louie,s, Stanley Rickerby, a happy friendly lad. The shop was situated to where Dr. Madison,s surgery was, opposite the petrol station owned by, or sold, Shell oil.

    There were two "Uncles" shops in our immediate area. These pawn shops were known as uncles by the people who used them as a way of expressing where the goods were. Perhaps also because they were more in there than their own homes, so they looked on them as family.
    Say Uncle Ronnie came home from work and wanted to go out that night to a darts match, he,d want to know where his suit was and nan would say that it was in Uncle Erics, or Eric Milton,s pawn shop because we needed the money to get the tea with. These pawn shops loaned you money on goods for a short period. You could buy the goods back with the money lent plus a small amount of interest. The goods could be re sold if they were not redeemed by the customer within three months. The other "uncle" was Healings at the bottom of the next street, Northcote, and facing onto Breck Road opposite Fishguard Street.
    ,

  2. #2
    chippie
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    Default My Neighbourhood part two

    On the top of Breck Road and corner of Heyworth Street was a pub called "the London Stores" sometimes my nan would find herself in there drinking her milk stout, Mackeson, which was supposed to be "good for you"
    I heard a story later about a fire in the living quarters of this pub and that the two children of the landlord were rescued in the blaze and were tacken away by the social services.

    A bit further away from our street was another watering hole frequented by my gran, "the Kings Arms" A local joke at the time was "Where,s yer gran? " "In the Kings Arms" "Where,s the King,s Arms?" "Around the Queen,s bum" This pub was on the corner of Creswick Street and Breck Road. Along near here were two more shops that I would go to, Beattie,s Dairy where I would shop for nan and Auntie Louie. We were frequent customers here until our credit stopped and then we moved on a bit further along to Waltons where was bought Kellys uncut bread for nan and us. I remember the shopkeeper here being a yellowy complexioned person who, at the time, thought was a foreign looking woman, and the owner of Beatties had a" turn in his eye" ( just like I had in those days) and you wouldn,t know if he was talking to you or looking at the shop doorway. I always had to be asked twice or more what I wanted when I went into his shop.

    I would get my sweets from another shop along here and sometimes go a bit nearer home to a sweetshop known locally as "the tin hat" as it had a soldier,s tin hat nailed on to the fascade outside the shop. The shopkeeper had put it in pride of place outside his shop as a badge of honour that he had fought for his country...and survived. I would of course get some sweets at Jim Maxwell,s shop too, but he didn,t like going to the side counter to serve us kids and would leave us till all his customers were gone before serving us. He was not a well man was Jim. Sometimes you would go into his shop and he,d have his head in his hands and look really ill. He even confided in me once, a mere child of ten, that he felt awful and would I ring his wife up and tell her. I felt sorry for him sometimes.
    Another of my favourite shops was on Heyworth Street on the sweep going towards my school, Jackie Balls. We boys used to say, "Are you coming to Jackie Balls for some of his mint balls."

    There was a cinema at the top of our street over the main road and the corner of Rupert Lane (named I suppose after Prince Rupert who was reputed to have stayed there while trying to oust roundhead soldiers who had taken control of Liverpool Castle in the civil war) called "the Everton Palace." My Uncle Ronnie who lived in my nan,s with us, went there and to another one further along Everton Road and down Lytton Street, called "the Lytton." There was yet another cinema a bit more distance away towards town and over West Derby Road, called "the Royal Hippodrome." So really we were well off for something to do if we had the money to go and see a film. The one I always went to on a Saturday morning was back on Breck Road on the right going towards Townsend Lane. It was called "the Royal" and us kids made a hell of a racket in there watching Hopalong Cassidy or Tex Ritter or Roy Rogers, chasing all those Indians right across the prairie. Little did we know in those days that we were the bad guys chasing the people from their own land.

    One of my favourite shops in the area was along Everton Road, the local pet shop run by Mrs. Lyons (joke there somewhere) she had a huge cage hung up outside the shop with a big green parrot called Laura inside. The parrot used to shout her name very clearly and whistle after the passengers getting on and off at the bus stop nearby.

    At the bottom of our street around to the left was a huge three storey building that we called "packies" I,ve no idea why. It was a rag merchants that had floor to ceiling clothes and bits of cloth tied in huge bundles, baled and stowed. There was always a funny smell coming from there and the building attracted mice, rats and cockroaches, but it didn,t stop us kids playing around there at all.

    The favourite walk by some of us kids in those days was to the local toy shops to peer into the windows at the array of wonderous items we,d dream about getting in our Christmas stockings. The nearer toy shop was "Addisons" near to where Breck Road meets Breckfield Road. This was a double fronted shop that stocked larger toys like doll,s prams and bicycles of all sizes. There was many a snotty nose pressed up against the glass peering into the wonderland of kids dreams.
    If we were feeling more adventureous one day, we would go abit further afield and go down Breck Road a bit more and cross over to the other side near to where the Holy Trinity Church was. We had to transverse two main roads to get here and we were not even supposed to go out of our street. Woe betide us if someone told our parents. I,d get a good smacked bum for a start and maybe have to stay in with a face on for a few hours. It only lasted a few hours because once nan,s temper died down she was o.k. Anyway this other toyshop was well worth the punishment for us kids to gasp at the multitude of toys in that shop approprietly called "toyland" with toys in the windows of the double fronted shop, hung up on the ceiling and on the walls inside, oh it was a dreamland of bliss and contentment just to gaze; Well worth a shouting at and a slap around the chops to any kid.

    Once there was a gang of us playing around the streets doing nothing in particular. We were walking along Jasmine Street which backed onto our street, when someone suggested that we push a taxi that was parked there so that the alarm would go off. I remember being one of the hands on culprits and the alarm did go off so we all ran down Jasmine Street towards the entry that leads to our street. The taxi driver starts running after us and seemed to have homed in on me. While the other kids disperse to their own houses I keep on running. I was so scared that he was going to hit me and I ran right across Breck Road, the main road I was forbidden to cross. If there had been traffic coming I would have been killed. I ran up an entry in Glenvale Street that I realised I couldn,t get out of, so I gave up running and the taxi driver grabbed hold of me and shouted at me and accused me of scratching his vehicle. I just lay there crying and denying all. If I,d have taken him back to my nan she would have made mince meat out of him, but I decided out of the goodness of my heart, to let him off....this time. I still don,t like taxi drivers to this day. I think they are milking the times, sitting in warm vehicles all day getting a fat bum.

  3. #3
    chippie
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    Default Part three/four death and play

    The back room was wallpapered and painted, and a new gas mantle was bought for the fitting. It was the first time in seven years that I had seen this room properly and wondered why it was being done all of a sudden. I was told that we were moving in there for a little while out of the parlour that had been the only living space for tens of years for nan.
    A day or so later grandad,s body was brought home from the hospital where he had died a few days before. McDougals the funeral directors on Breck Road had brought himin a plain blacked out windowed van. The neighbours were on the steps peeping out and muttering about the colour of the coffin or the fact that nan could afford to have had grandad insured at all. There was shuffling and talking low in the parlour and next thing the house was quiet again and I was left sitting in the chair with a piece of toast that had burned while it was being made on the open range of the back room.

    This room had been so dark and miserable since I,d been brought here those seven years ago. The window in here was so thick with ground in dirt that it looked like it had never been cleaned since well before the war which had ended eighteen years before. The old smelly curtains and nets just fell away having them taken down and went right in the bin in the wall out in the small yard where a hundredweight of coal lay sprawled on the concrete. We only ever passed through this room on our way to go to the toilet in the yard or to go to bed, feeling our way in the pitch black of night or with a dripping penny candle to light our way up the cold bare staircase and into one of the equally cold bare bedrooms. How strange this room was now with a bit of light coming in through the still dirt ingrained window.

    There was comings and goings in the front room over the next few days in this cold, snow filled January week. The neighbours had been and gone to show their respects to grandad. Mrs. Mac next door could be heard blubbering away and quickly muttering her sorrows. Mrs. Thompson giving my gran her support in volunteering to cut the sandwiches and butter the bread. and Mrs. Boyn promising to lend nan a table cloth that once adorned the funeral tea of some relative or other back in the last street she came from. Then my Uncle Bob asked me did I want to go in and see grandad, I nodded and we went into the parlour to see the coffin laying under the closed curtained window with the lid standing erect at the bottom against the wall. I noticed immediately that the room had been wallpapered and that the room felt cold as there hadn,t been a fire lit in there for a week. I look at grandad who looked so clean, the cleanest I,d ever seen him, and shaved too. His face looked like he had make up on I thought. I asked Uncle Bob why he was like that. (I felt awkward and just said that for something to say) He told me that it,s the way we go when we die. I then made a remark about they had spelt grandad,s name wrong on the coffin lid in gold letters too, and left to go and read my Bronco Lane annual that I,d got off somebody for Christmas.

    I was to witness another death in the family in number 21 two doors away. It was Ganny, my grandma,s mam. I remember going up the stairs in their house to see her in her bedroom. The bed seemed huge to me in that little front room, and all I could see of Ganny was her small white haired head on the pillow. She lived here alone since great grandad had died of a brain haemorrhage during the war years. Ganny was lying flat in the bed and nan was putting vaseline on her lips to keep them moist. I knew that she was dying as young as I was at the time of the tender age of six.

    Grandma was used to death. I remember one morning while I was in the parlour asleep with Uncle Ronnie, Mr Thompson from three doors up banged on the door a few times. Nan got up from her bed upstairs and opened the front door. I heard Mr Thompson telling nan that his wife had "gone in the night" and would nan go and "lay her out" Lter I found out that his wife had died during the night and would like nan to wash and prepare the corpse for the funeral men who would be coming later that day to take it away.

    There was often or not a large removal type van parked on the waste ground at the bottom of our street adjacent which was Northcote Street. It could have been an Eddie Stobbard hauliers truck. Margaret Guy and her friend Josie Williams, myself and one or two others found this truck a good place to sit on the front engine part and chat. We would sit on the bonnet for hours being shielded from the rain as there was an overhang above the cab. This was a firm favourite of ours to sit and play guessing games and talk about what we wanted to be when we grew up. A few years later I would get my first kiss from Josie during a game of true, dare, kiss, command.

    I must also point out that it was at this age that I had a crush on a lad at school as I didn,t remember him being around much. I may have first saw him at the school play centre one night. His name escapes me at this time, Eddie I think. I decided to follow him home one night after we had been to the play centre for our nightly two hour session. Steven Guy from our street was with me and we hid in entries on the way in case he saw us. He was a clean fresh faced lad with a natural tanned skin and rosie red cheeks. His hair was brushed back and Brylcreamed. Perhaps he was so clean and fresh, unlike me who was grubby and skin troubled, that I wanted to emulate him. There was no follow up to this episode of school kid crushes.

    I remember that at first I never stayed for school dinners, I always went home at twelve o,clock to have a jam buttie or whatever was going at the time. Lter on I did start staying for the meals on wheels, as we called them because the food containers always came in a van from somewhere. I loved the school dinners. To me there was always a lot of it, and "seconds" sometimes too. I,d never been fed so well in my life. My favourite was cheese pie, and pudding, any suet pudding with hot custard and the skin off the custard too. I usually asked and got this schoolkid delicacy and never left any food on my plate, ever.

  4. #4
    Newbie Jesamee's Avatar
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    Chippie you are an entertaining novelist in the making. Stunning stuff more please.

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    Senior Member brian daley's Avatar
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    Default My Neighbourhood

    Chippie,
    I have really enjoyed reading your story,you made those people come to life,pure magic.Keep that pen working,you've got a real tale to tell.
    Thanks for sharing your memories

    BrianD

  6. #6
    chippie
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    Default memoirs

    Thank you Jes, but Jes, read the king,s life story ,Brian Daley. He nudged me into putting my rantings on the forum. I,ve been jotting down for ages little bibs and bobs but Brian is like Charles Dickens, just flow off the pen. Each of us does have a lot of tangled memories of our childhood and should be written down before we pass on so our kids and their kids and kids we,ll never see, read the lives we had in our world at our time.

    Brian, thank you for your support but I can,t make it a best seller, not with your great works still in its infancy. Part four soon and then???????

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