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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.

    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 O.k. they were all out of date and old stock, but they kept me quiet all day reading and doing the puzzles in them.


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    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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    Senior Member lindylou's Avatar
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    Chippie, I have been enthralled reading your memories. Looking forward to the next part.

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    Senior Member ChrisGeorge's Avatar
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    Hiya Chippie

    Wonderful reminiscences, Chippie!

    Chris
    Christopher T. George
    Editor, Ripperologist
    Editor, Loch Raven Review
    http://christophertgeorge.blogspot.com/
    Chris on Flickr and on MySpace

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    Senior Member brian daley's Avatar
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    Default Chippies memories

    Chippie,
    Don't hide your light under a bushel,you have an honest way with words.I could feel that frightened kid running away from the taxi driver,taste that skin topped custard and smell that awful begrimed room.
    Write what you feel ,you'll keep us all enthralled.
    I look forward to more
    BrianD

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    chippie
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    Many thanks Chris, and Brian will do, cheers

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    Re-member Ged's Avatar
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    Well in Chippie, you're getting on so get em down - your thoughts that is.
    www.inacityliving.piczo.com/

    Updated weekly with old and new pics.

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    Newbie Jesamee's Avatar
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    Hey Chippie Brian D is my brother. I am the 'Jess' he talks about .

  13. #13
    chippie
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    Sorry Jess, Of course he is, it,s my stupid brain, doesn,t click into gear until tea time then clicks back out again.

    Ged, it,s too cold to get them down at the moment, but come the summer lad, you,ll see...oh my inks run out...... haha

  14. #14
    chippie
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    Default photos to go with my storyi

    Photos of my area include; The London Stores pub; the right hand aspect of Desmond St. from Heyworth Street, Jim Maxwell,s second shop in; Desmond St looking down from St Benedicts Church; A street party to celebrate either the coronation of hm the queen, or ve day, not sure.
    Last edited by chippie; 03-03-2008 at 02:38 PM.

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    Some more pics including; my sister Babs an I outside May Dreapers shop; me on our step with my uncle (out of the picture); May Dreaper,s shop and Miltons aka Uncle Erics"; and overview from high above the water tower in Aubrey Street.

    Some photos from the records office, central library, Liverpool
    Last edited by chippie; 03-03-2008 at 02:38 PM.

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    I,ve just tried to post my final page on here but the screen couldn,t find the page, seven times. In the end I lost an hours work so am going off in a huff.

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    Senior Member brian daley's Avatar
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    Default Losing it

    Chippie,put it down to experience,pick yourself up,dust yourself down and start all over again.Your readership awaits,
    BrianD

  18. #18
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    I,m over it now Bri. but can,t do it tonight as it,s not my turn on the computer, will have to wait till tomorrow.

    Thanks

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    Senior Member Ernie's Avatar
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    Chippie, keep it up, I feel as if I am back there in time,
    Ernie.

  20. #20
    chippie
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    Default Part four of five.

    The neighbours that lived in Desmond Street while I was there for seventeen years were not by and large transient people, except for one or two households like the Seagerburgs who went to live in Sweden. Their house was on the opposit side to where ours was and to get over the threshold you had to climb several steps. Some of them originaly had cellars where the coalman each Wednesday morning would throw a hundredweight of nutty slack down the hole or through the door, and leave a dirty, dusty mess where the sack hit the pavement.

    There weren,t many households on the south side of Dessy. Starting from the top nearest Heyworth Street was Joe Kitchen whom I never saw at all whilst I was living in the street. I don,t know whether he was a shift worker or whether he just was a very private person. Next came the Speeds whom I remember was a strickly female household who I saw quite regularly either going to the shops or Great Homer Street Market on a Saturday morning and coming back with loads of goodies.
    Next to the Speeds was Mrs. Almond was a great character old, bent over, pushing a dirty old pram we used to call a go chair back then. She be dressed in tatty old clothes, stunk to high heaven and talked in a low manly voice which was quite loud for a little old Tilly Mint like Mrs. Almond. I,m afraid, although we had a good respect for her, we kids tended to poke fun at her expence, yes even me. One of my party pieces at family gatherings was immitate Mrs. Almond,s voice. She was quite a scary character, I remember one dark winter,s night going up our street on our side to sit at my friend,s doorstep right at the top. The street was always poorly lit with three gas jets one at the top, bottom and middle, two of which were always burning either low or not on at all due to us kids kicking balls at the glass.
    I was in my own thoughts going up our street and I thought I saw a flicker of light a bit further up in the dark. I slowed up trying to focus my eyes to try and see if there was somebody coming down the street or someone lurking there. As I drew nearer a low booming voice echoed over to me, "WILL YOU OPEN MY DOOR?" I nearly wet myself and jumped three feet into the air. It was Mrs. Almond sitting on the steps of her house waiting for someone, anyone, to come past and open her door for her to go in. She was a frequent visitor to the London Store public house as it was the nearest to her. She smoked, drank and swore like a trooper, but for her age, which looked like in the nineties, she could get about. I went over to her calling her name to let her know that I knew her and was a local. Took her key and opened her door, took her arm and helped her up, pushed her pram up and in after her, slammed the door and legged it to my friend,s house where I had a fit of giggles more out of being scared than funny. Now Mrs. Almond,s house was even worst than ours. The nets and curtains looked like they,d never been changed since the Relief of Maferking, the hallway dark and dingy with pieces of dusty cloth flying in the breeze which indicated that her back door was always open, if she had one that is. I couldn,t see any gas jet in her hall but then again I couldn,t see my hand behind my back either! There was always a dirty deserted house smell to her house, as if the inhabitents had gone and left it years ago and had become derelict. Next came Mrs. Boyne, my nan,s friend. She worked as a cleaner in the Collegiate in Shaw Street and one time got my nan a job there with her. One night I went with them and stood around looking up and about I was so amazed at the building and overcome with awe. Next came the Bennetts, Sales, and Smiths, and next to them was my Auntie Louie,s house. Now my Auntie Louie was not really my auntie, but was related to my nan. Nan,s brother married Auntie Louie,s sister and their family used to live in our house before Nan and her husband Charlie moved in there in 1936.
    Auntie louie was riddled with arthritis and could only sit in one position. She must have slept, very poorly I thought, in such an uncomfortable way at night and had to call her sons in the night to take her to the toilet which was a chair with the bottom removed and a bucket underneath. Poor Auntie Louie. She had black straight hair and glasses falling down her nose all the time. A yellowy/white complection and gnarled hands and fingers, but she could manage a small newspaper or magazine on a good day. She had three sons, Ronnie who worked in Silcocks who liked his drink and would come home after a few on occassions and try and kiss his mum and tell her he loved her but Auntie Louie would resist and tell him to leave her alone and go and sit down. It was amusing sometimes but on the other hand destressing for Auntie Lou and her sore body. Jimmy was the next son, he was my mentor at one time and taught me how to develope my own rolls of film in their cellar, and made me things out of household packaging just like a one man Blue Peter he was. When I was the required age he got me a job in his firm in Aintree where I reached the grand position of chargehand over a group of lads who were the best in the business, but that,s for another page. John was the youngest son of them all and was the only one to marry later on. One day I went over to Auntie Louies and I found her crying. John had gone out with his friend Mick from the flats at the bottom of our street and hadn,t been about for a few hours. She told me that sh wanted John to take her to the toilet and would I go and try and find him. Well I ran like the clappers to Mick,s house in the flats but got no answer so I ran round to the betting office but they were not there so looked areound the main road to see if I could see them walking along, no sign. I had to go back and tell Auntie Louie that I hadn,t found them. I did and she calmed down a little bit but I was flushed and worried about her and felt sorry for her. Not long after John did appear and I left while the preparations were done. I went home and breathed a sigh of relief.
    Not many people knew what Auntie Louie looked like. She would sit at the front door about two hours every year if it was hot and sunny so not many people saw her, it was just someone I knew and talked about often to my friends and neighbours. Next to the Redmond,s (my Auntie Lou,s married name) was the Rickerby,s I mention previously one of which was the local errand boy for Auntie Lou. When they left relatives of The Guys moved there. The guys were living on the opposite side, our side. there was a bombed out site next which happened during the war when two households were wiped out and our football pitch was created. Well that,s the one side of our street.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Ernie's Avatar
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    Great, when are you getting by No.5, cheers.

  22. #22
    chippie
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    Default part five

    On our side of the street were the Merettsas, the Rooms/Pritchards, the Corless, the Caves, the Amos, the Carsons, the Ferneoghs, the Woods, the Quirks, the Thompsons and grandad Thistlewood.
    Now grandad Thistlewood was the second husband of my grandmother,s mother, namely, Ganny who came over from Armagh sometime in the past. She had a brother Thomas Irwin who went over to America around 1885 according to his American obituary column when he was a mere 18 and eventually he founded the First Presbyterian Church in Lawton, Kansas and went on to marry a lady from St. Louis and had one daughter, later dying at the age of 73 in 1943. Ganny also had a sister Mary Ann who also went to America and married a George Washington Mostella. But Ganny came to Liverpool and stayed and married a John Henry Simpson and had three children, John Arthur, known as Uncle Arthur, Thomas Henry, known as Uncle Tom and of course my nan, Lily. I was unfortunate not to have been able to meet my nan,s brother and sister but up to the start of the war one of them lived in number 41 on our side at the very bottom of the street. When the war started he and his family moved to York because he was working on the railway and there was better promotion activities there for him at the time. Uncle Arthur boldly took himself over to America following in his Uncle Thomas,s footsteps and staying with him in Witchita until he could stand on his own two feet. What a nomadic lot our family was, both sides hailing from Ireland and some spreading further afield to America.

    It was from here that my nan met grandad and they got married and lived in number 21 until another house in the street became available which was
    number 25, two doors away where we now found ourselves in the early 50s.
    number 23 was the home of the Emery,s. Mrs. Emery had terrible brown teeth and she would stand at the door eating coal, yes, chunks of coal. Her and her husband were humped back and we used to say, "here,s humpty Emery coming down the street". Next to us was the MacEnernys, the Carsons, the Fowler/Corlass family, and little Emmie was next. She was a beautiful good natured person who would never say boo to a goose, very polite and her smile was worth telling her a joke for. She must have been all of about three foot ten inches in height but was lovely. The howards lived next door to Emmie, their son Thomas never played with us much for some reason and he later died in the Hillsborough Stadium quite a young man. The Iddons were next. Flo died of breast cancer and Ken used to wait on corners trying to get a new wife, (well it takes all kinds doen,t it?) I was looking after his son while he did this every Saturday. The Flans were next, later the Careys and the Guys on the end in the house my nan,s brother had up till the war years.

    Only about four of the houses ever changed occupants while I was there.

    The leader of the Desmond Street bonfire wood collectors was a lad called Jackie Pritchard who is the Desmond Street hunk in my accompanying photographs. He was about six or seven years older than us kids and was great at organising us all and storing bonfire wood in Auntie Louie,s entry out of the sight of neighbouring street collector,s eyes. We used several entrys so if someone raided our one supply we could always have other supplies in other hideaways. Ricky was a right little tough guy who smoked drank and swore at us all, but he was our leader and we revered him like a god.
    There was also relatives of other neighbours who came round to our street with their mams and used to play with us in the street. Also in our street were other groups of kids who were younger than us who stayed in there younger gangs. Sometimes we used to let the younger ones play with us to make numbers up or to be "it" when we wanted someone to come and find us in hide and seek. There was myself, about five of the Guy kids, Raymond Bennett, the Cary lads, Jeff and Steven, and Josie Williams out of the flats at the bottom of our street,made up the bosom buddies of Desmond Street.

    If I was not out playing in the street hide and seek, my favourite game, or kick the can or allalio or off ground tick or just tick or Simon says or skipping games with the adults joining in. Sometimes I,d be swinging on the gas lamp with a huge dirty piece of rope somebody would produce from somewhere. I,d be out climbing on walls and just talking with mates. My favourite place to sit and chat was on the top of Auntie Louie,s toilet roof that we called the shed. Next favourite was the sub station roof adjacent to the flats. If not out playing I,d be in Auntie Lou,s watching telivision. We couldn,t have television obviously as we had no electricity, so nearly every night I would be watching the Redmond,s t.v.. I remember seeing the first Coranation Street. My favourite programmes were variety shows like Sunday Night at the London Palladium. I loved detective stories and horrors like Canon, Sherlock Holmes, Hitchcocks films and Dracula type horrors. My favourite cartoon was Popeye. Gran would leave me there watching television sometimes till after midnight. I,m sure that Auntie Louie must have got sick of me being there all the time.

    At the top of the street was derelict waste ground with a gate and makeshift roof on. This was a very exciting place to play when I discovered it. It contained old petrol pumps that had been discarded and stored there. I used to climb into the grounds and play amongst them. They reeked of petrol and consequently, so did I. I used to spend time when I saw Harry Haworth going into his garage to stoke his boiler to cook the beetroots he sold in the shop. There were lots of old fruit crates that he used to burn in the boiler, all made of wood. The best and most rugged ones being the Fyffes banana boxes. I,m glad he never asked me to clean his garage out for him when I worked for him as a delivery boy when I turned fourteen. The place was a midden.

    I,m leaving my story there for awhile until the social services contact me and I can maybe tell you some background of how I came to have lived and been brought up in my grandparents house and not my mum,s. stay tuned to YO.

  23. #23
    Senior Member brian daley's Avatar
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    Default Childhood Memories

    Chippie,my p.c. has been on the fritz for a couple of days,it is still not quite right,but it was good enough for me to read your last chapter.................It was brilliant,the names of those families are as familiar as the ones I knew in the streets of my childhood.You have recaptured the richness of your childhood with a simple honesty,each word ringing with the truth.This is your story,and it is well told.
    Thanks for sharing it with us,
    BrianD

  24. #24
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    Thank you Brian, I can still see and feel those people today even though it was over 45 years ago. You can,t grow out of your childhood sometimes.

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    Chippie and Brian, you are both good at writing, my
    childhood was similar to both of you, wish I could put down like you do.
    cheers Ernie.

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    Keep it up, Chippie! Great memories!

    I am printing them out for me owld Mum (age 87) just as I have been doing with Brian's equally wonderful reminiscences. They'll both bring back memories for her I know.

    All the best

    Chris
    Christopher T. George
    Editor, Ripperologist
    Editor, Loch Raven Review
    http://christophertgeorge.blogspot.com/
    Chris on Flickr and on MySpace

  27. #27
    chippie
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    Ernie get yer thinking cap on and start writing. If yer don,t yer might find it too late and what will yer great grandchildren think of yer then, eh? Some miserable old sod who went and died an, never left us a bed time story...

    dedication to Mrs Chrisgeorge.

    Chris, thank you, tell yer old mum that I,ve deicated the first part of my story to her, the first five posts.

    I,ve been at my file box today marked "secret life of Chippie" and come up with some more ideas, so stay tuned to YO

  28. #28
    chippie
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    Default Life and times at 25 Desmond Street


    Getting ready for school each morning I would wash in the brown sink in the back kitchen from the single brass cold tap. There was never a sink plug in this basin ever in all my days there. The back kitchen consisted of a sink and a wooden wash stand. Cobwebs covered the whole of the small window as well as all the corners of the room. The spiders that lived in them were of the round bodied type the size of a contact lens and long spindly legs and of a grey colour. Talking of colour, this room was devoid of it, just cement grey. The cold grey floor was concrete and had no covering on it ever while I was there, or after I,d left. There was never any money for fancy things or luxury items beyond the portals of 25.
    The out side toilet almost always had a burst pipe during the winter months and the landlord had to be contacted to send a jobber to come and reweld the lead pipes. Sometimes we would leave a candle burning out there to help stop the pipes freezing but that stopped one year when our toilet door was taken for the bonfire, thereafter we had to do our "business" in the open air and in full view of Molly and Frank whose bedroom window looked into our yard and some of the back windows of our street neighbours from Jasmine Street. I didn,t mind as in those days I didn,t have very much to hide! When the pipes burst water would be coming out for days until the landlord,s men came round to fix the leak or leaks. We had to stifle the flow as best we could with an old item of clothing with string wrapped around. Then we would have to take a bucket of water to flush the toilet if needed.
    One day I remember I was crying with terrible pains in my stomach and I couldn,t go to the toilet at all. Nan took me down the yard and sat with me holding my hand until eventually I did go. It took ages and it was very painful but nan was good and looked after me like that.

    The room that was called the kitchen was always in darkness for some reason. Although there was a gas fitting in the ceiling, the mantle remained broken and was never replaced and lit. There were two clothes lines across the full width of the room full of clothes always. It was used as a giant wardrobe. The coalman making his delivery to the yard through the house always managed to catch the line on his way through but it was never brought down. There were huge bundles of clothes on the floor in this room which always remained dark and dingy and the windows with ages of grime encrusted on all four panes of glass. There were periods when this room did have some items of furniture but non specifically that I can recall.
    There were two floor to ceiling cupboards on either side of the big black fire range. On the hob was a single gas jet (how safe was that?) where most of the cooking and teamaking was done. The fire was lit sometimes at weekends, money permitting, so that some form of Sunday dinner could be cooked. Behind the door going from the hall to the kitchen was a high shelf under the stairs where things were put out of my reach. I got at them one way or another over the years; Chinese fire crackers brought home from the uncles going away to sea, letters, photos, tools etc. were all got at by me and sifted through as I was a right snooper. Over the years I saw some really interesting and at the time, frightening, letters pertaining to my father and mother and the reason why I was living in this Dickensian hellhole which was to be my home through all my schooldays and two years after when I was deemed a man.

  29. #29
    chippie
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    Default The parlour and bedrooms of our house

    Then there was the front room, the main room in the house. This room was lounge, kitchen and bedroom all in one. We ate on a square, two leaved pull out table while sitting on the arm of one of the armchairs. The seats of these chairs were always full of old "Echo" and "Daily Mirror,s" so high as sometimes unable to sit down upon.
    The walls were wallpapered in this one room in the house and the pattern changed periodically, maybe three or four times in seventeen years. The fireplace grate was a modern one probably financed by one of nan,s sons after coming home from sea and spending out a bit on their old ma. There was nearly always a cosy fire when it was needed or when finances allowed. The winters were the best with the snow outside a foot deep and the temperatures below freezing, the fire would be halfway up the chimney with a fireguard usually around drying the clothes that had been washed in the wash house at the top of Heyworth Street. The other furniture in this room was a bed settee and a sideboard we called the dresser. Uncle Ronnie and I slept in the make shift bed in later life but early on I mainly slept upstairs with nan in the back bedroom or on the parlour floor by the fire with coats over us. This was probably before the bed settee arrived. I also remember Uncle Bob sleeping on the floor in the front room at one time, he had come back from a long voyage at sea and this was the only room available. The front windows were cleaned by the local window cleaner up and down but he stopped doing them when he never got paid.

    The window sills were never painted outside but the front door was. Uncle Ronnie put a hardboard panel over the door once and a full sized triangle done in half beading and painted in maroon. The Yorkshire stone pavement outside the front door was sandstoned periodically to keep it clean.

    Up the stairs in our house were two bedrooms, one front and one back entered by a small square about two foot all round we called the landing. Now the stairs had a fascination for me for it had a huge (to me as a child) shelf halfway up and across the whole width. It was dark with loads of things on but I was never able to get onto it and rummage around as it was too dangerous, I might have fallen down the stairs in my attempts to do so. But, now and again I was able, with a stick, to bring some things to the front of the shelf to inspect,but in the end nothing very exciting was ever found. The bedrooms never had wallpaper on them and there were watermarks high up and onto the ceilings from long ago holes on the roof where the water had been coming in but I never experienced any while I was there. I used to pick off flakes of distemper when I used to sleep up there and make patterns on the pinky bare walls revealling the blue distemper from an age before.

    In the front bedroom were two beds on bare floorboards, and, across the fireplace which was now rusty but must have once been black and had only ever been lit once I remember when I was taken ill, lay a pencilled or charcoal picture of a long dead relative of ours, so I learned later. My nan told me that he was supposed to have been the first policeman in the Liverpool force to have been been given permission to sport a full face of hair, ie beard and mustache, and you should have seen the fullness of it all. The picture was about three foot high and two foot six across showing this policeman in full uniform. The frame and glass were dirty and the back card coming adrift. There was also a gas mantle fitted to the wall by the window with a finger length fracture in the arm where gas must have escaped ferociously and rendered the shillings (5p) of gas to a mere sixpence worth each time. I often wondered later if this was one of the reasons why we never slept in that room so often. It was by providence that no one was gassed in that room. The mantle was so near to the window probably letting the obnoxious stuff pass out into the street before doing any harm to an occupier sleeping in there. I used to play in this room quite a lot between the ages of five to twelve on the bare boards with a sheet canopy above me playing cowboys and Indians and suchlike.

    The back bedroom was where nan and I slept in a huge double bed with a large headboard. I,d remember Lonnie Donnigan singing the song starting "does your chewing gum lose it,s flavour on the bedpost over night?" when I used to go up to bed by the light of a candle as there was no light fitting in the back room at all. The mantlepiece used to be full of candle grease eventually dripping down over the sides and ends like an ice cave,s stalagmites and tites. I use to get a knife and prise it off when it looked like a scene from another planet.

    There was a big mound of clothes and papers in this room covered over by a big dirty sheet, just like the ones in the back room downstairs. I found a gas mask, a trilby hat and a photograph of Randolph Turpin amongst other things under this cloth mountain. A dressing table was the only other item of furniture in this room. A small shelf high in one of the alcoves on either side of the chimney breast where I once hid my pet mouse which was discovered and thrown out, was all that was in that cold back room. We took a bucket up each night to save us the discomfort of getting up and going down into the back yard toilet, this was used very frequently by nan and I. I used to wet this bed and grandma almost every night at this time. Then, later on when it was the bed settee in the parlour and Uncle Ronnie who got it, a little less frequent, much to the Ronnie,s delight.

  30. #30
    chippie
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    Default The day out

    The outside yard where the toilet was situated was where the coal and an old mangle was kept. Years ago before my arrival grandad used to keep racing pigeons here, and even earlier still, a pig. The dust bin in the wall leading to the back entry completed the picture outside the building.

    Our neighbours being, as mentioned before, the Emerys on the left and the MacInerneys on the right. Grandad Thistlewood, the second husband of my great grandma,my nan,s mother, lived in number 21, the house where I was to live with my dad when I was seventeen in the year 1969.

    The street was dominated at the top by the dark shadow of St Benedicts Church, a local Church of England, on Heyworth Street but entranced in Kepler Street. At the bottom of the street which led into a wide alleyway it entered Breck Road. On this corner lived a local character lived a local character opposite to Mrs. Mudd,s shop, a Mrs. Ellenbogan who had a skin like stretched leather on her face and wore very peculiar clothes more fitting to a Herefordshire farmer,s wife. Apparently her home used to have been a shop many years before.

    I remember one incident I was being got ready to go to Auntie Lilys, nan,s only daughter of a brood of eight lads. Auntie Lily had not long been married and had rented a flat in Erskine Street, a long way away towards town. I knew that I,d like the trip being so far away and it would get me away from the street for a few hours, and the rest of the urchins that lived there who would never play with me at that particular time as I was fairly new to the street.
    I was being wiped over in the usual way with a piece of grey rag that had previously been torn away from one of the sheets which covered nan and I during the night as we lay in bed together. She used to tell me stories that I loved to hear if the wind was strong one night and blowing through the triangular hole in the window. I often hoped that the window would be fixed so that it wouldn,t be so cold as we both got up to wee in the yellow bucket next to the tiny fireplace. One story that always had me spellbound and would bring tears dripping onto the bolster was "Her Benny," a story about two little urchins scratching a living on the streets of Liverpool years before. They had no mother and father. I think I grew up in my childhood thinking that this was the norm as memories of my mother and father, I must have had a mother and father, faded. Hearing stories like Her Benny made me think that it was the thing that families do, treat the children like dirt or turn them out onto the streets when they didn,t want them. Didn,t that happen to me? Isn,t that why I,m in my nan,s house?
    As the tears flooded from my eyes I would slip into the land of dreams and dream childish fantasies. If I had a particularly bad dream about the bogey man one night and I would wake up feeling scared and afraid, there was always nan,s arm across my shoulders, holding me safe from the most horrible fears, and I would feel content again and drift back into slumber, relax my tense little body, and wet the bed.

    Ready to go off on the long journey to see Auntie Lily and sitting in my go chair outside our house, all clean and fastened in, impatient to be off; Big Steven from up the entry comes out to play with a long piece of muddy rope.
    Nan is making sure that all the doors are locked and that the guard is around the fire. Steven comes over to me and throws the rope over my shoulders as if he is the cowboy and has lassoed an Indian, me. Seeing that I,m not able to play with him he goes back up the entry to his own house.
    When nan comes out and sees me covered in mud from the rope she goes spare and shouts and screams at my dirtiness. "It was Steven!" I cried bursting into tears and pointing towards the entry to which the cowboy had galloped. Nan disappears in that direction and is gone a long time while I sit tight in my pram and wait for her return. After what seems like ages she reappears, I get yanked out of the pram, into the house, and undergo another wash and change of clothes.

    In no time at all we are off along the roads, looking into lots of shop windows but buying nothing. We soon reach Auntie Lily,s street and nan puts the pram right up against the building and puts the brakes on and unfastens the straps that are holding me in. She presses the doorbell and soon gains entry into the building and carries me up three flights of stairs and stands outside Auntie Lily,s flat.
    We are there for ages and drink tea and eat marshmallows and cake. I like going to visit aunties and uncles because I get things I don,t get at home like cake and biscuits and sometimes lemonade.
    Eventually it was time to go, so we say our goodbyes and go down all those stairs again. We reached the huge front door, opened it, and found out that our go chair had disappeared. Someone had run off with it while we were visiting for the day. We had a lengthy walk home that day and we were both miffed about losing the pram. I never did get another one but we still went out on long walks together nan and I, she loved her walks right up to the day she died twenty odd years into the future..

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