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 03:20 PM.
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 03:26 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 03:42 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 03:48 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