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 A walk down Memory Lane........Take a walk down memory lane....  the War Years


time fly?.

 remember...... the War Years memories!.


Dec.2008, email Angus Muir. 
This is a little story I wrote about my memories of Brigton during the
second world war.
                                           Kind regards from Angus Muir. and thanks for all your good work.

Selected Moments (The War Years )  by Angus Muir  (1198 Words)  

I don’t remember the moment when I was born. Probably not many people do. My first real memory was when I somehow managed to pull a pot of boiling potatoes over myself from the cast iron range in our room and kitchen flat. Boy it was painful; I can still feel the pain to this day. It was my own fault of course, but at the tender age of about three or so, you are not aware of the fact that a pot of boiling water can give you a very nasty burn.
    At that time there were seven of us living in the flat, my mother and father, and there were five brothers of whom I was second youngest. My sister, was to make an appearance a year or so after I had burnt my ankle.
     I suppose the flat was a reasonably good type of accommodation. On the top floor, of a four storey, red sandstone tenement. It would have been quite suitable for two or three people at most. In those days it was very difficult to get rented accommodation. A person would have to be well thought of by the factor, and provide references before even being considered.
    As I remember the kitchen, on entering from the hall, or what we called the “loaby”. On the left was a wooden bunker painted green, I think. It had a drop down door, hinged about a third of the way down to allow access. You could poke your “heid” in to see, as you retrieved some coal for the open fire in the range.
    Sometimes there was no coal to be got, due to wartime shortages. If this was the case, my mother would send some of us to the gas works, for some char or as we called it “chor”. Taking a zinc coated metal bathtub, mounted on a bogie made from four planks of wood, with two pram wheels back and front. The front wheels were attached through the centre of the axle by a metal bolt, so allowing a primitive steering mechanism as you pulled it along with the string or rope; this was tied to the axle, close to each of the front wheels. It seemed a long way to the gas works, but probably it was just about a mile or so. Once the bathtub had been filled, and as much “chor” as could be piled on top, making a nice little mound, any more being put on would just roll off, then we knew that was enough. The eldest brother would then pay the man for the tub full of “chor”. I’m not sure how much it would cost, probably two or three shillings, but then that was quite a lot of money in those days.
    One shilling would have let the three of us go to the Saturday matinee at the Strathclyde Cinema “the Strathies”, or, if it was the Plaza, we would have had three pence left over, enough to get two bars of MacGowan’s Highland Toffee. Two bars, eight squares in each bar, wrapped in a sort of waxy paper, with a coloured picture of a Highland bull on it. What a thought, it makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Anyway we knew that come Saturday we would be going to the pictures, as we did every week, unless there was an air raid. The German bomber pilots didn’t seem to consider the fact that we might be going to the pictures. I suppose they had other things on their minds
    My mother and father always gave us the money to go to the pictures on a Saturday, and also enough to buy “sweeties”. We didn’t get any other pocket money, unless we were going to the swimming. We could get money for that, as they thought it a good idea that we should learn to swim, the benefits of swimming outweighed the fact that there was a possible risk of catching Polio.
    To give all of us the money to go to the pictures every week must have been a real struggle. My father was a shoemaker to trade and the “shoe trade” as he called it, paid notoriously low wages. My mother never worked after the children were born, and I don’t think she wanted to. She was more concerned with looking after her children.
     Although we were quite poor, we always had enough to eat, despite the rationing. Our clothing was anything but designer gear, and although it may not have been fashionable, it kept us warm and dry.
    One big advantage we did have, because my father was a shoemaker, our boots or shoes were kept in good repair. When the soles and heels were showing signs of wear, he would bring home some sheets of leather and rubber heels. Setting to work, he would rip off the old leather soles and heels, and soon have the leather cut to shape and nailed. Then he would trim round the soles, cutting round the edge, leaving a narrow ledge for stitching, the heels would be nailed and trimmed. The next day he would take them into the factory to be stitched and finished, when he gave them back to you, they were like a new pair of boots or shoes.
    The rest of the kitchen was quite bare, straight facing the doorway was the sink, right under the sash and cord window. The sink was made of heavy white porcelain, it had seen better days. There was a scrubbed wooden surround and a brass tap. I don’t remember any hot water tap, as far as I recall, the water had to be boiled on the open range. The sink served many purposes, washing dishes, some laundry, bathing the younger children, washing faces, and shaving for my father.
    The view from the window wasn’t very appealing; it consisted of the rear view of another tenement block, about fifty yards away. In between there was a stone dyke, in front of a brick built washhouse with a concrete roof, and a “midden” of similar construction. Only when the sun shone did the back court look anything decent.
    The best thing about the back court was its potential as an assault course for the older children; they would climb the dyke and walk precariously along the sloping top, their rubber soled “sannies” gripping both sides as they walked. Then to really put fear into their mother’s hearts, leaping from the roof of the washhouse to the roof of the midden with no thought about the possibility of breaking their tiny little necks. Another important building round the back was the air raid shelter. It was constructed in solid brick with a reinforced concrete roof. I vaguely remember being taken down there in the middle of the night as the sirens wailed, searchlights tracking across the skies. Scared, I was too young to be scared, this was just part of life to us. In later years, as I thought more about it, if the shelter had been hit by a bomb, I doubt very much that we would have survived the blast.

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