Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Let's play " Stations "

Late 40's early 50's
My two closest mates were Tommy Ferguson from 26 Poplar St. and Jim McEwan of 18 Mitchell was around then we discovered, that there was a lot more to lassies than skipping ropes and peever, none of us had a girl-friend, we were three virgins, and hormones were galloping within us
The lads thought up a brilliant game that was called " Stations ", we approached my mother to see if we could have a party at our house, the only drink we were interested was Irn-Bru & Dandelion & Burdock, my mother made her Fairy Cakes, and Sandwiches, we laughed and joked, and took turns in winding up the Gram-a-phone, dancing and jiving to all the latest., my favourite was Earl Bostic and his Sax... Deep Purple...Brilliant
Mother and father went to bed so Tommy, Jim & I ran through the rules of " Stations " which were all the lads sat in a comfy chair, there was 7 lads & 6 lassies, we had it all worked out, one of the lads called the Station Master, had to go into the Scullery ( Kitchen ), all the lads being seated nice and cozy, a girl had to sit on his lap, now as it was my house I had one of the arm chairs, Tommy had the other armchair and Jim the end part of the settee, now the "Station Master" would turn off the lights, we all had a kiss and cuddle, three, four or five minutes later the " Station Maste " would call " All Change, move 3 to the right " or 4 back it changed every time, he couldn't see as he was only allowed to open his door slightly so we could hear him, the only problem was the Kitchen light switch was at the lobby Hallway ) door, so had to ask mothers permission to stand in the Lobby, we couldn't let her know what we were up to, so away we went again, every 20 minutes or so we changed " Station Masters ", this was fine till it was my turn, and standing out in that Lobby while all my mates were kissing & cuddling inside was not on, the rules were quickly changed for the next " Stations " equal number of lads & lassies, so this enabled the " Station Master " to have a lassie in the lobby
This was a great game for us lads, a kiss & cuddle with 6 or 7 different lasses, in some cases, the lads sitting down, had to hide their embarrassing situation and try to adjust their selves before the next girl sat on their lap, to make matters even more uncumfy, we would point, " Whit's That "

Back then, we were not as street wise as the lads & lassies are today, the nearest we got to seeing a pair of Titties, was if someone got hold of a book called " The Health & Efficiency Book " which was very seldom, we saw naked ladies then, not being funny but in the late 40's all the girls were flat chested, I remember one girl, her name was Nan Naples, came from Morton Terrace, she spoke posh, and I don't know to this day why or how she joining our Gibby Gang, but one day I noticed a Bra Strap, OMG..if she wears a Bra she must have something to put in them, Now my mind went to a plan for a game of " Stations ", but I could never get the two together, either Nan wasn't there or mother said I tried my Billy Sinclair approach " Nan..Will you be my girl-friend "..." Get Lost "

Monday, June 24, 2013

3 Reasons we carried a knife

Mid-40's...3 reason's we carried a knife

Knife carrying today is an offence, but in the mid-40's every Gibshill lad carried a knife, a pocket knife or sometimes called a pen-knife, only the very rich carried a Swiss Army Knife, it was never used as a weapon, nobody was threatened with it, it was never used in a fight, but a Pocket Knife was a must to have

1. Was a game called knifey, now knifey was played anywhere a flat short grass piece of ground could be found, minimum of 4 players were needed, and up to ten, all stood in a circle, monies were place in a pot, usually a penny sometimes 3 pennies or thrupence as we knew it, once all had put their money in the game started winner taking all, the object of the game, was to hold the tip of the blade, and throw it to the ground, it had to make at least one 360 degree turn before sticking in the ground, some knife's hit the ground at an angel, but as long as the handle was 2 fingers high off the floor, it was counted as a hit, those who never made it was out, then started a series of moves called by the leader, who was chosen before the game, holding the blade with the handle on your shoulder, and throw, then head & throw, then 5 of your fingers, each time the knife had to turn 360 degrees, your wrist, your elbow, your chin, all parts of the body was used, the winner took all the cash, this was a serious game, no arguments, no fights, some times 10 lads were involved

2.No TV, nothing to stay indoors for, so we had to make our own enjoyment, everybody hated us when we decided it was tie the doors together, lot's of woman left their washing lines out at night, so with our trusty Pen-knife we would cut the rope, and pick a down-stairs flats, of someone who maybe told the lads off for playing football, or making a noise, sometime during the week, as I said we cut the rope, and tie the knockers of the two down stairs flats together, not tight, but enough slack that just one house could just about see out, then knock the two doors and retreat to the back yard in the dark, this so called game couldn't be done in daylight, you would then hear at the top of their voices " You little Bastards " " I'm gonna tell your mother", and lot's lot's more, someone in the family had to climb out of the window to loosen the rope, we never tied the 2nd or 3rd floors, only the ground

3. In the 40's not only did we not have a TV, we didn't have a Fridge, nobody had a fridge that I knew, all our milk and butter, cold meat, etc was left out on the window ledge, now if you were daft enough you leave it out on the scullery window ledge, it made it easy for the boy's to climb up the waste pipes that ran down beside the scullery windows, and nick the bottles of milk, nothing else, that included the 2nd & 3rd floors, no one was safe, so tenants began to leave the milk out the back bedroom window ledge, or the front windows, I remember when I first took Cindy to Gibshill to meet the family, Cindy being helpful, was helping mother to make tea, " Where's the milk Mrs Sinclair " In our Fridge " was mothers reply, Cindy looked but couldn't find our fridge, till mother took her to the front room window, and showed her, now people thought their milk was safe, because it was away from the windows that didn't have the wastepipes running along side them, so our trusty Pocket Knife went to work on the clothes line, and a lasso was made, and the bottles of milk were lassoed and brought to ground, now me being the 2nd best goal-keeper in the world, Jimmy Cowan Morton's Goalkeeper being the 1st, it was my job to catch the milk bottles before they hit the floor, now the tenant's on the 3rd, floor were safe, we were not that clever, but the 2nd floor and the ground floor at the front was easy, we only took maybe one or two bottles a weeks, which we passed around and drank

" Gourock Rope Works "

Early 1950's " Gourock Rope Works "
I worked for Mitchell's Plumber's corner West Stewart St. & Nicholson St. I was store-boy, from 15 to 16 years old,then I was trandfered to the houseing department about 100 yards down the road next to Thornton's the Paint Shop,
The manager was a man called Hugh Ritchy, 3 tradesmaen or as we called them Journymen, fully qualified Plumber's, there was Norrie Brown, Dan Gillian, and Bobbie Miller, the 3 apprentices were myself, Ian Gorry and Ian MacGill, each journyman was responsible for their App. in becoming a plumber, we had night school 2 nights a week, 1 day at the James Watt Collage, God help us if we missed a day or night, when my mates went dancing mid-week, up the Shepherds Hall, I was at night School
We used to go into work at 7:50am for 8:00am start and were given our work for the day, now when the " Gourock Ropework Work " was given to Norrie Brown, who was responsible for me, I froze, the blood would drain from my face, and I would shake with fear, and I had every right to be frightened cause the story that was given to us youngsters as a warning, " Never be alone at the " Gourock Rope Works " the girls up there love to get hold of young apprentices, they drag you into a room, take your trousers down, put your "Willy" into the neck of a milk bottle, and make you excited, so when your " Willy " swelled it got stuck in the neck of the glass milk bottle, and as the presure was on your " Willy " it wouldn't go down, we were told, we had to go home with this milk bottle stuck to us, when home, we were told to bathe our feet in cold water, so our " Willy " would reduce, allowing us to get rid of the bottle, now what made matters even more terrifying, unknown to us was that the girls of both, Broomhill & the Port, rope works knew of this story, but never let on to us youngsters, but a group of 4/6 would point at you and laugh, " Your Next " I was terrified, it never happened to me, nor to the other two apprentices, nor anyone I know, but I was dumb enough to believe it at the time, and the girls at the works didn't help,

Now Mr Ritchie was given 1d,2d, or 3p tickets which were supposed to be given to us to go to these jobs all over Greenock & The Port, but we never got them, when we asked for them, he would say " Are you crippled, get to work, walk ", the walk to the Gourock Rope Works at Broomhill or the Port, by the time I got there, thinking what could be in store for me, by the time I got there I was a total wreck
You could always tell an apprentice plumber in those days, the journeyman's tool bag was made of canvas, about 30 inches long, you wrapped his tools in it, tied the petrol blow lamp to it, your water key, which was a T-Bar about 5 feet long, and was balanced on your left shoulder, never your right, always your left, we didn't use copper pipe then,so we always carried 5 feet of half inch lead pipe, the journeymen never carried nothing
When I became a Plumber and I had an Apprentice, guess what :- Now listen son, we are going to the " Gourock Rope Works " now, never be alone, these lassies that work here.......and so on

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Kick the Can

Kick the Can
I was 10 years going on 11 years when my mind exploded and I discovered that girls did more that play skipping ropes & peever, there was one, no !! two girls I was in love with, one from 4 Irwin St, the only trouble was, she didn’t like me, so it went like this “ Will you be my girl-friend“ and she would reply “ Shove off “, there was another beautiful lass from 1 Smillie St, “ Will you be my girl friend “ Sure “ she said, so I was made up
Now about 10 to 15 of us would play Kick the Can, when it was dark, no good during daylight, all we needed was one empty can, no problem, everybody stand up against the wall, and one of us would choose, “ eeny, meeny, manny, mo, iccy, picky, Julio, ricky, umpum, pine, ease, and so on till the end Tea sugar and marmalade, tea sugar your out
So he was the searcher, the can was placed in the middle of the street between 2 & 4 Irwin Street, the object of the game, the can was tossed as far away as possible, every one ran to find a hiding spot. Whilst the searcher went to get the can and place it in the street, he would go and hunt for everyone, if he caught you, it was your turn to be searcher, everyone headed for the Middens, now a Midden was part of the houses, big enough for 2 dust- bins side by side, enough room either side and at the back, about 4 or 5 feet high, now these 2 dust bins served 6 houses, everyone had a fire, so there were ashes in plenty plus house hold rubbish, I told the story, when I had a drink or two
Mother…” Billy Sinclair, what are you doing in that midden “
Me…” I’m doing dirty things to wee Maggie from number 6 Mammy “
Mother…! “ That’s all right son, I thought you were smoking “

only trouble was my wee sister was repeating my story to someone in a pub in Dereham, and the woman's sister was standing beside her, only trouble was she named the lass, embarrassed, serves her rightYou could be in those Middens, for ages, and if you were with your girl friend, you didn’t want to be found, if all were occupied around Irwin, you might find a vacant one in Landsbury Street, I think that was where I learned to kiss. WOW, brilliant

Playing initials at Smillie Street Shops

We had no TV, Radio's so when we finished school, it was a quick bread & jam and out till dark, our parents never bothered or worried, there was no need, we were always in a group, Lads & Lassies, one of our favorite games was Initials, every one stood with backs against the shop windows of the Smillie Street Shops, and 6 big paces out was the caller, he would shout, R R...every one had to guess what film star that was, like Roy Rogers, if it was correct everyone chased the caller over to the wall of 3 Smillie St and back, who ever caught the caller then he or she took his or her place, I remember one night, and honestly it wasn't me, but the caller called J,A...every one guessed and failed, , so the caller would ask, " One step out for a hint ", if all agreed the caller would to a step further away from you, making it hard to catch him, " It's a Cowboy " every one guessed, nothing, another step " Is he a Goody or Baddy " we asked, " He's a Goody, another step, " Has he got a Black Hat or a White Hat ", ... "He's wears a White Hat "..... every one failed...." Who is it, we give up " ...It's Gene Autry

My Sisters Tanned Legs

Sisters Tanned Legs

We moved to Irwin St. from Poplar St, when I was 9/10 years old, new area, new friends to meet, and new school, Craigeknowes....I had 2 older sisters, Ray, would have been 17 yrs, and Jessie a few years older, now people used to ask, being the only boy if I was spoiled, they couldn't be further from the truth, I had many a slap from both of them, they made it my job to hunt for Sand-Stone at the big Quarry beside the Co-oP, it was a large Quarry, went from the entrance at the Co-op and nearly finished at the Timbers, plus there was no Football Park then, there was a small path on the right hand side that took us to the Lady Octavia Park, and up to the racers, ( Railway-line )
I had to dig and hunt for the Sand-Stone, which took me hours finding the right type, take it home and crush it into a fine powder, when my two sisters were going out dancing or out on a date, I had to mix up a paste, and the sisters put it on their legs, there was no such thing as tights, only nylons, so this paste when dried on the legs it looked great
Now believe it or now I was quite a painter then, have had a few paintings displayed at the Art Gallery, down by the Esplanade, so sisters knew I had a steady hand, so one at a time they would stand on a chair, and had to draw a straight line from just above the back of their knees down to the ankle, I had to use, what I remember was an Indelible pencil, you had to put it in your mouth to wet it then on to their legs, this took ages Wet & Draw, Wet & Draw, this pencil line was water proof,

I had to keep a store of crushed sand stone so when my sisters decided they wanted to go out, I had to have the mixture ready, and believe me, if my 2 sisters had no pretend nylons, Yes !!! I got a cuff round the ear

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I admit it, I was a Bully

I was a Bully at 8 years old

1944 I was 8 years old, and as so as we got home from school, " Waant any messages Mammy ", if it was " Naw Son " then it was a piece ( Bread ) and off, nothing like an out-sider, loads of jam then out to play, if it was " Aye Son, doon the shops and get a loaf "
Now in 1944, every kid on Gibshill was at war with each other, Poplar St. hated East St, East St hated Mitchell St, everyone hated Landsbury St, Poplar St well they hated each other, high Poplar & low Poplar were always at each other, we used the Chuckies ( stones ) that was on the railway tracks, High Poplar would charge throwing stones, and Low Poplar would retreat back up to number 14/12, then they would charge are we would run like hell, back up to 22 Poplar St, this went on for ages, funny thing, can't remember anyone get hurt, but High Poplar and Low Poplar always joined together to take on other streets
So going down to the shops alone was hell, some people called them " The Lanes " we knew them as the " Long Stairs " there were 3 from Poplar St to the shops, Mitchell St Boys were sometimes waiting, not all the time, could have been the Dalmally mob, then down to Whitelee's Rd, then Thomas Muir St, going for messages was like walking the gauntlet
Coming back one day I came face to face with 2 brothers from East St, who didn't like me one bit, I had a mop of blonde/white hair, mother refused to let Wullie McKay from 2 Irwin St. cut it, he used to cut all the boy's hair, always the " Paint Brush ", which was , he shaved all your hair off and left a wee tuft at the front, if you look at " Class of 1941 " Craigeknowes School, you will see these paint brush hair cuts,
Well back to the 2 gorillas from East St, I was Punched, Kicked, mothers loaf went, I don't know where, my nose was bleeding, and the tears ran down my face, unknown to me my mother was looking out the window, 20 Poplar St was direct opposite the long steps, when I got in doors, " Whit's wrang wi you " she yells, " 2 brothers fae East St hit me Mammy " wallop on the side of my face " Wis it as hard as that, or this " wallop " or this " another wallop from mother., " Now my lad, you get back oot tae the long steps and wait for them, and I'll be watching you "

Who was I frightened of most....MOTHER !!! no contest, I met the brothers, knew my mother was looking out the window, which gave me extra courage, the next day I singed on to the "Port Glasgow Boy's " Boxing Club, from then on I thought I was top dog till it went to the Mount School, there I was brought into line

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Poem by Jack Glenny...Greenock That Was

Brings a tear to a glass eye..................
By Jack Glenny
Time passes so quickly there’s a lot left behind
That I must record before it’s out of my mind
One hundred and one little thoughts of the past
Dear to my heart from the first to the last
What of the town that once used to be?
What of the people who lived there with me?
I remember the smoke from the hospital lum
The Morton’s two players called Divers and Crum
The misshapen stairs in my granny’s wee close
The piggery corner where you aye held your nose
The horses that struggled to climb Lynedoch Street
The Tail of the Bank with the American Fleet
Scott’s horn that sounded at twenty to eight
The mad clatter of feet as men poured in the gate
Dunlop’s busses to Largs, Ritchie’s wee ferry
Anderson shelters to hide frae the jerry
The man wi’ the bell that sold the “soor dook”
Fishing for trout wi’ a pin for a hook
Nights in cauld winter playing “ring, bang and scoosh”
The minister’s car that aye needed a push
Enders of loaf, a big tattie scone
The Home and Colonial, McKenzie the pawn
A run on your bike tae the Battery Baths
Big Mick in school that once taught me maths
The market in High Street, Sugarhouse Lane
Princes Pier station for the Kilmacolm train
The mill lassies’ giggles as homeward they go
Doon Drumfrochar Road past Cotton Mill Row
The sugarhouse steam, the Oil and Cake Mill
The Dandy, the Beano and Buffalo Bill
Tinkers wi’ heather and tartan shawled weans
The strange disappearance of the toon’s civic chains
Climbin’ gas lamps at the fit o’ the street
Big Ginger the police wi’ kipper box feet
The jawbox, the dunny, peevers and tig
Picnics in summer at the Auld Roman Brig
Black and white tellys and Jimmy Dow plays
The boy in your class wi’ the second hand claes
The wan-legged busker in Inverkip Street
ABC Minors, the Sunday School treat
Baggy minnows in jaurs frae the Murdieston Dam
The Co-op’s machine for slicing the ham
Tugs and destroyers, new ships on the stocks
James Watt, Victoria, East India docks
Tobacco, bananas, sugar and oil
“Keek Duffy”,”The Wolf” and “Auld Puchle Coyle”
Brick baffle walls at the mouth of the close
Chips oot o’ Cello’s, coffee from Joe’s
Edmiston’s pies an’ Kennedy’s breid
The night that we heard that Ghandi was deid
There were places and things not heard of today
Serpantine Walk and Bubbly Jock’s Brae
The Vennel, The Bogle and Baron Baillie’s Hoose
National Dried Milk and free orange juice
Coppersmiths, loftsmen and riveters’ mates
Holeborers, drillers and builders of grates
Chimney sweeps, leeries, all passed away
Historical trades of our town yesterday
The man wi’ wan arm, they all called him Willie
Stood at West Station and sold ye the “Tele”
McIntyre’s horses and Duncan Street stables
Rossini’s cafe wi’ marble topped tables
Initials that bring back memories to me
R.N.T.F. and T double E
Clippies on busses wi’ “Seats up the sterr”
The man that sold nylons at “Five bob a perr”
Woolworths and Markies in Hamilton Street
The corner at Burtons where the young bloods all meet
Gilchrist and Prentice’s, Bennett’s, Mackay’s
Crawford’s the place for your soup, beans and pies
This was the Greenock I knew as a boy
Vibrant and lively, bubbling with joy
It’ll never return, good thing seldom do
But I’m glad that I saw it, does the same go for you?
‘Twas a moonlight night on the sixth of May.
As our way to the shelters we hurried,
Not a word was spoke, as we rushed down the slope,
And into the tunnel we scurried.

When we got inside we looked for a place,
But hundreds had been there before us,
So we sat on the ground, with our backs to the wall;
While we tried to join in a chorus.

Some people were there, in a stale of despair,
And the Press had said “we could take it.”
But to tell you the truth, which always stands best;
We all went there to escape it.

Just the night before, the blitz took it's toll,
So plenty in there were in sorrow,
But we all sat tight, for the rest of the night,
Though we anxiously thought of the morrow.

Then just about midnight the firing began,
And the look-out man shouted, “They're over !”
When the first bomb fell- down, we lay on the ground;
Because we were told to take cover.

As we all lay there, not a word was heard,
Still I felt some were prompted to pray,
Protect us, O God, in this tunnel to-night,
Keep us safe till the down of the day.

When we rose to our feet and looked - towards the West,
With our eyes we could plainly descry,
The bomb got it's target, the Distillery hit,
And the flames had lit up the sky.

This gave them a light, for the rest of the night,
Then incendiaries fell in galore,
And when bombs whistled, down, and exploded all round,
We thought, we'd see Greenock no more.

About six in the morning we left our retreat,
But I felt each had something in mind,
Because we all thought on the fate of our town;
And the loved ones whom some left behind.

So when we came down, in view of our town,
We were met, with a sorry procession,
For hundreds of people, were walking about;
Who had lost, all their worldly possessions.

Enough has been said, still we think of the dead,
And the loved ones they all left behind.
May God, in his mercy, protect them from harm,
And banish cruel war for all time.

And remember all those who are doing their bit,
In the air, on the land, and on sea,
And to those who come home, when the fighting is done;
May this country be grateful to Thee.

Thomas Murphy

Our music & Dick Barton & Snowy

Early 50's TV hadn't made an appearance up the Gibby, we lived by the wireless as we called it, not radio as today, the wireless ran off an Accumulator, which we had to get charged up in a shop in town, it didn't last long, now I was a great fan of Dick Barton, who's show started at 4:30 pm every day, and the antics of Dick and his partner Snowy always finished on a knife edge every night, I used to run from school which closed at 4:00pm then, so I had 30 minutes to get home, ran my heart out, how many times I heard " Nae Chance, the accumulator is flat " I knocked on every door up the close, and next if I had to, till I found someone who was listening to " Dick Barton Special Agent and his faithful Snowy, or it was " Dick Barton my arse, I've nae bread, git doon the Co-oP for a loaf ", now the Co-oP was down at Broadston, and there were a couple of dodgy gorillas at the end of East St who didn't like me, only for the reason I came from Poplar St, we were very territorial then, so either I diverted or took a chance, but mother always got her bread
I wish I had our Gramophone now, big horn sticking out the top, and a winder on the side, every time we put on a record we had to wind it up, Vinyl Records, if we could afford what we knew as a Long Player, which was a 33RPM, ( Reves Per Minute ), you had to wind it up half way through, caused it got slower and slower, kids today think nothing of paying £70 or £ 80 and more for games for x-boxes, I-players, I don't know the names, I used to be over the moon, and feel like a millionaire if my mother or father , or even a relation bought me a " Diamond Tipped Gramophone Needle ", this enabled me to play more than one record without changing the needle
We never used the Gramophone to the Famous Sinclair Parties in Irwin St, every week-end, too much trouble, so we had a piano in the front room, or as we called it then , the Kitchen, and what we now call the Kitchen we called the Scullery, any way for by the Piano we had the accordion, which my Brother-in-Law, Jimmy Neill from Cobham St would play to the early hours in the morning

I remember the first TV I ever saw, it was announced in the Tully that a shop in West Blackhall St, would have one in the window, switched on for all to see, the crowd, I hardly got a look in

Debbie's return visit to Gibshill

The Gibshill Crooner

Bob Gourley..Bookies Runner

Bob Gourley..Bookies Runner
In the 1950's gambling was illegal, but if you wanted a bet, there was a lot of Bookies Runners, who dodged the police, and you could give him your bet, these runners had their own pitch, so you knew where to find them, we had one at Mitchell's the plumbers his name was Bob Gourley, Bob took bet's, was a money lender, 2/6 in the £1 he charged
Now Bob told the story the the police in Greenock couldn't catch him red handed, enough to charge him, so the Chief Inspector of the police, put PC Jones on the carpet and told him, " Jones you have been on this police force for 6 years now and haven't made one arrest, so go home now, and change into civvies, got to the corner of West Stewart St & Westburn St, you will see Bob Gourley taking betting slips, go up to him and put 2/6 each way on a horse, as soon as he takes your bet Nick him " well PC Jones went home and changed into civvies and went to see Bob

Bob as usual was standing on his pitch, with the look-outs placed up & down Westburn St, Jones approached " I want 2/6 each way on the Favorite, 2:30 at Ripon " Bob told him " I don't know what you mean mate " I don't take bets it's illegal , and by the way, your a policeman, you should know better ", " How the hell did you know I was a policeman " asked Jones, " I could tell by your helmet " said Bob

Craigeknowes School Photo 1941/1942

We were told to smarten up for our school photograph, so I told my mother " I must have one of my fathers tie's " I told my mate Philip Johnston from Landsbury St, the coloured at the back, told him to wear a tie so we both would look so smart, never thought about my jumper, don't mix, still I thought I looked a dandy.

The Blitz Greenock 1941/44

Air-Raid Shelter

Now these are similar Air-Raid Shelters to the ones we had up the Gibby, we had 2 of these side by side a 20 Poplar Street, every one of our windows had thick tape criss crossed, to stop any blast from the bombs that were dropping, to prevent flying glass into our house, mainly our bed-rooms
" Come Billy get up " mother would shout, " Get to the shelter " we were well drilled, I knew what to do with-out any further instructions,
To this day there was one woman called Mrs. Hart, she was young, pretty, and I don't know why, but I always believed she was a nurse, nobody ever told me she was one, it was just in my mind, she always took the stance between the door of the shelter and the Baffle Wa ( Wall ), and shouted " Heads Down ", Heads Between your knee's " " Relax " everyone obeyed with-out question, her eyes never left the skies, she watched every plane, and knew the difference between ours and the Germans, how I don't know, all I do know, she was my hero.
Now we had lots of air-raids in Greenock, it seamed part of life, we went to town shopping, gas masks over our shoulder, I was grown up, I didn't have a Mickey Mouse Gas Mask, like some children had, yes I was a man.
This bit I will never understand, on the morning after each raid, me and my pals would meet at the corner of East Street & Poplar St. and set off looking for shrapnel, can you believe it, we would hunt all over the Gibby, and were proud to display pieces we found

! ALERT !!! a German Pilot parachuted behind Donnie's Farm, from his burning plane, all the boys & girls went hunting for this German, can you believe it, it's true, it was only a rumor, but what if it was true, we never thought what we would do if we had found a German, but rumors were rife, a spy was spotted looking from the hill at Donnie's looking down on Poplar St, " Lets go and get him " we were all mad I suppose, but our parents had other important things on their minds, 

Greenock Tree Song

Every Saturday night if you walked round the Gibby, this song was heard coming from many a house, from the young to the old sang this, we were so proud, I'm 76 years old now, and I still sing it, not very well mind you

Morton F.C 1947/1948

We never missed a home game, down to Sinclair Street, stood by the Style Gate " Giz a lift mister " and they were only to willing to lift us over the gate, non of us ever paid, our meeting place was the Sinclair St end behind the goal, I studied every move Jimmy Cowan made, even the puckering of the lips ever time he made a save, I had that down to a tee, I ended up a goal-keeper playing for Bellaire, Mitchell's & Gourock Jnrs

Irwin Street Rovers

Irwin Street Rovers...1946/7



This was our team, and we took it serious, we played against, Chalmers Street, Weir Street, Landsbury Street, Morton oops sorry got carried away, mind you in my mind I was Jimmy Cowan, we had Billy Liddle, Billy Campbell , all in our minds, when we played down the Wee Farm.

Taken from the " Racers "

I took this photo 1946/47 from "The Racers " which I explained in one of my blogs

The 9 Arches

 This could be one of the Troop Trains that we all used to shout " Any Gum Chum " and the troops used to throw all sorts out the train windows

Crossing over the " 9 Arches " this was every Gibby kid's play ground, a short cut to " The Port " which we all took, and believe it or not, walked along the top of the wall each side of the tracks, absolutely mad, when I think back,

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Racers

The Racers

‘The Racers was a piece of land about 300/400 yards long ( as my memory goes ) maybe longer, at the end of the Timbers, that ran alongside the railway, the grass was short, and the ground was flattish
In those day’s gambling was illegal, no betting shops and if you wanted a bet, you contacted a “ Bookies Runner “ as he was known by
This piece of land was used to train Greyhounds, us youngsters were given a few bob ( Pennies ) to be look-outs, 1. On the railway looking towards the Strone, 2. On the railway looking towards the 9 Arches, 3. Looking towards the Timbers, 4, down by the allotments, and 5. Looking towards the Wee Bridge, Gibshill Brae, any sign of Police or strangers, we blew a whistle to alert the trainers, the Police came in numbers and often, and never the same way twice
A Bicycle was used, upturned and the handle secured to the ground, 2 tent pegs, the back wheel had no tyre or inner-tube, a line of thin strong twine about 300 / 400 yards long, tied to the wheel at one end, and at the other end the skin of a rabbit, one trainer would take the skin to one end of the racers, and at a given signal, the men at the bike would turn the peddles by hand very quickly, bringing the rabbit skin towards him, stop watches timed the dog over the distance, this was done over & over, to bring to Greyhounds time down
We constantly played football on the racers, the Gibby didn’t have a football park then, this kept the grass down, which helped the trainers…….that is why that piece of ground became known as “ The Racers “

Greenock Tree

Earning my pocket money

At this time in the early 40's I would be getting so excited, because I knew, shortly money would be jingling in my pocket, the first week of the New Year, starting from my mothers in Irwin St, Keir Hardie St, Smillie St & Landsbury, a knock at the door " Have you any empty beer bottles missus " you had to be quick before they were thrown in the midden

Every pub in Greenock & the Port, had their own Rubber Stamp, which was stamped on their bottles, and they would not accept any other bottle, even if it was from the same brewery, so a sort out was made before I loaded the empty's were loaded into my bogey, down the Gibshill brae and get my 1d or 2d..what ever the bottle, back home reload and away again,

My circle didn't go to far as other lads were earning their pocket money , but even back then, I didn't move into their wee patch, nor they mine, not because of fear, respect, we knew we were getting pocket money, and sometimes mother or neighbours had visitors way down in Greenock, their beer bottles were from pubs miles from the Gibby, but no pub was too far away to earn 1d or 2d.

I pulled that Bogey all over Greenock, the first week of the new year.

The Baffle Wa

I'm going back to the early 1940's, I posted a photo 2 days ago about the old 12 sided Thruppeny, or as I called it " A Baffle Wa." ( Baffle Wall )
Other coins had nick-names such as, 1. 6 pence was a " Tanner " 2-1//2 pence today
2, Shilling was a " Bob " 5 pence today
3. 2 Shillings was " 2 Bob " 10 pence today....and all the way up eg, 50p was "10 Bob"
4, 2/6d was Half-a-Crown= " Half-a-Dollar " 12-1/2 p
5, 5 Shillings, was a " Dollar " Today 25p
Today I want to tell you about the Thruppence ( Three-pence ) which had 12 sides and was thicker than all the rest of our coins ( Photo Above ) we called it the " BAFFLE WA' " ( Baffle Wall ), it could stand on it's edge quite easily
During the early 1940's, at that time all workers were paid on a Friday Night, you could always tell it was Friday by the number of wives standing outside all the Ship Yards, and other places of work, trying the catch the men for their money before they hit the pubs, in those days all pubs were Lock-Ups, which meant the doors had to be locked at 9-30 pm sharp, so last orders were 9:00pm.
So Saturday morning in Greenock, Scotland, was a busy, busy day, all the shoppers packed the " Home & Colonial ", " Liptons " & Mac Fisheries, corner of Westburn St.
Saturday morning in Greenock at that time, as there was a war on, all the family, my mothers brothers & sisters would meet at a pre-arranged spot every week e.g outside Woolworths, Corner of Charles St., we didn't have any phones back then, only the rich, certainly not us Gibshill Folk
Outside every main large shop, Marks & Spenser, Woolworths Burtons etc, a Large wall was built, at the edge of the pavement, it was approx. 8 feet high, and varied from 8 inches to a foot thick, and ran the length of the shop, it's purpose was , if a Bomb dropped this wall would prevent the blast coming through the door and also prevent he windows being blown in, these walls were known as BAFFLE WA'.s
Now the Baffle Wa's and I didn't mix very well, in fact I hated them, my mother was known up Gibshill as " Big Ann " and she was big, so on a Saturday Morning shopping, with our Gas-Masks slung over our shoulder, if we were unlucky enough to be caught in the town centre and the War Siren went off, every one had their place of safely ( They Thought ), 1 was under the Municipal Buildings, The Crystal Palace,( Public Toilets )across from now Tesco's, mother would grab either my hand & Gas-Mask strap, and run, Now if I told you how many times I slammed into a Baffle Wa., in my mothers haste to get to shelter, and because Greenock was such an important Port, the Air-Raids were constant
To this day I have a Pug Nose, god knows how many times, I butted a Baffle Wa'
Now that is why, standing an old Thruppenny on it's edge, it looked like a Baffle Wa.

Billy Sinclair

Man in a White Raincoat 1940's

During the war, when a fleet arrived at the Tail of the Bank, the troops were transported by train to different parts of the U.K, so the railway which ran above Gibshill was always busy, it didn't look it but it was uphill from the Lady Octavia Park to the Nine Arches, even with two engines on, the route was slow, there were that many carriages on filled to busting with troops, mainly American
You could hear the whistle of the train, and the noise of these engines from a long way off, no matter what you were doing we made a dash to our back gardens on Poplar st., 20 was our patch, and adults didn't allow outsiders in
Woman & children would cheer, wave what wee flags we had, some hand made, anything to draw attention too your-self, wanting the troops on the train to notice you, all the troops would hang out of the compartment windows waving and shouting, god knows where the were off too, but any thing they could throw to you , they threw
I remember the back gardens all along Poplar St, filled with the tenants, hoping to catch some gift or other, remember, at that time there were no sweet shops, cigarettes were like gold dust, a Banana had not been seen for years
Soon the train was on us and the troops would throw out mainly Silver Dollars, Half Dollars, a Polo with a hole type fruit sweet called " Life Savers " and the prize of all prizes a packet of Cigarettes, mainly " Lucky Strike " or " Camel ", which if the children caught or scrambled for were taken from us, by our parent, my Maw, as dad was away in the army
Some children managed , when they heard the troop trains coming, managed to cross the line, and were standing on Donnie's side of the track, the express coming from Glasgow direction, and being downhill, plus the bend on the line from the Nine Arches to where we wee at 20 Poplar St., the train couldn't be heard, resulting in some of the children being killed, I don't know how many there was
The back gardens on Poplar St had quite long grass, as nobody went out with the Lawn Mower, so after every troop train had passed, every inch of the back yard was finely searched on our hands and knees, in case we missed a coin, or any thing small

Give our spoils to mother, we had the Life Savers...Then waited for the next train