Monday, July 22, 2013

The Last Dance

1940's & 1950's

The Last Dance....

You either loved this or hated it, 1st. it was the start of many a friendship and marriage, 2nd. it was the start of a few fights out-side, dance hall's played with our sexual hormones back then, they would have an hour where it was ladies choice to ask the men ( Boys ) to dance, if you were not asked it was a huge blow to your ego, also just over half way through the night we had a dance they called the " Blues "..." Ladies & Gentlemen take your partners for the Blues ", now from the start, and after being picked on the " Ladies Excuse Me's ", and after many questions, you had picked in your mind, who wasn't a Catholic ( Mothers Warning ), she lived in the same direction as you, the " Blues " lasted over 10 minutes, with the lights out, just the stage was lit, you tried to get off the floor before the lights went up, the kisses & cuddles & fumbles, left you somewhat embarrass to walk off the floor

During the course of the night, and some beautiful girl you were dancing with you asked " Would you like to go out side ", everyone knew what you were after, so the answers were " Get Lost " " Are you kidding " "No " " Don't think so " or " Just for a minute then "
By the time it got to the famous " Ladies take your partner for the last lance ", now.... by this time you were sorted, hopefully, the last dance lasted around 15 slow minutes, in the darkened room, with the girl of your dreams, your hands round her waist, her hands round your neck, your heart thumped, all sorts went through your mind, the best bit was, it seldom came to anything, it was all in our head, in our minds we were studs, we all had our favourite dance halls, mine was the " Shepherds Hall " corner of Bank St, & Regent St., the other was " The Centre " out at Barrs Cottage, where the Famous " The Memphys " band played, and their Sax player could play just like Earl Bostic, 

Sunday Picnic's for families

1940's & 1950's

We had no cars, no phones, but all the families met up on a Summer Sunday, Picnic Day, it just shows you how the meet in town on a Saturday was important, my mother had brother & sisters in Ann Street, & Broomhill, at that time you were only allowed 3 minutes to stand on a corner, the police were constantly walking up & down the High St., " Move On " you were told, so when you saw the police coming you crossed the street and kept walking, why this was I don't know, but mother met her family between Westburn St and Woolworths somehow

The family had there favourite spots for their Sunday Picnic, 1. Pencil Point, ( Just passed Largs ), 2. Red Rocks, ( Just before Largs ). 3. Inverkip, 4. Lunderston Bay, 5. Kilcreggan, 6. Rothesay, 7 Dunoon. My father was responsible to where we were going that day, we loved our seafood, Whelks & Cockles, we went to one place, Cockles, another, Clabby Doos another
Loaded up we would all head for the bus at George Square, some busses went to Inverkip only, others Largs via Barrs cottage, others Largs Via Gourock, so if you were going to Lunderston Bay, that was the one you caught, and when I say there were hundreds of folk in the queue at George Sq. I mean hundreds, the double decker buses were continuous

We had the same spot at every one of these places so the family knew where to find you, Mother had a large pot, black with a handle she used to fill with sea water to boil potatoes, every one had a job to do ordered by father, mine was get enough wood for our fire, no gas then, another was to gather big stones to make the surround for the fire, we play football, swam, skipping ropes, and our parents caught up with gossip with others members of family, I loved my Sundays

Father kept his eye on the tide, then shout his warning to start, we had bags over out shoulders and off we would go, we were taught at an early age, what to pick and what to leave, father taught me the way to catch Clabby Doos, father had a shovel, others had a small garden rake
If, when we got home and viewed or catch, mother would sell some in a saucer from the back bedroom window, salt, pepper & vinegar were on the window sill, also on sale at mother's window was Hot Pea's & vinegar also sold by the saucer full, these pea's were not from a tin, these were soaked over-night and cooked by mother

We never went to the same place two weeks running, I Loved every minute of it, some time neighbours would come with us, so it wasn't all family, neighbours were very close back then

Sunday, July 21, 2013

We Gibby folk called it Peever

1940's & 1950's

Some called it Hop-Scotch

Up the Gibby we called it PEEVER

I drew the above Peever bed we used to use, you needed a good Peever that would slide across the bed, usually it was a piece of marble if you could get it, or even an old black polish tin filled with earth or what ever, as long as it was heavy, the idea was to slide your Peever into number 1, then hopping on one leg, you had to go to Number 11 and back, knocking the Peever out with your foot with-out touching a line with your foot, or the Peever, I wrote at the side of my sketch " Rest " because who-ever was playing could nominate a square to which you were allow to put both feet on the floor, some would nominate number 11, some 5 or 6, it was the players choice, lot's didn't have a rest at all, pushing the Peever from the start to the number you required, say No.11 it was a skill, if you landed on a line you missed your turn, there was nothing better on a summer's night, there were Peever Beds all over the Gibby, every street had a bed, and Mothers used to come out and join in, YES !!!! Boy's played it too, we didn't think it was sissy, so between, Hand-stands, Leap-frog, and Peever, I would say we were all pretty fit " Up The Gibby "

Leap Frog

1940's & 1950's
It was a common practice to play leap-frog to school and back, there could be as many as 10/12 coming home, so we were a lot fitter than most kids to-day, I can't remember any over weight lads or lassies in my class or mates from other schools who hung about with us, bullying someone about their weight was never heard off, we would leap frog over 10 or 12 the haunch down, waiting for those to leap over you, we took this seriously, leap frog was a big part of our youth, at nights we would go all the way to the end of Irwin St and back to number 2


1940's & 1950's
We played hand-stands all the time, the girls tucking their skirts into their navy-blue knickers and joining in, we used to have contests to see who could stay up the longest, mother sometimes shouting out the window " The blood will rush to your head...Stoppit " so we moved to somewhere else and carried on, as we learned to stay up on our hands for a while the next step was to walk on our hands, I was brilliant at this, and proudly show off constantly walking on my hands around the back of 2 Irwin St, I could even master the steps into our close.

Monday, July 15, 2013

My Bogey

Thanks Sam Millar for the photo..

The Bogey

I loved my bogey, now the Bogey was great on hills, But !! no good on flat roads, so !!! a very good mate was needed, to push, my running board extended beyond my seat so the pusher could jump on and hitch a lift, Irwin St. was good going down, but quite a way to get back pulling it back to No. 2

In the 1940's, as I have said before there was no money about, more than once mother had no money when the coalman arrived, and there was no tick from him, so my Bogey came to the rescue " Right Lad, I need a bag of Cinders and 6 Briquettes " mother would order, where Ladyburn Bus Garage is now, there used to be a big coal depot, the bus garage was across the street, on the turning up to Ladyburn School, now I had to have a good mate to help me get this coal cargo from Ladyburn up the Gibby Hill to mothers at Irwin St., Ian McDonald from 3 Smillie St was always there for me, one pulled the other pushed, and we took turns,

Cinders was a poor substitute for coal, you couldn't light the fire with it, so mother kept a small storage of coal in the corner of our bunker in the scullery ( Kitchen ), which also served as a work top for mother, Sunday's was my favourate day, lunch time, mother would put 2 Briquettes on, Cinders, and all the potato peelings, and veg peelings, soaked in water, then put on our fire, which was the old black grate then, it burned for hours and hours, couldn't have done it with-out my trusted Bogey

Now I was something of a hero among my Gibby pals back then, I was daft enough to think, I could start from the Smillie Street shops, go down the Gibshill Brae, and take the bend under the little railway arch at the bottom, NO !!!! two broken collarbones, I was taken to the Royal Infirmary on the Big Gibby Bus, all they could do was strap me up, the photo that I posted earlier of Irwin Street Rovers, I had my strapping on then

Old prams were like Gold Dust, we thought , the bigger the wheel, the faster our bogey would go, father gave me some paint and a brush YELLOW !!! and one of my sisters blokes showed me, that while the paint was wet, if I held a lit candle flame to the paint quickly it left a black feather mark, I had the best Bogey around Yellow with Black flashes all round

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lanliq Wine

Isa Baxter & Mother
Davy Baxter & Father

1940's & 1950 & Lanliq Wine

This wine was the cause of many a Broken Home, Domestic Violence, Police arrests, Health Problems, " I'll fight the best man in the house " attitude, did all this put us off...the answer is NO

Pubs in Greenock were Lock-Ups, and when they said 9:00pm closing, it meant the doors were locked at 9:00pm, so last orders were around 8:30pm, if you still had a drink on the table at 8:45pm it was cleared by bar-staff, no arguments,
Workers who finished at 5:00 pm, didn't have time to go home shower and change, as you do today, you headed to your favourite pub and joined the queue, Yes !! Queue, most pubs had a queue, and when you got in the counter was laden with approx 50 
Dark & 50 Clear Lanliq wines, you learned your lesson, correct money, so you didn't have to wait, just lifted your wine and handed over the money
at the age of 16 years old, and desperate to grow up fast, my two mates Jim McEwan Mitchell St & Tommy Ferguson, Poplar St, thought we were safe when we picked a pub our parents never used " The Black Cat ", the pub was known for under age drinkers, " 3 Lager & Limes, and 3 clear Napoleon Brandies ( Lanliq ) landlord "...." How old are you three "..." 18 mister, ask him "

We were dressed to the kill, drain pipe trousers, jacket 3 inches below finger tips, patch pockets, roll collar, Swede shoes, OH !! and the shirt had a Billy Erkstine collar, hair...Tony Curtis quiff & DA ( Ducks Arse ) at the back, the lassies at the Palladium were going to get a treat tonight, half-bottle to take away, as the lads were searched by the bouncers, we had lassies to take it in their hand bags, there was no bar in any of the dance hall then, filled with Lager & Lime & Lanliq, 9 times out of 10 we were sick
Lanliq was also responsible for many a great party at the Sinclair's, my fathers best mate Davy Baxter from Bell St, and Hughie O'Brian from the Strone, in all the years, and I mean every Saturday night, some times Friday as well, I never saw one fight or even an argument at our house

Someone in office decided to ban Lanliq Wine in Greenock, and reduced the selling of it to about 6 pubs, then the police, had a quiet word to each land lord,if police were called or a disturbance at their pub, their license would not be renewed, finally all stopped, but they still sold it in Corby which was a Greenock over-spill, but even they stopped it

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Last.


My age wasn't even in to double figures when I was taught by my father " How do mend shoe's " as he called it, in the 1940's shoes were made of leather, no look-a-Like crap, honest leather, he put a cushion on my lap, put the last on top, and instructions were made clear, hammer, nails, sharp knife, no Stanley knifes then, father sharpened the knife on his stone & oil, I quickly learned

Being football mad, I kick everything from my house in Irwin St. to Craigeknowes School, first with my right foot, then with my left foot, I just loved tin-cans, much to the tenants of Weir St, they used to shout out of the windows, " You bliddy wee sod, stop that racket " or words to that effect

My uncle Hughie Ormond, came from 11 Ann St. played left back for St. Mirren FC, and some how he got permission to take to Cappielow Park to watch Jimmy Cowan train, he kicked the ball over & over, left foot , right foot , just like me, he would kick the ball on to the stand roof, and it being corrugated then it bounced at a different angle each time, he jumped and caught, he got another player to kick the ball into the stand, then it was fitted bench seats, the ball would rebound back, and Jimmy was there to catch, I follow every move, he used to scrape a line from the centre spot back to his goal line, to enable him to get his angles right, just like me, every time he jumped to catch a cross, he somehow puckered his lips, just like me, that's why in my eyes I was the 2nd best goalkeeper in the world, every time I rand out for the " Gibshill Rovers " " Bellaire FC ", " Gourock Jnrs. ", I was Jimmy Cowan

Back to the shoes, mother inspected my shoes every time I came home from school, which resulted 9 times out of 10, a " Back of her Hand " slap, scuff marks on the toes, I tried to stop but couldn't, my father used to get a bag of mixed leather in Greenock somewhere, all different thicknesses, I would Soul & Heel, no problem, and steel tips on the Heels & Segs on the toes, you could hear me coming from miles away

Not like today, mother just couldn't just nip into town and buy me a pair of shoes, too dear, no money, and to get a pair of new shoes, for the first few weeks they were pawned, until they were unacceptable through scuff marks on the toes, and 30/40 back hander's later

How many of you remember holes in the soles of your shoes, we used to put a bit of cardboard in the shoe, if it was raining, which was often in Greenock,we got soaked,

Then the Black San-Shoe as we called them came in, a lot cheaper than shoe's, I had Black, mother couldn't afford the white ones, you could tell the well off kids at school, " White Sannies "

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The warmth of the Gibby folk

1940's & 1950's

No matter how hard anyone tries to explain the warmth that was in Gibshill back then, they can't, they try, but unless you lived through it, the explanations are far off, everyone stood by each other, knock on your door, " Can you give my mother a cup of sugar " or it could be " A Wee Drap O Milk ", or some tea, it could be anything, I never knew my mother to refuse, nor was I refused when I used to knock on doors with cup in hand, sometime it was " Can my mother borrow 2/6d please,she'll pay you back Friday " the 2/6d was always there come pay-day, everyone up the Gibby either loaned or borrowed at one time or other

Just above you letter box inside there as a nail just above the centre of the opening , a long piece of string, and tied to the end of it was your door-key, long enough for your door key to reach your outside lock, everyone left their door-key in the door all day, If mother had to go out, she would take the key out and let it dangle from the nail, when I came home from school, I would just put my hand in the letter box, feel for the string, pull the key out and opened the door, everyone done this, neighbours would open your door and shout " It's only me Mrs Sinclair " you wouldn't know who was' It's only me ' till the came through the kitchen door, we never had any robberies, or our house cleaned out by leaving the key in the door, it was the done thing back then.....You couldn't do it now

I was always out late with my mates boy's & girls, and always knew the key was left in the door till last thing at night, I had two older sisters Jessie & Ray, when they came home from a night out with a boy-friend, they always stood at the back door of the close, having their kiss & cuddle as you do, when I got to our door, I would open it, and shout " Mammy !! Ray is at the back door doing dirty things, with some man " or it could have been Jessie, but whoever it was thee was one almighty scramble, the bloke legging it down the front stairs, mother running to our front door, sister shouting " No I wasn't Mammy " I used to enjoy that

Blaebery Jam.


The hill behind the railway line and up to Donny's Farm was awash with Blaeberry Plants, and when they were ripe for picking, lots of Gibby folk would be up there picking, Blaeberry Jam was brilliant, we couldn't afford to buy jam, so mother would make, Blaeberry, Bramble, and when we could Raspberry Jam

" Right son, go and get me something to make jam, and if you cross that railway line, you will feel the back of my hand " now having had a few back hander's, crossing the railway line was not even considered, also, she could time the time I left, till the time I appeared on the hill behind 20 Poplar St., so it wasn't worth taking a chance, so I would have to walk up over High Poplar, down to the Co-oP, then up the Glen, then across to behind 20 Poplar St., took us ages to fill jars, bottles and anything else we could use, blue bells were a must to pick for mother while we were there,

Loaded with my spoils for mother, to put myself high on her good books, I would retrace my steps home, NOW !!! mugging wasn't a known word then, but....we were lucky to get home with-out at least one encounter, from a couple of Gorilla's who lived on High Poplar St. and if they spotted me, all hell broke loose, I had two choices, defend my spoils at all costs or get one of mother's back-hander...No Contest, I was really lucky to have a couple of mates who were never far from my side, yes !! life was rough up the Gibby, we had just had a rough time with the bombs etc, fruit picking and getting them home safe for mother was nothing

Day Catching Minnows


We all had fish tanks indoors, but not gold fish or tropical fish, but Minnow's, something we treasured, our own pet, there was no such thing as fish pet food, so we used what we thought they would like for food, their life span was short, so a day up the Dam behind Donnie's on the Kilmacolm Rd was planned, I don't remember what we called this Dam, I asked on the Gibby site, but I'm afraid all sorts of names came up, but not the one I wanted, someone will tell me, and I can alter this
We needed 3/4 Jam-jars each, but couldn't ask mother, 1st, she couldn't afford to buy jam, 2nd. she needed every jar for herself to make jam, mother would buy 2 oz of butter which she guarded with her life, we dare not touch, we had Echo margarine, god awful stuff, any way back to our fishing, to get our jars we had to rake every midden we could, when we had our jars, the most important thing was that every jar we took had to have a label on it, well stuck, will explain later

Mother would make up a load of sandwiches, not Ham, not Beef, not cheese but home made jam or margarine
When we got to the Dam, we hopped over the fence and headed for the far side, so we could spot the Care-takers van drawing up at the gate on the Kilmacolm Rd, gave us a chance to scarper, we were chased lots of times but never caught

There was an art in catching Minnows, most important, the Jar had to have a label on it, about 6 feet of strong string tied around the neck of the jar, put some bread in it fill it up with water, and throw it in about 3/4 feet, and most important, the label most important was at the bottom, so the back of the label being white, showed the minnows crossing the neck of the jar, when one was inside, a quick yank on your string, captured the minnow, this was transferred into a larger jar ready to transport home, these trips lasted all day, we loved it

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sex & Religion

Late 1940's & Early 50's

Everyone seemed to be obsessed with religion and sex


When we went dancing, the girl could be the most beautiful girl on the floor, but you had to ask " 
What school did you go to ", if it began with Saint, she was a Catholic, so you gave her a miss, and carried on looking, if she said " The Finnart ".she was too posh, High School, we were in with a small chance, High School Girls didn't mix too well with us, when they found out we came from Gibshill, we were too rough for them, once we sorted out five or six "Maybe's " hen came the next question " Where do you live ", remember there were no taxi's and we had no money even if here had been taxi's, only the dance hall buses, Strone..Out, Rainbow Valley ...out Gourock..out, you had to find a girl who lived within a walking distance of Gibshill.....this was hard, by the time you found a possibility the dance was over, Catholics & Protestants didnt mix too well, I was in the Flute Band down at " The Glen " Port Glasgow, who found great joy to stand out-side " Phenion ( Catholic ) Alley and play as loud as they could, this caused a lot of unrest, Phenion Alley was directly across wrom the Coronation Park
My Mother & Father were bitterly disappointed one day there was a knock at the door and it was a Priest asking for me, he said that St. Columbus football team ( Not the school team ) were desperate for a good goalkeeper and would I be interested, well...I like football a lot more than I like religion, so I signed for them, my mother refused to wash my Shirt & Socks because they were green, she told me " If you think for one minute my lad, that Green is going to hang out on my washing line, you have another think about it ", I played with St. Colmbus for two seasons


One word I hated then and still do is the word " Hump ", I can just hear the conversation now, " Hey Billy are you still going with that wee burd ( Lass ) from Weir St " " Aye " " Have you Humped her yet " " Whit !!!!! I've only been going with her for 7 months ", " Well " he said, " Jimmy Watson from the Strone, told me he Humped her, after a month, and he's a Catholic " when I saw Jeanie that night, I gently ask her " Is it true Jimmy Watson Humped you, him being a Catholic an all " " Whit !! Naw it's not true, I'm a Virgin, ask ma Mammy if you don't believe me " if I would

The word Hump was commonly used, and everyone was possessed by the word, " How long have you been going with Rose then " " about 3 month now " then....."Have you Humped her yet "

I've hated that word which all of us used up the Gibby, never like it then, and I don't like it now, BUT !!! it still amuses me when my USA facebook friends send me their yearly " Happy Hump Day ", if only they knew

To earn a Penny


Everyone was skint, so we had to try to earn a few pennies where we could, mother used to buy & sell wool & thread bobbins from the factory girls, mother bought Pawn Tickets, from folk that had pawned stuff the no longer wanted, My self !!! well I had my list of customers that I did messages for, some gave me a penny, some tuppence, others thru pence, and one lady from 1 Landsbury St. I got sixpence, there was no wet fish shop up the Gibby, so some times I would be sent into town, " Get me a piece of Filleted Fish son " I loved that big word "Filleted " the first time I was sent to Mac Fisheries at the corner of Westburn St, I said it over & over again " Filleted " by the time I reached MacFisheries, it somehow had changed to " Utility " I went home empty handed, the woman at the shop said " Sorry son, we don't have any Utility Fish "
I had my list of customers, they were mine, no one dared poach my list, I done my daily rounds " Need any messages Missus ", I was in many a fight over this, shock horror when I went to one of my customers only to be told " Naw Son, wee Jimmy Watson got my messages earlier on today ", so wee Jimmy Watson got a visit from me later that day, every penny counted, if I had a good day I would always buy my mother 2 or 3 Cigarette's, which were in a big sweetie jar and were sold one at a time


Pap was another way we earned our pennies, it was a great game of skill, and I was brilliant at it,I practiced over & over again, I developed my own throw, to play the game of Pap, you had to have minimum of two players, and no maximum, a straight wall, no weeds or grass against the wall, it had to be completely clear, player would stand about 10 to 12 feet away and throw your penny at the wall, nearest to the wall won all the money, sounds easy, try it, there are so many things can go wrong, like hitting another players penny, sending him closer, rebounding off the wall, this took skill and we were playing for money, most players kept there legs together, bent their knees and threw their pennies from the side, the " Sinclair Throw " was to keep my legs apart bend my knees, hold the penny between my index finger & thumb, and throw from between my legs, he penny flew like a flying saucer, if two or more pennies looked like it was a draw, the distance was measured by players fingers, 1 finger away from wall, or 2 fingers away from wall, I practiced my throw over &over, so I very seldom lost at this Pap

Odds & Evens

This was played with three players, and was very, very popular, many a boy lost his milk money or dinner money playing this game on his way to school, it was simple, the three boys would toss their penny on to the back of their hand and cover it with the other hand, three heads or three tails was a draw, but two heads and one tail, or 2 tails and 1 head, the odd one won, this was a game of pure luck, some lads claimed they could toss up a penny with the head showing and it would come down a tail, but this was sheer boast, even if it was true he couldn't say what the other two players would toss, you either won quickly or lost quickly I very seldom played this game, I didn't gamble on luck, 

Paint Brush Haircut


I Lived at 20 Poplar st. ground floor right side, next door was the McKay's, daughter Lizzie was nice, she was my girl-friend, but when I looked up at Mr McKay, he seemed 10 feet tall, Bonnet ( Flat Cap ) a scarf that was wrapped twice or three times around his neck, criss crossed across his chest and wrapped around his braces, never smiled, BUT !!! he was everybody's friend, he was the Gibshill vet, everyone took their sick animals to him, then, dogs ran loose, and they were territorial, any dog that entered another's, there was a fight, then, as now I love dogs, and after a fight, any dog that was injured was taken to Mr McKay, he would sew them up, if they had a wound, needle & thread, and the dogs let him, I watched many a time as Mr Kay worked his magic, when people got a pup, everyone thought it right to have their tails docked ( Cut Short ), Mr. Kay did it for you, no charge, I couldn't watch that, I couldn't bare to hear pups yelp so loudly, but another thing Mr McKay done was to cut all the boy's hair, with those dreaded clippers, pictured above, he would clip all your hair off and leave a little tuffty bit at the front, the haircut was known as a Paint-Brush, everyone dreaded having a Paint-Brush, now I had a mop of Blonde Hair, " Awe Mrs Sinclair, hasn't your wee Billy got lovely hair " there was no way Mr McKay was going to be let loose on my hair, so !!! I was warned many a time, " Ya Wee Scunner, dae that again, and I'm taking you to Mr McKay ", that was enough for me to behave, I posted a photo earlier of Craigeknows class of 41, see how many boys had a paint brush.