Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Penny Gas Meter

1d Gas Meter

We all had a Penny Gas Meter up the Gibby, even back then mother would complain she wasn't getting enough gas for her Penny, I remember the excitement from mother when the Gas Man came to empty the meter, he would tip the box from the meter on the kitchen table, the begin to count it into piles of 12=1/- ( 12 Pennies= 1 shilling ), after he counted he would give mother so much, cant remember if was for over-paid, or a rebate, or what ever, all I remember mother feeling a wee bit rich holding a pile of pennies, which was spent over a Smillie St. shops, for some much needed food for us

During the war, when building were hit, it was common to see folk, including me I might add, scrambling through the rubble looking for pennies, this wasn't called looting back in those day's, it was called survival, everyone done it, it was part of war, when I think back, we were given the all clear on the siren, that the raid was over, we all left the shelter, we would go looking for pennies first, the secondly my mates and I would go looking for shrapnel, looking back we must has been Mad or Desperate, the danger that must been lurking in those bombed buildings, and there we were picking through the rubble looking for pennies

Another down fall of Penny Meters in the house, was that everyone was broke, some desperate, so many a meter was broken into, survival again, people got into loads of trouble, couldn't pay it back, so got deeper & deeper in debt, we were one of the lucky ones, mother got a part time job in Kincaid's, up Bakers Brae, she worked so hard to keep us on food & clothes, but new clothes where few and very far between

German Map, showing the Gibby

German Map

This German Map, shows how important Clyde Ship Building was so important to the Germans to destroy, and how close the Gibby was in their path, now you can see why we had so many raids, and because of the hills, so many bombs went astray

This was the Gibby

This was the Gibby

The Gird

The Gird

We all loved our " Gird ", we ran for miles hitting it with our stick, steering it with our stick, we ran all over the Gibby, up-hill, down-hill, 3,4,5 of us even went to the Coronation Park up the Port, to play in the swing Park, even down to the Battery Park to the Swimming Pool, we didn't need buses, mother didn't have the money for bus fares anyway

Many a time mother would tell me " They have run out of bread, go over to Thomas Muir Street shops, and see if they have any ", no problem, out came my Gird and off I ran

Some lads, but very few, when they got a bicycle wheel, would leave the tyre and inner tube on, and the spokes, but they found it to hard to steer and run with it, so off came the tyre & spokes, this must have kept us a lot fitter than we realized, but we didn't run with our gird to keep fit, that was the last thing on our mind, we ran because we loved our Gird

The Kleek

The Kleek

A lot of stories have been said about the Kleek, some say rich boy's toy, didn't come from the Gibby, cost a lot of money, all rubbish, these were made by people who worked in ship-yards, and we had many of them in Greenock back then

I know when I started in Mitchell's Plumbers in 1950, we learned how to make Kleeks by journeymen, how to bend the rod & weld, was so easy, we also had to make 2 Pokers from 1/4 " square rod twist it, screw one end and put different nuts on it and buff, everyone had coal fires, so everyone needed a " Poker " so it was down to us Apprentices to make Kleeks & Pokes to order from all the work force

The Kleek took a bit of getting used to, the balance, the steering, the speed, so it's was the Gird we all took to, easier to pick up and go


Monday, August 5, 2013

Fitba 7 days a Week

Fitba 7 days a week

This photo was taken from my mothers kitchen, you can see 80 % of the football pitch, " The Wee Farm " just to the left there was a Hugh Oak Tree, that always had a rope swing on it, how did we get the heavy rope up and over the high branch, easy, tied string to a stone and threw it over, tie it to the rope, every one who was either in the Boys Brigade or Scouts knew how to tie a slip knot, ...we had a swing

But my interests were Football, and I classed myself the 2nd best goalkeeper in Scotland, next to Jimmy Cowan, Morton's keeper, I always went in goal and having scrolled my angle line from the penalty spot as Jimmy done, I was ready, I always played in that goal to the left of the Oak Tree, out of mothers eyes, many a time you would hear the dreaded shout " Billy Sinclair, are you down there " all the lads knew to ignore my mother and carry on playing football, BUT, there was always one wee skinny lassie, with legs like knots in cotton, playing in Keir Hardie St.., would shout, " There's he's there Mrs. Sinclair " so I had to show my face, " Whit dae ye waant Mammy ", "I want you to go a message" she would shout, that time I had 4 sisters, Ray & Jessie were working, Jean was too young and our Ann ( Ann Gorbould on Face book ) well she was too daft to send messages, by the time she went from 2 Irwin St to the Shops she had forgotten what she went for, if mother gave her a note, 9 times out of 10 she lost it, so I had a abandon my match and run home, as I wasn't allowed to cross the railway line, I had to run up the track to the Low Bridge, up the Gibshill Brae, to Irwin St.. get mothers massage, then back to the wee farm and the game

The game was never 90 minutes long as matches were, it was like 9:00am till dark, every once in a while we would get hold of a proper football, but those days were few and far between, our leather ball's bladder war repaired that often it was passed it's day, so we stuffed our ball with paper, true ..Paper, but we played on, nobody could afford a proper football then, sometimes the men would lend us theirs, but only if we were pals with his younger brother of our age, but we didn't care, our paper stuffed football worked just as well, every game was like an international, I was Jimmy Cowan, John Boyle was Tommy Orr, Andy McMaster was Billy Steel, and Ian McDonald our Captain ( As it was his ball ) Billy Campbell, Yes we were all internationals down the Wee Farm.

The Cheeky Forty

The Cheeky Forty

Now call these lads what you will, a Gang, a Jury, a Mob, call them what you will, BUT !! they handed out justice where police were unable to do so, because of lack of evidence or some other excuse

Bus loads of girls came from Glasgow, Paisley, all over the area of Greenock, with one thing in mind, TROOPS, who were anchored at the "Tail of the Bank ", now they weren't always American..there were Canada, Poles, French, allied troops, with money to spare before being shipped out, they wanted a good time, and rightly so

The Troops always aimed for the same places, Burton's, The Co-oP ( Where we held the Gibby Re--Union ), The Bay Hotel and their favourite pub in Greenock was the Imperial Bar, they got to other places but that was their main hold outs, the Moorings in Largs was quite popular as well

Some girls as you expect, no fault of their own, were Molested, Raped, Abused & Assaulted, by troops waiting to be shipped to god know where, some never to come back, so they got drunk and wanted a woman and there were plenty about, the troops had their own police, " White Hats " who patrolled 4/5 handed, carrying batons, and weren't shy in using them where needed, but there weren't enough White Hats, and our Police were on foot in Two's

When a local girl was Raped, Assaulted, or abused, the " Cheeky Forty " would find out the nationality of the offender, and go into town and dish out punishment, the Gibby folk were always tight lipped in all ways, we knew 5 of the Cheeky Forty, 2 from Irwin St. 2 from Keir Hardie, St and 1 from Landsbury St, there were probably more up the Gibby, but 5 from our end that I knew of, we never spoke of them, it was an unwritten rule dished out by our parents

I'm not saying they were right, and I'm not saying they were wrong, but the were feared by troops in Greenock, they were known to everybody BUT, not their names

I'm sure the police welcomed the punishment dished out by the Forty, where their hands were tied

They called it Marbles, we calld it Bools

They called it Marbles

Wee Gibby folk called it Bools

Every youngster loved Bools, Lads or Lassies, but Bools ( Marbles ) came in different sizes, the common Bool was called a one'er, the next size up was a two'er, and so on,

For those who have never played Bools, the object is you toss your Bool about 8 to 10 feet away, and your opponent tosses his trying to hit yours, it's your turn next to try to hit your opponents where ever it landed, you take it in turns till a bool is struck then you claim that bool (Marble )

If your opponent has a larger Bool a Two'er, then you have to hit his twice before you can claim it, some lads would have Ball Bearing ( Large ) they would call it a ten'er or a twenty'er, I kept away from these cheat's because you would get half way through the game, and if he saw you were to good for him, say you struck his Bool 6 times out of 10, he would say " Got to go, that's ma Mammy shouting on me " so you could never win

This was a great game going to school, got the " Strap " more than once for being late

Some lads drew a large circle and you were only allowed to play in that circle, we never did that, our back close, was our pitch, or up & down Irwin St. we always carried bools in our pockets, some bools were just plain, but some were coloured with flashes of colour inside, a work of art, I hated losing them



Now Skipping wasn't just for lassie's, we all done it, I didn't carry skipping ropes with me, but I had 4 sisters, and proudly showed off how I could do the cross over move, I had watched the boxers do it, it was a common sight to see lassies skipping to and from school, going to the shops for messages

Some lassies skipped on two's, they would lock arms, one holding the rope with their right hand the other with their left, and away they would go, it was great to watch the skills it took for this skip

Just about every street up the Gibby, on a warm summer's night, would have 10 to 15 and more all involved, singing their hearts out to skipping songs, some used two ropes " Cross Over " which was a lot harder, but the girls made it look easy.

One of the songs sang :-

Policeman, policeman, dae your duty,
Here comes (name of next jumper)
And she's a cutie;
She can jump, she can twist,
But I bet she canny dae this.

It wasn't unusual for mothers to come out and join in with the girls, they knew the songs, sometimes, and I mean sometimes, they would let boy's join in, but !! not too often

I've said many times before, No TV, to watch, so all the lads & lassies up the Gibby had to make their own amusement and Skipping was one of them

When you think of it, " Skipping ", " Rounder's ", " Kick the Can ", all these involved running & jumping, we were all very fit, well I was,