Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Our Swimming Pool & Gang Huts.

Our Swimming Pool & Gang Huts.
In the 1940's this was our patch, we guarded this area, we had gang fights with the Chalmers St. mob, the Ladyburn building's mob, the Weir St mob, the Quarrier St. mob, and even sometimes the lads from the East side of the Gibby
Earlier on in my Blog I've explained all about the " Racers " " The Old Quarry " & even the " Wee Farm ", but there are a few other things I will explain, and I've marked it on this photo ( above )
The was a Burn ( Stream ) running down beside the Gibshill Brae, near the wee bridge, and in the summer we dammed it, and made our own swimming pool, the depth of the water was shoulder deep, we spent hours, diving and swimming, as the stream was constant running it overflowed at the edges giving us constant clean water, but the trouble we had to stop outsiders using it, we always had our sticks, catapults, and a selection of chuckies ( stones ) off the railway track on hand ready, just in case
Birds Eggs were a collectors item back then, and the bushes and small trees was very dense and about 6/7 feet high, because of our constant use, a series of tracks developed between our " Gang Huts " which we had built, about 4 /5 in all, we chased the egg hunters, and guarded the nests from either collectors or just kids that took a pleasure in wrecking the nests, yes we loved our patch
Because of our gang fights, or even just two or three lads trying their luck to muscle in, going to school every morning was a looking over your shoulder walk, you never knew who you would meet, I had many a scrap on the way and coming from school, but I loved my youth, never had a dull moment, fights & football, what more could you expect in the 1940's....I Loved it.
My house is the one with the X on it.....2 Irwin St., Gibshill, Greenock.

Starting work at the Greenock Ship Yards

Greenock Shipyards

Starting work in Greenock Shipyards as a young lad in the early 50's was an experience never to be forgotten, Mother helped me get ready, to enable to catch the " Big Gibby " at 7:30am, in time for my 8:oo am start,

Jas Mitchell & Sons ( Plumbers ) was sub-contracting in Kincaid's on one of the Clan Boats, I was an apprentice plumber, and felt really important going to work on the Big Gibby full of workers

Mother had bought me my tea & sugar tinny, a pair of heavy work boots, my own Bunnet, and most important my Tea Can, to make my tea at our breaks, a man called Hughie Cox from Cobham St was a Plumbers Labourer, who met me at the Gibby bus stop, I was his goal-keeper for a football team he ran, so I felt 100% safe in his company...WRONG !!! as soon as I was aboard the ship, I was surrounded, stripped of my new boots, bunnet, and tea can, plus my tea & sugar tin, and all the workers to great delight to kick them all over the deck, all I could do was look on, I daren't complain, my piece ( sandwich ) which my mother made up for me, boiled egg & apple, wrapped in grease proof paper, went over the side

When my mother bough my boots, my father got his last out, Segs ( Steel Plate ) toe & heel, and steel tacks all over, you could hear me coming from miles away, I was so proud of them, I felt 10 feet tall.

By the time I got my possessions back, my tea tin was all dented, my bunnet didn't look the same at all, and my boots, well, I was lucky they still fitted, they had all been kicked to beyond recondition, My mother had spent money that she couldn't afford to get me to work, and I was very worried of her reaction, considering how many, back-handers or skelps as we called them, but to my amazement her & my father laughed, remember I was only 14 Years

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Boils in the Neck

A Boil in the Neck
This will bring horror to a lot of you I suppose, but in the 1940's & early 50's the work place was completely different as it is today, people didn't take a day off cause they had a hang-over, or a headache, or worst of all didn't feel like it.

Going to work each morning, if you started at 8:00am, as most of the ship-yards did, if you clocked in at 08:01am, you were stopped 15 minutes, clock in at 08:16, you were stopped 30 minutes and so on

In the 1940's & early 50's, Boils on your neck were rife, and it was a common sight to see folk with a large bandage round their neck holding in a " Bread Poultice ", the boils on your neck were so painful, but men had to go to work, and believe me they were in agony with every movement they made

No my mother had lots of visitors, I think it was because my mothers mother was Nurse Barr, and I'm sure she passed on lot's of skills on home doctoring to mother

A bottle of Scotch or a bottle of wine ( Lanlique ) seemed to be the pain killer she used, I'll never forget the first scream I heard when I lived in Poplar Street, I thought someone was getting murdered, honestly, I remember running for the door, from then on Mother warned me and I went " Out to Play ", but I was so curious and asked to be shown what happens

There was a knack on when to minister her treatment, the boil had to be at a certain stage, her patient was plied with drink until he felt brave enough or didn't care about pain, which mostly took the bottle of Wine or Whisky, Mother would get a Milk Bottle, a darning needle, now she knew exactly how much paper to use, it was so important

She would sit the man on the chair, sterilize the needle, she would then put the piece of paper in the Milk Bottle, light the paper, prick the boil with the needle, then place the neck of the Milk 

Bottle over the head of the boil, the lit paper would cause a vacuum then sucking the root out of the boil, and no matter how much drink the had, they screamed believe me, BUT !!! minutes later the relief on the men were brilliant, Mother was well known in Gibshill of getting rid of boils and many, many Gibby folk called for her treatment

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Nit Nurse

This photo is a wee bit before my time, BUT, the exercise was just the same, in the 1940's fleas were a plenty, and lots of school kids had them, it was usually a fight who sat next to who in class, you never wanted to sit next to someone you expected to having fleas.....somehow the word spread round school " The Nit Nurse is here " caused panic among us, we all knew what to expect, each class went down stairs to the hall and lined up.

With expert four fingers and thumbs the nurse would start on your head, she always had it in her head that you had fleas, and was determined to find one on you, she would go over and over back, front, sides, and seemed disappointed if she couldn't find one on you

My mother kept a tight ship as far as ears and fleas were concerned, with me and my sisters, because, it soon spread from school if anyone had fleas, the word went out and the boy or girl were bullied by other kids in the play-ground, and the horror the mothers felt when they got a letter from school " Your child has fleas "

Earlier in my Blog, I spoke of Wullie McKay and his clippers, mothers took their kids for Wullie to shave their heads, leaving a little tuft in front, we nick-named it " The Paint Brush " there was no way he was going to lop off my mop of blonde curls, all the wee lassies loved my hair

Thank god I never got into that position, I hate to say it but I was one of the bullies rather than the bullied

Fleas on board.

Flea's on board

If mother seen me scratching your head, all hell would break loose, up went the shout " Billy Sinclair here " pointing to a spot on the floor, " Stand there and don't move, or you will get one of these," SLAP !!!! so I was rooted to the spot, mother would appear from the bathroom, sit on the chair, and somehow twisted her legs, locking me in, unable to move, cause she knew, I would have run and took the slaps later

Out would come her Bone Comb and a bottle of mixture, I can still smell it to this day, a clear bottle, hexagon shaped with ribbed sides, I don't know whether it killed fleas, or ward them off, it smelled horrible, she used to dab it on my head with cotten wool, you couldn't go out to play, cause everyone knew the smell, so I used to nick my father's Brylcream, to hide the smell from my mates I looked like George Raft with blond hair

My mother searched and searched all over my head, Flea Hunting, fore fingers and thumbs, now I was the same as the other lads, and mother would find the odd one or two, and I would get a slap for each one found, mother would get the flea, squeeze it between finger and thumb, quickly place it on her thumb nail, and with the other thumb nail press them together, you would hear a crack, dead !!, then I got a slap as if it was my fault, then she would use the Bone Comb over and over in case they had laid eggs, I always got the slap, to remind me to be more careful who I played with or sat beside, as if you could.

Ear Wax.

Ear Wax

Now this was a weekly task I went through, and it was hell, I would get locked between mothers legs, the way she placed me when doing my hair, so I was unable to move, and with one of my mothers Kirby Grips, she would search in my ears, and in would go the rounded end of the Kirby Grip, and she would scrape any wax that was there, it hurt, but...I had two choices, moan and get a slap, or put up with it, I put up with it, but my ears were always spotless, the big struggle would start if she said " I may as well have a look at your head, while your here "

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Accumulator

2 Volt accumulator used in wireless sets for the heaters of the valves. It was normally given to the local garage, hardware merchant, or cycle shop for recharging. They would give you your spare unit while this was being done.

I mentioned earlier on in my Blog, that we had no TV, and the wireless and the gramophone were our only music based listening , the accumulator was such a vital part in our lives, just about everyone had two, one in use, and one on standby, so it was an unwritten law, that as soon as one went flat, and your wireless stopped, as soon as the change over went, the flat accumulator was sent to be recharged, I cant remember how much it was, but there was an old man who had a " Scrap Dealers " below Boston station bridge, in Greenock, who used to do them cheaper than the shops in town, so it was my job to carry the accumulator, leave it over night, and collect next day, most Gibshill folk used him