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BellaOnline's Irish Culture Editor

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Memories of an Irish Childhood

Guest Author - Tony King

Some time ago I wrote an article on what it was like growing up in the Ireland of the 50’s. Many of you reported the article brought back many wonderful memories. Here are some more thoughts for another trip down memory lane to the days of our childhood .

The “wee shop” down the street or “down the corner” where you got everything -----milk, butter (cut from a huge slab),cold meats ---not an extravagance of FDA rules, but somehow we never did get sick. Good immune systems build-up I guess.That's where the old Irish saying comes from: "Clean food never fattened a pig!"

The “bookies”,(or betting shop) where the old women in the neighborhood asked you to go and place “two bob” (two shillings) on a horse and gave you thruppence. (Yes it was totally illegal but everyone did it).

Hingo (Hide and go Seek), Hopscotch drawn out on the footpath.
"Quoits", also drawn (usually by the “big boys“).

Making a “swing” on the gas lamppost with a rope----- round and round and round and complaining when the lamplighter came along and yelled at you.

Sock ball ----- a ball one of the moms made from old socks. About the size of a small soccer ball and you played in between the lines across the concrete street. The ball was so soft, you couldn’t damage anything.

Tuesday morning reading the Beano and the Dandy as you ate Baps for breakfast. The secret was to get up first and get the "comics" before anyone else did, otherwise you'd probably have to wait until after school before reading them.

Skipping---- mostly for the girls; for boys that was a “sissy” thing to do, even if your WERE good at it. Secretly we admired the girls --imagine 4 or 5 boys trying to skip under that long rope all at the same time.

KDRF ????? (Kick Doors Run Fast). Somebody would loudly bang on a neighbor’s door and then run like the devil was after them ------especially if it was “Da Martin’s house”. Da Martin was probably in his early thirties, and he hated being disturbed. He could run like the wind, even if he was “old” and when he caught you??? ----- Watch out!! His favorite punishment was to grab you by the scruff of the neck and kick you on the seat of the pants. "I got Da Martin's boot", was a badge of honor and recognition. LOL

“99’s “ ---ice cream in between two wafers with a chocolate milk flake in the middle. I remember when the neighborhood nearly had a riot because 99’s went up in price from sixpence to ninepence!!!

Anyone remember “Mint Imperials” or “Glacier Mints”???

“Fish Suppers” ---fish and chips (french fries) for a shilling.

Radio Luxembourg ----and then Radio Caroline, the radio ship that anchored off-shore and played such wicked music as Elvis, Tom Jones, Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Marianne Faithful, Helen Shapiro. Definitely not the BBC!
But kudos to good old "Auntie" ( i.e. BBC) for "The Goon Show" ,"Paul Temple" and on Sunday at lunch "Family Favorites".

Standing outside the entrance to the football park asking a stranger: “lift me over mister?” ----i.e. over the turnstile, since it wouldn’t cost anything.

The milkman --with his little electric van.(I even remember the horse and cart). The "fish man" on Fridays pushing his small handcart of wares around the neighborhoods. That guy with the pony and wagon giving kids a "penny ride" ---- two times around "the square" ( i.e. the block).

On TV we watched Sooty with Harry Corbett, Blue Peter, Captain Pugwash, Crackerjack with Leslie Crowther, This is your Life with Eamonn Andrews and of course, Sunday Night at the London Palladium.
Who doesn’t remember the Daleks from Dr. Who?? ( “Exterminate!! Exterminate!!). Oh yes--- Wrestling on Saturdays with heroes such as the Sioux Indian “Billy Two Rivers “ (who just happened to be a native of the rolling plains of London).

Walking to school in the rain and cold and if you had a nice teacher he/she put those little bottles of milk on the hot water pipes and you had warm milk for morning “break”.

Playing pranks on the ladies coming out of church ---especially at night-----like tying a purse (wallet) to black string, leaving it on the ground and then when some old dear would bend down to pick it up ,we’d pull the string and roar with laughter as she followed it time and time again trying to get it. What horrible, little rascals we were.

When policeman or indeed any adult caught you doing this, or some other mischief, they “boxed” your ears and you took it, because if you went home complaining you got a “double dose” and really,the truth is, it didn’t damage our psyches.

The ultimate humiliation was to be chosen last.

Empty cigarette boxes stuck tightly into the brake caliper made the worst bike in the world into one of those Dundrod racing motorcycles like a Norton or AJS or Matchless.

Remember the phrases people used?

"I'm in bed with the doctor" has nothing to do with an intimate relationship. It means that the person is so sick they have been to the doctor's office and received a "line" or official excuse from work.

"I'm going upstairs to thrown myself down" is not a phrase of suicide, but simply means the person is tired and is going to bed.

An exhange between mother and child ----mother at the bottom of the stairs yelling : "Yup chet?" to which the darling child upstairs yells back: "Mup"!

Translation?? "Are you up yet?" and the answer is "I'm up".

In the words of “The Great One”, Jackie Gleason: “How sweet it was!”





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Content copyright © 2014 by Tony King. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Tony King. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Bee Smith for details.

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