Monday, May 08, 2006

Gardiner Street

Leaving Sean McDermott Street, and Nannie's (for now) we move just around the corner into Gardiner Street. That street going off to the right of the picture is where we left Nanny, so we haven't travelled very far. Gardiner Street is the same street that those who visit the Gardiner Street site see on the webcam, same street but a different world!

I think I'll be staying with this street for a time, coming back to it again after I post this to the blog. I have nothing a lot of happy memories of the time I lived here.

If you look carefully at the photo you'll see a red blotch. That's there deliberately to point out to you that above the red mark, are the two windows of the flat we lived in, and the flat where my three sisters, Marie, Chris and Ellen were born. You'd have to look very carefully to see the lane immediately beyond the house where our flat was, but this lane led to school, to the Diamond, to the turf depot (of which I'll write later), to the bottom of The 27 Steps. And that lane has it's stories too, and I'll be telling them as we go along.

Further up you can see a light coloured building. This was The Rose Bowl pub and is the corner of Summerhill. We'll be going back to Summerhill as well, it was the hub of most of my activities as I was growing up, and later too.

But getting back to Gardiner Street and the flat where my sisters were born. If you were to walk along there now you'd see a park where the flats used to be. They call it The Diamond Park. I suppose it's a good thing that the flats are gone now. Progress? But they were a good place to live at the time I'm writing of.

Earlier I described the conditions we lived in while in The Diamond. Pretty bad! But this new flat was like a palace in comparison. Come with me and I'll describe the house.....

We arrive at a halldoor. A locked halldoor! (A locked halldoor was considered to be a cut above the rest back then. You actually had your own latch key! And if a stranger called who didn't have a key they would use the door knocker and there was a certain way of using this. if you lived on the ground floor it was one rap on the knocker, if you lived on the first floor it was two, and so on. As we lived on the fourth floor if we heard four knocks on the halldoor we knew it was for us. But we seldom had to go down to open it because the lady that lived on the ground floor usually did that.)

We walk into a long hall and the first thing I remember noticing was the fresh smell of scrubbing soap, along with that smell of new wood. To the right was the door to the flat of Mrs Fox, our ground floor neighbour. Past her door was the stairs leading to the back yard. To our left front was a flight of stairs, wooden, no covering of any kind. At the top of that flight of stairs was a landing with two doors. These were the doors to two toilets, each family had their own private toilet now, a big advance over our old living conditions. And better still was the fact that these toilets were kept locked and the family whose toilet it was had a key to it. Then we move up another flight of stairs and arrive at a landing withteh door to the flat of the Valenté family, a family of Italians who owned a chip shop on Summerhill. Up another flight of steps to another landing with a locked toilet, and then up another flight of steps to the next neighbour's flat. These were the Judge family who owned taxis. Mr Judge gave me the first money I ever earned for washing one of his taxis. It was a huge car, black and shiney and it always reminded me of the cars you see in those old gangster movies set in Chigago in the 1930s.

The next flight of stairs let to the landing with our toilet on it. We were lucky, as we lived on the top floor we had that landing all to ourselves, and there was only our toilet on the landing. Then up the final flight of stairs to a door facing you on a small landing. This door opened out and had a frosted glass panel in it, and on the inside a bolt. This door led you to a large landing with our door to the left, a small door to the right which I believe held some kind of services, water or something, I never found out.

Ahead was a small frame with a key inside. The frame was glazed so if you needed the key you had to break the glass first. What was the key for? Well as well as the luxury of having our very own private toilet, we also had a fire-escape ladder. This telescopic ladder was held against the ceiling with a small padlock, and the key was kept behind that pane of glass. Though I have to say that the live of the pane of glass was not a long one as our Dad decided to remove it so that he could get the key and drop the ladder so that we could explore the roof!

But the door to the left was the door to our new flat... a three roomed flat!. A big step up in the world for us, which I'll describe in more detail and write more about very soon.

So tune in again soon gentle reader... we've barely scraped the edge of this story.

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