Wednesday, May 31, 2006
"Well, let me start by saying I don’t feel very comfortable looking at the back of the flat in Gardiner Street. I don’t know why that is but it just makes me feel a bit sick or something like that. Looking at the front is not too bad why that is I don’t know, maybe because when I look at the front you didn't see as many poor people as in the back.
In the front all types of people walked up and down the street rich and poor but the back seems to have a lot to say for itself.... when you looked out our back window you would see all the people in a queue for the turf. Kids as young as 4 or 5 going for the turf and the old people all waiting to get their turf to get a fire going. I remember one time going there I think it was with me Granny and she had me rushing with her to the turf depot she said if we did not get there soon all the turf would be gone and we would have no fire and we would be cold.
Thinking back it was very depressing place and the people did not look much better and then having to push that pram back with the turf. God it was awful but it made us strong in heart and mind. I remember thinking to myself will it always be like this if so then I would be better off dead and I was only a kid thinking like that. But that was in the winter.... god the winter was bitter cold!
But when the summer came that was great. Ma and Da would take us out somewhere maybe to Sandymount beach. Ma loved that beach she always talked about it I remember one time in the summer Ma, Da and me were walking down Summerhill I think it was in 'Jon's' (shop) Ma got me a paper umbrella and when I came out of the shop I put it up to keep the sun off my head. I thought I was like one of the ladies in the films and as we walked along a big man pushed past us and my umbrella got torn. Well did I cry! I cried my eyes out and the man just kept on walking. Ma was near to tears because I was crying so much, Da said, "Ccome on I will get you something else." I'm still waiting for the something else sure they did not have much money.
But come Sunday we always got that coconut cake for tea it was great when Ma would slice it up and shared it around us all, even the crumbs were lovely. I can still taste it now ah that was the good times when Da was working when he was lucky to get a job.
Now about the marble. I think it was a blue one and Tony and myself were playing at the table with marbles and I said to Tony, "I dare you to swallow that". Of course he said "No" so I made him swallow it! Mam and Da did not notice what I was doing because they where talking and us kids were playing. Little did they know that their little girl was up to mischief but the funny part was to come when I told them Tony swallowed the marble! The next I knew was Da's friend standing in the room with a knife down his belt Tony looked at me and we both thought the man was going to cut open Tony to find the marble, but no Tony was taken off to the hospital we are still waiting for that marble to come out of Tony's belly but that was fun.
I used to make Tony do some bad things. Like we would go over to my Aunt Bridie in Summerhill and she was out of hospital at the time she had TB and she had to take a lot of tablets. When Tony and me seen the tablets we thought they looked nice... we thought they were sweets. But there was one tablet I thought looked the best. Now we were always told not to touch anything in that drawer so to cut a long story short I said to Tony, "You eat one of them pink sweets and if you eat it then I will eat one too." So he did and I waited to see what he thought of it then I ate one and it was nice and nothing happened to us. So every time we went over to Bridie's we had a pink sweet when no one was looking the taste was lovely..yes I was a little devil........ "
Well that was a great sharing of memories from Marie. I played no part in helping either Tony or Marie with these memories, I wanted to see what they'd come up with without any prompting from me, and I'm glad I did. I include their memories of Gardiner Street just as they wrote them, all I did was run it through a spell checker. I was laughing as I read how Marie nearly poisoned me poor little brother. She was (and is) a holy terror.
I'm glad Marie introduced us to the Turf Depot. As you can gather from what she says it was a miserable place. Back then, during Winter, men on the dole and old-age pensioners were given a voucher once a week. The voucher entitled you to collect, at your own expense, an 8 stone bag of turf to be used as fuel for your fire. If times were really hard you could sell the voucher for 1 shilling, and there was always someone who would buy it. A shilling would be worth close to 5 Euros now -- I've compared things I could buy back then for a shilling to how much they'd cost now.
I'll have a lot to say about the turf and the depots in a later post. For now I'll just try to explain the picture above. The picture was taken on a snowy day sometime in the late 50's or early 60's. If we looked out of the back window that you saw in an earlier photo, and looked slightly to the left we were looking down on the roof of the depot. The picture was taken from the lane beside our flat in Gardiner Street, looking towards the back of Rutland Street School. If that smallish block of flats weren't there you'd be able to see the school. To the left you can see the backs of the houses along Summerhill, and that slope that you can see is The 27 Steps leading from Summerhill to The Diamond. To the right and slightly out of picture is The Diamond and if you could look to the right you would also see the back of Nannie's street (Sean McDermott Street). The pram was those kids transport for lugging home the 8 stone sack of turf.
Marie also made mention of Jon's. This was a shop on Summerhill. Jon's was one of those shops that seemed to sell everything. You could buy sweets, toys and even some cheap jewellery which was grand as I used to buy my present there for Ma on Mother's Day. Jon's also played a part in my rather short-lived career as a criminal.
But you don't want to hear all that now... enjoy Marie's memories first.
Do drop back... there's a lot of stories, sad and funny yet to be told. This could go on for a very long time, so I hope you dear reader have lots of patience.
Soon. And thanks again Marie.