How we used to play: a Corkman’s memory

Last year, Douglas Library launched a Down Memory Lane café series on the first Wednesday of each month, comprising a morning of magical music and stories from days gone by with Linda Kenny, Alf McCarthy and David O’Sullivan. Teas and coffees are provided and all are welcome. Here, we publish two articles by Alf in which he recalls bygone days
How we used to play: a Corkman’s memory

Children splashing around at the Lee Baths, Carrigrohane Road, Cork, in June, 1951.

THOSE were the days my friends...

They were the days of Runaway Knock, Thunder up the gully and Waxing up a Gaza, Raza and Tanora and Little Norah minerals.

Bathing in the tin bath in front of the fire, playing on the street until it got dark, and listening to the radio. The Kennedys of Castleross, Question Time with Joe Linnane, School Around the Corner with Paddy Crosbie, “HAVE YA GOT A FUNNY INCIDENT?” Charlie McGhee and his gay guitar and the Bold Fenian Men March medley.

We went down the Park and up the Dyke, Outdoors for the Lee Baths and indoors for The Eglington, with a feed of Donkeys Gudge on the way home.

Our toys were sticks, which were guns and guitars, and the street games went on forever.

Swap your comics like the Dandy and the Beano, Bunty and Judy and of course the 64 pagers with Battler Britton. The Four Marys and Dennis the Menace, Maura Kent and Lorna Drake were aspiring ballerinas don’t you know (don’t worry, I had a big sister awright!) - and don’t forget the Bash Street kids. Plug... You’re Plug ugly boy!

The Bobbsy Twins, the Famous Five, Billy Bunter and Just William, fed the imagination, so that we, too, could uncover spy rings in the corner shop, scoff buns in the tuck shop, and have friends like Violet Elizabeth, who could squeam and squeam and make herself sick, because she could.

Tripe and Drisheen, the bit of bodice, Skirts and Kidneys, sheep’s hearts and crubeens, a delicacy my father would say.

And the summer salad, of a slice of ham, a tomata, a leaf of lettuce and the piece de resistance... a scallion.

The Munster Arcade, Robert Day’s and the Home & Colonial, especially at Christmas time.

And of course the picture houses, The Assembs where Georgie was told to remove the body (every time someone got shot) and The Lido in Blackpool, where you could pay in with jam jars.

Miah’s in Oliver Plunkett street, where you could stand so close to the projector, that if someone lobbed a glugger at the lens, that was the end of the picture.

The Pav and the Capitol, and of course the crown jewel, The Savoy, which hosted the Film Festival, attracting starlet Dawn Adams, who insisted on having a milk bath in the Metropole Hotel and described Cork as a graveyard with lights. What did she know?

Cork? Where Haunted is a good thing, Saying No with “Er I Will Yaah”, and talking of the neighbours like, “I know dere’s dough dere, but Tho’ There’s Dough Dere, There’s Love Dere too Dere Though, Dear”.

Ah yes, Those were the days my friends.


Those were the days my friend...

A shilling for the gas! Dodging under the stairs to pop it in the slot and twist the handle, shouting out, “Is It On?” That was my job, coz I was the smallest.

The gas man calling and counting out the money. Carrying a leather doctor’s bag, making little towers of shillings and deftly putting them into coin envelopes. Signing the docket, and if there was something over, you might get some.

The Con-Jen Box where you saved your pennies and used a butter knife to try and get them back out. Or the savings bank one, that looked like a book, with teeth in the slot, so that you couldn’t.

My Con-Jen Box was a little red postbox and a man with a moustache on the side, I called him Jimmy. A few Lops, a few Bob and a ten shilling note for the Confer.

A penny bar, Peggies legs, jelly babies, aniseed balls, clove rocks, Blackjack, Bullseyes, strings of Liquorice and sweet cigarettes. (The essence of cool)

Glassy alleys and Rubber Dollies. Toffee Apples, sweet on the outside, bitter on the inside, coz they used Cookers, Slocking Apples, I Bags the Ucks. Playing Chessies and Conkers and shoving one up the chimney to harden it.

Going on the lang, on the hop, getting a clip around the ear or a funt up the arse. Scary Christian Brothers with their rulers, leathers, dusters and angry faces, and even Scarier Nuns with the pursed lips and judgemental stares.

If you were too forward you were brazen and if you were too quiet you were sullen. And when you complained to your parents, they’d give you Down the Banks... if not another clip around the ear or even a tullock.

A sugar cube for Polio, roundy glasses, you had to go up the Mardyke for both, gway ya four eyes, stick out your tongue, yer grand ... next!

Did You Just Tell a Lie?…stick out yer tongue, oh my God you have a black line on it going down the middle… you were lying! I wasn’t ma, honest to God!

The Pictures on a Saturday, queueing up outside, will we get in on time? Will there be enough seats?

The Three Stoogees, The Bowery Boys, Tom & Jerry, Laurel & Hardy and Woody Woodpecker... in colour.

The main Filum, was a cowboy One, a war one, or a fencing one. If there was too much kissing, that was a girls picture.

Walking home re-living the action, fencing all the way, with Danty Dan, Dan the Dan De Daaannnn!

The hero was always the Boy, The girl was always Yer Wan, but the baddie was always the baddie. I loved playing the baddie, you got to die and always overacting!

Up In the Gods, Up the Hundred steps, out the Lodge, or out the Box.

Wiggy, The Dav and Dave Bacuzzi, Donie Wallace and Donie O Leary. Where we sported and played….

Ahhh yes, Those were the days my friends.

The next Down Memory Lane café event takes place this Wednesday at Douglas Library, at 11am.

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