Here’s the next update on snapshots of your Granny’s life.
In the summer of my fifth year we moved to Clontarf, in Dublin. Here we swam at the Bull-wall and in the sand-dunes, protected by our unsteady striped windbreak, mum dried us, blue and shivering. She allowed to drink red lemonade as a treat after our swims. Mr Whippy’s ice-cream van jingle brought us, panting and clutching our pennies for our cones, back down onto the hard sand.
My friend, Linda, and I used to catch the 44A bus into the city centre. Often we had to run for it, and just manage to grab the pole at the rear of the bus and leap onto the platform, triumphant. I don’t know what your Health and Safety course would say about that now, dear.
At the terminus in Marborough St, we walked through diesel fumes spewing out of the noisy buses, all part of life in those bustling days, and landed in the magic of Uncle George’s Pet Shop, with fresh sawdust, pert finches and singing birds, the rude grey parrot, cages of piebald mice…our Mecca.
Around the corner in O’Connell Street we looked up at the people viewing Dublin from Nelson’s Pillar, and promised ourselves that one day we’d get there too.
Then, shortly before my birthday, Nelson’s Pillar was blown up.
A mound of rubble appeared in St Anne’s Park, where we played with our dogs, some time later. We decided it was from Nelson’s Pillar, and slipped small pieces into our pockets, sure that in the years to come they would be priceless.
In those days in the town, milk was delivered in bottles to our houses, and had a thick head of cream on top. We called it ‘Top of Milk’. The birds loved it, and stood on the bottles and pecked through the silver tops to get the cream. We loved it too and poured it over our porridge.
We had a van delivery, but the people on Castle Ave had their milk delivered by a horse-drawn milk dray. Milk bottles clinked, large hooves clattered, and Dougie the milkman shouted ‘Whoa!’ and ‘Hike’ and the horse stopped, and backed, ears flickering as his master spoke the commands..
Holidays were three children squashed into Dad’s Ford Anglia, suitcases on the roof-rack, and two thin streams of cigarette smoke trailing into the back, blown from our frazzled parents.
We played ‘I spy’, and argued whether a distant animal was a horse or a sheep.
We picnicked under haystacks, breathing in the fresh grass fragrance while the
kettle shrieked on the gas burner. God knows how we never set fire to a haystack.
My Granny and Grandad lived in Bennettsbridge, and there was a green wooden hut at the bottom of their garden beyond the rows of sweet-pea. This was our home for the summer, bright and spacious, though looking back at photos it seems rather smaller now.
More in a month!