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> Oh Memories That Bless & Burn, Unpalatable, but they're mine
thebardau
post 27th Sep 2003, 07:49am
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"Oh memories that bless and burn" - line from "The Rosary", a lovely song of yesteryear.

Anne from Oz posted a lovely poem on "Thoughts of Home" - her personal feelings, & you'll find it here http://www.glasgowguide.co.uk/ggbb/index.p....st=0?entry6836
I replied commenting on her lovely words. And it started me thinking about my own past memories. In my case, alas, these memories are limited to Glasgow alone. Maybe that's my problem, or maybe I'm just twisted. Margaret P. also posted some memories of Glasgow here -
http://www.glasgowguide.co.uk/ggbb/index.p...p?showtopic=338
[this URL looks suss, the topic's "My Glasgow" in General Chit Chat]
and that's a well-known poem, very evocative of the "old" Glasgow.
Times WERE hard & our parents did their best for us & we're grateful to them for their worthwhile struggles. I'm not denying that for a minute.
But the Glasgow I personally remember was far less rosy. I posted this before - and here again, in all its glory, I give you -

Farewell to Glasgow

Oh, where is the Glasgow Ah used tae know?
The tenement buildings that let in the snow
Through the cracks in the plaster the cauld wind did blow
An' the waater we washed in wis fifty below
We read by the gaslight, we had nae TV,
Hot porridge for breakfast, cauld porridge for tea
Some weans had rickets an' some had TB

Aye, How the neebers complained if we played wi' a baw,
Or hunch-cuddy-hunch against somebody's waw,
It we played kick-the-can we'd tae watch for the law,
And the polis made sure we did sweet bugger aw

And we huddled thegither tae keep waarm in bed,
We had nae sheets or blankets, jist auld coats instead,
An' a big balaclava tae cover wur head,
And 'Goad, but it's cauld' wiz the only prayer said

Noo there's some say that tenement living wiz swell.
That's the wally-close toffs who had doors wi' a bell,
Two rooms an' a kitchen an' a bathroom as well.
While the rest o' us lived in a single-end hell

So wipe aff that smile when yi talk o' the days.
Ye lived in the Gorbals or Bridgeton ways.
Remember the rats an' the mice ye wance chased.
For tenement living wiz a bliddy disgrace.

These are MY memories, though things started to improve just before we left. I can confirm this poem with depressing true stories from my childhood, but enough's enough - & I was far less deprived than some of my school mates & that's no lie.

So are we somewhat in denial re "the days that never were"? Should we be ashamed of the bitter truths? Or should we not also recognise & celebrate the harsh realities & the strength of the human spirit in overcoming these? [Tommy Kennedy, where ARE you - I'm gonna be flamed to the hottest depths of hell for this post]

This post has been edited by thebardau: 27th Sep 2003, 08:08am
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Catherine
post 27th Sep 2003, 01:23pm
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It's a very real poem Bard and I remember reading it before. Anybudy waants tae flame ye will need tae flame me furst {cripes did ye hear a match therr? laugh.gif }..Anyway, Could it be similar to when now looking back, we remember endless summer days in the school holidays, wheras in reality it probably pourt doon fur weeks.Or the almost closed book when it comes to outsiders knowin yer business....Or that kind of "family" standard, where you kin say what ye want about yer ain family but it's totally out of line for anyone outside the family to breath a word against them...Don't know if I'm asking questions here or trying to understand myself some of the reasons why people tend to voice the fun times and no dwell too much on the sadness.I do think pride and privacy are strong emotions in Scottish people, Geoff thinks I'm ferocious when it comes to protecting family and friends, and many times has been taken aback with how final I can be in what he calls "ah wis jist askin!!!"
I'm probably no the best person to be replyin here, since ah never lived in a tenement or in fact Glasgow in ma life, but I've certainly read over the years on this board to recognise that the above poem is a true poem. Good on ye for postin it Bard.


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Gemini
post 27th Sep 2003, 02:30pm
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I agree with what is said here I too remember the very hard times of old putting newspaper or cardboard inside the shoes because of the holes, wearing handmedowns getting a new coat for Easter Sunday and it was put in the pawnshop on Monday I dont remember to much about the tenements as I was quite young when we moved to new house with a inside bathroom but still visited the relatives still living in the tenements, but I also remember the good times that made up for the bad times, I knew even back then that we were poor but so was everybody else that was the way of life. I do feel bad for the ones that had to put up with the rats, but honestly that I do not remember at all and its not that I blocked that out, maybe it was the area I lived we did not have that problem, but no matter where you are from people will always remember their childhood days as being fun as it was a different life back then, maybe I am wrong, we were a big family, and as we got older life seemed to get better.
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Melody
post 27th Sep 2003, 08:10pm
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Well, I have no personal experience of living in the tenements, although as a wee girl I visited friends and relatives who did. I always think of those days with such love and respect for my people. Yes they were horrendous living conditions some not fit for dogs to live in, but there is no shame in poverty. The strength of spirit to survive those days is admirable, parents reared lovely families in the face of absolute deprivation and poverty. I think that is indeed real achievement and yes we should be very proud of it. We should simply hate the powers that were in control who allowed such cruelty to fellow human beings, and still do. I love Glaswegians because of that spirit, the ability to survive with laughter and good humour. The alternative would be to give in but we couldn't do that, could we? Not those wonderful folk, never. wink.gif
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thebardau
post 28th Sep 2003, 01:32am
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Thanks for that, Catherine, Gemini & Melody. It was recognition of the underlying hardships & squalid living conditions that I was on about, & you did that very well. I have some dreadful memories of Glasgow slum life that nowadays would near beggar belief & though I can appreciate "Ode to Glasgow", I would hate for the real story of those times to be swept under the carpet - children barefoot in school in winter& chilblains up to the backs of their knees, families in arrears with the factor, turned out on the street with their few possessions & waiting for rellos to turn up, & other vignettes of everyday life that burn to even think about, I was a young child then but the memories & the humiliations I can never forget.
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Margaret P
post 28th Sep 2003, 10:26pm
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Im with you Melody I think it was the world over we were not the only one but look we got through it thanks to our great parents and grandparents I woulden't change it for quids
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thebardau
post 28th Sep 2003, 10:44pm
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It must depend on where you were raised then. I truly admire the Glaswegian spirit that got them through the hard times & how in the main they cherished their young fry. As long as we were "with our own", we could handle it cos everyone was in the same boat. But outside our tight-knit circle, the stigmata of poverty were plain to see, & the subsequent humiliations were a fact of life that I can never say I wouldn't change.
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Catherine
post 29th Sep 2003, 01:23am
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I can't relate to the poverty situation Bard, thank God and no offense meant. However I can relate to the power that was given to those with the humiliation button, in my case a few teachers especially in Primary, and because of how I remember feeling....if anyone dared to inflict it on my own boys I'd need to brain them. We don't forget childhood humiliations do we, and we also can't change what's been done....but we sure do have the power to make sure it doesn't happen again.


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Marion Dougan
post 29th Sep 2003, 02:16pm
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Thanks Bard, this is soooo true. I was born in a single end, bunch of us shared the same bed, Yes!!! My Mum was poor, we had to go to the pawn, when I was was young I was soooooo embarresed. Not any more, I admire My Mother, she had a hard life, I couldn't do what she did to raise us, pawn shops, borrowing money etc, never knowing where the next meal was coming from. On the lighter side.... I told my Grandaughter I dined by Candlelight when I was five, cause she loves me to light candles when she is here for dinner. I don'r remember rats though. Auld army coats aye. Very, very proud of my Mother God Rest you Mum
Marion


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jock
post 29th Sep 2003, 09:52pm
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While I agree with much that has been said, I think that we have to be careful not to equate tenement-living and low income with unhappiness. I was born and raised in a tenement room and kitchen along with 4 siblings and mum and dad. Fortunately dad had a steady job with the railroad and we were a very happy family. Yes we had rats but they were in the middens and not the flats. In fact my friends and I became quite adept a chasing them into cage-traps then drowning them. There were 12 flats up my 'close" and 5 closes on each side of the block. If you assume an average of 4 people per flat, that is approx. 500 people per block.You cant live around that many people without learning a great deal about getting along with all kinds of people and situations. Add to that what I think was an excellent primary and secondary education system{teachers 'belts"an aw) and maybe we move towards understanding why us glaswegians travel so well but never forget 'hame"
P.S. I left unwillingly for the U.S. when I was 18 because my older sister didn't want to come alone and bought me a ticket. Turned out to be the best thing that ever happened. I was able to go to university here (woud not have in glasgow) and have a life here to be envied, but dont regret one minute of my childhood.
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Catherine
post 29th Sep 2003, 10:41pm
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"teachers belts an aw"...The education standard was good Jock I will agree, but the picking and showing up some teachers loved to give wee ones in front of peers was a disgrace and that was more my point, that and the power they wielded. Ah didnae like the belt much either but ye widnae huv known that the amount a times ah goat it laugh.gif All of your posts are great reading guys, great topic Bard.


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wee mags
post 29th Sep 2003, 11:23pm
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well bard like catherine and gemini I was not as bad of as you seem to have been but my mom was raised in a family of twelve children all living in a single end and my granny was a wee woman and a very strong one at that, I could not imagine taking care of all of them ,Iremember her always cooking and cleaning and when I got old enough it was my job to go stay with her and my granda for the night ,I used to go to bed in the recessed bed in the kitchen/livingroom/ dining room all in one.She would get the big bed warmer and say hurry hen get in while its warm, and in I would go to be put under the eiderdown she had since she was first married,then breakfast in the morn and then oot came the black lead polish to clean the big grate ,and the steel wool to finish the chrome part of it,as I talk of this I hear ma granny saying" bed doon for the night lassie" !!


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thebardau
post 30th Sep 2003, 01:06am
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jock, I agree that tenement living & poverty did not automatically spell unhappiness, far from it. I think the common thread running through the replies here is family love & family stability. Those who lacked these in their own lives were doubly disadvantaged. Maybe some of you can recall children who were the "odd one out", who looked as if nobody owned them, or maybe you don't remember them because they weren't at your school long - they just disappeared, the result of another "moonlight flit". Or maybe you can vaguely remember the unpopular child who always smelt of urine, there being a bed-wetter in the family. A single-end I well remember, & I'm not admitting to living there, was a case in point. Gd. floor, & 2 of the 4 walls backed on to a fishmonger's & to the lavvy - so those walls streamed damp continually. 2 toddlers slept in the wardrobe drawer. The lavvy, being in the close mouth, was used by drunks, if you've seen "Train-spotting", you know what it was like - & the kids used to hang out for school rather than use it. They were pointed at/avoided by their school mates, sad but true. These are but a few sight from my childhood in Glasgow.

[edit - that particular single-end was close to the old Parkhead Tram Depot, on the same side of TollX Rd, everything in it stunk of dead fish, & the rats in the close were near as big as cats]

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albaliz
post 30th Sep 2003, 02:27pm
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Bard, thanks for starting this thread. We lived in a single end in the Gorbals for the first 8 years of my life. I still remember some things about it and the most I remember was the love that was in that wee hoose. My mum,dad, 4 kids and my mother's brother all lived there. When it was time to go to bed, everyone had to go as beds appeared from nowhere and you couldn't walk around. I also remember there was no hot water and a big goose neck tap for the cold water. We either had rats or mice I don't know which but you could hear them at night time. unsure.gif Most people around us were in the same situation so it was no shame on anyone. Today, I live a lot better than then but I think I discovered from my wee mammy that if you work hard, you get what you deserve and boy did she work hard all her life. God rest her.


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Melody
post 30th Sep 2003, 05:38pm
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Great post albaliz, Gorbals was the most exciting place in Glasgow when I was a wee girl, how busy it was, a town within a City, I always feel that Gorbals was where to find the heart of Glasgow. Crown Street, Cumberland Street, Thistle Street, Florence Street these names conjure up for me exciting days of playing in those backcourts in the muck. Heaven on Earth, blissfully unaware of any danger or germs, what a community there was in those days how busy the streets were, the colourful shops and even more colourful people, good on ye for posting there, your so right no shame in poverty unlike today somehow. The powers that be seem to make the poor ashamed as well as poor, God rest all those souls so had it so tough. We could do with some of that spirit these days.
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