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> Lost In Gourock, During the War
big tommy
post 14th Oct 2005, 05:57pm
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A post I found on another site:

QUOTE
It was a hot summer's Sunday in 1940 when  we decided to go away for the day. Four of us in all; my three sisters and myself .

We pestered our Mum for a few coppers and some sandwiches, promising to be good and careful. It was still wartime after all.

Chiding us about how difficult it was to make ends meet with our Dad away in the Army and the shortage of fillings to put in our sandwiches, our Mum duly stumped up the goods.

We headed into town and jumped on a bus going round the Clyde Coast by way of Greenock. Since we only had enough money for a return fare to Gourock, that's where we got off.

The day was such fun. Wandering around the shops and popping down onto the shore at various points we had a good, unsupervised day to ourselves.

As evening approached and while the tide was out, we decided to gather some whelks to take home. I got lumbered with the task of carrying the bag since it was mine anyway and it was too heavy for my sisters  to carry.

As we walked along the promenade I was intrigue to see a camouflaged warship sailing up the Clyde. I stood and watched until it was out of site and it was then that I realised that the others had moved on.

I hurried along the road to catch up with them but they were nowhere to be seen. I seemed to have reached the "end" of Gourock so I turned round and made my way back.

It seemed that I had been walking for hours when I saw the bus stop we had got off at when we arrived. There was nobody around.

A woman passed and saw me standing at the stop and she told me that the last bus for Glasgow had gone. What was I to do? I only had tuppence in my pocket and even if there had been a bus I couldn't have got on. The others had my return ticket!

I decided to start walking. No thought of panic, no worry or fear crossed my mind. All I had on was a white, short sleeved shirt, short black trousers and a pair of sandshoes.

No feeling of cold in the chill of the evening, I just pulled my bag of whelks over my shoulder and set off in the direction I thought the bus would have taken. No signposts to guide me in those wartime days.

I thought I had been walking for hours and it was quite dark now. No street lamps in the country roads and even in the villages I passed through those street lights that were lit were well masked in case enemy bombers could see them from above. I tried to keep my spirits up by telling myself that Glasgow would just be round the next bend but it never appeared.

I plucked up courage to seek help for myself and walked up this garden path and knocked on the door. A woman opened the door and all I could mutter was, "Could you tell me the time?" Without moving from the doorway she told me it was 11 o'clock and then shut the door in my face. So I set off down the road and soon reached the outskirts of the village and passed into the countryside once more.

I was beginning to feel the cold and I was hungry. I hadn't eaten anything since we finished our sandwiches in the afternoon. I was beginning to get a bit demoralised and it struck me that there had been practically no traffic on that road at all.

There weren't many cars around the country anyway but in the dark and at this time of night there had been none at all. Quite suddenly I heard the sound of one approaching and it was travelling in the same direction as me. When it pulled along side of me it stopped and the driver leaned out of his window and said, "What are you doing out here at this time of night?" I said, "I'm lost."

It was a taxi and the driver asked me were I was heading and when I said Glasgow he nearly fell out of his cab window. "Do you know where you are?" I didn't. So he said, "Bridge of Weir."

He might as well have said Timbuktu. I was none the wiser! He told me to get into the cab and he would take me into town. He said that I was very lucky for he was returning from a fare to Gourock with a sailor - I wonder if he was off that ship I had been watching? He also told me that he had noticed me on the way out because he spotted the white shirt in his dimmed headlights. I often wonder if I was the cause of the slogan, "Always wear something light when walking in unlit roads at night."

When we arrived in Glasgow he dropped me off at St Vincent Street where I could get a Night Service Tram toCowcaddens .

He didn't ask me if I had any car fare but anyway I had tuppence and assumed that it would be enough to get me home. In St Vincent Street at that time there was a coffee stall where he had dropped me off. It didn't mean anything to me then that nearly all the people milling around the stall were women. The lady behind the counter asked me if I wanted anything and I told her I had no money.

She asked me what I was doing out at that time in the morning and I told her my story. She said, "That's a shame. You must be starving and your mother will be frantic with worry." Funny, I hadn't thought about Mum until that moment. "She'll kill me," I thought to myself!

Anyway, a few of the Ladies of the Night gave me a few coppers to get myself a bite to eat and something to drink. That was when I realised how hungry I felt and I soon had a couple of piping hot rolls and sausage and mug of tea. All to myself!

I fell asleep on the tram and the conductress woke me to get off at the Terminus in Springburn .

Actually I had gone two stops past where I lived so I set off down the road with my bag of whelks slung over my shoulder. Next thing I knew a big policeman was standing in front of me. "Where do you think you're going?" he said. I told him and then he said, "What's in the bag?". "Whelks," I said truthfully. He clipped me round the ear and said, "None of your bloody lip, young man." He escorted me down to the close where I lived and commented on leaving, "Your mother won't know whether to kill you or cuddle you!" He was right!

How I came to get left was that, when I stopped to watch the warship, the others went down onto the beach. I must have passed where they went down and once they realised I wasn't with them they came up off the beach and walked back the way we had come. When they reached the bus stop they decided to wait there till I returned. After a while a bus came and the conductor told them that it was the last bus. So they got on it.

I've passed through Bridge of Weir a few times since then and was really surprised how far I had walked. I've been back to Gourock a great many times since that day!


Tommy


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Heather
post 14th Oct 2005, 08:35pm
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Wow Tommy, that is some story. I really enjoyed reading it.

But you left out the part of what happened with your mum when you finally got into the house. Did she cuff your ear and then ask for an explanation. Well that's what they usually did. laugh.gif


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big tommy
post 15th Oct 2005, 01:56pm
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DEar Heather
She really did cuddle me to bits ,just to see me home safe once more .I think she though she had lost me forever .
Tommy


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Rab-oldname
post 17th Oct 2005, 04:45pm
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Tommy. Another excellent story!.
It was reminiscent of a trip my pal and I made in the mid 50s. We were about 14 at the time and bike mad and went everywhere on day runs out. One Sunday, we were up very early and off we went with our saddle bags crammed with sandwiches, fruit, tea-makings etc. It was a scorching hot day and it was very gratifying when we got to Prestwick by cross-country roads. We turned right and followed the coast road north towards Largs and Wemys Bay. I can't remember where it was but we found a place with sand-dunes where we left our bikes and went for a swim. About an hour later we returned to find that my bike tyres had been split by some vandal with nothing better to do. Being a Sunday there was no chance of finding new tubes or tyres and my basic puncture outfit was nowhere near adequate for the damage. This crime really ruined a super day. We decided that we could not stay any longer if we were to get home before dark as we had no lights. I had read somewhere that if you stuffed the tyres with grass, it would provide enough 'cushioning' to proceed, albeit a bit bumpy. Well we set to, ripping up any long grass we could find and you would not believe the amount required to fill 2 small bike tyres!. When finished, they looked not bad but strange with wisps of grass sticking out. Then off we went - and boy, was it uncomfortable!!. Within a couple of hundred yards it felt like the first 'boneshaker'. The grass had compacted hard and was falling out. So the next field was stripped of more grass to fill Rabs' tyres. It was nearing dusk, so I insisted that John return home alone as it was unlikely that I would make it before dark. I struggled on along that road in excruciating discomfort for a young healthy man!. So on I went via Saltcoats, Seamill, Largs then took the A78 (shortcut) to Greenock. I was always told by my Dad that if ever I was stranded, the local Police would 'put me up', so with enormous - as I thought - courage and some cheek, I went into Greenock nick and asked the desk sergeant, after explaining my predicament if he could 'put me up'. To my amazement he agreed but had to insist that he lock me in the cell for obvious reasons. He was very impressed that I should seek his help rather than ride around with no lights at night. Unfortunately for me there was a roaring drunk next door, who, between throwing up loudly, and 'serenading' me, I got no rest at all. The next morning I was given a free cup of tea and a biscuit. The duty sergeant then arranged for me to have the loan of one of the 'found' cycles from their store which would get me home. As I cycled along the last half-mile to my home, I hit a pot-hole and buckled the front wheel, which of course I had to replace the next day!. I was home in time to get to school by 9am - and my teacher wondered why I looked so tired!. sad.gif . I have just worked out that I must have 'cycled' and pushed my wrecked bike over 40 miles that Sunday. Oh, the joys of youth!.

This post has been edited by Rab: 18th Oct 2005, 06:33pm
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Catherine
post 17th Oct 2005, 05:10pm
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Unbalievable!! ...cripes could you imagine these stories happening today guys?

Ah mind takin off lookin for ma brother an endin up jist kept walkin intae the next village, a mile away oan the country road. Ma Auntie Mary near fainted when she watched me passin the windae wavin at her....took me right back up oan the bus an ma gran pit me in the kitchen press till ma mum came hame fae work.
Ah wis THREE ! laugh.gif


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lizeeloo
post 17th Oct 2005, 06:12pm
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Great stories..... laugh.gif




lizee


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