Thursday, 10 March 2011

Dounglas Bridge/Ardstraw - Childhood

We’d have dug sods and built walls for Easter Houses. We got big spruce branches for the roof. Eggs were boiled with the blossoms off the wind bushes and that coloured the eggs yellow. There were six in the family in our house. We always built an Easter House, but one year it was built early and when it came to Easter we had the fire going to boil eggs, but the wee house went on fire, one of us threw water on the roof and a dozen eggs came out, one of the hens had got into the Easter house and made a nest.

We used to make stilts out of bean tins. Syrup tins had a lid and lasted longer. We used to have hens and the clay they walked and rolled and flapped their wings on was really fine like powder. We used to make mud pies and decorate them and leave them out to dry.

I remember we got leaflets around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis telling us what to do in the event of an attack. You were to hide under the stairs, whitewash the windows and fill the bath full of water.

We had no running water at school. We used to carry it in buckets. There were two wells, sometimes one was dry and you would have to walk way down to the other. Sometimes the well would be contaminated from the oil of the surface of the roads running off from the road. Sometimes it was drained out and limed. There was a wee forest out the back and we got deadwood from that.

We went to Drumlegagh primary school, there was just one big partition in the middle that you’d slide back. It was a church school owned by the Presbyterian church. My father went there as well. There was a place called the creamery beside it and that may have been the school first. When you walked into that school the upstairs rooms were opened up.

I remember the big storm in 1947. I was nine at the time. I was caught out the day that storm started. My brother and I were walking from one milepost to another to get milk. There were no milk deliveries then so we had to go to the farmers and buy the milk. It was blowing a blizzard straight into us from the east. We were getting exhausted and we didn’t know where we were. All of a sudden a man appeared in front of us. He had a big coat because he was in the B-Specials and we sheltered in his coat and he walked us back. We still had over half a mile to walk and it was just howling wind.

There was a lollipop lady in Ardstraw and she used to walk the kids up over the bridge in a line because there were no footpaths at that time.

We used to snare rabbits. We used to set the snares for them. The snares were a brass wire, and my father made his own.

There was a man in Tullyrapp and he kept about 20 pet rabbits. He let them out in the field in the morning and went to school, and when he came back he rounded them all up like sheep and brought them back to the house.

There were sisters and we slept in the same bed. One night we heard this fluttering and my older sister went mad, and daddy came down with a light but he couldn’t see anything. Then the fluttering started again and carried on all night. The cat came in the next morning and caught something under the stove. We thought it was a bird but it turned out to be a bat! We brought it into school in a wee box and showed it to the class.

One night a man was bringing rabbits that he’d snared up to a house and he saw a light coming on the road towards him, and he had to step aside, some of the educated people said it was fire from the bog but this light wasn’t near any bog.

There were stories about the banshee as well. It sounded like a cat meowing. If the banshee was heard it was the sign of a death in some family.

I remember my father telling us that one night he was going home. He had a bad knee and used a walking stick and it was a grey moonlight night. He saw this thing sitting in the middle of the road, the hair was standing on his head, when he got close enough he hit the thing with the stick and it shot off, it turned out to be his own dog!

I remember Hurricane Debbie, I was out felling trees at the time. That day the storm came all the trees were going down. We couldn’t get away quick enough. It started about half eleven in the morning. It started as a gentle breeze then suddenly it picked up!

You started Sunday school after you started school. You went on Sunday morning about three quarters of an hour before church. The lessons were put out on cards, you had so many hymns to learn and prayers to learn, then you had an oral exam at the school. If you done well in the exam you got a prize. You got a prize for good attendance, you got a card that was stamped.


Bertie Crompton

Helen Crompton

Sharon Watson

James Smith

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