My earliest memories are the long sun filled summers of childhood, when I was kidnapped in the closing week of the school term, to become an only child for a couple of months in Sligo on the west coast of Ireland. My uncle and aunt returned me to the fold at the beginning of September, an inch taller, dappled with freckles and a more glorious glow to my hair, all the benefits of long hours outdoors and the locks being washed in Mr Clark’s rain water.
Mr Clarke lived next door to my aunt & uncle. He collected the rainwater in a water butt, long before it became fashionable. He used it for his vegetable garden, wonderful soft water unlike that in the taps. When My hair needed washing, a couple of kettles worth were collected and heated, to wash and rinse my golden tresses.
When I hear mention of peas…. I am down among Mr Clarke’s rows of peas that stretched up above my head and the bow on top of it. Picking the peas, opening the pods and eating them right there. Close my eyes and I can still taste them! Is it any wonder that I never liked Marrowfats.
Looking out the bedroom window and seeing, hearing and almost smelling the cows in the field at the end of the garden. Late in the afternoon the farmer would arrive round the doors with churns of his still warm milk for sale. No pasteurising, bottles or waxed containers back then, You brought your clean jugs to the roadside to be filled. It was about the only time I made myself scarce, the smell of the warm milk turned my stomach.
Walking to Mrs McGarrigle’s front room shop, for eggs, If you wanted half a dozen, you might get four with the promise of the remainder when the hens out the back laid them. The eggs were warm with an overcoat of henrun still attached.
Carefree days, making toffee in Lamb’s kitchen, testing it for setting point on a saucer. It set. The only way to remove our prize effort was with a hammer!
Lamb’s became my second home in Sligo, if and when I missed the company of the household I left behind me in Dublin. They lived a few houses away from my aunt and uncle. A family of three boys and a girl, much like my own. They adopted me and I was included in all that went on – even the evening recitation of the ‘rosary’ with the ‘trimmings’ at the end of it that lasted almost an hour. It was enough to give me housemaids knee!
This 1952 photo looks as scarred as our knees!
We would cycle up the byways of Knocknarea to pick mushrooms in the evenings, being careful not to step in the fresh cowpats, as we collected perfect white domes for our breakfast table.
Carefree days between 1952 and 1957 when we were allowed to roam and cycle around the countryside, or into Sligo town to go to the cinema. We spoke to every person we met along the way, there was no such thing as a stranger.
I feel sorry for the children of today who are chauffeured and chaperoned everywhere they go and anything they do MUST cost money.
Your post brought back memories of kneeling to recite the rosary during Benediction at our Catholic church. And, yes, my knees got rough from the effort. Those were the days!
What a precious photo! You all have “the map of Ireland” on your faces. You had a charmed childhood. I used to go and visit my great-grandparents on their farm. My favorite memories from there are sleeping in a huge feather bed and listening to the rain beat on a tin roof, and feeding the chickens.
Sligo is a glorious county.
Great story and fond memories indeed. Sounds like a wonderful summertime, much like the ones I used to spend at my grandparents in Connecticut every year. And you are so right about the carefree days where kids could go out and about without fear of predators around every corner. That photo is both precious and priceless!
P.S. When I read your first sentence I was momentarily taken aback. I was actually kidnapped (by my mother) when I was about 7 or 8. She took me to a city a few hours away, got an apartment, enrolled me in a school….the whole thing. Less than a month later, when my father tracked us down, he showed up at the door with a sheriff. They reconciled, but were divorced when I was in high school. I chose to live with my father. Anyway, that jumped out from my subconscious as I read your post.
gigi – it was no fun when kneeling on scraped knees from falling off a bicycle. I learned to ride a bike on those holidays, and once I took off I realised I didn’t know how to stop. I just crashed into the gate post at Lamb’s house!
Judy – All three of us were red heads with ginormous freckles that darkened with the days and weeks! I love the way these little stories from my past open treasure boxes of memories for everyone.
Nelly – Indeed it is and time I went visiting once more.
My past has so many similarities to yours with us being about the same age and me growing up in a very small rural town. I agree about feeling sorry for the kids of today in that sense. We were able to grow up and gambol about in a setting Huck Finn where would have felt right at home. It never leaves you.
^ where Huck Finn would have felt right at home. ^
Al – I seem to make a habit of jogging memories for my readers. Now I am learning more about you!
Fossie – I did grow up three miles from the centre of Dublin – the capital of Ireland, yet we played in a field at the end our our garden, so we might as well have been in the middle of the country. I pity the kids of today, they live with constant warnings of danger and nowhere to let off steam or pent up energy.
Wonderful times. I remember staying on my uncle’s chicken farm in the summer or at my grandmother’s house both in Washington State. Wandering everywhere, welcomed by the neighbors, finding treasures, rocks, hand made nails, and arrowheads from the river. Those sweet people are gone but I still have the treasures and memories. My grandkids have nothing like that kind of freedom to explore.
Celia – we may not have had much money back then but our lived abounded with treasures.
Brings back memories of my summers spent with grandparents, one set in Wisconsin, the other in Alabama.
My Mom, sister and I also used rain water to wash and rinse our hair, but mine never turned blonde like my sister’s. She had straight blonde hair, and I had curly dark hair. Why do we always envy our sister’s hair? Perhaps as you had brothers this was not an issue for you. Dianne
Dianne – I was the one with ‘different’ hair, my sister and four brothers all had dark hair like our parents, mine had skipped a generation and was inherited from my grandparents.
Summer memories… My grand often took me with her to her cabin in the Sierras, or over to the coast. Days of sewing, finding treasures, swimming, sleeping outside, breakfasts of fresh trout, waffles, and juicy peaches…
Brighid – That sounds idyllic, I can taste the peaches!
1952 to 1957 were great times for me too. I bonded with my younger brother Arvind during those years as we went to the same schools and had to walk up and down to start with, then into a school bus and finally with our own individual bicycles which gave us freedom like nothing ever had before.
Yes, our childhood days were vastly different to what children experience now a days. I feel sorry for them as you know through my many posts on this subject.
Ramana – How can we make changes that will allow the children of today, the freedom to explore and play without fear?
Sligo is my favourite place too, between Benbulben and Knocknarea
What are you doing falling?
Barbara – I know the spot you are talking about. I stayed at the foot of Knocknarea, with a view of Benbulben from the back garden.
What am I doing falling? – Hitting the ground, or in this case my laptop table that fell with me, with a wallop!
What a happy, healthy, pretty little girl that was, and you look just the same now, except maybe a teeny bit more mature. Wonderful memories indeed. My childhood was innocent too compared to my grandchildren’s. What I lament are the things I’m unable to share with mine–like cookies and special cakes and pies because the now generation are so concerned with feeding their children only the “proper” foods. Sigh! 🙁
Alice – ‘a teeny bit more mature’!! You are very generous my dear friend. You need to remind the younger generation of the saying: A little of what you fancy, does you good!