I was born and bred in the east end of Glasgow. We lived with my gran " up a close" in a tenement flat on the ground floor. It wasn't the nice red sandstone tenement which you will see in photos of Glasgow. Ours was the council type, three stories high. The back gardens were communal and before the war they were separated from the next block with iron railings but they were taken away during the war along the railings on the front garden and never replaced. They were taken to be used for metal for guns, at least that's what I was told.
We played in the streets as a mob,so many children all playing hide and go seek, kick the can, chases and our favourite,chap door run fast. That needs no explanation.
During the summer we were out from morning and came home when the street lights came on, imagine children doing that today.
The highlight of our day was lunchtime and having pieces (sandwiches) thrown from the window down to us wrapped in bread paper. As I said I lived on the ground floor and that was no fun but friends from upstairs would ask their mother to make one for me and throw it out their window.
A song was written about this and how it was impossible to do it from the more modern multistory flats.
We filled milk bottles full of water and went for a picnic. No cans of pop then.
Television was something we watched for maybe fifteen minutes a day. Watch with Mother,Andy Pandy and The Wooden Tops. We preferred to be outside,exploring.
As I played with my granddaughter's small table top play kitchen, I thought of the large but child size Ikea kitchen she has at home and once again I envied her. I have little toy packets of shopping items and plastic food shapes for playing at shops and I remembered how we used to play shops.
In the back court we set up shop. We raided the bins for empty cans of peas or beans, we used stones for potatoes, weeds we found growing for vegetables and old newspaper to wrap things up. For money we used broken glass (now I sound like a street urchin) and no one was every cut. It was mainly glass from beer bottles I think as it was usually green or brown. We played for hours at shops and nothing came from our homes, we found it all outside.
Today Mumsnet would be screaming child abuse and I am laughing as I type this as I can't believe it was okay with all the adults around us.
I have large trees in my garden and my granddaughter loves me to place her on a branch so she can pretend she is climbing.
We had no trees in the back court but we did have three bin shelters. These were concrete structures to house the tin rubbish bins full of ash from the coal fires and other household rubbish. In my mind they were quite high but probably only about four of five feet. We would climb on top and jump from one to the other. We called them dykes. Jumping the dykes was about who was the bravest and it was never me.
My granddaughter has lots of dressing up clothes, little tutus, Cinderella dresses, tiaras and wands. I dressed up with curtains and any spare material lying around.
My granddaughter and Thomas (toddler I look after) have a wealth of technology at their fingertips. They have cars that go by themselves at the touch of a button and even talk to you. They have every toy you could conjure up and will never have to pretend that glass is money (thank goodness) but they still like it when I make do and mend.
I make ramps for cars from anything I can find. I make doll's beds from shoe boxes. When we had no paddling pool and a hot day I fill a large plastic storage box with water and Thomas played in it for hours.
My childhood of climbing dykes and looking through bins for things to play with did me no harm except to blacken me from the ashes. I have never been to casualty or needed stitches for any incident in my childhood.
We didn't have much but we had a good community. I knew everyone from maybe three streets around me and knew help was there if I needed it. Today I don't know the person three doors away.
The young child I was would have loved all the toys on sale today, the tv programmes and the computers. I wouldn't have enjoyed the restrictions put on our children, as I said we were out all day by ourselves. I wonder what is getting us more afraid as a society. Are there more people around that are a threat to our children than in the fifties and sixties. Maybe the fact most of us have cars and drive to and from our houses means we don't get to know people around us and therefore don't trust them.
The roads are much busier now and more dangerous and yet back in the sixties my dad would never allow me to have a bike because we lived near a busy road, what would he say now?
If you took a walk around the estate where I live you would see very few children. We have children here but they never seem to be outside playing.
In the eighties and early nineties when my children were young they played outside and we knew most of our neighbours, I always felt they were safe. I have since discovered that they wandered a bit further away than were allowed to presumably when I thought they were at a friends house. Kids !
Life is probably better now even with retrictions because no matter how many of them you place upon children, like mine they will always find a way around them to do what they want,and like me you won't find out until many years later,but they survived it and you will laugh.
This is the Jeely Piece Song and the man singing it was the son of a neighbour in the tenement I lived in.