Well, I was born on the second of February, 1944. My parents, Charlie and Maggie McGuigan, and there were seven of us, seven children, and I went to a wee primary school which was run by the nuns, which wasn't a very happy time. The nuns were very, very strict. But in saying that, I liked school. I had a really happy childhood because there was things to do that kids don't do now, like skipping and playing wee houses, and children don't do that now, they're all on computers. Children to me have very little life except for a wee football team that we have going now.
Growing up in the Strand. I just remember in Clyde Street all the neighbours were very close. Very knit. They would have shared everything. Nobody had a washing machine so you hired out a washing machine for five shillings and you got it for three hours for one house. But somebody used it for a half hour and brought it across the street and then another house and she got it for a half an hour. Instead it being in one house, it was in four houses for half a crown. And that was when people shared everything. If you had too many potatoes, you give some to your next door neighbour. That's all changed. People don't do things like that now. There were wee kitchen houses, there was thirteen children till a two bedroom houses. Outside toilet, no hot water. But it was still happy. Cause nobody had anything more than anybody else. Children were dressed the same. Nobody had a better pair of shoes than anybody else. So everybody was equal. I loved my childhood. I really, really did.
Doors were never closed. The women sat outside on chairs, and sung. The women sung in the street sitting on chairs and children played hopscotch and skipping in the middle of the road. And you wouldn't have seen a car, no no. And on a Friday all the men came home from work and the women all got clean aprons on for their men coming home with their wage packet. And the children were all waiting for their wee bit from their pay. Everybody got the same. All the houses were nearly the same. Spotless clean. Everybody was very, very clean in our houses. They weren't like you know dundered in. They were small. Outside toilets. Walls outside were whitewashed and tarred and made lovely and clean. The yards were washed every day. The toilets were scrubbed. The wee outside toilet was scrubbed everyday. And everybody was equal. That is what I remember so much. Then Frankie had a darkroom down below the pit and that was only in a wee yard. But the children were happy like.
Then the big strike came in 1974. The bakers weren't allowed in, the milkman weren't allowed in, there was no food allowed in. But we got the food in. And we cooked our food out in the yard. Got a wheel rim and put light a fire underneath it and put the pan on top of it and fried sausages and beans and a pot of potatoes. So we didn't starve. They thought they would've starved us out but they didn't starve us out for we all survived.
On redeveloping the area, I never thought that the depot was the size it is. I honestly didn’t. It's the size of Ballymacarrett near. There will be a football pitch in it for the children which means they can knock the Doyle down and they will be able to build houses there. That's going to give us more houses. Put the pitch in there for the children. There’ll be a fold for elderly people who are in accommodation in the Strand. That will leave more houses. Along the front there will be shops. There will be a doctors surgery in it. A women's clinic with the doctors. There will be houses round at the bottom. Three stories up. So houses, accommodations for the elderly, and shops in it. A bakery, post office. So that's the future I want for the Short Strand. And to give the younger ones coming up a chance to get a house or a flat or a dwelling without these people coming in and buying over us.
It will chance it in a good way. People will not be at each other's throats that somebody got a flat over their daughter. It will ease the tension in the Short Strand. We'll have shops. They'll be more work for the local people as well. Wee jobs coming up. That is just what the Short Strand needs. It boils down to that. We have nothing here. No parks. If the Doyle comes down and we get the depot, there will be more houses up there, more houses built in the depot and people will gradually say people are recognising us now here.
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