Grace Graham

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Grace Graham, 93

I’ve a daughter of seventy, I’ve six daughters, I’ve grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. And the last time I counted the great-great-grandchildren I had were twenty-two. I tell ye!

Whenever all the old arches was up and we were able to dance all around, at all hours of the twelfth night! I loved that. Oh aye. We take ourselves away now. Cause it’s not the same, not the same at all. Because at that time there wasn’t that many Scotches that came over and that, I remember they used to have the bonfire over there, where that hotel is, and it was all the young boys that would put it all up. 

I tell ya, there was one [Orange Arch] in Scotch Street, there was one in Boyne Square, there was on at the top of Sandy Row then you’d come round the Linfield Road and there was a couple there at Hunter Street. I tell ya, we went from one arch to the other, so we were all coming home at two and three in the morning. And then my mother would have said, you better get up you’ve work in the morning! Oh yes. But it was great then.

I remember being in here one day and this man comes in and he says to me, ‘could you tell me how I get out of Sandy Row?’ and I said to him, 'Yes, just go out there and round and you’re it’ and he says, ‘would you believe me, I was born round Sandy Row and I can’t find my way in or out of it!’ Here’s me, ‘that’s something!’ 

I remember my father, there was five of us and my father brought us over into Sandy Row to watch the bonfire, yes, and we had to come over the bridge and I remember running down that wooden bridge, the noise it made running down it! I remember that. And when I told that the people wouldn’t believe me, cause I remember the wooden bridge. And that bridge must’ve been built over the top of it.

There was always plenty of bars, do you see all of them bars? Never frequented one of them. 

There was a girl that lived down the street and her and me would have went to the Ranger’s on a Saturday night…now, do you know what we spent? A fiver between us. We used to get a wee wine and a white lemonade and that had done us all night, five pound that was between us! But we only went because of the entertainment. 

A story that Granny told us about when they were kids, and her kids were younger! I’m sure it was hard, like, cause she told me she used to make a bit pot of stew for dinner at night and the next day what was left over done the kids for lunch and she would have to go without. Many as a time that I done without it! Aye. Yes. And I’d have made a pot of soup, they’d got theirs and if there was any left I’d got. Oh aye. It was hard times. 

Anderson’s Shop was in Sandy Row, and he we used to go in and get broken biscuits and damaged fruit! I remember getting damaged fruit and there was nothing wrong with it, you know? Just it had got soft! The Grosvenor Hall used to have a Friday night, and it was a penny to get in. So we went with a penny for the biscuits, for the pictures, and a penny for the damaged fruit. And you wanna see the damaged fruit we’d gotten, we went to Grosvenor Hall and sat and ate the fruit! Oh aye, tellin’ ye! 

My mother used to bath us on a Saturday night, and that bath was brought in front of the fire! I remember that. See whenever she stripped us? She had to wash our clothes and dry them around the fire, for the next day, for the Sunday! Oh, you were changed every Sunday!

That was the Klondyke Bar, well I’ll tell ye, see the night that that was blew up, well. I’ll never forget that. I used to go with a girl years and years ago, when we were young, but she married an American and emigrated to America. But then I got on with her sister-in-law. And you know, her husband was blew up in that bar. I will never forget that night. Oh yes. I had to go to the hospital with her, because she was looking for him everywhere, and then she found that he was dead. She says, come on to the hospital…and you know this, that girl was in a terrible state. And I didn’t know what to do! And then they sent us on our way, going home, so we got a taxi, I left her on Rowland Way, that’s where - John - they lived then. And here’s me, never again. I says, next time there’s a bomb I’m sitting in the house, I’m not going out to watch! I’ll never forget that night

There’s Browne’s! Oh, everybody knew Browne’s - anything from a needle to an anchor!  Aye. Browne’s, I remember that. And do you know, years ago next door to that there was a snooker hall, and that’s where Alex Higgins played. 

My goodness. And you see these wee shops? They were the best to go into. Because if you couldn’t find a thing, they had it. See in these supermarkets now? You have to run about looking for them, you couldn’t ask nobody! But them wee shops were great, so they were. 

I remember Tom Perry. He was awful good, Tom, so he was. He always run it, but Nelly was always there Friday and Saturday, so she was! Aye. Lord bless…

But then you see, years ago it was like that. I remember the woman living next door to my mother, and she had four children. And my mother had…she used to send us in til her, and the people…now? You’d be sitting and starving and no-one would know! 

And you see on the Grosvenor Road, Stanley Street? They had their tap water behind their front door. Yes, front door coming in, the water tap was behind that. Oh aye! Ah dear dear!  When you look back at those days - but, they were good days. They’re hard now! I mean, you could’ve sent to the neighbour for a cup of sugar, a drop of tea or something - see now? They’re talking about ye! So.”

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