Tom Patterson recalls how different life was in his youth.

Tom Patterson's GrandmotherMine was a home birth in the twenties, and in the 1920s and 30s few mothers-to-be went to hospital, thus the local midwife known as Nurse Watters brought me into the world. Nurse Watters was an institution in her own right. She went from home to home on her bicycle and lived in a house at what is now known as Long Kesh. She had one daughter; and was herself very hard of hearing. As I grew up I remember her calling at our home to converse with my mother; they each spoke at the top of their voices. In those clays, Nurse Watters' bicycle outside a house generally meant that a baby was on its way. Her bicycle had a little basket on the .front. I remember its leaning against the hedge outside our home.

My earliest memories were of fetching and carrying. Newport was really just a little hamlet of houses, with no running water; no electricity and dry toilets. There was a water pump by the side of the road where everyone got their water. Water was carried in buckets, and if you had two you made yourself a wooden frame, possibly three feet square, placed it with a bucket on each side and the carrier walked in the middle. The local people maintained the pump, only requiring a piece of leather to be put round the `sucker' every now and then.

All children played together in those days, games such as 'hunt the deer', `marbles', rolling bicycle wheel rims (hoops), and looking for bird nests occupied the long summer clays.

Living so near the Lagan Canal (now part of the motorway) meant we fished and bathed in it in the summer; and in the winter when it was frozen over we played on it. Winters were severe in those days. Some of the families that made up Newport in the 1930s and 1940s were: Mulholland; Armstrong; Singleton; McGuigan; McCoy; Finn; Hanna; Thompson; Jeffrey; Patterson; Fleming; Nicholl; Reid.

Everything had to be carried. At a very young age I was sent for the milk each evening to the McCord 's farm. You went up the lane through the railway bridge (still standing) with a tin can. Mrs McCord would then take the tin from you and go to a large brown crockery container (crock) and measure you a ladle full of milk. Each Saturday you took the few pence to pay for the weeks supply. My elder sister would have had to walk up to the shop where Mr Emerson made up your order while you waited. Cars were few in the early thirties, and when we saw one we often just stood and stared.

Boats going up and down the canal were also a source of interest. Some were pulled by horses, a few had engines. Those that had engines often had another barge in tow.

My family, the Pattersons, were sent to Hillsborough Presbyterian School because the then headmaster, Mr McCready, asked my .father to send us to keep the numbers up, thereby keeping his wife in her job as a teacher in his school. I can remember the embarrassment we felt as we met the Culcavey children coming down the road to Newport School as we walked up the road one-mile to Hillsborough. On looking back, it was a silly arrangement.

We walked everywhere, and I remember wearing boots - no shoes. Clothing was handed down. As 1 was the second in the family I had to wear my sister's Burberry coat as she grew out of it.

Holidays away from home were unknown. A day to Newcastle (usually the Sunday School trip) was quite an event and much looked forward to. In the 1930s and 1940s it was by train from Hillsborough Station. Carriages were just added on to the normal scheduled run. Very often several parties of children and their parents were accommodated on the one train. Church parties from Lisburn and Dunmurry were often together on the day outing to Newcastle. It took a long time to cover the 26 miles of track, as the train would stop at every little halt. I well remember the stationmaster walking up and down shouting `Ballyroney' or some such place. Mothers had a hard day as everything was packed into carrying bags for the journey.

Those who had gardens always worked them. Potatoes and soup vegetables were the main crop. No artificials or pesticides were ever used, just the spade, the fork and farmyard manure. In Newport I remember the timid competition between the older men who had gardens; it was always a source of conversation.

Mrs Elizabeth Armstrong who survived to the ripe old age of 106The radio, or wireless as it was then called, was a prized possession. I remember our .first one well. We listened to the fights as they were described blow by blow; and as war approached our parents listened with apprehension. My father was a veteran of the 1914-18 war and carried a war wound all his life, for which, if I remember correctly, gave him a pension of �1 and 2 shillings a month. He would let his pension accumulate, for a few months and then my brother and I accompanied him into Tommy Duncan's boot and shoe shop in Lisburn, where he would buy us boots, striking of course the best price possible. `Haggling' was what they called it.

I remember the wildlife of my childhood. There were always swans and water hens on the canal, and in the really hot weather pike would come to the top of the water, where we would flip them out of the water onto the bank. There were also roach and large frogs in the canal. Rabbits and hares were aplenty, especially along the railway banks. Songbirds were in abundance and as a very young boy I remember listening for hours on end to corncrakes answering each other

The trains and the, factory horn were very much a part of our lives. Each time a train passed our bedroom the windows rattled and we went to sleep and rose according to their timetable. There was the ten past seven, the eight o'clock in the morning, and so on. Very often there was no need to look at the clock, the factory horn or the train told you the time of day.

The pace of life was leisurely and crime, such as it was, was confined to being caught without a tail lamp on your bike. I remember as a very young boy walking to school past Hillsborough Railway Station and literally dozens of bicycles were lying on the grass banks around the station. It seems few, if any, were stolen in those days.

Another recollection of the Halftown as a young boy was of being sent down to buy paraffin oil off the Morgan family whose house was on the left 500 yards past Newport School. George Hamlin also had a smallholding, where he reared and fattened chickens and hens for the market. I would have been given a purse with some money and sent down for a 'boiling fowl'. He would kill the bird in front of me, very expertly, put the change in the purse, hand me the still kicking bird, and I would return home via the canal towpath.

The families of Halftown that most come to my mind are: Berry; Palmer; Watters; Morgan; Beattie; Martin; Miller; McMinn; Lappin; Scott; Finlay; Bingham; Kennedy; Hunter; McKelvey; Auld.

Religious education and institutions formed an integral and vital part of life in a by gone era. Bertie Emerson recalls his vivid memories of his Sunday School days.

Every Sunday morning we were dressed in warm clothing and hand-sewn boots made by Mr Turley, the cobbler from Hillsborough. Off we went to Sunday School at Maze Presbyterian Church, which was more than a mile away.

Out through the gate the six of us trooped on `Shanks mare'. At Culcavey crossroads we took the Puddledock Road, where we found other families from the village going to church. There were rows of us, all across the road. Onward we went avoiding the puddles until we reached Jackdaw Corner. Around this corner grew many tall trees, with branches which hung over the road. Their trunks were entwined with ivy which made them seem eerie. The jackdaws had built their nests of twigs high up in the branches. On we went, a happy band, and the noise we made attracted the animals in the fields, and they too came to the side of the road and accompanied us on the inside of the hedge as far as the fences allowed.

Below the high ground on the left was the site of the original Methodist Meeting House (Priesthill), named after an area on top of the high ground. There was a monkey puzzler tree in front of Basil McApherson's house. Basil was the only man I knew who rode an adult tricycle.

At Hooks Corner; turning right, we passed the second site of the Methodist Church called Zion. This is a symbolic name for the dwelling house of God. Recently after extensive improvements this church has taken back its original name, Priesthill. We went over the hump-backed bridge which spanned the canal, arriving at Sunday School.

The Rev. and Mrs. DunnThe Rev Dunn was a tall thin man, with a kind and compassionate manner. He wore gold-framed glasses and a pork-pie hat. This hat was so called because of its fanciful resemblance to a pork pie, and was normal headgear for our ministers at that time. The Rev and Mrs Dunn taught in Sunday School as well as several other teachers. At no time was there a shortage of people capable and willing to teach scripture. We learned by listening, singing, reading and repetition. Passages of scripture, psalms and hymns were learned by heart as well as the shorter Catechism. The class lasted one hour

At the end of the year we had an oral examination. I can recall sitting at a rectangular table, at the end of which was a paraffin oil lamp which gave out a bright light. This was my first exam, and opposite me sat the examiner, the Rev David Hay of First Lisburn. I could see he was wearing a dark suit and the traditional white collar which encircled his neck. He looked gigantic, and the glow of the light cast a long shadow on the end wall. The movements of his hands and head caused the shadow to dance. My teacher pushed my chair close to the table, for safety reasons no doubt. There I was, wedged in, just the two of us in the room. As the Rev Hay looked across the table, he would only see a small head, which I hoped would know the answer The first question was "What is man's chief end?" I answered that one correctly, and a few others as well. To some I answered, "I don't know".

The big social events of the year were the excursion by train from Hillsborough Station to Newcastle, the congregational social and the Christmas party.

The last Sunday School trip to Newcastle. The McGurnaghan family captured this piece of history as the train ran after the line was closed. This was the railway company meeting their annual obligation for the last time.

There was a thirty-minute interval between the end of Sunday School and the commencement of the church Service. League of Church Loyalty Cards for attendance were stamped. We normally went into church, but if we had been told there was an open grave in the graveyard, behind the church, we would go and see it because we would have known the bereaved family. From a safe distance we looked at the large pile of soil, and marvelled at the straight sides of the grave. Many boys and girls knew the sorrow of death and had witnessed the funerals of their brothers, sisters or parents.

The service commenced at mid-day and lasted at /east one and a half hours. The Emersons sat on the left-hand side of the Church. There were doors on the pews, and the aisles were the only parts of the floor that were covered with cord carpet. Light was by oil lamps suspended down from the ceiling. Later on these lamps were replaced by electric light. This unadorned meeting house was in a non-conformist style.

We carried our bibles and hymnbooks with us. Our Sunday School teachers, the Misses Campbell, sat in the pew in front of us � their brother was a blacksmith. On the wall behind the pulpit, and high above the minister head, was painted in capital letters "WORSHIP THE LORD IN THE BEAUTY OF HOLINESS".

An American organ provided music, and the organist had to pedal fast 'to get the wind up' as it was colourfully described. Had this not been so, the music would have sounded as though the organ had laryngitis. The tempo of singing was slow; nevertheless it was loud and sincere. We sang `Amen' at the end of each praise. Anthems were a feature at special services and Harvest services. For the Harvest the church was decorated with locally grown produce. Each year a frieze of corn stalks about 18 inches deep and a foot thick was strung around the pulpit. Grapes and bananas purchased from the shops hung over the corn, and four or five stems of pampas grass stood guard at either side. A smaller frieze of corn surrounded the choir stall.

Communion was celebrated twice per year: The church was always packed, every family in their pew. We knew them all and they knew us. The men wore dark three-piece suits, the waistcoats of which were adorned with gold watch, pendant and chain. The ladies wore their Sunday best, and crowned it all with a hat. When the minister began his sermon, which we called `the long bit', the elderly men would stretch their legs, lean back and close their eyes. I thought they were asleep. Then we would nudge each other and smile. But the men were not asleep. Silence reigned supreme and you could have heard a pin drop. No one knew about microphones or loud speakers. Silence and closed eyes increased your power q f comprehension. The Rev Dunn announced his text; a passage taken from the Bible served as a theme to preach upon. He elaborated on it and related it to everyday life according to the scriptures. His sermon also had a moral teaching 'Honour thy father and mother that their days may be long in the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee'.

Another man who came to church fascinated me. He was always late. He was tall and had his long white hair swept back. He sat at the front. We knew him as `Tipperary Tim'. He was a wanderer and slept under a starry sky. I imagined that he knew everything about the flora and fauna of the countryside. He would leave as we started to sing the last hymn. Tim was possibly closer to nature than anyone else in the congregation, but he was just like the rest of us. Everybody came because they realised the need to experience the satisfaction of public worship. I saw Tim one sunny Sunday in May, and thereafter no more. He had gone to his great reward.

When the sermon was over; the collection was lifted, always by the same men. You put your money in a round wicker basked lined with red soft felt. The baskets were placed on a seat behind the organist. After singing the last hymn the Rev Dunn raised his right hand and pronounced the Benediction. "NOW MAY THE BLESSING OF THE LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST REST UPON AND ABIDE WITH YOU ALL, BOTH NOW AND EVERMORE." We did worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

CULCAVEY 1934-1950
Thompson Crossey recalls characters and lifestyles in the district before and immediately after the Second World War.

When I think back to my youth my immediate recall is of the many characters that made up the village of Culcavey. From the people who supplied the daily needs of the village, the source of income, education and christian teaching, right down to the ordinary working class men and women who were so much a part of my life.

It is difficult to make a starting point, so I will recount as things come to memory.

My grandfather, William Crossey, came to Culcavey .from Sandy Row, Belfast, and resided at No.10 Thompson's Row. He worked on the Titanic in the shipyard, riding a bicycle there and back to Culcavey. It was said that he grew the biggest leeks in the country. He also worked with Johnstone the Lambeg Drum makers in Sandy Row and brought a drum called `The Darkie' to LOL Lodge 111, Lower Maze. This drum was reputed to be the best Lambeg drum in the country and it is still in Lower Maze Orange Hall.

School was Newport Primary, where Mr JJV Boyd ruled as Headmaster assisted by Miss Beattie. Between them they taught all the children of the village and surrounding area. Mr Boyd came from Athlone and he spoke with a brogue.

The women hard at work in the linen factoryThe main source of employment was the factory, or Hillsborough Linen Company. Workers were alerted by a factory horn at 7.30 in the morning. At 8 o'clock the horn blew again signalling a start to work. At 12.30 it sounded again for dinner and at 1 o'clock it again signalled a start back to work. It echoed out again at 6 o'clock to stop work for the day. The entire village used the horn as their time guide. Times were hard for the workers. Bad batches of yarn were the main reason for pay and argument. Some weavers blamed the `tenter' for giving them a bad `beam'. On one occasion I remember quite clearly my mother coming home with just sixpence in her pay bag. Pa McCandless was the manager of the factory. He was feared and respected by most of the workers, but was a fair man. When l started off in the `scrap business' I operated between the gables of Thompson's Row and Puddledock Row, what was in effect factory land. I worked here in the evenings after having done my stint at Mackies in Belfast. Obviously someone must have reported my making use of the land and I received a visit from Pa. He arrived one evening and caught me at work, pointed out that I shouldn't be carrying on my operations there and queried my working hours. I told him I caught the 7.00 a.m. bus at the corner and arrived home on the 6.00 p.m. at night. He commented on my hard graft and that was the last I heard of the matter. Indeed a fair and just man who could recognise a man's worth!

Mr. Norman ChapmanNorman Chapman was the engineer in the factory. He was educated in the Public Elementary School and Lisburn Tech. A very intelligent man, he read a lot and loved to engage in conversation with anyone on any subject. Lizzie Chapman, Norman's mother, ran a small shop at Smithy Row, beside the old oak tree which was near the factory gate and which is still growing there. She was a very refined woman.

When the Factory closed for good I, then owning a scrapyard in the Old Railway Station, bought all the looms and machinery in the factory and smashed them all up .for scrap metal and removed them from the premises. A sad end for an old establishment, and on recollection maybe the antiquity of the items outweighed the value of the scrap metal!

Mr RJ Emerson and his wife, with Miss McCandless in the middleThe Emerson family was well known in the village as the owners of Culcavey Stores, the local shop. RJ Emerson (Rabbie John), the head of the family, was assisted in the shop by his sister-in-law Miss McCandless and his daughter Eileen. Miss McCandless was a proper lady, very polite and mannerly. Eileen was also a lovely lady. Mrs Emerson was a well thought of quiet lady, who ran the home. Bertie, the son who looked after the .farm, provided the supplies of milk in the village, for many years. In his youth he attended the Agricultural College and one occasion when he was speaking on Radio everyone in the village was listening in. Rabbie John was a well-known man and was a Justice of the Peace. He also wrote many poems, some about what was happening in the village.

The other members of the family were all well educated and the village people were very proud of their achievements. Some were doctors and one was a teacher The late Dr Douglas Emerson was one of the most highly respected doctors in the country.

Another local shop was a small wooden hut built at Culcavey crossroads by Harry Ginn. Harry was a real character who took a great interest in council facilities and stood in elections. The hut later became 'Thompson's wee shop', trading at the crossroads for many years.

Back in the days of no supermarkets the people relied heavily on the local shop. Other services were provided in different. forms. Mr Bell was the dentist. He attended people in their own house or in Miss Maggie Mercer's home. He came every Friday night with his small bag. Another Mr Bell, 'Bomp Bomp' by nickname, was the shoemaker He made shoes for some people and provided a mending service. Sammy Miller was the vegetable man. Fish men came round shouting "Ardglass herrings ". The village was visited weekly by two ice-cream men. Tommy Just from Lisburn and an Italian man from Newry who came every Friday night and on Sunday. Johnny Palmer came round with goods and oil and Billy Balmer came round selling bread and pastry. The `pack men' came round the village on a Friday night (pay night). Bobby McBride and a Mr Sharkie came round with a suitcase full of new clothes. They had a lot of customers. People got what they wanted from the suitcase or else they ordered the item and they would get it the next week. They paid for everything at a certain amount of money per week. Many a bride and bridegroom were fitted out in this manner.

In all villages there was a local woman acting as midwife. The midwifery service in Culcavey was the province of Mrs Wilson, wife of Mr William Wilson, Snr. My recollection is that they were from the South of Ireland. The doctor was only called to a difficult birth, so Mrs Wilson acted as midwife to all the pregnant women in the village. William Wilson was a big strong man who was always working in his back yard where he kept goats and pigs. When Billy Miller; the pig butcher was killing the pigs, the whole village could hear the squeals before they were killed. Some people used to buy some fresh liver for food.

If you were lucky to own a bicycle you would surely need the services of Tommy Crothers. Tommy ran a small bicycle shop at the quay which was' beside the canal at Newport. He repaired all the cycles in the village. Renowned for a bit of good 'craic', he was known to be fond of a bottle of stout. As none of the `working class' owned cars many people had bicycles that were treasured as they provided the means of travel the few miles or so to work. This meant there was' a supply of second-hand parts from which many of the boys built 'an old bike'.

Also residing clown beside the canal was Mrs McGuiggan, the Newport woman who made banners and bannerettes for the Orange Order. She was a member of Annahilt Presbyterian Church, and rode on her bicycle to that church each Sunday.

For postal services there was Bob McAdam. Bob was postman for many years and knew everyone in the district. He was a good Lambeg drummer and followed the drums everywhere, and was a lifetime member of Hillsborough Lodge 144. He also followed the local football team and was a keen supporter of `The Blues' (Linfield).

Tom Kane demonstrates his fifing skills to the tune of the Lambeg DrumThe village people were always proud of the men who fought in both World Wars. Tam Kane was a big man who soldiered in the First World War, and saw service in the worst of the fighting before being wounded and brought home. He became SDC of the `B Specials' in Hillsborough � a post he held for years. The Kanes were a military family. Bobbie and Eddie were two professional soldiers in the Second World War. Bobbie was a Pipe Major and Eddie was mentioned in despatches while fighting in Africa. Tam Kane was very fond of playing in the card school on the railway lines. When he got a winning hand he could be heard to shout, `Come up to Brimmies', a place in France soldiers used to shout about. Tom could also play the fife in tune to the Lambeg drums.

Another villager who joined the Royal Navy before the Second World

War was Peeler McAdam. On two occasions the ships that he was on were torpedoed and sunk by the German U-boats. When he returned home he got a great reception.

Maggie Mercer, together with Mosie Matchett and Annie Kane, poses for a photograph at Grey RowJack Woodhouse was an English soldier who came to the castle in Hillsborough. He married Bella Matchett, a Hillsborough girl, and they settled in Culcavey. Jack had good community spirit. He got involved in everything that took place in the village. He was MC in the Saturday night dance in 'Ritchie's Hut' for many years. Ritchie's Hut was the dance hall where many of the boys met girls, especially the soldiers who were stationed in Hillsborough. Maggie Mercer, an unmarried lady, who lived in the village all her life, was always called to sing at the dances, her speciality being `Let him go and let him tarry'. Maggie was known to everyone in the village, and took a keen interest in the life and events of the area.

Deeds and happenings were well talked of within the close community of the village. One event I remember well was the act of John McFarland. John's father was a Scotsman, who came down each Saturday to collect his wages. While his father might have been pecuniary John himself is remembered for rescuing John Singleton and Day Patterson from drowning after they had fallen into the canal at Newport Quay.

For this act he was awarded the Humane Medal. The little ceremony awarding the medal took place on Newport Bridge, officiated by Canon Mitchell of Eglantine Parish Church. This must have been in 1938.

Davy McFarland and Robert Crossey in a relaxed moodMany too will remember the acquisition of land by Tommy Alexander `Big' Tommy, as we knew him, was a man of good quality. He bought a patch of ground that was covered with some of the oldest trees in the land. To get this land cleared he gave the men of the village one tree each. With spades, hatchets and crosscut saws they cleaned the ground in six months. Tommy then turned the cleared area into a very prosperous nursery. He employed some of the school children after three o'clock to work at the lettuce and tomato plants, and there was no shortage of labour

As you get older some names and faces become memorable, sometimes for just small reasons, or perhaps it's because you can relate events to these people. I remember Bob Armstrong who rose each morning at 4.30 to 5.00 am. and rode his bicycle to wherever his steam engine was working. His steam engine was used to make the `copper' cam when Newport Bridge was built after the old iron bridge collapsed. When I see hats I always think of Bertie Carr: Bertie was a `bookies' clerk. He lived at Railway Terrace and was always well dressed, wearing the best kinds of hats in the village. As a very enthusiastic fisherman, everybody wondered how he could catch so many fish. Again, I can see today, as plain as if it was yesterday, Davy Finlay who lived between Newport Bridge and the Moss Road. Davy kept a small shop and never seemed to wash his face. The hens, ducks and guinea hens all lived in the house along with the family. The door to the house was never shut.

Tommy Alexander and workers in his greenhousesThe antics of three local farmers always brings a smile to my face. Hubert Nelson, Charlie McBride and Wilson Verner met every Saturday night in Nelson's pub in Smithfield Square, Lisburn. They always got the 10.30 bus to Flatfield on the way home. Of course they had plenty of money, but .for devilment they refused to pay the conductor their fare. Some conductors knew how to handle them, but others who didn't know were in trouble. However; the last man off the bus usually had to pay!

At the other end of the scale I remember the refined Mrs Pimm who lived in a large house at the top of the factory hill. She was a lady who kept herself to herself and was seldom seen in the village. However the villagers showed her great respect.

Hugh Ball proudly displays his Imperial Service MedalFew people could not remember Hugh Ball. Hugh married Maggie Cargin and came to the village to live. His great passion for hunting rabbits was well known throughout the country. Hugh kept an excellent dog for hunting called Queenie. He also reared some of the best ferrets in Ireland. Hugh started work in Hillsborough Forest when he was thirteen. He never went to school and could not read or write. As a Forestry employee he was horseman and gamekeeper, and was awarded the Imperial Service Medal, which was presented to him at Hillsborough Castle. He apparently never took a holiday, but preferred to go in to attend the horses or go hunting in the forest with his ferrets and dog.

Maggie ball caused a sensation when she appeared in her 'hot pants' (Hugh's overalls cut to measure)One of the most important sports during the 1930's and 40's was football, and Culcavey always had a good team. They played under the naine `Distillery', which came from the old distillery that had been in the village before the advent of the linen factory. Competition was very strong as all the local towns and villages had teams, and of course there were star players. To name but a few: Albert Pollock; the Wilsons; the McDonalds, Johnstone, Cairns and `Head, heel toe' Sammy Atcheson. To think of Sammy is always to think of football. He was a very lively man and was a really good centre forward for the local team. Everyone used to hear him shout `Head, heel or toe, let her go'. On one occasion he won a considerable amount of money on the football pools, and this was the talk of the village. Sammy became a born-again Christian, and .for many years he preached in Lisburn Square on a Saturday night in front of a good crowd of people. He paid visits to all the sick people in local hospitals.

Other sporting diversions also occupied much appreciated spare time. A game that was played in the early party of the century was called `bowls', not the sane as a game of `bowls' played today. A group of men gathered at a point on the road. Another point on another road was picked. In turn they `hinched' a stone called a `bullet', The person who covered the distance between the two points with the least number of throws was the winner

Skittles were also played. A circle 2 feet 6 inches in diameter was drawn on a level part of the road. It was divided into four quarters. A skittle was stood on end in the centre of the circle and one stood on end on each of the four quarters. A player stood at the butts, which was some distance from the circle. He had three skittles which he threw at the circle, one at a time. The idea was to knock the other five skittles out of the circle. The number of skittles knocked out of the circle decided the winner. This game went on for hours. Skittles were usually cut about 12 inches long from an ash tree.

The younger boys of the village had games of their own to play. A race up the front of the houses and down the back with `hoops and cleaques' by a dozen or more boys made a terrible noise. They also played `Hunt the deer', Blind man's buff' and `Hide and Seek'.

`Chestnuts' was a seasonal game. "Are you coming for a game of cheesers?" was the usual question. We gathered chestnuts in the glen, Harry's Road, Aughnatrisk Road, and the `Plantin'. Although `Chestnuts' is a very old game, the generations of today still know how to play it.

Thomas Palmer, a well-known local businessman from the Halftown area, recalls his experiences.

A young Johnny Palmer with his grandparentsI believe I was seven years old when 1 was first allowed to go out on the van with my father � a special birthday treat. At the time we were living in the old railway station at Hillsborough, the shop and the pumps at Spruce field having been vested by the government .for the construction of the Ml Motorway. For a delivery vehicle we had a green Commer 15 cwt van and there was not much room, even for a small boy, given the range of items packed into the van.

I did not have a proper seat as such � I had to lie on a coat, which was put on top of the potatoes. The potatoes were weighed and put on the van in full-size metal biscuit tins � when customers bought a stone of potatoes they emptied them into a box and gave us back the tin. In addition, stone (71b) of potatoes were sold in brown paper bags � plastic bags were a much later invention. Blues were the main eating potato at that time and very few whites were sold. Similarly, white eggs were generally the only eggs available � compare that to today where white potatoes and brown eggs especially, dominate the market place.

On school holidays it was the done thing that either myself or my brother, or one of my sisters, went on the van with my father to give him a hand. When the weather was good it was pleasant and interesting, especially going into farmyards, lifting produce and getting the odd ride on a tractor; be it with Kennedy Hunter or Billy McCoy. Going around the estates meant that you got to know a large number of people and saw a wider picture of life.

Some house calls were special, where you would be given a cup of tea, a biscuit, or in some cases a cup of lemonade, and the use of a toilet. There were various points around the country where you could stop and have something to eat, e.g. at Smith Lane en route from Culcavey, but before hitting Coronation Gardens. During the winter we would have a flask of soup and sandwiches, but in the summer it would be lemonade, sandwiches and biscuits.

Various world events also happened when I would be on the van with my father I remember us being at Lily Porter's house in Coronation Gardens when Thompson Crossey came over to the van and announced that Kennedy had been shot. I didn't real/v know who Kennedy was then, but like most other people, I now know where I was when Kennedy was shot. Another important event was van walking on the moon, and we were making our usual Saturday call at Maria McGuriiaghan's on the Blaris Road when Gerald McConville came out to the van and said I should come in and see man walking on the moon tar the first time. The house had no electric at the time, but Gerald had a TV that worked off a car battery. He would leave it round to the shop, strapped to the carrier on the back of his bike, to get it charged and we would leave it back on a Saturday during our delivery. Gerald had recognised that this was a unique event in world history and he ensured I was able to witness it. Incidentally, there was also a very large horse drawn cart in Maria's barn, which I would look at every Saturday, thinking what it had been used for and when it was last used. Given the moral upbringings of the time, the rule was that small boys were seen and not heard and I have yet to find an answer to my questions.