Way Back When


The trams were pulled by horses – there was no electric then.
Carts were used to carry things, pushed by many men.
The streets were made of cobbles, which hurt the children’s feet,
Some of them had got no shoes, and not a lot to eat.
One day I asked my mother, on our way to town,
‘Why are all those people there?’ She told me with a frown
‘They’re waiting at the Catholic crypt. The soup kitchen’s in there.
That’s all they’ll get to eat today. They’ll take it home with care.’

Cathedrals of Hope Street weren’t there when I was young.
I remember standing watching Puffin’ Billy come along.
The Liver Building not yet built, or either of the tunnels.
Sailing ships could still be seen and some of them had funnels.
Bunney’s was in Church Street, and Coopers had their shop.
Bold Street then looked just the same, St Luke’s was at the top.
People had no watches – that’s why buildings have their clock
And why the ‘knocker-upers’ woke the neighbours on the block.
They beat upon the windows until they could be sure
The occupant had heard them and they wouldn’t lie and snore.

I went to school in Brae Street, and we lived there in that street.
Ten of us in one small house, my mother kept so neat.
I wore a pair of button boots, wrote lessons on a slate,
Teachers there were very strict, God forbid that you’re late!
No bathroom in the houses then – the toilet down the yard
A huge tin bath hung on the wall – to lift it, it was hard
Mother filled this once a week and put it by the fire.
We all were washed, she emptied it – no wonder she would tire.
The larder had some marble slabs, and muslin made a ridge
To put across the food we had – no such thing as fridge.
The kitchen lit by gas lamp, and she cooked upon a range.
A candle, lit to find the way, for us was nothing strange.

Did I really live all that, and all that’s happened since? ….
Telephones, electric and machines that wash and rinse.
I must have done – ‘cos I’m still here, if not a little vexed
For I’m a little old to use the things they’ll dream up next.

Your 'knocker-uppers' write to say,
"Happy Birthday Edith,
have a wonderful day,
on this your one hundred and first birthday"
Love from all at poem800.
09/08/07



By Edith Springer (101 yrs)