Memories of a childhood in wartime Leith. The trials and tribulations of the period, allied to the camaraderie of the community in facing up to an uncertain future made a lasting impression on John Stewart.
Picnics were another source of enjoyment to us in those days. A more gentle pursuit than we were used to, they were nevertheless looked forward to greatly in the summer months.
We took a No 12 or No 25 tramcar to Seafield for a day at the beach, or a No 7 to Liberton Dams got us away for a few hours from the austere surroundings of the town.
Mrs Lynch, a mother of six children would accompany us with her brood. Another six of us would augment her family for the day. She was a very tolerant and understanding person.
Foodstuffs were very basic as was to be expected in those times. Plain bread that could be saved from the rations, margarine with a spreading of jam to enhance the taste. A bottle of 'vinecta' or lemonade washed it all down.
Whilst at the dams, we would fish for minnows in the running water although this did not compare with Puddocky, a stretch of the Water of Leith flowing past Warriston Cemetery.
Sunday school picnics were a little different. For these we were provided with a bag of buns and sandwiches and tea was sipped from our tinnies that were slung round our necks with a ribbon.
The Salvation Army took us to Ashbrook, an eventide home in Ferry Road for our annual outing. This meant a journey by special tram to the junction of Ferry Road and Granton Road and a walk of what seemed like miles to our destination.
'Where were the girls all this time?' you might ask. There were plenty enough, but the sexes kept to themselves most times. Boys would play boys' games and girls likewise. However there were times when we did mix.
Bearing in mind that we were all mainly in the six to ten years age group, the fraternising was simple.
Often I would take part in their games of 'beds' (hopscotch) and play a customer at one of their shops. A shop would be drawn out on the pavement with a piece of red sandstone. Champed rock of various colours would serve as stock whilst pieces of glass recovered from the crevices in the road setts would be used as currency.
The game of 'doctors and nurses' did take place at times. Be honest, anyone reading this must have taken part in a game of this sort at times. Our hormones were beginning to stir.
Although nothing really came out of this rather than our interest in the opposite sex was becoming more apparent. Our innocence was being challenged.
Only as we approached our teens did we find the girls more interesting to know and likewise them.
John Stewart, 2001
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