Greenock that was

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Time passes so fast there’s a lot left behind
That I must record before its out of my mind
One hundred and one little thoughts of the past
Dear to my heart from the first to the last

What of the town that once used to be
What of the people who lived there with me

I remember the smoke from the hospital lum
The Morton’s two players called Divers and Crum
The misshapen stairs in my granny’s wee close
The piggery corner where you aye held your nose

The horses that struggled to climb Lyndoch Street
The Tail o’ The Bank with the American Fleet
Scott’s horn as it sounded at twenty to eight
The mad clatter of feet as men poured in the gate

Dunlop’s buses tae Largs, Ritchie’s wee ferry
Anderson shelters tae hide frae the Jerry
The man wi’ the bell that sold the soor dook
Fishing for trout wi’ a pin for a hook

Nights in cauld winter playing “ring bang an’ scoosh”
The Minister’s car that aye needed a push
Enders of loaf, a big tattie scone
The “Home and Colonial”, Mackenzie the pawn

A run on your bike tae the Battery baths
“Big Mick” in the school that once taught me maths
The market at High Street, Sugarhouse Lane
Princes Pier Station for the Kilmacolm train

The Mill lassies’ giggles as homewards they go
Doon Drumfrochar Road past Cotton Mill Row
The Sugarhouse steam, The Oil and Cake Mill
The Dandy,The Beano and Buffalo Bill

Tinkers wi ‘heather and tartan shawled weans
The strange disappearance of the Toon’s Civic Chains
Climbing gas lamps at the fit o’ the street
“Big Ginger” the polis wi’ kipper box feet

The jawbox, the dunny, peevers and tig
Picnics in summer by the auld Roman brig
Black and white telly and Jimmy Dow plays
The boy in yer class wi’ second hand claes

The wan legged busker in Inverkip Street
ABC Minors, The Sunday School treat
Baggy Minnows in jaurs frae Murdieston Dam
The Co-op machine for slicing the ham

Tugs, Destroyers, new ships on the stocks
James Watt, Victoria, East India docks
Tobacco, Bananas, Sugar and Oil
“Keek Duffy”, “The Wolf” and “Auld Puckle Coyle”

Brick baffle walls at the mouth of a close
Chips oot o’ Cello’s, coffee from Joe’s
Edminston’s pies and Kennedy’s breid
The night that we heard that Ghandi wiz deid

There were places and things not heard of today
Serpentine Walk and Bubbly Jock’s Brae
The Vennel, the Bogle, the Baron Baillie’s Hoose
National Dried Milk and free orange juice

Coppersmiths, Loftsmen and Riveters mates
Holeborers, Drillers, Builders or Grates
Chimney Sweeps, Leeries, all passed away
Historical trades of our Town yesterday

The man wi ‘wan arm they used tae call Wullie
Stood at the West Station an’ sold ye the ‘Tele’.
McIntyre’s horses and Duncan Street stables
Rossini’s Cafe wi’ Marble Top tables

Initials that bring memor’es tae me
R.N.T.F and T double E
Clippies on buses wi’ “seats up the stair”
The man that sold nylons at “five bob a pair”

Woolworths an’ Markies in Hamilton Street
The corner at Burtons where the young bloods all meet
Gilchrists and Prentices, Bennets, McKays
Crawford’s the place for your soup beans an’ pies

This was the Greenock that I knew as a boy
Vibrant and lively, bubbling with joy
It’ll never return, good things seldom do
But I’m glad that I saw it. Does the same go for you?


© Jack Clenny

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