The Newry Social Security Office Manager then, in the early 1960s was Billy Sterritt from Warrenpoint.
He was short, stout and grey haired and he was never seen without his pipe. Although he had a fearsome reputation I don’t ever remember him doing anything to earn it. He did not mix with the staff and I can not recall him ever addressing a word to me in the four years that he was manager while I was there.
The Deputy Manager was George Brooke. George was English and a boxing referee in his spare time. He was pleasant and hardworking and easy to get on with.
The Finance Officer was Charlie Brown – also from Warrenpoint. Charlie was an amiable fellow. He had a tremendous head for figures and in the days before calculators and computers he could total a page of 45 financial amounts in his head – and this was in pounds, shillings and pence – quicker and more accurately than the mechanical plus-adders that were available. He counted whole amounts, not each column separately. He had a long sad face and sloping shoulders and he shuffled rather than walked.
Jack McConnon looked after the Newtownhamilton and Crossmaglen boxes. He was taxied out to the sub-offices twice a week. Jack, as was the case with many of the men in the office, was an ex-serviceman who had fought in the war and had an irreverent attitude to authority. He was fond of the bottle and often returned from his rounds the worst for wear. Several times we had to find a quiet room for him to sleep it off in case the Manager should find him.
Legend has it that on several occasions he arranged for the taxi driver to look after the office while he had a few in Paddy Short’s in Crossmaglen. Jack was a gentleman, affable and jocular. He had a habit of sniffing while twitching his nose – an unpleasant habit that I found myself involuntarily copying for a while.
… more later …