Curfew 1957 : Part 4

Holding Kate’s hand I stood and watched my mum as she departed down the street in search of our Davy.  I don’t know what came over me …..

    ….. at that moment in time, but I suddenly felt a compelling urge to follow my mother.  So breaking free from my Aunt’s grip I ran as fast as I could after her.  I knew that my Aunt had my baby brother to mind and she wouldn’t follow me.  Besides as Kate was an old lady in her late eighties she had no chance of catching me.

I caught up with my mum just at the junction of Cochran Road.  She didn’t say anything, she just gripped my hand tightly and pulled me along with her. There was a deadly earnestness in her stride and her rescue mission took precedence over returning me back home.

We hurried along the lower part of Cochran Road towards the Barrack gateway. At this point the reader of my narrative has to be aware that the lower half Cochran Road, as it was then, is a completely different-looking street from what it looks like today.  There were no houses at all on that part of the street – it was just a long canyon-like road with two high walls on either side.  On the one side was the high wall bordering Annie Kearns’ garden and over on the other side of the street stood the Linenhall Square western perimeter wall.

Towering up over the west wall was the ghostly edifice of the Barracks’ derelict old hospital building. 

This was a frightening old building indeed – the sort of place that macabre horror stories are made of.  Its darkened windows, resembling evil eyes gazed down upon all those in the street below, and the long-since missing roof exposed an evil looking array of wooden beams and rafters.  The whole structure was covered in a thick mass of creeping ivy and viewed in the half-light of that evening the dereliction and spookiness of that place sent a cold shiver down my young spine.

This vile edifice of bricks and mortar well deserved its long-standing reputation as a haunted place and I can tell you now that it scared the life out of me.  I began to wish that I had stayed at home with my Great Aunt Kate.

My Mother gripped my hand tightly and hurried me onwards, down through that canyon of fear, onwards towards the looming archway that marked the Barracks’ west gateway.

That gateway was as I had never seen it before: it was completely blocked with a barricade of rubble and wooden beams probably purloined from the old hospital complex.  There was also an assortment of rusting corrugated iron sheets, tree branches and even a sizeable section of chain link fencing complete with barbed wire; all-in- all a pretty impressive and daunting looking structure.

As we stood facing that barricade the anguished state of my Mother was evident by the fact that she clasped me ever so tightly with her left hand – so much so in fact that her wedding ring cut into my fingers . I was too frighten to cry out so I stayed silent.  Voices could be heard from the other side of the barrier and just as we thought that no one could see us or know of our presence, a dark haired youth whom I instantly recognised popped his head over the top of the barricade and said,

‘Sorry Mrs P! You can’t get in this way! Try the Erskine Street gate or the steps’.

My mum rather agitatedly replied that she wasn’t looking in, that she was looking for her son David, and she wanted to know was he in there.

Another lad’s head emerged into our field of vision and informed us of the news that my Mother was so anxious to hear.

‘Aye wee Davie is here, do you want him?’

‘Of course I want him! Send him out,’ retorted my mum.

………  more ‘Curfew’ ……..

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