Meadow: Ball-Bearing Buggies 1

Our foot ‘pads’ were cement pavings, two-broad to the edge of the kribben, and none too evenly laid, but this just added to the thrill, as we thundered along on our ball-bearing buggies. 

The ‘swanks’ and ‘cissies’ added a square of carpet to cushion the shocks! Not for us hardier folks, these superfluous luxury items!

These personally-constructed carriages were our ultimate in status symbol. Also it was the only object we possessed that must never be traded. You don’t trade in sweat and blood! There was too much ‘personal’ involved.

The first requirement was the ball-bearings themselves. They came in different sizes, two large ones (~10-20 cm in diameter) to be fitted to the rear axle, and two slightly smaller ones on the front axle. It was acceptable to have four large ball-bearings fitted, but no other combination was conscionable.

There were problems.  If you did not personally know a mechanic at a local garage (our locals were Hollywood‘s at the bottom of the Meadow Road, and Roland & Harris on Railway Avenue) you might have to make do with what they might throw at you, or what you could scrounge from other boys’ left-overs.

Our fathers little cared about the inevitable ridicule we suffered when first we launched our lop-sided chariots! All at once an uneasy peace would break out among rival gangs as boys from neighbouring streets – estates even – were invited to join in the general ridicule and laughter! 

Ironically the chief objects of ridicule were those self-same uncaring fathers who clearly lacked the technological prowess to construct a decent buggy for their sons!

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