Street Games

The Rag and Bone Man: There was money one time in used and cast-off clothing, domestic cloth or ‘rags’ as we called them. In my youth there was more than one ‘Rag Store’ in the town. There was one just down the street from us on The Dead Pad (Catherine Street) run by Johnny McFerran. 

The rag man who called to the doors offered a variety of items in exchange for ‘rags’. The children loved him for if we were lucky and he had had a good day’s totting, he would give us a balloon, or a hand-held, wind-driven windmill, or sometimes a singing bird (this was a paper bird on a stick that hummed if you ran with it). 

 The Children’s Saturday Matinee: Held, as often as not in the early afternoon, in the Savoy, Imperial or Frontier cinemas. For sixpence (four and a halpenny according to Tom McKeown, of perhaps an earlier day!) one could exchange sunlight for darkness and Hollywood dreams, emerge shooting from the hip as Eddie Murphy or singing as The King and I. Hordes of kids would queqe up and the jostling for the ‘best seats’ was worse than a rugby scrum.

Street Games: There were seasons for each, often (but no always) corresponding to the availability of raw materials such as nuts from the Chestnut Tree. There were many including ball-juggling against a wall, skipping, rounders, chanting street rhymes, hopscotch, tig, Queenio, Red Light Victoria, roller-skating, marbles, bogies and caddy.

 Halloween Dunders: This required a length of thread, or strong black cotton tied to someone’s door knocker and jiggled from a safe distance. The foolhardy might risk direct rapping but were often caught by irate householders. Sometimes they had the contents of chamber-pots emptied over them.

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