The McElroy brothers talk about their extended family
Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 29th July 2011 by Liam Physick
David and Steve McElroy talk about their maternal grandmother’s house on Chatsworth Street, next to Edgeware Street where they lived with their parents. They mention their aunts and uncles, including their Uncle Billy who was noted for his smelly feet! Steve also reminisces about playing with his cousin Anne in the back entry of his grandmother’s house, in her 14-inch television set!
Interviewee: David and Steve McElroy
Interviewee Gender: Male
Date of Interview: 25th March 2011
Jenny: Your memories would be more from Edgeware Street, then?
Steve: Yeah, all, all of my memories would be from Edgeware Street and from, from Chatsworth Street as well, our grandmother used to live in the next street on Chatsworth Street, and so we spent a lot of time flitting between the two . . .
Steve: . . . because there was absolutely no distance at all, and my earliest memory would actually be playing with one of my younger cousins, Anne in the back entry outside my grandmother’s house, and it was quite a wide entry, not like the narrow ones by, by our street, and televisions were just coming into, you know, people, people were just starting to get them so this would have been around about 1955, so, I’d have been probably three and a half before, before, certainly before me fourth birthday, and, what I remember, this beautiful sunny afternoon, really, really warm, and the two of us playing house in this big cardboard box, so it seemed, big cardboard box (Jenny and David laugh), because, 14-inch tellies in those days, it wasn’t 14 inches, it was, it a 14-inch screen surrounded by about 20 foot of, of wood . . .
Steve: . . . and mellonrine, and, yeah, and just playing, playing there, and it was just, like, idyllic, and it was fun cos I really do, you know, I could, I could paint the scene if I could paint, which I can’t!
David: No, but I remember the, the streets were adjacent, the, we, in fact, we rarely used the front door, it was always the, front the back gate and up, up the yard and into the house, and it was, that was our second home. My mum, dad worked most of the time, mum worked for quite a bit of the time, so, if we weren’t at school, and they weren’t at home, we would generally be in the grandparents’ house.
Steve: And it had, it had a unique smell, didn’t it, of sweaty socks (David and Jenny laugh), from our uncles, who were . . .
David: Oh, yeah.
Steve: . . . basically all in the building trade, me dad used to say about me Uncle Billy . . .
David: Oh, yes!
Steve: . . . “He’s got the worst feet in the world” and (David mutters something inaudible) he could be working on site in the absolutely blistering freezing cold, but Billy’s feet would still stink.
David: The (indecipherable) (laughs)
Jenny: (laughing) You really are painting a pictures (sic) now, of even the smells!
Steve: (indecipherable) smell!
Jenny: Yeah, yeah!
David: Cos, in, in that, in Grandma and Grandad’s house . . . one, two, three, four lads: Billy . . .
David: Kenny, Joe . . .
David: . . . and . . . have I just invented another one?
Steve: Billy, Billy, Kenny, Joe – no, the rest were, the rest were girls . . .
Steve: . . . me mother was the eldest – Kitty, and then Sally and Lily, Joan and Jean.
David: Yeah, so.
Jenny: And did they all live in the house in Chatsworth . . . ?
David: All lived in that house, yeah. I mean, it was . . .
Jenny: So it must have been really social?
David: It was! (he and Jenny laugh) I mean, there was only three bedrooms . . .
Steve: They were, they were mainly either married or . . . by that stage cos (clicks his fingers) Joan moved to down south to, to Gravesend, got married, and Jean lived quite close by, but then emigrated to New Zealand, well, a long time ago, in the, in mis-60s.
David: So, they, yeah, they, probably, just trying to think of, well, Jean may well have been at home, when we first started . . .
Steve: No, it was, no, there was only Patsy and John as well, they were there, so there’s a lot of them.
David: Yeah . . .
Steve: But they like, but the older uncles were, like, you know, they were, like, fully-grown men when we were kids, Patsy and John were, were younger, John’s the same as you, isn’t he?
David: That’s right, yeah.
Steve: Yeah, and, there would have been, there’d be, like, four or five of them living there at one time.
David: Yeah, my uncle’s the same age as me, that’s a . . .
Jenny: Oh, yeah!
David: . . . you’ll never get used to that one! (he and Jenny laugh)
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