92 ~ Part 1

Numbers 90, 92 & 94 Herberton Road

Numbers 90, 92 & 94 Herberton Road

During glorious July this year, my sister and I found ourselves with time on our hands one day, while waiting to collect a friend. We decided to go walking in the area, soon we arrived in a street that jogged at my heart strings. The three houses above played a part in my early life.

I knocked on that door in the centre, but got no reply. I wanted to ask for permission to take a photograph. We came away and walked on a little further. On our return we walked on the opposite side of the street. It was from there that I took this photo.

Heading back to find our friend, we travelled lightly, as I recalled visits behind that closed door.

Looking at the photo as I gathered my thoughts the other night, there seemed to be something wrong. It took me a few minutes to work out what it was.

When I frequented No. 92, the pathway was the width of the front doorway, you can see a line in the concrete where it was extended. The gate was removed, the pillar to the right was repositioned and new double gates fitted, the wall remains the same height. The steel framed windows have been replaced with PVC double glazing, All par for the course in a house of that age.

My problem is with the house on the left (No. 90), the wall has been replaced and the gateway moved to the other side of the garden, In the ‘old’ days,the paths and garden gates were side by side separated by a railing.

92 was built the year I was born.

Granny had moved in before I took my first breath. Mammy was not around when decisions were being made, she was far too busy in bed.

Yes, Mammy was confined to bed in a nursing home for months before I was born, it was one of the coldest and harshest winters in living memory. She had been sick all throughout the pregnancy and bed rest was prescribed in the hope of allowing me to reach full term. Alas, that did not happen.

There was no shortage of snow that bitter winter. Of the fifty days between January 24th and March 17th, it snowed on thirty of them. The snows that had fallen across Ireland in January remained until the middle of March. Worse still, all subsequent snowfall in February and March simply piled on top.

‘The Blizzard’ of February 25th 1947, was the greatest single snowfall on record and lasted for close on fifty consecutive hours. Nothing was familiar anymore. Everything on the frozen landscape was a sea of white. The freezing temperatures solidified the surface and it was to be an astonishing three weeks before the snows began to melt.

One quote I saw said:

‘It was pure black frost, night and day constant, and the snow was as high as the hedges. You couldn’t go outside the door without a good heavy coat on you. And there was no sky to be seen at all, or no sun.’

Daddy somehow managed to visit Mammy in the nursing home, he had to bring in fuel to light a fire in the hearth to heat her room (It was long before the days of central heating in Ireland), that heat came in the form of turf, hand cut from the family bog in County Clare, the previous summer.

Mammy never carried any of us for more than seven months, one for barley six, but six of her nine pregnancies still survive to this day. That barley six month sugar bag, born with no eyelashes or nails and porous skin, arrived two years ahead of me. He was fed by a medicine dropper every hour on the hour, was said to have lived for spite, but this month he is in Australia to meet his new granddaughter, his second.

No more than Mammy all those years ago, we never got inside No. 92 today, did we? I will return to it tomorrow and share my memories.


31 thoughts on “92 ~ Part 1

  1. Seeing old places from one’s family history can be interesting.

    On our recent trip to Wisconsin, with the help of the local historical society, we located the two places that my mother-in-law lived with her parents in Ashland, Wisconsin. We didn’t try to visit, but did get pictures and my mother-in-law verified they were the right houses. She left Ashland in the 50s. One of the places had been a neighborhood confectionery and small grocery store downstairs, while the family lived upstairs. Her grandfather had been a polio victim and his parents had set him up with the store so that he would have a way of making some sort of living with his disability.

  2. Isn’t it amazing that a baby weighing the same as a bag of sugar could have survived in 1944/45 (I can’t remember which!) babies that weight struggle these days in fancy hospitals with central heating and incubators!

    • The day of the Blizzard, mentioned above, was his second birthday. The baby born in ’44 lived just five hours. Mammy was told she could take ‘Sugar Bag’ home. The words were: He might as well die at home. With him came Dr Kidney the pediatrician, and a nurse who was christened ‘No No’, by your father. Daddy was sent out to find a small cot, you may have slept in it – it did the rounds of the family for newborns. A large bulb was rigged up over it for heat and the fire in the grate burned 24/7. Sixty eight years ago there were no tiny clothes for prems.

  3. That was beautiful…sigh…I know how you feel. Our family home has been sold recently. Six generations enjoyed our family home on the bay. My step-dad is 93 and couldn’t manage the property and taxes anymore. So he sold it and has retired to Florida.
    My mom passed away 5 years ago from Alzheimer’s Disease. Everytime my siblings pass by on the bridge overlooking our old home they feel kind of sad. So many memories, so may lives, so many beginnings, so many endings…sigh…then there will be the changes to the property. My great-grandparents home has been leveled and a huge home takes it’s place like they never existed there. I have my memories. So far. I hope I can keep them!
    My grandpa, my mom and her sister and brother were born there. All gone.
    LIfe goes on. But the past is a fond reminder of all that was and has been. 🙂

        • Maybe now. By the time the younger generation get around to asking… very often the people who lived the old ways are gone.

          When I write a post like the one above or that for tomorrow, I visualise One person and write as if I am talking to them. The first effort is the most difficult, with time it gets easier.

    • Seven children was not unusual back then… They had no television for distraction and in this part of the world the only central heating was between the blankets!!

  4. Well, as you know I was born in March of the same year, and while I knew it was one of the coldest winters on record, I never realised it was THAT cold and there was so much snow (I presume it was much the same in England). And yes, without central heating, goodness knows how my parents kept me and themselves warm enough….

  5. I’ve visited my grandmother’s homes, new families there for some time. It sure sets off the memories. One of them had central heat, the other did not. There were big snow storms here in the Pacific Northwest in 1947 too. We lived near the ocean then, no snow there but we couldn’t go to grandma’s for Thanksgiving due to the bad conditions of the inland roads. I was five then and had forgotten all about that.

    • Celia, the house where my Granny was born and the shop that she owned and lived over when she married, still stand. the shop is closed, but one day I must try to take photographs.

      • My mom’s ancestors came over on the Mayflower. They were protestants and had to leave their homeland. The winters here in North America on the coast were bitterly cold. They never would have survived if the Native Americans hadn’t helped them through that first cold winter. I grew up in Rhode Island on Narragansette Bay. The cold damp winds would blow in off the water and the damp cold would go right through you! Brrrrr….then there were the nor’easter storms! Nor’easters are intense storms that can cause heavy snow, rain and oversized waves that can cause beach erosion and structural damage to homes on or near the waterfront and fishing vessels, sailboats etc., moored or in the boatyards. I used to love the clanging of the halyards! And the fog horns! We had a sea wall that protected our property. Rock picking was a big job in the spring. In Rhode Island we call the front of the house the part of the house that faces the water! Interesting! 🙂 I grew up a fisherman and sailor and now a farmer! Life sure has it’s adventures if you let them happen and go for the ride! 😉 It stands to reason that the men in my family were in the Navy and the Merchant Marines or engineers on tugboats! LOL We all sail!!!

  6. Lovely memories, I remember visiting some houses in Salisbury a few years ago and yes, I wasn’t too happy when I saw our once long front garden with its relatively deep herbeaceous border (for a Victorian terrace) was now a concreted car parking space.
    My dad often recalls 1947 too, they were snowed in here for 6 weeks, no school, no shopping. the drifts lasted for weeks and weeks, he spoke about it often this spring when we were all going through such a long winter.
    Lovely post 🙂

    • I have known many people who struggled in the very early days. It is the babies that survived like sugar bag and my late husband, in the days before incubators and all the modern specialist equipment, that amaze me.

  7. The thought of all that snow makes me C~O~L~D. Glad that you survived to share the tale, and that you got a peek at the outside of the house.

  8. I know that “change is a comin'”, but oh how it ravishes all that you once held dear….so thank you Dear Lord for the memories! So clear in our minds! With all the love and happiness they hold! 🙂

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