Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Why Do I Love Belfast

Going through mom's papers I found this poem that she had saved. She missed her hometown all of her life and always spoke fondly of it.


I'll speak to you, dear stranger, if you really want to know
So listen and I'll tell you why I love this city so...

Belfast is an Ulsterman with features dour and grim,
It's a pint of creamy porter and a Sunday morning hymn;
The dingy little café where they serve you dainty teas.
It's up the road to the anchor, for lots of vinegar on hot peas.

It's a banner on July the twelfth, a sticky toffee apple,
A righteous little gospel hall, a roman catholic chapel;
It was a paper boy shoutin telly, a piece of apple tart
A fry upon a Saturday, or a coal breek on a cart.

Do you mind a Corporation gas man, complete with bowler hat,
A wee shop at the corner, a friendly bit of chat;
An oul lad in a duncher, the woman in a shawl,
A pinch of snuff, a tattie farl, a loyal orange hall.
The tobacco smell in York street, a beg of yella man,
An Easter egg that's dyed with whins, a slice of ormo pan
The wee lad with spricks in an oul glass jar,
The preacher at the customs house, or an old Victorian bar.

Mud banks on the lagan when the tide is running low,
The men collecting refuse , bonfires in sandy row;
A bag of salty dullis, a boul of Irish stew,
A goldfish bought in Gresham Street, a preacher at the queue.
It's a portrait of King Billy upon a gable wall,
A flower seller on a stool, outside the city hall;
A half moon round the door step, a polis man on guard,
A man whose crying "delf for regs", a little whitewashed yard.

It's the Mays market on a Friday, the ships lined at the docks,
It's a shiny polished fender, a bunch of green shamrocks;
It's herrings fried in oaten meal, with a drink of buttermilk;
It's a snowy linen handkerchief as soft as finest silk,
O'Hara's bap with country butter, a dander round the zoo,
A climb up tough Ben Madigan to get a splendid view.

It's a bunch of savoury scallions, a plate of buttery champ,
Hopscotch on the footpath, a swing around a lamp,
Delf dogs on the mantelpiece, the wee man from the pru,
The chimney sweep on his bicycle, coming to do the flue;
The ever present vista of the hills of Castlereagh,
The deathless hush on Saturday when linfield play away,
Killarney's lakes and fells, on the bells of the assembly hall,
Spikey broken bottles stuck on the backyard wall.

It's bacon boiled with pamphrey, served when piping hot,
With skerry spuds, balls of flour, cracked laughing in the pot.
It's the smell of mansion polish on the lino in the hall,
Sunday school excursion, a treat for one and all;
It's the islandmen who build great ships that take us far to sea,
S.D. bells in Ann Street where they sell the finest tea;
It's fish and chips in paper, on a Friday from Johnny longs;
The sally army band on Sunday to save the sinning throng.

It's a wee walk up the Lisburn Road and back by the Malone,
The Albert clock in High Street with its rich and mellow tone.
It's a barney Hughes hot cross bun, a canary in a cage,
The old men talking in the park of a past and better age;
It's the sharp expressive dialect of everyone at large,
A ton of coal on the lagan a floating in a barge.
It's wemen on the windystool when the summer sun shines down,
A "v" of apple tattie or a wee race into town.

It's a needle to an anchor in Smithfield's famous mart,
I think I'd better call a halt before I break my heart.
And that's the answer stranger and now I'm sure you'll see,
Why Belfast is the only place in all the world for me.

Based on an original idea
By Bill Nesbitt

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas 1952

"Mama would make lovely cakes at Christmas. This one was covered in white fondant and then the red ribbon tied around the side. On top were a variety of decorations (I remember a green fir tree and some figureines dressed in snowsuits. I was just a baby in 1952 so I don't have a recollection of what this particular cake was, but most Christmases mom would make a fruitcake. It never contained liquor and never tasted like the ones you buy in the stores. She had lots of nuts in hers, she started with a pound cake mix and then added in the candied fruits but I don't think she put in as many as you find commercially.)"

The glasses on the table are a beautiful deep green, the tablecloth was Irish linen. Mom is wearing a pretty apron, she did that a lot.

Dad loved her fruitcake. She'd bake it right before Thanksgiving. He'd telephone her from work and ask how it came out. She baked the cake in a angel food spring form pan, all greased up and then lined with strips of wax paper that were then greased up with butter. After it was baked she HAD to taste a slice, most times she would wait for my father to get home and they would 'share' a slice. This one year she couldn't wait. She had her slice. She loved it. She had another. I think she probably had 3 slices before dad got home. Each time she'd just squeeze the increasing gap closed. She really didn't want dad to know she'd been gorging on fruitcake all afternoon.

I don't know if other people do this or not, but my folks loved to spread 'lashings' of butter on their fruitcake. This was a big treat for dad. He loved it.

This is my first Christmas without either parent. I miss them so much. Christmas just doesn't seem the same. They loved the season, but they were never extravagant about it. A simple meal rather than a big smorgasbord of food. One or two presents. Usually we had an aluminium
tree with a multi colored light that rotated red yellow and green, but sometimes we'd get a 'real' tree. Always after the meal we'd play a game, either Monopoly or a card game called NewMarket.

While Christmas has lost it's brightness for me this year, I am grateful for memories of happy Christmases past.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

My Friend Charlie Stewart

When I met Charlie I was 18 years old. I always spent New Years Even at the Gillespie’s house. I had been out with Charlie on New Years Eve, so I invited him to come to meet Mrs. Gillespie. The Gillespie's lived above their grocery store in Portadown. As we climbed the stairs to their sitting room, she called out did you bring a tall dark and handsome stranger with you? I called back 'Yes, but he’s blonde, not dark'.

Everyone cried out “Wait until someone else goes out and crosses the threshold first” We all had a good laugh- now we had good luck for the coming year.

One Sunday I was invited to Charlie’s house for dinner. He lived in Whitehouse, in County Antrim. At that time, my uncle Thomas (father’s brother in law) was in the hospital, he had both legs amputated- I was very fond of him and went to see him that Sunday. It was one of the hottest days we ever had.. I wore an outfit I had made myself. I’ll digress to tell you why I made this suit. When I became 18 years old and had been working for four years and thought I would like to keep myself. Mother was upset, and said “You don’t trust me to spend your money” In those days husbands and children gave their pay envelopes to the mother. Mother did very well by us. I remember we always got our clothes in the very best shops. We got a complete outfit every Easter and Christmas. I should have waited to tell mother about keeping myself until I got my Easter outfit. Well, that is why I had to make one – I didn’t have enough money saved to buy one. I could sew, so I got Pat Cherry (a girl friend) to help me cut it out. I couldn’t line it (mother had fits) I bought a blouse (cheaper than I was used to wearing) got a hat

– oh what a hat! It was black and had a very large brim. Suitable for someone older. I got some cheap black gloves and an umbrella.

To come back to my dinner date with Charlie’s mother –I met Charlie after seeing Uncle Thomas as I said it was a very hot day, and I was sweltering in the tweed suit. When we arrived at Charlie’s house, his mother took up straight into the dining room. I didn’t have a chance to freshen up, I still had my hat and gloves on and umbrella in my hand. I removed my gloves while at the table, and to my horror the dye from the gloves was all over my hands. I was so embarrassed. Mrs. Stewart must have thought that I was some weird person. I was never asked back. You can be sure that I saved my money the rest of the year, so that my Christmas outfit would be more suitable , and more to my parents standards

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I'd like the memory of me to be a happy one,
I'd like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done.

I'd like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways,
of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.

I'd like the tears of those who grieve,
to dry before the sun,
of happy memories that I leave when life is done.
from Dermot O'Brien's webpage

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sometimes It's Best To Just Look Away


Workers special trams had been put on for the evening "rush-hour".  On his way home from work my father caught a very crowded tram.  It was so crowded he couldn't get a seat and had to stand on the stairs.  With the movement of the tram his elbow accidentally knocked off the big brass directional key, and it fell down the neck of a lady's dress!

When father was retelling this tale to my   she said "Oh, George, what did you do?"  

Father looked at her and said, "Well, I can tell ye, I didn't go after it."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Trams in Belfast



1925, I was about 13 years old.  

Trams were a great source of transportation in the city, and many a drama played out on them.   One Saturday, while I was coming home from camp I was riding the tram to my corner.  I was very conspicuous in my uniform, and very red sunburned face (from camping).  I was very aware of everyone's eyes being on me, so when I got off the tram, I swung my duffle bag over my shoulder, and I must have swung too hard, because the bag hit my back and knocked me off my feet.  Worst of all was the tram seemed to stay at the stop a long time, with every one watching.  When I finally walked away, I think my face was even redder.    


One time, while I was working in the Havelock Hemstitching Company (I was about 18 years old) I would take the tram from our corner to Cromac Square in town, and then walk about 7 minutes to work in the center of the city.   The tram would be very crowded going home, so to secure a seat I would jump onto the tram as she went around the corner to the stop. This time as I ran to keep pace with the tram, I hopped up, but missed my footing and landed on the bottom step.  I clung to the rail, and had to raise my feet to avoid dragging on the ground.  I sailed all around the corner in this fashion, with my friends standing laughing.  When we stopped, the conductor said "I won't charge you for that ride”     

It should have but ..... That didn't stop me from running and jumping on trams.


 One day, the family was going for a ride on the open-air tram.  As we got to the seats that are in a semi circle at the top of the stairs, mother missed her footing and fell on the top step.  Father just sat down and laughed!   It was very embarrassing for mother.  She lost her dignity, and ladies didn’t show their petticoats in 1928!



The City of Belfast is like a basin, surrounded mostly by high green hills.   The Tram Service ran out of a Junction in the center of the city.  The trams would travel to the end of a line, which would be steep.   There was a "comfort station” at the end of each line for the drivers and conductors to use.  People would board the tram and wait for the tram to start again.   One day, the waiting people were amazed as the tram took off without the driver and conductor.  The tram gathered speed as it raced down the hill.  Some of the women threw their baskets out and jumped out after them.   When the tram came down the hill to a corner, it didn't know to turn, so it went straight across the road, and ploughed into a shoemaker’s window.  The workers were amazed to see a tram coming at them from the sidewalk!


 The evening "rush hour" was always hectic.  One time a tram was about to leave a stop and too many people were clinging to everyt part they could get a hold of.  The conductor couldn’t get anyone to move.  He jumped down onto the road and shouted "I  won't get back on until the half of yez get off"   Someone  pulled the signal bell, and the tram was on it's way.  The  conductor hailed a passing truck and said "follow that tram!"  When the Inspector got on, after a few stops he looked for  the conductor upstairs and down.  He asked the people were he  was.  One bright lad said  "Oh, we had no room for him, so we left him back at Clifton Street".


My mother told this one about her cousin Sammy.  At one time  he had a broad country accent, but he had lost most of it when he worked on the trams in Glasgow, Scotland.  He was visiting Belfast, and thought he would have a bit of fun with a Belfast conductor.  When he boarded the tram, he asked the conductor (in a broad country accent) "Is it as dear in the wee room, as it is in the loft (is it as expensive in the inside, as it is in the top?")   

The conductor told him that the price was the same.  So he went up to the top.  He immediately came down again saying, "I'm getting off, and there’s no driver up there!"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Camping in Scotland


It was great to hear that we were to camp in the hills of Scotland.   This was a Life-saving holiday for me, so I didn't know any of the Guides.  We had beautiful weather, and the swimming was great!   One day we took a trip into the nearest   town.  They had a lovely new swimming pool, and the girls had a chance to do some diving from the springboard.   They all wanted me to do a dive from the "hell diver” a 33-foot springboard.  They all had to get out of the water, because no one is allowed in the water if I'm going into it.  The high dive is one of the tests for the AWARD of MERIT (my silver medallion), so I had done the dive many times.  Although it wasn't one of my favourite things to do.  Well, I climbed up the ladder and walked to the end of the springboard.  I was anxious not to do a "belly flopper" so when I made my dive,  I must have bent backwards too far, for I felt my back crack, and had a terrible pain in my spine.   I must have completed my dive all right, because when I surfaced, the girls were  cheering.  I instructed them that they could now come back into the water.   I had a hard time making my way to the side, and then sat on the steps until swimming time was over.  I was surprised to find that I could walk, but I had a lot of pain.   I passed no remark to anyone, and finished the holiday without telling anyone about my injury.  If I had told the Guide officers, it would have meant no more swimming for the  girls, for I would have had to go home.  Many years later I had an operation for a herniated slipped disc.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Och No, Och No

Cleaning up and sorting through things can be a weary job, yet there is always a silver lining if you just look for it!  Today I found this little gem.   I don't know who wrote it.  I am sure she just saved it because it meant something special to her, I don't know if she identified with the piece or just liked it or had it sent to her by a cherised friend.  I will probably never know, but I can enjoy the item.  I also found  newspaper clippings that Dad had saved depicting the last WWII war bride arriving in the US (she was no longer young, but had loads of wrinkles and white hair).  I am sure Dad found that amusing as it took him a couple of years to get Mom over here after the war.  Anyway, back to the piece at hand.  I don't know who wrote it or from whence it came.  If you know who wrote it please comment!

"Listen Mary Ellen" says Jimmy to me,
"There's a dance tomorrow night, will ye go?"
But I'm shy in a way where the boys are concerned,
But says I to him, "Och no, Och no"

"But the tickets are bought", says Jimmy says he
"I have them in me pocket, so ye'd be to come now
For you couldn't let me down."
But I says to him, "Jimmy Och no, Och no"

The following night he called at the door
"Come on" says he, "Don't be slow"
"All the girls and the boys will be there."
But says I to him, "Jimmy Och no, Och no"

He's a terrible masterful kind of a soul
There was nothing else for it but to go.
When we got there says Jimmy "We'll show them a step"
But says I to him, "Och no, Och no."

He put his arm around me and swung me around
And boy did the saxaphones blow
"Lean your head on me shoulder", says Jimmy says he
But says I to him, "Jimmy Och no, Och no"

The night of the dance he was leavin' me home.
The moon in the sky hangin low.
"Kiss me goodnight now" says Jimmy says he.
But I says to him, " Jimmy, Och no, Och no."

"Well good-bye then", says Jimmy says he.
"I'll be off to the war, joining the army and so"
"I'd be to be off and you'll see me no more"
But I says to him, "Jimmy, Och no, Och no"

He puts his arms around me and gives me a hug.
I felt like he'd never let go.
"Will ye ever" says Jimmy, "marry somebody else?"
But I says to him, "Jimmy, Och no, Och no!"

Saturday, October 4, 2008

My Pledge

My very soul

Has an earnest goal

To keep my honour true

When I give my word

It should be compared

As a pledge from

Me to you.

Dancing Shoes

I kept my dance shoes in the cupboard by the front door. We called that cupboard the glory hole. Nanny thought dance was the devil's work. I'd yell that I was off and grab the shoes and be out the door. Oh how I loved to dance. They taught us to dance all the new dances from France!

At bedtime my parents would say "Tuck you up in a few minutes" "Hap (wrap) you up"

On a Bangor trip many years ago. Amy and David took me. They loved to dance. Led off everyone in Pride of Erin dance. We practiced in the hallway beforehand. They'd play an old fashioned one and then a modern one and then another old fashioned dance.

A few more lines

To deal with your neighbour
Your must always favour
The honest road
Learn in your youth
To tell the truth
You'll earn respect not sorrow.


I have no desire to set the world on fire
I want to learn as I go
The knowledge it brings
Let your soar on wings
Each experience is an added glow.


When I came to the US
I must confess
It was easy to love everyone
I'd like to state
My in-laws were great
And friends welcomed me and my son!


It's a date to be made
For the 12th parade
Those banners and colours are grand
The people in the street
Clap their hand to the beat
Of that stirring music of the band!


I have a desire before I retire
To relive a few memories.
So I have my dreams
of those wonderful scenes
Of that far off land I love best.

Belfast was my home
But I had to roam
So it's going back to Ireland for me.

The Botanic Gardens fair
and the Glass house there
IN the Tropical Revene
Growing bananas can be seen.
It's a lovely place I declare.

If I should chance to attend a dance
Can't you hear the music play?
I take to the floor
As in days of yore
Oh the years would slip away!

It's a game and I'll tell you the name
It's 'piggy' played with stick and bat
You hit the stick
And just as quick
You send it flying like that!

I think I will stop
Before I drop
It's not my intention to bore
I'll leave it to you
To read it through
And judge me ever more.

Edna Bond Butler

Sorting Through Mom's Things

I've come across poems she wrote. No date, no order, but I'm going to share them here over the next few days.

When you left Ireland's shore
That beautiful green door
You thought to widening your view
Be true to your birthplace
That lovely earth place
Then Ireland will be proud of you.


I made a decision
When I 'had' my vision
To learn all the hymns in the book.
Yet... I waited too long
And I know I was wrong,
For now I can't even look.


I know it's a dream

But it would seem

I could visit the Causeway or not.

Finn McCoule was a giant.

And he was quiet defiant.

Threw stones at a giant Scot!!


Use your eye and ear

To see and hear

These things your mind will store.

Don't let any nonsense

Get into your conscience

Don't let it get past the door!


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My Brother's Poem for His Wife Lil

I have loved thee

This many years

Sometimes in laughter

Sometimes in tears,

But never have I dreamed

That this world of ours

Would change and fade

Like summer’s flowers.

I loved you then,

I always will

‘Till the end of life

I’ll love you still.

-- Edmund Bond

                                This is a picture taken in 1981 of Edna, Lil, Edmund and Amy.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

At 17 I Loved to Cycle Through Small Towns in Ireland

When I was about 17 or 18 years old, while living in #7 Hillsborough Drive, Cregagh Belfast. I had three special girl friends. Two sisters, Molly and Flora Thompson and another girl who was the owner of a hairdressing salon. She and Molly were special friends. Flora and I did special things like cycling. Many times the four of us would go to a picture show or picnics. Not forgetting the carol singing and going around the "cribs" at Christmas. During this period of my life, we had great excitement in Northern Ireland. The TT Races (Tourist Trophy) were run around the villages and small towns around Belfast. This was motorcycle racing. The banks at the side of the roads were covered by people lying on their stomachs. It is best to view the motorcycles real low. It was a 23-mile course. And afterwards, Flora and I decided to ride our bicycles around it. The course took in many villages and plenty of small hills.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Girl Guides Part 2

There was always something going on all the time. A game, a nature hike, (sometimes the hike was "follow the clues ), a swim, a trip into the Village or Town, a scenic ride, etc. The only times we didn't do anything, was sleeping , and "rest hour". Rest hour was strictly enforced. We had time to buy sweets at the canteen, and were only allowed to spend three pence ( about a nickel) a day. most of us wrote postcards at this time. After rest hour came free time, which was another hour. It was fun to get time to just talk to your friends.

I remember a few things that happened at camp. One morning I woke very early, everything looked so lovely and fresh in morning dew. There were 3 geese hanging around the tents. So I started to chase then out of the field, when we came to a stone style, I tried to get them to go over it. The geese got very frustrated and angry, and turned on me. You should have seen me racing across the field, with the geese snapping and hissing at my heels. My yells woke the whole camp up! Another time a few of us played "hooky" and took a walk into Newcastle- about a mile away. Boy! were we in trouble!

Met Lord and Lady Baden Powell at a scout and guide rally 1926. My Guide Company was McQuiston Memorial Presbyterian Church Castlereach Rd Belfast. Was Ranger with St George's High Street Belfast and Lieutenant with Lambeg Company (11 miles outside Belfast).

One night, after "lights out", a girl in our tent, stood up on her bed, and said very dramatically, "Napoleon's farewell to his Troops" then she waved her hand and said "Bye, bye Fellows"

At another camp, we were having Visitor's Day. The cooks were making a big pot of stew - someone put soap powder in the stew by mistake, instead of flour to thicken it. Everyone was pledged to keep quiet about it, and to say nothing to the visitors, but one girl told her mother. What a panic there was, because some visitors had already eaten some. That broke up the visit, and the visitors went home.

There was only one time that I didn't sleep under canvas. we slept in a hay- loft on the straw. The loft, of course hasn't a wall where the hay is lowered down outside. I was to sleep away at the back, because I was a sleep walker. I didn't want to walk into thin air. The first night we couldn't get to sleep, on account of a puppy crying in the barn. I got up and said "I'm going to fix that puppy", so off I went following the sound in the dark. First of all I found the mother and she was whimpering. I realized that the farmer had a reason for separating them, but I put the puppy in with it's mother, and all was quiet. When I got back to the hay-loft the girls were very concerned. "what did you do to the puppy" they all cried. They were so relieved when I told them.

We were camping one time at the Earl of Kilmorry's Estate, near Kilkeel. The Earl allowed us to use his private pool. It had a nice flagged walk around it, and a lovely border of flowers. All was surrounded by a high hedge. I had my chance at life-saving there. One of the girls was in trouble. She was turning blue when I got her out. I applied artificial respiration, and resuscitation, and she came to. She didn't even have to go home and finished the camp.

At that camp I got to be friends with the Earl's household servants. They invited me to come back and visit them. Not long after the camp, one Sunday I got up early made myself a cheese and onion sandwich, called upstairs to my sleeping parents that I was going for a bicycle ride, and took off for Kilkeel, (about 50 miles away) The family welcomed me and gave me dinner. There was a girl of my age there (17). We climbed one of the Mourne Mountains, picked wild flowers, and went back to the house for "tea". I was sorry I had to say "good-bye” and rode home just in time to satisfy my parents curfew. Later on in the winter, I received an invitation to attend the servants Ball that the Earl gave each year for his household. That was very exciting as the Earl and all his family attended. We had a great time.

I Joined The Girl Guides at 13 Years Old

I Joined the Girl Guides at 13 years old. My mother didn't want me to join, so I had a hard time getting a uniform. A friend from across the street, Maisie Sayers, gave me belt for a Christmas present. I saved up my allowance to buy a hat. That was a great day when a few friends came with me to buy the hat. The hat was Navy-blue stiff felt, with a round crown, and a very broad flat brim. On the way home after buying the hat, we were climbing the stairs in the Tram - the wind came and blew my hat right out of the Tram. I cried out "Oh, my hat!" The conductor was sorry for me, and he pulled the Bell to stop the tram. Everyone waited while I chased the hat and re-boarded the tram, and then they gave a big cheer! My mother saw that I was serious about the Girl Guides, so she bought me the rest of the uniform.

My first camp was when I was 13 years old. We camped at Tullymore Estate at the foot of the Mourne Mountains, in Newcastle, County Down. The first day, a few of us took "nick-names", and mine was Felix. A couple of things happened with that name. One day an Officer called me "Felix", I hadn't the heart to tell her different. Then at the end of the camp we were all gathering up our own silverware. I had mine beside me with Edna Bond written on them. A girl accused me, saying "that's not yours, your name is Felix." (many years later, when I would be dating, and a boy would say "let's sit here a while, I would reply "my name is Felix- I keep on walking.")

At that first camp an Officer named Florrie Morten, who lived 2 houses from me, called me and asked me if I was on cook duty this morning. I told her that I was, so she told me crisply, "get a hustle on" I thought it was some sort of apron, so went through the camp looking for a hustle!

The camp was made up of many Guide Companies, and were put into 5 Groups. The 5th group was the officers, and was called "Central". They ate with a different group each day. A song was made up about the groups.

The camp at Tullymore
Is like a hive,
The groups they numbered,
One to five.
The first group's at the top of the hill,
They started laughing, and they're laughing still.
The second fed on Birthday cake,
Their bath went sailing down the lake.
The third in Orange ties were dressed,
The wind blew East, their tent went West.
The forth, they figured in the Northern Whig,
With larder neat, but not too big.
The fifth, was Central, with lots to say.
They cadged their meals, and ran away.

I camped with the Girl Guides from 1925 until 1939, that's when I joined the WAAF (Women's Auxiliary Airforce). Girl Guide camping was real rugged, but we wouldn't have had it any other way. We traveled to the campsite mostly by train. On arrival we set to, and pitched our tents. We had no men with us to do heavy work. Each tent slept 6 girls. After the tents were up, we each took our own Palleaise (an empty mattress- like bag, made out of burlap) down the lane to the Estate workers farm, where we had fun filling them up with hay. Right there we sewed up the open end. We then had to dig a Latrine (if it hadn't been dug before hand.) We then put stakes around the oblong hole, and wound burlap around them, for privacy. A pile of lime was there with a shovel that we were to use. This was all taken down by us and the hole filled in before we left to go home. We had no lectures at camp, but good manners, courtesy, honesty and responsibility was expected by all. You were told your duties and we all pitched in.

more later....

Friday, September 19, 2008


You be the judge of what I am about to tell you, whether it be sad news or happy news.

My mother, The Girl From Belfast City has died.

I received an email from a friend saying that he was happy to hear of my mother's passing because it meant that she and my dad were reunited, and that was surely a happy celebration. He also was sad because he knew that my loss was painful.

And that's about the way of it. What is a loss for me here is the angels' in heaven's joy. Oh happy reunion for them.

A few weeks before she died she asked me to pray to Heavenly Father on her behalf. She was ready to go. It was a painful thing for me to do. I wasn't asking for Him to make her well, instead I was asking for Him to take her 'home'.

She said she was anxious to be with my father, that she missed him dearly and saw him in her dreams everynight. She said that the time would be soon and that she'd join my Dad and that they'd be happy. And then she says,"Then your father and I will wait until you and your brother join us."

That's how it will be. The time will seem long for me on this side, but will most likely just be a blink of the eye for her.

Her sweet singing voice is silent, her wonderful stories are only a memory. Her wonderful brogue well I hear it in my mind's ear. How wonderful it is to have most of her stories typed into a word doc. I treasure that. If I have learned anything it is to put your adventures and thoughts down on paper so that you can recall them later.

Tomorrow, och well I suppose since it's after midnight that TODAY mom will be buried. There will be a harpist, a couple of pipers, a violin solo, a flute and singer duet, a few readings. We'll close the burial with the pipers and a dedication of her grave.

Ireland, my Ireland
My love you beguile
You haunt me and taunt me
And cause me to smile
Oh could I return and sit by the stile
Ireland my Ireland the green Emerald Isle.

Oh my heart is yearning
to be returning
to the hills and glens of Antrim

Today my mother gets buried beneath the Irish Soil, even though she is being buried in South Louisiana. We have several bags of Irish Soil and we'll sprinkle some on her casket so that she will have the comfort of knowing she's buried beneath Irish Soil. She never quit being homesick for the old country. It was the land of her birth and held a special place in her heart.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Mother's Prayer

In humility I ask
Help me Lord to do my task
This is my prayer to Heaven above
For these are the children whom I love.

Dearest Lord in Heaven above
Here are my children whom I love
Protect their lives throughout the years
Keep them safe from want and fears

Guide their footsteps while they walk
Curb their tongues (sic) from evil talk
Words of love and kindliness
In another’s time of stress

Keep them pure in mind and soul
Striving for the highest goal
And all wickedness distain
Celestial glory to attain

May I always do my part
To instill within their heart
Wisdom, courage, righteousness
For this will be their happiness

Edna Bond

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Myra and Me - Friends Since We Were Five Years Old

When I was 5 years old, an English family moved across the street from us. Their name was Dodsworth. They had a daughter named Myra, who was also 5 years old. I took her to school her first day. We became best chums and kept in touch both of us up in age and although apart, she in Canada, and me in the United States, we corresponded at least once a year until about a year ago. Myra is gone now, I cried when I heard the news, when you are as old as me you've heard that news a few times and it doesn't get any easier. You don’t see many friendships last that many decades.

At the age of 5 my chum Myra Dodsworth (Armstrong) and I sang a duet in school “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” Myra and I “mitched” from school one afternoon, we stood in a doorway, so we didn’t get much fun out of it. I remember that Myra and I sang a few duets. We really were great friends.

Thinking about the Dodsworths, I want to say that Mrs. Dodsworth was a dressmaker, and made my clothes up until I was about 10 years old. I knew what I wanted, and would explain it to her, and she would make them. Two such outfits come to mind. One was a dress which had an open part in the sleeves and down on side of the dress. Mrs. Dodsworth put strips of the same material looking like bars in the cutout sections. The other was three-piece corduroy, the colour of a dove. The skirt was made of panels, which flared out. The jacket was bloused, and had a band across the waist. The sleeves were raglan and tight at the wrist. A panel ran down the front, and the neck was a tight band at the throat. The hat was made of panels, with a point at each panel. All the panels in the outfit were set in alternating, with the cords running a different way. The Dodsworth's always took me to the evening Service at St. Patrick's Episcopal Church. All of us children got a bag of sweets to eat during the Sermon.

1920's Attending School in Ireland

1920's Attending School in Ireland

I attended school from the age of three until I was about 12. I asked my brother Edmund to take me with him at age 3 which seems so very young now as I look back on it. We of course, would walk to school. My brother would take me by the hand.

My grades at school were always good, and I always passed my yearly exams. Apparently my health was poor, because I remember having to miss some time at school, because of attending a clinic (many years later my brother told me that it was a Tuberculosis clinic). The fact that it was a Tuberculosis clinic must have truly worried my parents, my mother had died when I was very young of tuberculosis, Father and my new mother (Aunt Essie) must have thought they were going to loose me as well.

I was always scared on the days I attended the clinic. I would naturally be late for school, the other children would whisper "you're going to get it" (back in those days it would not have been unusual to really 'get it' as corporal punishment was handed out as the teacher deemed needed. I was very embarrassed attending school, because I had to wear heavy red flannel under my chin and around the top of my head. I had an operation when I was 8 years old, to have a gland removed from under my chin. This left me with a bright red scar as long as a middle finger and just as wide. I had this disfigurement for 2 years. My parents visited me while I was in hospital, and brought me greengages and sweets.

I guess my little sister thought I was getting treated very well (getting those sweets and greengages ) because she said "I go into hospital, and I'll get sweets too" .

Mother and Father said that they would have to watch her closely, in case she might run into traffic and get run down (to get into hospital).

The gland in my neck grew again, and I had a second operation when I was 10 years old. The new doctor, Dr. Fulton, removed the gland and also the awful scar. I never looked back from that day.

When I was 9 years old I loved to attend religious meetings, especially the ones for children. The preacher would get up and call for a show of hands of those who wanted to be "saved". Those who raised their hands were asked to meet in the Vestry after the meeting. I was very enthusiastic and was "saved" many times. Then I thought it was time that my little sister of 3 years old was "saved". I took her to one of the meetings, and told her to raise her hand up. After the meeting we went into the vestry to meet with the Pastor. While we were praying, Amy called out in a loud voice, "I WANT TO GO TO THE TOILET". I was too embarrassed at having to leave the meeting and bring her home. I thought I would never go to another meeting... but of course I did! (They say that what goes around comes around. I had embarrassed my brother when he took me on my first day of school at age 3 and so now I was in the position of being embarrassed by my little 3 year old sister. )

Teacher’s I remember in school were Miss Cooksey (2nd class). She was very beautiful, wore lovely clothes and had a sweet disposition. Miss Curry (3rd class) was quick tempered, and we were a little afraid of her. She would slap the cane on your desk when asking a question – which put the answer right out of my head. My friend Myra and I used to walk home with her. Along the way she would point to a poster and teach us to pronounce difficult words, for this I am very grateful today. Miss Gardner (4th class) took us for singing as well as our other subjects. I loved this time as singing came easy to me. Miss Gardner used the cane quite a lot. The boys used to pull their hand away just as she was about to slap them, and the full force of the cane came down on her skirt. Women wore skirts to the ground in those days (around 1924). Mr W.W. Whiteside was our head master. We used to call him weary Willie Whiteside. He and Miss Gardner would send notes to each other. I never heard if they got married.

My best subjects in school were singing, geography and reading. During the Great War 1914 - 1918 I was attending school. One day there was a terrible darkness about 1 pm. The children were frightened, and the teachers tried to cheer us up by telling us that the KAISER (King of Germany) was dead. Of course we were so excited and gave up a big shout HOORAY. We thought that it meant that the war was over. The news wasn't true, and the war went on .

Me and my brother used to play a game at this time. "THE GERMANS ARE COMING. THEY ARE UPON US" We would sing this song...


My brother Edmund would stand on a chair behind the door, holding a bat, I was to knock on the door (pretending to be a German.) when I would walk in, Edmund was standing ready to club me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Kellys

This is a photo me at Bachelor's Walk taken in 1963. Bachelor's Walk is the place where my grandparents met each other.

My grandmother on my mother’s side was Isabella Gibson, she died when I was quite young so I only have the stories my family told to me and no real first hand memories.
She married Arnold Kelly. I was told that they first met at Bachelor's Walk in Portadown. She and grandfather had ten children. They lived in Seagoe, just outside of Portadown, County Armagh.

Isabella had a habit of standing at the half-door enjoying the outdoors. One day she saw a man she knew. She called out to him, "Are you going out for breakfast Mr. Jordon?" He answered, "Yes, Mrs. Kelly."

She invited him in to eat breakfast not only that morning, but also every morning that he was on that shift. He was very happy to accept the invitation. The first day, grandmother must have been pushing all her country cooking on him. Eventually he pushed his plate away and leaned back in his chair. Grandmother asked him what was the matter. He replied, "Mrs. Kelly when you eat for half an hour, you get tired."

One night he was contentedly sitting in his easy chair at a lovely fire. He said, "I wish someone would take a clean plate and put me on it and carry me to bed."

Two of their children Isabelle and Sammy were about 3 years apart with Isabelle being the older of the two. They were always playing jokes on each other. One day, Isabelle was going to town (about a one mile walk) to do some shopping. She wasn’t intending on buying anything, but she didn’t want to be seen coming home empty handed. So, she fixed up a parcel that contained nothing but a pair of well-worn shoe brushes. On her return journey home, she walked with the parcel dangling from a string on her wrist. As she entered the house, she saw that Sammy and his friend were seated at the table.

Sammy called out to her, "Hi, Isabelle. What do you have in your parcel?" I think he knew the answer. She tried to keep the parcel from Sammy, but he grabbed it and soon had it open. Sammy and his friend had a great laugh at Isabelle's expense. She was embarrassed and told her brother, "You wait. I'll get you some day!"

Her opportunity came a short time later. She was in town and spied her brother in the middle of a group of girls. They were laughing and talking and Sammy was acting like a big shot. She quickly went over and slapped him on the back and said, "You had better get off home, boy. My da wants his coat you borrowed," Then Isabelle walked off leaving a very embarrassed Sammy with the girls he was trying to impress.

In the country people would visit their grandparents on Sunday afternoon. Everyone came to grandmothers house on most Sundays. She'd make pancakes for all that showed up at her door. She usually had a good supply of flour but she'd had so much company this particular day that her sack of flour was almost gone so she had to stretch the pancakes. As more people came, it ended up there was more milk than flour in them. Her niece had brought a boyfriend along for the visit and meal and he made fun of the pancakes. He'd been there a while watching her cook and could see them become thinner and thinner. There was deterioration in the quality of the flapjacks. Making fun of it, he took it upon himself to greet any newcomers at the door with "Come and see Mrs. Kelly's window blinds!" (a bit shear like lace curtains, they contained more holes than pancake).

Sunday, July 13, 2008


My sister loves eggs. My brother and I would eat our boiled eggs and then play a joke on Amy. We would hurry and eat our eggs before she came to the table and then turn the empty shells over in our eggcups then offer them
to Amy and she would think she had 3 eggs instead of one.
One-day mother thought she would satisfy Amy's craving for eggs by serving her a turkey egg, which had to be put in a teacup instead of an eggcup. Amy was pleased with her egg but complained that two would have been better!

Years later, when she came over to America (she was married with 4 children and mother came with them) when out shopping for groceries the grocery clerk teased her about buying 10 dozen eggs at a time!

In 1923 Amy May was four years old, and mother sent her to the corner grocery to buy onions. Amy returned home with a bag of candy and said “Mama, do you know you can get sweets with that money?”

Saturday, July 12, 2008

My Father George Bond

My father was a Woodcutting Machinist in charge of a crew who worked the “Big Machine”. He was the first one to have a wireless set in the city of Belfast. He sent off for the parts and put it together himself. It turned out to be about the size of a sideboard. The neighbors would complain, "You’re interfering, You're interfering".

He had a love for mechanical things. He was always interested in new inventions. He sent away off for some electrical handle machine of some sort. He and mother would hold onto one end and then Edmund and his friends all joined in and he turned on the electricity and they all got a good jolt ( I suppose he had quite a sense of humor).. Once he sent off for quartz lights. They were in a sun lamp but they could burn you. Both Amy and I wanted a suntan, there were goggles available and you were supposed to only remain under the lights for a small period of time. Me being the oldest daughter refused to wear the goggles, but little Amy did put on the goggles. Amy didn't get right up when mother informed her that it was time ( but I did.) The next morning Amy awoke to a red face with large white areas like raccoon eyes!

Father told me he worked for a while at the shipyard where they built the Titanic.

My mother died when I was 4 1/2, that was 1917. Father remarried soon after. He married my mother's sister, my Aunt Essie. They had a wonderful marriage and I never really thought of her as anything other than mother. She never treated me as anything other than daughter, there was no difference between my sister and me.

I remember the day they got married. They walked to the Church, Knockbreda, through two lovely Belfast parks. To get there it is a very pleasant walk. first Park is Ormeau, which is abundant with flower beds. They also have an outside grass lawn bowling green. As you walk along you can see the playing fields a way off to the right. The River Lagan runs along side the park. As you leave this park you cross Ormeau Road. Then a few streets up through the Holy Land (so called because of the Street names). Now you enter the Botanical Gardens. There is a huge domed hothouse there, also a tropical ravine.

This is a picture of my brother Edmund and Me and Mother (Aunt Essie) about the year 1919.

Sayings of Mother and Father

Mother, "You're hungry and I'm angry. Put those two together."

Father, "Always have a good address."

Mother, "Handsome is as handsome does."

Father, "Never finish dressing in the street."

Father, "Never stop learning."

Father on food that dropped on the floor, "Someday you will lick where that

lay." (what he meant was that the day may come when food is so scarce that you'd be so hungry for just a memory of the taste)

Mother, "Good corn grows tall."

Mother, "Cream always rises to the top."

Edna, "Use your head to save your feet."

Mother " Always polish your shoes before you go out, even if it's a rainy day, that way it will be fresh dirt"

Mother, "Never sit in a draft."

This is a photograph of Mother when she grew old.

This is Nanny in New Orleans in 1951 holding my daughter on her Blessing Day.

And here is Nanny with Colleen Esther (named after her)
Nanny Billy, Maurice and Lorraine

Looking back over my life I feel very blessed that Aunt Essie gave up her plans to emmigrate to Canada (her bags were packed) and honored her sisters wish to stay in Ireland and help raise my brother and me. We were truly blessed.

When I was 8 months old we moved to 18 Willowfield Street, Cregagh Road in Belfast, which was only eight streets further up towards the Cregagh Hills (from our home on Chatsworth).

In the early 1920s. The side streets were referred to as the backstreetans. I have fond memories of being a child and being put to bed early even though it was still light outside (it could be light up to midnight in the summer.) I remember lying there trying to fall asleep and those backstreet boys would be sitting there on the entry at the back singing. They’re singing was very sweet music.

My earliest recollection…. My brother and I were always very close, so at the age of 3, this was 1915, I decided to go to school with him. I went to school at St. Clements, Church of Ireland Episcopal. My brother, who was seven, walked me to school and left me in the “Baby Infants” class. The school had iron steps running up on the outside to the classes on the 1st floor. As he was going up the steps to his own class, he looked through the transom window and saw me jumping from desk to desk, with the teacher trying to catch me. I was bawling my head off. I was calling my brothers name… Edmund! Edmund! My brother was so embarrassed.

Needless to say I settled down after that. A few days later, I was reluctant to go out and play in the school yard, so, I peeked at the boys and girls playing. Unfortunately I was looking through the crack where the hinges were and my hand was in the crack. The teacher came along and closed the door.

The School Master’s name was W. W. Whiteside. Everyone called him Weary Willie Whiteside (behind his back, of course). He, and the 4th Grade teacher, Miss Gardner, used to send students with notes to each other. Another recollection I have at 3 years old is, I was taken to get my photograph done at a studio

This is a photograph of my mother Sarah Kelly. My mother Sarah was known for helping to *nurse* sick neighbors or family She took very sick when I was 4 years old.

I have only faint memories of her. I can see her standing at our gate, I was about 3 ½ years old, while my father took a snap of her. She was a beautiful woman, her hair was light brown I believe her hair was naturally curly, and she had a lot of it. She was wearing a lovely white blouse, and a dark skirt, which came to her ankles.

I can also remember her sick in bed and when my brother and I kept bothering her (we wanted to hug her) she would chase us out of the bedroom waving a feather duster. We didn’t understand it at the time because we didn’t know how ill she was. She had tuberculosis. She was trying to keep us from getting ill. My mother was bedridden 6 months before she died. Mother died in February of 1917, she was 38 years old . My brother was eight and a half and I was four and a half. When people came to the ‘wake’ I remember saying “My Mammy has a new blouse.”