Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – 26th July – August 1st 2020 – Positive news, #Author Spotlight, Music, Short stories, Guest Bloggers, Health, Humour and Book Reviews


Welcome to the round up of posts you might have missed this week on Smorgasbord.

Another week has flown by, and like many of you, I have avoided reading the headlines and news stories on a daily basis. I am usually an upbeat positive person when it comes to life in general, but even I have to ration my exposure to the constant stream of negativity.

Thankfully our community of writers do share the positive aspects of life, and here are three posts I would like to draw your attention to if you missed.

Each month D.G. Kaye, Debby Gies participates in the #WATWB – We are the World Blogfest spreading positive news about people and events. This month an inspiring woman in the UK has been collecting an item usually scrunched up and thrown away. Her project is Keeping the Homeless a Little Warmer: D.G. Kaye WATWB – We are the World Blogfest – Keeping the Homeless a Little Warmer

Carol Taylor shares amazing recycling projects including this week The bad and the good in the story of plastic.. and on Tuesdays she has been sharing some of the positive outcomes of our recent isolation. In this post you can enjoy the wisdom of a wonderful man called Sadhguru, and a video of abandoned places being reclaimed by nature. Sobering thought and Nature’s resilience

Retired teacher and author, Pete Springer shares the inspiring story of a former pupil of his, Samy Awwad, who at the age of only 16 has already created an incredible reputation as a champion for millions of children around the world whose lives can be saved by vaccinations. A wonderful post that I recommend you head over to read: An Impressive Young Man

Before I share the posts from the week… here is the promotion for the new Author Spotlight beginning in September.. along with my story of a life changing moment in my life that set me on a different path after just one date!  I have already received some amazing stories and I am looking forward to sharing this new series.

A new series for authors in the Cafe and Bookstore and I share my Life Changing Moment.

In this new series I am inviting authors in the Cafe to share what they consider to be a defining moment in their lives that resulted in a major positive change.

Here are a few examples, and I am sure you will have plenty to add:

  • Meeting a stranger with surprising consequences
  • Accepting an invitation that took you out of your comfort zone
  • Being fired from a job or resigning without another job lined up that turned out to be an opportunity.
  • Taking a wrong turn on a journey and discovering something about yourself.
  • Being in the wrong place at the right time when an opportunity presented itself.
  • Overcoming a challenging situation such as a failed relationship and finding happiness.
  • Taking part in a charity challenge such as a parachute jump and how it conquered a fear.
  • Accidentally walking through the wrong door and finding an uplifting experience
  • Moving to a new country and feeling immediately at home.

You can choose to stick to the facts or can write a fiction story that has ‘A Life Changing Moment’ as its theme.

If you follow the link beneath the image you can read my story and the post is an example of how your own will look.

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Author Spotlight – Life Changing Moments

As always my thanks to guests and contributors who make blogging such a pleasure and to you for dropping in, commenting and sharing…here are the posts from the week.

Summer Music Festival with hosts William Price King and Sally Cronin – Headliners Madonna, Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman

A tribute I wrote for my mother Mollie (October 5th 1917 – July 28th 2012) and her gardens

#Spain – Tales from The Garden – Mollie (The Duchess) Coleman

#Memoir #Waterford #Ireland #History – The Colour of Life – Whiskey And Its Disciples – 1949 by Geoff Cronin

Some images of my feathered friends at the lake where bass were a popular attraction for local fishermen.

#Spain – Fish hide in branches

Double #Etheree The Wisdom of Trees by Sally Cronin

Two more book reviews from the past.

Book Reviews – #Memoir D.G. Kaye, #Children’s Robbie and Michael Cheadle

July 1985 – Hanna Barbara Land, BBQ and Lilo races

A round up of all the posts and pages in the series.

Project 101 – Resilience – An opportunity to get fighting fit – Round Up

The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Herbal Medicine – Lavender

#Finance – Investing in the Age of Coronavirus by Sharon Marchisello

– #School Closures – Lost? by Stevie Turner in Having a Rant

#Fear – The predator within by Sue Vincent

Fighting photo phobia by Mary Smith

#Writing – Why to avoid “ing” words in fiction by D. Wallace Peach

A new Cafe and Bookstore for children’s books up to the age of 12 years old.. already 21 authors but plenty of room for more..

Smorgasbord Children’s Cafe and Bookstore – FREE Book Marketing

Fantasy Adele Marie Park, #Fantasy Freya Pickard, #Paranormal Cecilia Kennedy

#Dark Humour Carol La Hines, #History Joyce Hampton, #Fantasy Paul Andruss

The Gilded Beaver by Margaret

#Reviews – #Fantasy Lorinda J. Taylor, #Contemporary M.C.V. Egan, #ScienceFiction A.C. Flory

#Paranormal Roberta Eaton Cheadle, #HistoricalRomance Christine Campbell, #Prose/Poetry Colleen M. Chesebro

#Thriller John L. DeBoer, #Scifi Richard Dee, #History Paul Edmondson

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 28th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 30th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

July 31st 2020- Another Open Mic Night with author Daniel Kemp

Thank you for your support during the week and look forward to seeing you again soon. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives -#Memoir #Waterford #Ireland #History – The Colour of Life – Whiskey And Its Disciples – 1949 by Geoff Cronin


My father-in-law, Geoff Cronin was a raconteur with a encyclopedic memory spanning his 93 years. He sadly died in 2017 but not before he had been persuaded to commit these memories of his childhood and young adulthood in Waterford in the 1920s to the 1940s.

The books are now out of print, but I know he would love to know that his stories are still being enjoyed, and so I am repeating the original series of his books that I posted in 2017. I hope those who have already read will enjoy again and that new readers will discover the wonderful colour of life in Ireland nearly 100 years ago.

Whiskey And Its Disciples – 1949

In the thirties you could get several kinds of whiskey in the pubs of Ireland but the brands which dominated the market were Powers, Jameson and Paddy. These were manufactured by three separate and distinct firms, Paddy being made in Cork and the other two in non-Cork locations, – far off places like Dublin.

Competition between the firms was lively and each had its own Travellers – nowadays called “Reps” – who covered the country booking orders, collecting accounts and most importantly, maintaining customer relations.

Brand loyalty was most marked in Cork and any self respecting Corkman would not be seen drinking anything but Paddy. Nevertheless, all three brands were widely sold because each one had a distinctive taste and a definite tradition. For example, Jameson was considered to be a sort of Protestant whiskey, Powers would be a good middle of the road Irish Catholic whiskey and Paddy was a CORK whiskey.

Of course, there were plenty, more than enough some would say, of Corkmen in Dublin and a Dubliner heard ordering a Paddy, maybe because he liked the flavour, knew in his heart that he ran a serious risk of being mistaken for a Cork man. Such was the frame which surrounded the following story told to me by a good Corkman at a late night drinking party in Dublin.

***

Three commercial travellers representing respectively Powers, Jameson and Paddy were in the habit of meeting in a Cork hostelry whenever their paths crossed on their regular journeys to that city. The spirit of the meeting was one of friendly rivalry and much useful information was exchanged – who was a good payer or a bad one, who was going where next week, what was happening within the industry etc. It was usually a short meeting, since each had his calls to do, and only one round of drinks would be bought, each taking it in his turn to buy. Needless to say, they all drank whiskey and, of course, each would be expected to drink his own product and support his own firm.

On this particular day, it fell to the Powers rep to stand the round of drinks and he stood up to the bar and ordered three half ones, a Power, a Jameson and a Paddy. But, as he finished, the Paddy rep said, “hold on a minute there, I’ll have a Jameson this time!”

Deeply questioning eyes impaled the Cork man as the drinks came to the table. Water was carefully added and the first sip was taken with a subdued, “Good Luck.” Glasses were put down and cigarettes lit in silence, all eyes still searching the Corkman.

A second sip was interrupted by the Powers man. “Be God, you’re a right man to be travellin’ for Paddy and you not even drinkin’ yer own product. What the hell are ye at at-all?”

The Paddy man downed the last of his Jameson and flicked his cigarette ash in the general direction of the ash tray before answering.

“Well now, I’ll tell ’oo. I have an appointment in ten minutes to meet a very important customer and I wouldn’t want to have the smell of drink offa me, goin’ in there!”

©Geoff Cronin 2005

About Geoff Cronin

I was born at tea time at number 12 John Street, Waterford on September 23rd 1923. My father was Richard Cronin and my mother was Claire Spencer of John Street Waterford. They were married in St John’s Church in 1919.

Things are moving so fast in this day and age – and people are so absorbed, and necessarily so, with here and now – that things of the past tend to get buried deeper and deeper. Also, people’s memories seem to be shorter now and they cannot remember the little things – day to day pictures which make up the larger canvas of life.

It seems to me that soon there may be little or no detailed knowledge of what life was really like in the 1930s in a town – sorry, I should have said City, in accordance with its ancient charter – like Waterford. So I shall attempt to provide some of these little cameos as much for the fun of telling as for the benefit of posterity.

Thank you for visiting today and I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse of Waterford in the 1930s and 1940s courtesy of Geoff Cronin. As always your feedback is very welcome. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – 19th -26th July -Josh Groban, Naan Bread, Fairy Tales, Waterford, Poetry, Reviews and Funnies


Welcome to the round up of posts that you might have missed this week on the blog.

Like most of you focus on being creative has been a little hit and miss during the last few months, and I am thankful for the blog to keep me busy and in contact with you all. I have been working on my next book in my head and finally have got my thoughts together and have picked up where I left off in March. Hopefully you will see something coherent in the autumn! It is another collection of syllabic poetry and a collection of 24 + short stories based on two central themes… I plan to really get the writing finished in August (unless summer decides to return and I spend too much time in the garden!)

It is our 40th anniversary in November and we cancelled our planned trip with my two sisters in September to Malta.. old stomping grounds for both of them who were 16 and 17 when we lived there and it was going to be a step back in time for us all. November is the start of the usual flu season and I have an inkling that the 14 day quarantines for visitors is likely to be in place again. So are planned trip to the UK to see my sisters is also at risk. It will make it two years since we have had a family get together but it is better to be safe than sorry.

This now has presented us with an opportunity to get creative with our own celebrations as the occasion deserves to be marked in style…as long as the two of us are there…it will be special.

Just a reminder of the opportunities to promote your books…

  1. If you have a new book due out in August then please let me know when available for pre-order or released so I can do a new book on the shelves promotion.
  2. If you are not already in the Cafe and Bookstore you can find out how to join the other 150 authors: Free book marketing in the Cafe and Bookstore.
  3. The new series of Posts from Your Archives open to all bloggers where I pop in to your blog and select two posts to share along with your books and links: #NewSeries August 2020- Pot Luck and Do You Trust Me??
  4. If you are a children’s author you will find a new feature from Monday where your books will not only be on the shelves of the main Cafe and Bookstore but any books for ages up to 12 years old, will also be in the new Children’s Cafe and Bookstore.. A post is going out on Monday that gives the details to existing authors in the Cafe and to new ones.
  5. The new author spotlight series for September has a theme that I hope you will find interesting – Life Changing Moments.. and the promotional post is on July 30th.

As always I am very grateful to the contributors who share their expertise and creativity each week and also to you for all the support that you offer…you have no idea how that has helped me stay positive during the last few months. 💐 😍

Here are this week’s posts…..

The Music Column with William Price King – Josh Groban Part Three

‘N’ is for Nicoise, Nori, Nuts, Noodles, Nettles and Naan Bread.

#Spain – Tales from The Garden -Chapter Eleven – The Last Summer Ball and the Winter Fairy – Part Two

The Colour of Life -Cattle Dealing and The Ferguson Tractor 1948 by Geoff Cronin

#Courtown, Wexford – Sea Birds Seek Shelter and Photos

July 4th 1985 Celebrations, Mechanical Bulls and Tennis

Welcome to a new series where I will be sharing book reviews I have posted in the last few years. I would like to take the opportunity to showcase books that I have enjoyed and their authors and if you have not read the books, I hope it will encourage you to check them out.

#Afghanistan Mary Smith, #Historical Andrew Joyce

Chesebro’s weekly Tanka Challenge -#Butterfly Cinquain – Washed Up

The importance of a healthy gut (part three) #Candida by Sally Cronin

Herbal Medicine – Peppermint – fresh breath, digestion and anti-bacterial

#History – The Story of the Huguenots: A Unique Legacy by Joyce Hampton

The Places We Haunt: Short Story Collection by Cecilia Kennedy

#Mystery – Walking Into Trouble by Geoff Le Pard

#Pre-Order -Children’s – A Beechworth Bakery Bears e-Book (The Beechworth Bakery Bears 1) by Frank Prem

#Mystery Noelle Granger, ##DystopianSciFi Terry Tyler, #Mystery Anne R. Allen

#Poetry Miriam Hurdle, #FamilySaga Judith Barrow, #Fantasy, #Paranormal C.S. Boyack

#Childrens Victoria Zigler, #Fantasy D.Wallace Peach, #Fantasy Fiona Tarr, #Contemporary M.C.V. Egan

#Prehistoric Jacqui Murray, #Children’s Toni Pike, #Humour J. E. Pinto

#Memoir Joy Lennick, #WWII Paulette Mahurin, #Mystery J.A. Newman

#Thriller Richard W. Wise, #Fantasy Sue Vincent and Stuart France, #Lemons Valentina Cirasola

#Writing Jane Sturgeon, #Poetry Leon Stevens, #Coming of age Bette A. Stevens

Hugh W. Roberts

#Shortstories Hugh W. Roberts, #Thriller Gwen M. Plano, #FamilyDrama Margaret Lindsay Holton

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 21st 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 23rd 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Possible Book Titles and some Grammar funnies Host Sally Cronin

Thank you again for dropping in today and for all your support.. it is much appreciated..

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives -#Memoir #Waterford #Ireland #History – The Colour of Life -Cattle Dealing and The Ferguson Tractor 1948 by Geoff Cronin


My father-in-law, Geoff Cronin was a raconteur with a encyclopedic memory spanning his 93 years. He sadly died in 2017 but not before he had been persuaded to commit these memories of his childhood and young adulthood in Waterford in the 1920s to the 1940s.

The books are now out of print, but I know he would love to know that his stories are still being enjoyed, and so I am repeating the original series of his books that I posted in 2017. I hope those who have already read will enjoy again and that new readers will discover the wonderful colour of life in Ireland nearly 100 years ago.

Cattle Dealing and The Ferguson Tractor 1948

ACT I

It was the first Monday of the month, “a Fair Day” in Waterford, and the Hill of Ballybricken was a hive of activity. “The Hill” was an open space with the Bull Post standing roughly in the centre of a 250 yard triangle. The perimeter was lined with small shops, and houses interspersed. Most of the shops faced north, and most of the better houses faced south. Two of the largest pubs faced south also, and consequently enjoyed whatever sun there might be.

Corcoran knew from long tightly held experience how important it was to stand your cattle on the sunny side, and when he woke his son Willie at three o’clock that morning he was already planning his strategy. They had to walk the bunch of white faced cattle eight miles to Waterford, and he knew only too well the folly of driving the animals too hard and having them arrive exhausted and looking limp and God forsaken in the cold dawn light. No, he told himself, start early, bring them along nice and handy, rest them and let them get a drink at the stream in Callaghan and get them to the sunny corner in Ballybricken near the first pub at the rise of ground.

Oh, Corcoran knew his business alright – two days before the fair he had moved those cattle into the old four acre field behind the house. The grass was long there and the ditches thick for shelter, and the beasts ate well in the heavy grass, which also cleaned their legs and hooves.

The cattle looked well now as the sun topped the hill and Corcoran knew it, and the best of luck attended him with the arrival right opposite of that “Mane little ferret”, O’Toole, with his four dirty old worn out cows, and two of them with only one horn apiece. The contrast was perfect and he stood there quietly and patiently with Willie; his son, and his seven white faced bullocks … and they waited.

Willie was leaning over the back of a bullock, watching the road to the main shopping area when he spotted his man. Corcoran had his back to the lamp post at the corner, looking the other way.

“Watch out, Father” said Willie, “Cooper the butcher is comin’ straight for ye.”

Corcoran never moved as he replied “Tighten up them beasts now boy, and get their heads up.” Willie deftly obliged.

Cooper advanced up the hill to the fair, his eye scanning, sorting and marking automatically as he surveyed the scene. He had his own reasons for heading in Corcoran’s direction – it was a sunny corner where you could stay and talk harmless blather to whoever was there, while you checked and spotted what was on offer, and anyway, the thought of a nice hot whiskey by the fire in the corner pub had filled his mind as he drew near the lamp post.

Corcoran’s heavy voice cut through his vision –

“Willie, go over and tell Mr. Molloy I haven’t all day to wait.”

Willie, well schooled, headed off through the crowd towards Molloy’s Butcher shop where he would buy a pound of beef sausages, wait in the shop, and “rush” back with the news.

“He’s gone to the railway, Father! but will be with you soon” Just as Cooper was engaging Corcoran senior in what might be regarded as civil discourse.

Cooper opened – “A hardy morning there.”

“’Tis nearly dinner time,” parried Corcoran “and I can tell you there’s no bargains left this time of day.” Willie glowed with admiration as his father casually stepped on to the footpath while speaking, making himself a foot taller than his adversary.

Cooper mentally slaughtered, quartered and weighed the seven beasts with a glance as he replied, stepping up easily beside Corcoran “Ye know, there’s nothin’ here today only small, miserable little beasts… no good at all for a butcher.”

Corcoran bristled “Yer not by any chance callin’ them cattle miserable, are ye?”

“Ah not at all me dear man, sure I was sayin’ only the other day that a mejum size bullock could have his place in a butcher’s shop – although they have a lot of bone, ye know like.” Cooper said easily.

Willie had gone back to leaning on the nearest bullock – he sensed the line tightening between the two, but as yet he couldn’t make out who had hooked who, so he concentrated on watching the rivulets of urine and dung which flowed along the gutter between his boots.
“Keep your head down boy” he told himself “and don’t distract the oul’ fella while he’s puttin’ manners on the butcher.” He was not, however, prepared for what came next as Corcoran displayed his mental agility.

“Ye know,” he said looking straight into Cooper’s eyes, which were watering slightly with the cold, “I owe you an apology.”

“For what?” said Cooper, completely mystified.

Corcoran hung his head ever so slightly and tapped the toe of his boot with his stick and said in a quiet voice “I was at your wife’s first cousin’s funeral three weeks ago, and I couldn’t get near ye with all them big shot cattle dealers that was there, and I was sayin’ to the wife goin’ home “God dammit ye know, I’m friends with John Cooper these years and many a good beast I sold him and he was always a decent man to deal with and here I am now goin’ home and never even bought the man a drink, will you have a hot whiskey with me now to make amends and never mind the cattle?”

Cooper hadn’t a hope, and he knew it. They disappeared into the pub, and the deal was done. He gave Corcoran twenty pounds less than the cattle were worth, and Corcoran gave him back a fiver for luck, as he knew full well he had got twenty pounds more than he really expected.

He turned his benevolent eye on the steaming glass as Cooper faded to the doorway —

“Good look” he murmured as the door closed.

ACT II

Corcoran leaned back and belched profoundly. Nobody in the crowded pub noticed. Half an hour had passed since Cooper had left with Willie to take the cattle down to the yard behind the butcher’s shop.

A third hot whiskey had warmed him down to his toes. He had sent a kid across to the far side of the fairground to bring back three hot crubeens from the huckster’s shop which specialized in that delicacy. Two of these glutinous morsels he ate ravenously, and having carefully thrown the bones in the fireplace, he wiped his fingers and face in the newspaper wrapping, and delicately rolled up the remaining one in the rest of the newspaper to keep it warm for Willie. Then he opened the top button of his flap, paid for a large bottle of stout and sighed contentedly as he fondled the roll of notes in the inside pocket of his waistcoat under folded arms.

Willie’s mind was soaring with speculation as to what he might do with the half note Cooper had given him for helping with the cattle as he strolled back to the pub. He was feeling hungry now, thirsty too as the sweet smell of stout reached him. Just then there was a hand on his arm…

“Hello there Willie, I heard ye sold the cattle and I’m hopin’ to see yer father.” It was Jim Kirwan the tractor salesman.

“He’s inside in the pub here,” said Willie, “come on, I’ll find him for ye.”

They turned in to the pub and Kirwan took his arm again, “Here, Willie” he smiled, “you’re a go ahead man – you wouldn’t mind having a nice new Ferguson Tractor now, would ye?” But before Willie could answer his father’s voice cut through the smoky air and Willie detected an almost jovial note in it.

“Over here Willie, boy, pull a large stout there for me son will ye, sit down, sit down, here’s a crubeen for ye boy, ye must be hungry.” And looking at Kirwan he continued “Ah God save us all look what the cat brought in.”

“Could I see ye Mr. Corcoran?” Kirwan ventured.

“Of course ye can boy,” replied Corcoran, “as long as yer not trying to sell me one of them cursed Fergusons – what are ye havin’ anyway?”

“A Lemonade thanks,” said Kirwan. Corcoran looked at him pityingly and said loudly “If ye want to talk to a man, ye better be a man – give him a small stout there Miss.”

The stout arrived and the three sat down. Willie tackled the crubeen with enthusiasm and Kirwan tried vainly to control the foam rising rapidly in his glass as he poured the stout with an unpractised hand. He cursed his plight as he saw Corcoran wink hugely at Willie. “I heard ye got a right good price for the cattle Mr. Corcoran, and more o’that to ye,” said Kirwan raising his froth filled glass – “Good luck – good luck” they chorused and drank.

After a pause Kirwan said “The new Ferguson is only £375 for cash.”

“Well now that’s very interesting” said Corcoran “for anyone that would be buying one, but of course I always used horses and me sons the same. We have a right good breed of a horse out our way ye know. He’d be a sort of an Irish draught with a dash of the Clydesdale in him and he’d pull anything.” Another pause as Corcoran rested on his oars and waited.

“‘Tis getting right expensive to keep horses shod nowadays,” said Kirwan studying his glass.

Willie was lifting his chin to nod his agreement when the boot hit him on the ankle bone. He froze and looked at the fire.

“Not when we does it ourselves” lied Corcoran defiantly.

“I heard right enough, that a blacksmith can hardly make a living anymore.” said Kirwan as he watched the colour rising in Corcoran’s face. “But” he added quickly, raising his voice to be heard by others, “I suppose it’s because really the ould horse is finished in the farms. Sure ’twould take ye all day to bring a churn of milk to the creamery and your day would be gone for nothing. And sure with the tractor you could be in and back in an hour and not only bring in yer own churn, but carry in the churn for a neighbour, maybe, who wouldn’t be so lucky or maybe wouldn’t have the price of a Ferguson.”

“Faith then” said Corcoran, raising his already big voice, “I heard on good authority that them tractors are no good on hilly land and ye could get kilt off of ’em.”

“Only in the hands of an amachure,” said Kirwan, his voice rising.

“An’ there’s another thing,” rapped Corcoran, “tractors cost money from once you bring ’em into the yard ’till ye get rid of ’em – with oil and repairs and God knows what else – when with the horse ye have his diet for nothin’ and his manure for the land in return and he’ll work away for ye and even if he drops dead, ye have his carcase to sell to the knacker man for a pound or two.”

Ears were cocked all around the pub now as the combatants circled mentally, seeking an opening. There was a hush while glasses were raised and stout was sipped carefully. Kirwan drained his drink, put down the glass and stood up wiping his mouth.

“That’s all history Mr. Corcoran” he said “an’ I’ll tell ye what, I’ll bring out a Ferguson to your farm on Friday at ten o’clock and give ye a free trial and demonstration and you’ll see for yerself that any damn thing your horse can do, my tractor will do it better.” He held out his hand across the table to Corcoran and they shook hands. “Thanks for the drink and Good luck, I’ll see ye Friday. So long Willie.”

“Ay, good luck Jim” said Willie.

Kirwan picked his way towards the door unhurriedly with all eyes on him. “That shook the oul’ bastard” he told himself as he buttoned his gabardine. He was one step short of the door when Corcoran’s voice called out.

“Hey Kirwan, I didn’t ever hear of a Ferguson having a foal.” The door slammed and bawdy laughter followed the salesman down the street.

The Fair, Ballybricken – before the tractor! From a photo by A. H. Poole, Waterford

***

Postscript

Within ten years the horse was gone from the farm, but here and there you would see an odd one. I think that Corcoran’s was one such place.

©Geoff Cronin 2005

About Geoff Cronin

I was born at tea time at number 12 John Street, Waterford on September 23rd 1923. My father was Richard Cronin and my mother was Claire Spencer of John Street Waterford. They were married in St John’s Church in 1919.

Things are moving so fast in this day and age – and people are so absorbed, and necessarily so, with here and now – that things of the past tend to get buried deeper and deeper. Also, people’s memories seem to be shorter now and they cannot remember the little things – day to day pictures which make up the larger canvas of life.

It seems to me that soon there may be little or no detailed knowledge of what life was really like in the 1930s in a town – sorry, I should have said City, in accordance with its ancient charter – like Waterford. So I shall attempt to provide some of these little cameos as much for the fun of telling as for the benefit of posterity.

Thank you for visiting today and I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse of Waterford in the 1930s and 1940s courtesy of Geoff Cronin. As always your feedback is very welcome. thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – 12th – 18th July 2020 – Children’s Book Store, Relationships, Italian Cookery, Book Reviews, Health, Humour and Music


Welcome to the round up of posts you might have missed this week on Smorgasbord.

I hope you are all doing well and that your families are safe and well. There are mixed messages as always about what we can and cannot do and clearly there are still some hot spots around our countries and the world where life continues to be very difficult.

I thought I would give you a hint of the new promotions that are coming up in the next couple of months and to remind you of those running at the moment.

I am creating a spin off Cafe and Bookstore for Children’s books and Early Teens… As Robbie Cheadle pointed out in a comment this week, it is very difficult to market children’s books, especially at the moment with virtual launches. Also because many children’s books tend to be print only. The authors with books suitable up to 12 years old will have separate entries for their children’s books in this new Cafe but will still retain their entries in the main bookstore with other books they may have.

There will be new author and book promotions, separate children’s cafe updates and special promotions at certain times of the year such as Christmas.

I really would like your help once it is set up to spread the word to children’s authors who might like to have a promotion for their books and be showcased in the new cafe.  I have a post going out about it on the 27th of July.

I am putting the entries together in the next week and will share the link in the promotional post. If I have missed any books of yours that are suitable for children up to 12 years old you can let me know at that point.

I have had a great response to the post and August is now fully booked but if you would like to participate in September then just let me know. An ideal opportunity to promote your blog posts and I will also top and tail with any book details, author bio and links. Full details are in the post.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives -#NewSeries August 2020- Pot Luck and Do You Trust Me??

Coming in September – the return of the Sunday Author Interview… with a new theme and questions… promotional post on July 30th.

As always I am very grateful for the time and effort that the contributors to the blog put in to produce such amazing posts, and to you for dropping in. If you have time to leave a comment it is always appreciated and it also is a way to connect to others who pass through the blog. This community has never been more important as it is today, and the stronger it is, the stronger we are as individuals.

Calling All Fixers

Are you that person who has a dire need to fix the people you care about? Are you that person who thinks nobody can fix things like you can? Let me tell you, I was one of those people, and I learned that there are definite limitations when it comes to thinking we can repair others—despite how much our hearts truly wish we could.

D. G. Kaye Explores the Realms of Relationships – July 2020 – Calling All Fixers!

Smorgasbord Summer Music Festival with hosts William Price King and Sally Cronin – Headliners Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen and Chris de Burgh

#Italian Cookery with Silvia Todesco – Milanesa style thin cut beef (Cotoletta alla milanese)

Tales from the Garden – Chapter Ten – The Last Summer Ball and the Winter Fairy – Part One

The Colour of Life – The Nuns At The Glue Pot 1946 by Geoff Cronin

#Haiku #Wexford #Ireland -Rescued from the Deep

Letters from America 1985-1987 – July 1985 – A new baby arrives and I meet Debbie around the pool

#Anthology – This is Lockdown – Covid 19 Diaries – Flash Fiction – Poetry M.J. Mallon and Other Authors

Colleen Chesebro’s weekly Tanka Challenge -#Butterfly Cinquain – Wise Women

Project 101 – Resilience – The importance of a healthy gut (part two) #Candida

thyme

Herbal Medicine – Make Thyme in your life for this versatile herb for health and cooking.

There is little doubt that this last three months of lock down has impacted all our lives. Marjorie Mallon has compiled an anthology that shares her own diary of events over that period about the pandemic and life as a family in lock down.. and the thoughts and poetry of others within the blogging community including myself.

Special Feature – #Anthology – This is Lockdown – Covid 19 Diaries – Flash Fiction – Poetry M.J. Mallon and Other Authors

#Historical #Fantasy – Reign of Retribution (The Eternal Realm Book 3) by Fiona Tarr

#Fantasy – Sea Dragons: Wisp II by Adele Marie Park

#Thriller John W. Howell, #Murder Mystery Barbara Silkstone, #Mystery Stevie Turner

#Familydrama James J. Cudney, #Prehistoric Jacqui Murray, #Children’s Toni Pike

#Poetry M.J. Mallon, #Contemporary Olga Nunez Miret, #Dystopian Teri Polen

#Thriller Allan Hudson, #Poetry Joyce Murphy, #Paranormal #Romance Marcia Meara

#History Barbara Ann Mojica, #Children’s Paul Noel, #Mystery Judy Penz Sheluk

#Romance Ritu Bhathal, #YAMystery Karen Demers Dowdall, #Paranormal S.A. Harris,

#Childrens Deanie Humphrys Dunne, #Dystopian Sandra J. Jackson #NewAdult #Romance Abbie Johnson Taylor

#Writing Denise O’Hagan, #Children Wanda Luthman, #RomanticComedy Jack Lindsey

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 14th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 16th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

The Senior Team pass the Courtroom funnies along.

Thank you very much for dropping in today and during the week… it is much appreciated and I hope you will join me again next week.. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives -#Memoir #Waterford #Ireland #History – The Colour of Life – The Nuns At The Glue Pot 1946 by Geoff Cronin


My father-in-law, Geoff Cronin was a raconteur with a encyclopedic memory spanning his 93 years. He sadly died in 2017 but not before he had been persuaded to commit these memories of his childhood and young adulthood in Waterford in the 1920s to the 1940s.

The books are now out of print, but I know he would love to know that his stories are still being enjoyed, and so I am repeating the original series of his books that I posted in 2017. I hope those who have already read will enjoy again and that new readers will discover the wonderful colour of life in Ireland nearly 100 years ago.

Geoff had a band that was hugely popular for dances in Waterford, but also further afield… including here in Courtown where they used to play throughout the summer at the then ballroom. They stayed at the Tara Vie hotel.. which had a rather interesting story with the regard to its name. Tara hill is close to us and from certain angles you get a very good view.. this led to us questioning as to why the hotel is called the Tara Vie… Geoff explained that in about 1914, the ‘W’ fell off and was never replaced!

The Nuns At The Glue Pot 1946

It was five o’clock in the afternoon on the 16th of July 1946. The sky was dark and thunder rumbled intermittently. The rain came down like stair-rods and steam was rising from the warm road. I roused my three friends and we went downstairs for a drink before tea.

Being billeted over a pub wasn’t such a bad idea on a day like this, especially in a seaside village. We were playing in a dance band in the local hall for the season – we were the dance-band – and we would start work about eight o’clock.

The pub was known locally as “The Glue Pot” and as the evening wore on and people ventured out after the rain and made their way towards the dance hall which would be packed with holiday makers. Right now, there were only two old fishermen sipping pints by the window, the barman, Pat, and the four of us at the back of the bar.

I was lifting a lager shandy to my lips when I heard voices and the door burst open and three men came in, all laughing uproariously. Two were fishermen and the third, called Ritchie, was obviously a returned exile. It turned out he was back from the building sites in England and had been ‘trailing his coat’ around the village for days, drunk as a lord and looking for fights.

Apparently, he had got his belly-full the previous evening when he had insulted an army gunner in a neighbouring pub and been promptly “butchered on the spot” by the said gunner.

Looking at Ritchie now, I knew he has both truculent and dangerous and when, he offered us a drink we declined with “much thanks”. So now, he stood at the bar with his two henchmen, smoking, shouting at everyone at large and drinking rum and blackcurrant “to keep out the wet.” He looked a sorry sight. The cheap brown suit was stained and limp. The black eye was green at the edges. A large cut adorned his swollen mouth and his high cheek bone was grazed.

He was glaring at no one in particular when the door opened quietly to admit two very young nuns of the order of “The Little Sisters of the Poor” and they were “on the quest”, with small collecting boxes held before them.

They looked fearfully past Ritchie and approached the barman who gave them a shilling out of the till and tuppence out of his pocket. They passed by the two old men and came towards our table. We were delving into our pockets to oblige when Ritchie reeled over and looked malignantly down at the two young girls as we dropped some coins into their boxes.

“Over here, Pat,” he bawled, “these two ladies are going to have a drink on me, isn’t that so Sister?” he leered.

Pat came up to the bar counter obediently and the little nun said, “alright so, you can buy us a drink.”

They both put down their collecting boxes on our table and stepped up to the bar beside Ritchie, as he regained what composure he could. Grinning hugely at all and sundry, he threw a pound note on the bar counter and said quietly, “what’ll it be girls?”

The little nun replied without blinking, “two large Powers, please.” The barman blanched visibly and Ritchie crowed, “fill ’em up Pat, bejazus, I never saw a nun drunk yet.”

Pat placed the two large whiskies on the bar with a glass of water and set up Ritchie’s glass beside them. A hush fell on the room as we watched the little nun pick up her glass without adding water and her companion did likewise. They turned to face Ritchie as he absently raised his glass, his battered face wore a bewildered look.

“Good luck and God bless you,” said the nuns in unison.

“Aye, good luck,” said Ritchie, downing his by now badly needed rum and black. As he did so, the nun produced a bottle from the pocket of her robes, and her friend produced a small funnel and placed it in the neck of the bottle and, while we watched, the two glasses were emptied into the bottle, the cork replaced and the lot disappeared under the robes.

In the silence which followed the nuns picked up their little boxes, smiled angelically at everyone, said “God bless you all,” and left!

***

Note:

The Little Sisters of the Poor cared exclusively for old people in their many convents and hospitals throughout Ireland and accepted any kind of donation which would contribute to the comfort and well being of their patients.

©Geoff Cronin 2005

About Geoff Cronin

I was born at tea time at number 12 John Street, Waterford on September 23rd 1923. My father was Richard Cronin and my mother was Claire Spencer of John Street Waterford. They were married in St John’s Church in 1919.

Things are moving so fast in this day and age – and people are so absorbed, and necessarily so, with here and now – that things of the past tend to get buried deeper and deeper. Also, people’s memories seem to be shorter now and they cannot remember the little things – day to day pictures which make up the larger canvas of life.

It seems to me that soon there may be little or no detailed knowledge of what life was really like in the 1930s in a town – sorry, I should have said City, in accordance with its ancient charter – like Waterford. So I shall attempt to provide some of these little cameos as much for the fun of telling as for the benefit of posterity.

Thank you for visiting today and I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse of Waterford in the 1930s and 1940s courtesy of Geoff Cronin. As always your feedback is very welcome. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Weekly Round Up – July 5th -11th 2020 – Josh Groban, Mango, Pigeons, Dublin 1944, Books, Health and Laughter


Welcome to the round up of posts you might have missed this week on Smorgasbord.

It has been a very mixed week as far as the weather is concerned. However, I was in and out more times than a cat, grabbing the odd ten minutes of sunshine here and there. It can change in a second with rain in the back garden and sunshine still in the front. There are a lot worse places to live, particularly during a pandemic as it is easier to avoid 5 million people than it is 65 million. Especially when there is more rural space.

Apart from my daily ins and outs, I also had my first hair appointment this week. I go to a family owned hairdresser and they certainly have gone to a lot of trouble and expense to prepare the salon for clients. I was wearing my own mask, but had my temperature checked once I was allowed in. A young assistant was kept busy disinfecting chairs, basins and stations between customers, and we all wore disposable gowns and the same with the towels. Thank goodness that despite the rule about no tea or coffee, and no magazines, we could still chat and it was great to catch up with my stylist Sam and her experiences over the last four months.

It feels great to have some shape back into my hair and if I can bring myself to put on some makeup on the next sunny day, I might get a new profile photo done… don’t hold your breath on either event …!

Now to the week….

I am very aware that I don’t get around to as many blogs as I would like on a daily basis and as I plan to get down to finishing the new book I am writing in August.. I thought it would be a good time to get the new Posts from Your Archives up and running. With the added bonus that I get to browse your blog archives from the last six months and catch up on all your great posts.

Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 900 Posts from Your Archives where bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience… mine.

The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history and the most recent series was on any aspect about family.

In this series I will be sharing posts from the first six months of 2020

It is an opportunity to showcase your writing skill to my readers and also to share on my social media. Which combined is around the 46,000 mark. If you are an author your books will be mentioned too, along with their buy links and your other social media contacts.

So what is different about this series?

  • This time, rather than you send me two links to posts from your blog archives, all I need you to do is give me permission to dive in myself and find two posts to share here on Smorgasbord.
  • Rather than a set topic, I will select posts at random across a number of subjects from the first six months of 2020.
  • As I will be promoting your books as part of the post along with all your information and links so I will not be sharing direct marketing or self- promotional posts in the series.
  • If you are an author I am sure you will have a page on your blog with the details, and an ‘about page’ with your profile and social media links (always a good idea anyway). I will get everything that I need.
  • As a blogger I would assume that you have an ‘about page’ a profile photo and your links to social media.
  • Copyright is yours and I will ©Your name on every post… and you will be named as the author in the URL and subject line.
  • Previous participants are very welcome to take part again.

N.B – To get the maximum benefit from your archive posts, the only thing I ask is that you respond to comments individually.. thank you.

To show how your post will look when featured… please head over to the post with an example from the Friends and Family archive posts earlier in the year. Jacquie Biggar with the story of her grandson and his brave approach to his Type I diabetes.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives -#NewSeries August 2020- Pot Luck and Do You Trust Me??

William Price King is on his summer break which is a very busy time and his is offline, but I will be sharing some previous artists and every other week a Summer Music Festival… no mud, or portaloos…just good music. Some from William’s column and some from my own playlists. William sends his best wishes and apologises for not being able to respond to your comments.

This week Carol Taylor cooks up a storm as she showcases the letter ‘M’ in food and culinary terms…and there are plenty of books on show to overload your TBR’s

I am in the last three weeks of the series Meet the Authors in the Cafe and Bookstore and hopefully all your details will then be up to date… if you are in the cafe and have not yet been featured.. don’t worry everyone will be included..

The Music Column with William Price King – Josh Groban – Part Two

Carol Taylor – A – Z of Food – ‘M’ is for Mayonnaise, Mango, Mousse, Morels, Khao Neow Manuang and Marengo

Chapter Nine – The Boy, his Dog and a Fairy Princess

Geoff leaves Waterford for the bright lights of Dublin and the adventures of being a boarder with other lads of the infamous Mrs Keller….

The Colour of Life The Digs In Dublin 1944

A Haiku and some examples of my late father-in-law’s wonderful wood carving.

#Ireland Tree Stumps by Sally Cronin

Letters from America 1985-1987 – June 1985 – Photos from Disney Adventure, Alone in America, Television Fitness Classes

Project 101 – Resilience – The importance of a healthy gut (part one)

dandelion

The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Herbal Medicine -Dandelion

A Year in the Life of Leah Brand: A #Psychological Thriller by Lucinda E. Clarke

Colleen Chesebro’s weekly Tanka Challenge -#DoubleEtheree – The Visitor

#Fantasy – Jack Hughes & Thomas the Rhymer (Book 1) by Paul Andruss

#DarkHumour Someday Everything Will All Make Sense by Carol LaHines

#Dystopian – Acts of Convenience by Alex Craigie

#Fantasy – Soul Swallowers (The Shattered Sea Book 1) by D.Wallace Peach

#YAParanormalFantasy, Heather Kindt, #HistoricalMystery Amy M. Reade, #Children’s Janice Spina

#Contemporary Olga Nunez Miret, #Poetry Frank Prem, #Poetry Balroop Singh

#Romance Linda Bradley, #Fantasy Audrey Driscoll, #YAAdventure Darlene Foster.

#Shortstories Cathy Cade, #Historical Noelle Granger, #SouthernSaga Claire Fullerton

#YAFantasy Kevin Cooper, #Mystery Mary Anne Edwards, #Historical Apple Gidley

#Memoir Chuck Jackson, #Memoir Brigid Gallagher, #ShortStories Anne Goodwin

#1920s Elizabeth Gauffreau, #History Paul Edmondson, #Shortstories Karen Ingalls

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 7th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 9th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Irish Weather The Musical with International guests presented by I.V.E Mildew… AKA Herself.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives -#Memoir #Waterford #Ireland #History – The Colour of Life The Digs In Dublin 1944 by Geoff Cronin


My father-in-law, Geoff Cronin was a raconteur with a encyclopedic memory spanning his 93 years. He sadly died in 2017 but not before he had been persuaded to commit these memories of his childhood and young adulthood in Waterford in the 1920s to the 1940s.

The books are now out of print, but I know he would love to know that his stories are still being enjoyed, and so I am repeating the original series of his books that I posted in 2017. I hope those who have already read will enjoy again and that new readers will discover the wonderful colour of life in Ireland nearly 100 years ago.

The Digs In Dublin 1944

It was in the autumn of 1945 when I set out for Dublin where I was to work at The Swiss Chalet Bakery and learn the confectionery trade. I was to do a year’s stint, without pay, and my father would pay for my board and lodgings – thirty shillings per week.

So it was that I arrived at teatime in the “digs” at Mespil Road by the canal in Dublin. It was an old Georgian house with ten granite steps leading up to the front door. The door was answered by Mary, the maid, a good-looking dark-haired girl with a complexion so pale it suggested prison pallor. I waited in that lofty hallway, which had a faint aroma of polish and boiled cabbage. Mary went to call the landlady.

Dublin landladies of that time – it was known as “the emergency” here, or “the war”, in other countries – had the reputation of being somewhat less than generous. In fact, it was jokingly said that you could tell a landlady sitting on the beach because she would pick up pebbles and squeeze them and drops of blood would come out. The truth was that they had a very difficult time catering for their guests, because all staple food was rationed – tea, butter, sugar etc. – and anything not rationed would be at black market prices.

Now the landlady emerged from the nether regions – she lived in the basement with a flock of cats, her husband Peter, and Mary the maid. Peter had the same prison pallor as Mary, and was tall and thin, so thin, in fact, he looked as if he had been ironed. I only saw him twice in the year I spent there. His wife, Mrs. Keller, on the other hand was the complete opposite. She was no more than five feet tall and weighed in at around eighteen stone. Her complexion was ruddy, her black hair was parted in the middle and disappeared down her back, and her fat face was adorned by a black moustache. An imposing figure, no doubt about it. She was a pleasant enough lady and my briefing was concise. Rent was thirty shillings weekly, payable every Tuesday; I got a key for the front door and could come and go as I pleased as long as I made no noise at night. Mary would show me to my room, and tea (the evening repast) would be in the dining room in fifteen minutes.

The bedroom was upstairs. It contained two beds, one large wardrobe, which could be locked, a tallboy with two drawers allocated to each inmate, a large window which overlooked the garden and also Iris Kellet’s Equestrian School. The ceiling was lofty as befits a Georgian house, with an ornate centrepiece and the floor was covered with the coldest lino I ever experienced. The room was unheated!!

Having put my case under number two bed, I checked where the bathroom was – there was only one – and went down to the dining room. Nine men were seated at the table having their tea, and I was appointed to the tenth place with my own sugar bowl and butter dish. The ration, which arrived on Thursday, was half a pound of sugar and six ounces of butter. Mary, with something resembling a flourish, presented me with a plate bearing a rasher, egg and sausage, noted by all the company. I was to learn later that this was only an “introductory offer”, and the standard tea was egg on toast. Breakfast was one boiled egg and toast, and lunch was the main meal. Supper consisted of one glass of milk – watery!

The personnel were a mixed bag consisting of one civil servant (Land Commission), one book-keeper (Johnston Mooney & O’Brien), one High Court clerk, one thirty-two year old chronic medical student, four divinity students (Protestant), one trainee radio officer, and myself, trainee confectioner.

The guests had the use of the drawing room, which had a piano but no fire after about nine o’clock in the evening. This was no big deal in the autumn, but as winter set in, it was a different story. Still it didn’t affect me too much as I went out most nights to attend dance classes, which was my thing at that time, and because I had a bicycle!

Because of my bicycle, I got a key to the side door of the house, which gave access to the downstairs hallway where I could park my bike. The side door was situated under those imposing granite steps which led up to the front door but in addition it also gave access to the turf store, which filled the space beneath the front steps.

One night I came in about ten o’clock. There was a heavy frost and the house was freezing, so much so that the few guys in the dining room had been burning their evening papers to try and keep up the temperature. I, on the other hand, decided that enough was enough and taking the empty bucket, I went out the front door, down the steps and in the side door where I quietly filled the bucket with turf and made a triumphal re-entry to the dining room, where we soon had a roaring fire going. A second bucket was filled, and as more guys came in and shared the welcome heat, the atmosphere became positively convivial.

About midnight, the main topic was how we might continue our new found comfort, when one of the divinity students produced a large waterproof cape of the type supplied to the Local Defence Force. It was big enough to double as a ground sheet for camping out. This was carried out the front door and returned full of turf. This supply was stored on top of the large ornate cornice over the sideboard, two further cape loads were carried upstairs and stored in the wardrobe in my room – all the clothes having been removed and hung up all over the place. By one a.m. everything was secured and all concerned sworn to secrecy. We were all tired, but warm and happy.

Now there was a “houseboy” employed in the digs who did all the cleaning and polishing. He was a diminutive little fellow whose name was Willie, and he was “a couple of bricks short of a cartload”, so to speak. However, he stopped me in the hall one lunchtime, saying –
“Tell me now, Mr. Cronin, you’re an educated man who would know the answer to this puzzle. How is it that one bucket of turf can produce two buckets of ashes?”

I was taken aback and decided to blind Willie with science, and I answered “Well, Willie, it has to do with the inverse ratio between the height of the chimney and the shape and size of the bucket.”

He went off muttering something about education and I guessed I had put him off the track, at least for the moment.

The following evening, however, all hell broke loose. Willie had had an accident and suffered a cut to his face and had been to the hospital for attention. Apparently Willie had succeeded in unlocking the door of the wardrobe in my room, and when a couple of hundredweight of turf fell out on top of him, he fell over and struck his face on the corner of the wardrobe.

An inquisition was to follow that night, and a rapid whip around the lads produced the story that collectively we had bought a couple of bags of turf to try to keep ourselves warm, and smuggled them into the digs, and we felt sure Mrs. Keller would not want any publicity about the sad plight of her guests.

My roommate and I made a big fuss about invasion of privacy in having our wardrobe broken into. Well, the store of turf was confiscated, but we still had the lot we had hidden over the sideboard in the dining room, and we did get an extra bucket of turf per night thereafter, also every man swore to be on his best behaviour in future.

There was, however, another dark plot being hatched. My roommate, who had a good job in the Four Courts, bought a small electric fire in a pawnshop down town and it came in a little attaché case with a comparatively stout lock. He reckoned, in any event, that Willie’s career in lock picking had come to an end. Well, the luxury of being able to warm pyjamas with the little fire was almost unbearable. In fact, after a while we were having visitors from other rooms coming stealthily in for a warm, and there would often be six or seven “warmers” in the room at a time. Next there was the mystery of the escalating electricity bill, and operations had to be curtailed for a while until it was announced that the mystery couldn’t be solved! Anyway, we survived the cold weather rather well, one way or another.

***

As with any male household where there is always a “wild card”, we certainly had one in the person of Joey, the Radio Officer. On the day Joey got his remittance from home, he would pay for his digs and get well and truly drunk on whatever was left. He would roll in at midnight singing at the top of his voice, and be threatened with expulsion the next morning. During the week he made regular visits to the pawnshop, where his watch, his camera and everything else in sight would be pledged. On one particular night, we were warming ourselves at our private electric fire, when Joey arrived. He burst into our room singing, took off his shoes “not to be too noisy”, and announced that we were to have a Céilí. He cavorted about the room doing his version of a “one handed reel” and in the process shed his jacket, his shirt, and then his trousers, all to great hilarity.

Suddenly, we heard Mrs. Keller’s voice, as she puffed up the stairs and arrived on our landing, calling out “Mr. Tyler (Joey), is it you who’s making all this noise?”

Joey, by this time down to his underwear, whipped off his shorts and rushed out onto the landing shouting “Coming my love!” The landlady disappeared down those stairs like a rabbit into a hole!!

***

Joey did everyone a great service on another occasion. It was generally known that the medical student was “a toucher”, i.e. he had borrowed money from all and sundry and had not repaid any of his debts. He was living well beyond his means and among other things, he went horse riding and had a very nice pair of riding boots for that purpose. Well, one Saturday when “the Medical” was out, Joey went around all the guests and took notes of what each person was owed. Then he disappeared and reappeared just before teatime, and ceremoniously paid off all “the Medical’s” debts.

Before we could ask for an explanation, “the Medical” burst into the room red as a turkey cock, shouting, “My room has been burgled and my good riding boots are missing.”

Joey immediately took him by the arm and shepherded him to a chair. “Relax, man, and don’t be getting so excited. Your boots are not missing at all, they’re quite safe.” “The Medical” was open-mouthed.

“Well, where are they?” he said belligerently.

“I’ll give you the address,” said Joey smiling indulgently as he fished a pawn ticket out of his pocket and handed it to “the Medical. “You can pick them up there any time you like.”

There was a spontaneous cheer from the assembled gathering, and “the Medical” slunk out of the room, his face ashen by this time. A week later, he was gone from the digs, and meantime Joey was a hero, especially as he admitted he had made a small profit on the transaction.

***

Another “event” which happened in the digs was when Mary, the maid, got a brainwave. She confided in me prior to making the suggestion to the landlady. The weekly ration of butter and sugar came on Thursdays and Mary was going to suggest that since “all the gentlemen were out of rations by Tuesday, the landlady should get the rations on Wednesday!”

On the same subject, I noticed that my butter ration began to diminish rapidly at one stage, and it was obvious that someone was helping himself in my absence. My problem was that I was out of the house first every morning, as I started work at eight o’clock, and everybody else went out about nine or later. This fact gave the thief ample opportunity to raid my butter dish.

At that time my elder brother, Dick, was working in a Chemist’s shop on the other side of Dublin, and we met at odd weekends. I was telling him about my problem and he said –

“I’ll give you some extract of malefern, which you can mix with some butter and leave it as bait for your thief.”

When I asked what exactly this stuff was, he answered cheerfully “It’s what they give to racehorses for constipation.” I took it and baited my butter as instructed, and told only one person about the trap. My butter was never touched again! The person I told was my roommate. He left the digs soon afterwards. This ended my stay at the digs in Mespil Road.

***

The next digs I found myself in, was at the top of Harcourt Street, and the rent was now two pounds a week. It was another Georgian house on the side of the street, and was run by a maiden lady in her fifties.

Miss Ruttle was an imperious lady with jet black hair (dyed), tall and large bosomed, and obviously wore a bullet-proof corset which just about enabled her to get into the rather garish dresses she wore. She was militantly religious and just before we finished our evening meal, she would sweep into the dining room, preceded by her very pungent perfume, and order us all down on our knees to say the Rosary, followed by “the trimmings” which consisted of three Hail Marys for each of her special intentions, e.g. the souls in purgatory, propagation of the faith, girls who were keeping doubtful company (all named), etc. etc. etc. The trimmings took longer than the Rosary, and the whole performance was devoutly to be avoided. This we did, most of the time.

One night, it was someone’s pay night and some of us went out for a drink – this was daring stuff – and returned about ten o’clock, to find “herself” straddling the welcome mat with arms folded.

“I’ve only one thing to say to you gentlemen,” she said icily. “If you don’t come home at a reasonable hour in future, you will not be allowed to join in the family Rosary.”

***

One night, when Miss Ruttle announced that she was going out for the evening, four of us ventured into her drawing room, which was totally ‘off limits’. The room was Victoriana personified, with hand painted cushions, a red plush chaise-longue, footstools, a sampler fire screen, bric-a-brac all over the place, and beautiful upright piano in an ebony case with matching stool. I promptly sat down at the piano, at which point the rest of the “guests” joined us, and in no time flat, we had a right royal sing song going.

We were in the middle of “You must have been a beautiful baby…” when everything went suddenly quiet, and when I looked up from the keyboard – there she was, in the open doorway. I remember thinking of the scene in the sorcerer’s apprentice when the wizard appears and stops the flood. The temperature in the room dropped to zero, and there followed a tirade of rhetoric that would have done credit to Hitler himself.

Well, we just about managed to maintain speaking terms – in a monosyllabic manner – for the remainder of my stay, which fortunately was only a few weeks, as my time in Dublin had run its course.

I made some friends in that place and in fact I still meet one of them for a drink every year since I came to live in Dublin permanently, nearly forty years ago.

©Geoff Cronin 2005

About Geoff Cronin

I was born at tea time at number 12 John Street, Waterford on September 23rd 1923. My father was Richard Cronin and my mother was Claire Spencer of John Street Waterford. They were married in St John’s Church in 1919.

Things are moving so fast in this day and age – and people are so absorbed, and necessarily so, with here and now – that things of the past tend to get buried deeper and deeper. Also, people’s memories seem to be shorter now and they cannot remember the little things – day to day pictures which make up the larger canvas of life.

It seems to me that soon there may be little or no detailed knowledge of what life was really like in the 1930s in a town – sorry, I should have said City, in accordance with its ancient charter – like Waterford. So I shall attempt to provide some of these little cameos as much for the fun of telling as for the benefit of posterity.

Thank you for visiting today and I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse of Waterford in the 1930s and 1940s courtesy of Geoff Cronin. As always your feedback is very welcome. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – June 28th – July 4th 2020 – Music Festival, Book Covers, Fairy Stories, Poetry, Book Reviews and Author Promotions


Welcome to the round up of posts that you might have missed this week on Smorgasbord.

Thanks very much for joining me today and I hope that everyone is still staying safe as the world emerges in a more unrestrained way… Today in the UK is going to be interesting, as though the British to do not officially celebrate July 4th, it is a great excuse to have a party. With the pubs opening along with hairdressers and unessential shops, it is going to make for an opportunity for much mingling, however many social distancing measures are in place.

The infection is still in the community and even here in Ireland people are still wearing masks when shopping and in close proximity to others. Despite my love of adventure… I will be taking things slowly for the next few weeks.

In the meantime life goes on and the weeks seem to fly by as they always have. The Irish weather this week has been at its variable best with autumnal high and cold winds and plenty of rain.  Apparently sunny tomorrow, so if you don’t see me around the usually haunts you will know where to find me….in the garden.

The Meet the Authors series is still running for another two weeks at least as I feature the last 30 authors in the Cafe and Bookstore with their bios and links. When that is completed I will be looking at other options to help promote the books and will let you know about them in due course.

Just a some reminders about the promotions for the Cafe and Bookstore

Their purpose is to provide a consistent and free book marketing service for all authors in the Cafe, to my readers on the blog and to my social media networks.

They work better if the authors featured share on one or more of their own social media, particularly when they are multi-author promotions. I do this because I love to promote the hard work that goes into not just writing a book but the editing, cover design and creativity. However, it does make it easier and more worthwhile to be honest, if authors participate.

The one critical action that I ask is that comments are responded to individually as it does help to encourage readers to buy books. To that end I have made things as simple as possible. I only approve the first comment made by a visitor to the blog and after that there are no filters.

Later in the week a post about the new series of Posts from your Archives starting in August. So far in the last two and a half years there have been 1100 posts featured in this ongoing series…all with an opportunity to showcase books and other creative work. Looking forward to taking that figure up to 1500 in the rest of the year… details on Friday.

On with the shows from the week…

William Price King is off for the summer but we have decided to put on a Summer Music Festival with a mixture of music from William’s previous series and some tracks from my own playlists..

Smorgasbord Summer Music Festival with hosts William Price King and Sally Cronin – Headliners Johnny Mathis, Led Zeppelin and the Beach Boys

The importance of a book cover by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Tales from the Garden Chapter Eight -The Goose and the Lost Boy

#Memoir #Waterford #Ireland #History – The Colour of Life – Work on a Timber Gang – 1942 by Geoff Cronin

#Eagles – Regal Hunter by Sally Cronin – Image by Tofino Photography

Letters from America 1985-1987 – June 1985 – Thunderstorms Texas style, Pool Antics and Birth Coach on Standby

© 2020 Frank J. Tassone

Chesebro’s weekly Tanka Challenge – #Haibun – The Long Drop by Sally Cronin

#Poetry – Rescue and Redemption Poetry inspired by the T. S. Eliot poem ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ (A Love Poetry Trilogy Book 3) by Frank Prem

Food Therapy – Watercress – More Iron than Spinach

Vitamin D Deficiency Part One

Vitamin D Deficiency Part Two – Getting Sufficient

#Fantasy The Blessing of Krozem: A Tale of Ziraf’s World by Lorinda J. Taylor

-#Horses Jan Sikes, #Comingofage Bette A. Stevens, #Romance Ritu Bhathal

#Historical Noelle Granger, #Shortstories Karen Ingalls, #Thriller Daniel Kemp

#Memoir Pete Springer, #History Paul Edmondson #Thriller Mary Anne Edwards

#Mystery #Romance Alex Craigie, #Children Dawn Doig, #Humour Linda G. Hill

#Fantasy Deborah Jay, #ParanormalRomance A.J. Alexander, #Historical Ruth Larrea

#Humour Andrew Joyce, #Horror #Fantasy Julia Benally, #Thriller Iain Kelly

#Memoir Marian Longenecker Beaman, #Crime Sue Coletta, #Humour Geoff Le Pard

#Poetry Miriam Hurdle, #Thriller Jacquie Biggar, #YARomance Angie Dokos

#Familysaga – The Memory by Judith Barrow

#1920s – Telling Sonny by Elizabeth Gauffreau

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – June 30th 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines – July 2nd 2020 – Hosts Debby Gies and Sally Cronin

Smorgasbord Laughter Lines Extra – July 3rd 2020- Another Open Mic Night with author Daniel Kemp

Thank you for dropping in today and during the week to leave comments and to share.. it really is much appreciated.. I hope you will join me again next week..thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives -#Memoir #Waterford #Ireland #History – The Colour of Life – Work on a Timber Gang – 1942 by Geoff Cronin


My father-in-law, Geoff Cronin was a raconteur with a encyclopedic memory spanning his 93 years. He sadly died in 2017 but not before he had been persuaded to commit these memories of his childhood and young adulthood in Waterford in the 1920s to the 1940s.

The books are now out of print, but I know he would love to know that his stories are still being enjoyed, and so I am repeating the original series of his books that I posted in 2017. I hope those who have already read will enjoy again and that new readers will discover the wonderful colour of life in Ireland nearly 100 years ago.


Work on a Timber Gang – 1942

In September 1942 I had just left school and had decided I was going into the National Forestry Service. I made an application and found that I would not be admitted to the forestry college at Avondale, Co. Wicklow, unless (a) I was a farmer’s son, or (b) I had experience in forestry. I could not meet either of these criteria, and so I decided to join a timber gang and gain the necessary experience.

The war was at its height and at the time timber was at a premium both for firewood and for commercial purposes. Consequently there was a lot of activity on farms and estates, which had saleable timber and so there were many timber gangs active in my area.

There was a big old estate originally owned by Lord Bessborough – one of the Ponsonby family, which had been bought by the Oblate Fathers. The mansion had been converted into a Seminary, and they were selling off the timber to recoup their original outlay.

The Timber gang – Mikey, Jack, Dan and Petey

Carman Petey Welsh and helper at Bessborough Estate Winter 1942.

The estate was in the village of Piltown, Co. Kilkenny, twelve miles from Waterford where I lived, and two and half miles from Carrick on Suir. This village had a Creamery, a hardware shop, a pub, a grocery shop, an undertaker, and a population of about forty or fifty people.

There were two gangs of timber men working the estate, one gang was felling the hardwood, mainly huge oak trees which dotted the parkland, and which were going for firewood to fuel the steam boiler at the Creamery, and the other one was felling the softwood, Spruce and Scotch Fir, which went to a sawmill in Waterford. The man who ran the softwood gang was a friend of my family and he agreed to let me join his team for the experience.

So it was when my mother and I went to Piltown one Saturday seeking a place for me to stay five days a week. We found a vacancy with a Kerry woman, Essie Brosnan by name.

The digs would cost four shillings per day, sharing a room with an assistant from the local shop, and I could get a bus to go home at the week-end. All was agreed and the following Monday morning I reported for work, carrying my own axe, with a certain amount of self-assurance. I had been working on a farm in Woodstown during the summer, and I felt very fit and tough enough for anything the timber scene could throw at me.

The gang consisted four men, Mikey, the foreman, Danny, his right hand man, and two car-men, Peter and Jack, whose job it was to pull out the timber after it was felled, and cut it into lengths of twelve, fourteen and sixteen feet, and cart it a mile and a half to the railhead at Fiddown. They were paid by the ton. I remember particularly the wonderful smell of resin from freshly cut Spruce, mixed with the smell of leaves on the ground and the faint smell of the camp fire where the men were having their lunch break. It was midday when I cycled into the camp on that first day and was welcomed by Mikey the foreman.

Yours truly On the Timber Gang

“Will ye have the tay?” he asked. I declined, having had a snack in the digs when I checked in there earlier.

This was a Specimen Scots Fir Tree – 78 feet to the first fork – Which Mikey Wall (on Right) and I felled at the Grand Gates of the Bessborough Estate in Piltown, Co. Kilkenny in 1942.

“Show me the little hatchet you have,” he said smiling indulgently. I did so and he examined it “That’s not a bad edge ye have,” he said. The others examined it and there seemed to be a general air of amusement. I had no idea why this was, but it got my hackles up slightly.

“Here” said Mikey, now engrossed in filling his pipe, “While I’m having a smoke, maybe you’d take the front out of that tree there,” indicating a black Spruce, about three feet in diameter.

I took off my jacket, spat on my hands and squared up to my task, determined to show these guys a thing or two. My first two strokes took out a piece of wood about two inches wide, and half an inch deep, and the shock to my arms and wrists was unbelievable. A quiet snigger from Danny and the Car men reached my ears as I went in again with no better results.

Mikey let me go on for ten minutes, by which time the Car men had left to get their horses, and then he said “Here boy, take a rest for yourself and let me give you a hand.” I did so, and watched this little man – he was five foot four inches and in his late fifties – as he picked up an axe with a seven pound head, and addressed the job – my “axe” had a three and a half pound head.

Well, as he hacked into that tree, chips four and five inches wide, and two inches deep began to fly and in ten minutes flat, it was ready for the saw.

“Come on now,” he said, “get on the other end of the saw” – it was a five and a half foot cross-cut saw, and I knew how to use it so I knelt down and Mikey passed one end of the saw to me and we began to cut until we were about a third of the way into the tree.

“Now boy, get a hammer and two wedges out of the bag there, and knock the wedges into the cut to keep the weight off the saw.”

I picked up the seven-pound sledge hammer, and did the needful. We continued sawing and when we got two inches or so from the breast cut, I uncoupled my handle and he withdrew the saw from the far side.

Carman Petey Welsh

“Now” he said, “stay close to the butt and watch the top of the tree.” He took the hammer and drove the wedges in until the tree went out of the perpendicular, and down she came with a crunching thump. I sat down on the stump, and Mikey filled his pipe, and when I tried to get up, I found I was stuck! Mikey laughed – the resin had flowed up in the stump, and I had to yank myself free.

“That’ll only season the trousers for ye,” he said.

In that first day, Mikey and I felled four big spruces, and I honestly thought the day would never end. When Mikey said, “We’ll knock off now,” the relief was immense.

“We’ll hide the gear here ’til morning,” he said. “Bring up the bag with the other two wedges.”

Left to right – Jack Roche and Petey Walsh (Carmen), Larry Cantwell and Claus Cantwell , Mikey Wall (Foreman), Danny Sullivan, G. Cronin, Dick Cronin..

I went to oblige but when I caught the neck of the sack, though the wedges in it weighed no more than three pounds, I just couldn’t lift it off the ground. I was completely exhausted, and just about managed to walk the short distance to the spot where we had left our bikes.

Then I discovered that Mikey would cycle seventeen miles to where he lived near Clonmel and he would cycle the same distance back to work the next day! This little man was made of IRON!!

When I got back to the digs, I just ate my dinner and fell into bed and slept around the clock. The process of waking and getting up is something I shall never forget. Every muscle in my whole body was screaming in agony, and it took me quite a while to loosen up. Fortunately, I was left with Danny that day, trimming the trees we had cut the day before, and cutting them into lengths for the car men. This was a different exercise, equally strenuous but at least I was not on my knees punishing every muscle in my back.

Mikey had been off through the woods checking trees marked for felling, and deciding how they might be got to the nearest road or track for transport. After the lunch break he said, “Come on now young man. We’ll go to the shop and get you a proper hatchet” – he never called it an axe – “That thing you have is only fit for making kindlin’.” At the hardware shop I watched while he went through the rack of axes, and finally he handed me one. It was a “Black Prince” with a hickory handle and a five and a half pound head. “This should do ye nicely,” he said, and as we took it to the counter I saw that the assistant was my room-mate at the digs. “That will be thirteen shillings,” he said, and I paid up.

On our return to the camp Mikey showed me how to sharpen the axe with a file. Then he demonstrated how exactly to use it, left handed and right handed, how to cut the boots – big roots – off a tree prior to putting the saw to it, how to under-cut when starting the breast cut etc. In fact, the things expected of an efficient timber man. Then he left me on my own to practice as I trimmed the trees already felled and he departed with Danny to fell some more.

On the days that followed, I got to know the car men, and I marveled at their expertise in getting two and three-ton logs past all kinds of obstructions on the tracks where a cart could be used. I learned how to use levers, skids, stobs, squeezers, wire ropes, chains, combinations of block and tackle, shear legs and Weston Block for lifting logs onto a cart and tricks and dodges too numerous to mention. Nothing was impossible to these guys and no stick – their term for a sixteen foot log – was too big or awkward to be got onto a cart. Their horses too were expert in their own way and they knew the routine for each kind of procedure.

The whole experience amounted to what today would be termed a steep learning curve, and it stood me in good stead for the rest of my life. The work was physically very demanding in dry weather and even more so when movement was hampered with wet clothing, but very rewarding.The lunch time breaks were great fun and very educational in more ways than one, and as time went on and my body became attuned to the work, I could sail through the day, go shooting duck after dinner, and later on, cycle into Carrick-on-Suir to the Forester’s Hall and dance the night away to the strains of a band who knew only three tunes!

I stayed with that gang until the end of January, when I was being paid twenty-six shillings a week, and the friendships I made at that time lasted for many years. In the event, I never joined the Forestry Division, and instead went into my father’s Bakery business, as he needed my help at the time. However, the knowledge and experience gained came in very useful later in my life. But that’s another story.

Lunch break with my brother Dick

***

On the timber gang when we’d be packing up in the evening, we could see flocks of crows (Rooks) making their way to the roosting place called ‘The Mountain Grove’ ten or twelve miles away. Mikey recalled a night when the weather was so bad that the crows had to walk to the mountain grove.

©Geoff Cronin 2005

About Geoff Cronin

I was born at tea time at number 12 John Street, Waterford on September 23rd 1923. My father was Richard Cronin and my mother was Claire Spencer of John Street Waterford. They were married in St John’s Church in 1919.

Things are moving so fast in this day and age – and people are so absorbed, and necessarily so, with here and now – that things of the past tend to get buried deeper and deeper. Also, people’s memories seem to be shorter now and they cannot remember the little things – day to day pictures which make up the larger canvas of life.

It seems to me that soon there may be little or no detailed knowledge of what life was really like in the 1930s in a town – sorry, I should have said City, in accordance with its ancient charter – like Waterford. So I shall attempt to provide some of these little cameos as much for the fun of telling as for the benefit of posterity.

Thank you for visiting today and I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse of Waterford in the 1930s and 1940s courtesy of Geoff Cronin. As always your feedback is very welcome. thanks Sally.