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Bygone Days

by John Crombie, West Calder - undated

This reminiscence poem was written by a shale miner from West Calder who grew up in the "lost" shale mining village of Gavieside. The village was demolished in the 1940's.

Memories are dear tae me, And I sometimes think and ponder
On the happy days I had, In a wee place doon yonder
In the days o ' lang lang syne, When the summer days were fine
I wid wander owre the moss or up the Bing, Sometimes doon the Bore cross the burn and up the glen
Or sometimes doon by Paddy ' s wid, And then back hame again.

Noo some of you will likely ken, That ' s the place where I did bide
It was just wan raw o hooses, And they ca'd it Gavieside
Roond the back there wis a field, O bonnie purple heather
A brawer sicht ye ne'er could see, In ony kind o weather
And next tae that the old Work Pond, Where in Summer we did swim
And back o that the big Black Bing, Which often we wid sclim

At times ma mind goes wandering, Back doon memory lane
And I often wish that I could live, Thon happy days again
For they were happy, carefree days, When as laddies we played there
Kennin nowt aboot the ootside world, And little did we care
We played Hunch-Cuddy-Hunch, And Nurky Nurky Kick the Can
Lebogs-Tig and Run Sheep Run, Bools-Rounders-Fitba'
By Jings we did have fun.

And the hooses that we stayed in, Were na like the yins youve got the noo
We had just a room and kitchen, And no much o' a view
Cos the railway ran doon the front o' the raw, And the pugs brocht wagons doon for the shell
Iae 40 - 26 - and 32, And took them back full tae Addiewell

And whit you cry yer living room, We caw'd that the kitchen
And whit you caw yer kitchenette, Was jist oor scullery
Your parlour or your lounge, Wis whit we cried the Room
And whit you cry your hall, Wis whit we cried the lobby
Oor toilets - shunkies they were ca'd, They were roond the back
They say fresh air is guid for ye, That's wan thing we didna lack

We had nae electricity or gas, Paraffin lamps gien us a' oor licht
We didna need blinds on the windows, We could just draw the shutters at nicht
We had nae polished tables, Nor fitted carpets on the flair
Just a hame made rug in front o the fire, And wan big easy chair
Of course we had ither chairs forbye, But nane covered wi leather, hide or plush
Just some big strongwidden yins, You cleaned wi' the scrubbing brush
The grate was black leaded on a Setterday, And the steels were burnished till they shone
And every hoose had a fender-still, The best sate ye ever sat on

But thats enough aboot hooses, There's other things I want tae tell
Aboot folk and places in that raw, That I can remember well
We had a Co-operative, And its finance was very sound
No lik e that yin up the street, They payed 4 bob in the pound

And there were only fower on the Committee, Rab Kinsman and auld Dave Broon
San Fairley and Rabbie Fowler, And just a wee Committee room
Mary Broon was the heid yin in the shop, And Nell Peden was her assistant
Twa guid - true - honest lassies, Thats why it was sae efficient

We had three sweetie shops in the raw, Ma granny's, Belle Caldera and Mag Youngs
And you could spend your Setterday penny, On onything that suited your tongue

Then we had the Mission Hall, Run by a few good Christian men
Who preached in the raw twice on Sundays, And went back to their meeting then
John McCulloch - Joe Foster - Billie Moonie, Joe Whiteman and wee Jimmy Morgan
And the music was always provided, By Bessie Whiteman at the organ

And the Gospel tent came every year, It was pitched owre in front o' the raw
I heard Gypsy Pat Smith preach there, And it was always filled an' a'
And I mauney forget the Reading Rooms, Just twa hooses below the Garrets
Where the men played games and read papers, And squabbled like a lot o' parrots

I mind o' a wedding reception there, I'm no gaun tae mention ony names
But us laddies were hinging roond aboot, Ready for fun and games
And we were listening at the shutters, Thinking up some kind of ploy
When we heard the bridegroom get up and sing, I am but a poor Blind Boy

Then of course we had the Scule, Joe Taylor was headmaster there
Belle Christie was headmistress, And they were a richt hard pair
Mag Stewart and wee Dougie Miller, They taught the in between classes
And oot o' that wee scule there came, Some bright lads and lassies

And of course we had some Worthies, That lived in that Raw
It wid take me oor's tae mame them aw, But I'll mention wan or twa
Whae could ever forget Danny Duggie, The auld man that swept the Sheuch
And Mary Williamson that kept his hoose, And by jove she was Cheuch

Then there wis wee Bob Hilley, An auld man wi just yin e'e
Always a cla y pipe stuck in his mooth, And he often went on the spree
Next door wis Kirsty Donaldson, She had always a match on her heid
But a nice and kind old soul she wis, Tae ony wan in need

Then we had San Fairley, When ye seen him coming hame frae the pit
If he had'na been wearing bowyanks, His breeks wid hae been doon ower his bits
Up the back wis Louis Potter, He wis a character jist the same
And auld Jean that stayed wi ·him, I canna mind her second name

At the tap o the raw wis Rab Kinsman, He wis witty tae say the least
Them that never seen a coo, Thinks coo's a big beast
Then we had auld Jim Fowler, He wid send wan o us doon tae the shop
For a two pound pot o Black Currant Jam, And sup it a' withoot a stop

When the gold wis cried us in the First World War, He took twa hunner soveriegns up tae the bank
He took them up in an auld pit sock, And J. T. Mungle thocht him a crank
And he sent up the sreet for the Polis, And Sergeant Gerrie came hurrying doon
But Gerrie had kent auld Jim for years, And everything got cleaned up soon

Then came the 14 - 18 war, And a lot o the boys answered Kitchenar' s call
18 went away oot o that wee raw, And six never came back at all
Sanny Broon - Tammy Martin and Jim Stones, Eck Chapman - Jim Clader and big Sam Holmes

And there's no a brick left stauning noo, Tae remind us o the past
But the memory of those bygone days, Will be wi' me tae the last
And tae any Gavieside folk that read this, And I ken many have been bereft
Always remember look after yersels, There' no mony o oor kind left

© John Crombie

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