Broken bones

Ten-year-old Tommy Woodrow chalked a crude wicket on the rough brick wall near the corner of Hymers Street, while the rest of us watched. It was Saturday night in late summer and we were entertaining ourselves while our parents were otherwise engaged at the local pub. The gap in the flagstones served as the batsman’s crease and the curb on the other side of the street was the bowling mark. The bat was a prized possession. It was made by my Uncle Teddy and was often loaned out to any of the local kids who knocked at the door of 61.

We played until the twilight made it practically impossible to see the ball. The old Lamplighter had not yet arrived on his bike to light the street gas light.

Ronnie Ramsay hit the worn tennis ball towards the James Street corner and I took off after it, misjudged the distance and hit the lamp post full force with my right shoulder. The other lads ran over as I yelled in pain and dropped to the pavement. The game was over. Crying, I gingerly picked up the bat and made my way home, a matter of five meters away.

My brother made me lie on the couch where I sobbed in pain until our parents came home from their night out. Mam and Dad walked in the door with their friends Alma and Billy Harper at about ten thirty, happy and relaxed.

“What’s happened?”

I related my tale and demonstrated how I was unable to raise my arm.

“I think we should take him to the hospital!” exclaimed Dad.

Billy scooped me up and Dad wrapped his jacket around my small frame. Carrying me, they walked quickly up James Street, crossed the market square, passed the Pennyman’s, and around the corner to the North Ormesby Cottage Hospital.

North Ormesby Cottage Hospital

There was a doctor and two nurses on duty, tending to the aftermath of the night’s reverie.

“He has a broken collar bone. How did this happen?” asked the doctor.

He could guess where the parents had been from the smell of their beery breath.

“And where were you when it happened?” he queried accusingly.

The two men looked down sheepishly and remained silent. The shoulder was padded and strapped and the boy and the two men made their way slowly home in silence.

Kay Starr – ‘Wheel of Fortune’  1952
While the wheel is spinning, spinning, spinning
I’ll not dream of winning, fortune or even fame
While the wheel is turning, turning, turning
I’ll be yearning, yearning
For love’s precious flame

Next: Smith’s Dock

Previous: General election 1952