retirement sories

Retirement Sentiments.

"Holiday Times 1955."

My family holiday home, during the last two weeks of August 1955, was a converted railway carriage, near the East Cork town of Youghal. There, in a field of sandy soil and long wispy grass, between Claycastle Beach and the railway line, we found a perfect playground for young imaginations.

We hired a green Morris Minor van to take us there. Into it we crammed sheets and blankets, summer clothes, Clarks sandals for best wear, shoe whitener for rubber dollies, buckets and spades, my new fishing rod, beach ball, football, swimming togs, as many children as could fit, and finally "Smuggler" our dog.

holiday times 1955With no room for us in the van, dad and I travelled by steam train. The stationmaster blew his whistle, waved his green flag, cried out "all aboard, all aboard", and with a blast from the steam powered whistle, we were off! The carriages swayed and made a clickety-clack sound on the tracks, as the train gathered speed. Dad would tell me be careful, as I stuck my head out the window to smell the thick black swirling smoke from the engine.

Though the journey was less than thirty miles, the seven stops along the way made me restless for the final destination-Cork-Little Island-Dunkettle-Cobh Junction-Carrigtwohill-Midleton-Mogeely-Killeagh-Youghal.

holiday times 1955When we got to Youghal, I ran from the train to set eyes on the scene I had been dreaming of all year ... waves crashing on the huge beach, with tall black wooden wave breakers stretching out into the sea. Oh the smell of the sea air!

The sight of the rock pools, the lighthouse, the mysterious Capel Island, "Perks Merries", the shop on the front strand with buckets and spades, fishing nets, beach balls, wind mills, sun glasses, and of course HB ice cream.

My brothers and sisters and I were encouraged by my parents to invite cousins and friends, so I remember my mother cheerfully cooking meals for up to ten people on a two burner paraffin stove.

We carried water in a bucket from a tap about a quarter of a mile away. It was a heavy load for a small boy, and tricky not to spill. I often arrived home with aching arms and just half a bucket full.

We played on the beach from sunrise to sunset, building sandcastles with moats and dams to stop the tide, and swimming until we got goose bumps. At low tide we explored the magical world of rock pools.

holiday times 1955"Perks Merries" was our Disney Land. I would usually be given about six pence pocket money, a little more if Dad came, and if used carefully it could last a long time, especially if I won on "roll-a-penny". One night Harry's father, my new holiday friend, gave me an extra sixpence to drive the Bumper cars.

I didn't want to take it; my parents wouldn't have approved, but his pronouncement of "holiday times!" became the mantra for good times that summer. We would end our night at the Merries, sitting on the beach wall, eating vinegary chips, listening to the new Rock & Roll music from Perks, talking and laughing.

I loved to lie in bed at night listening to the lonesome whistle of the steam train moving slowly along, engine chugging, bringing the sun burnt "day trippers" back home to Cork. I would blissfully drift off to sleep listening to the soothing sound of waves breaking on the shore, and gazing at the comforting bright yellow flame of the paraffin lamp.

The swallows swooping in acrobatic flight signalled the end of our summer holiday. Gathering noisily on the telephone wires, in readiness for their long trip to a land where it's always summer. Then it was time to bid farewell to new friends easily made. We promised to write and hoped to meet again the following year.

Going home by train, I sighed to look for the last time on our field between the sea and the railway line, where I had spent such happy, carefree days with my family and friends.

Back in Cork city, my sister knitted a royal blue jumper, for my new primary school, and mom carefully covered my books with brown paper.

My thoughts in class often drifted back to that magical field at Claycastle, as I struggled to pay attention to Brother Murray, his black soutan silhouetted against the autumn sunlight, blurred by floating specks of chalk dust.

I hope you enjoyed this story. Please share your Retirement Stories and Anecdotes! Everyone loves a great story and a super anecdote or two!

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