Street Traders an life aroon the Castlegate 1920s- 1930s
by: Constitution Court Oral History Group (Rosie Allan, Madge McDermott, Jim McDonald, Chrissie Yule, Betty Robertson, John Flett)
A fish wifie eesed tae come ower frae Fittie sellin fish. She ay wore a blue an white strippit skirt wi a black shawl roon her heid, an auld bauchles on her feet. They aa wore claes like thon, the fisher fowk ower in Fittie back in the 1920s. She wannert aboot the streets wi a creel on her back, cryin 'Caller Herrin'.
The fish wifie wid sell ye a dizzen herrin fur an auld shillin...ay, a baker's dizzen, that wis thirteen fish, nae twelve. Of coorse ye'd tae gut them yersel, bit we didna think onything aboot that. In her skirt pooches she cairriet buckies, that ye could buy tae bile in a pan for yer tea. Efter ye biled them, ye'd pick oot the buckies wi a preen tae eat them.
She cairriet a basket ower her airm wi a double flap, an it wis fu o dulse. Dulse tastes like fish, a fishy taste, seaweed, ye ken. It's affa gweed for ye, fu o iron an iodine.
Tae cook it, ye laid yer dulse oot on a flat boord, an ye stapt the poker inno the fire till it wis reid hett. Then, ye rolled the reid hett iron ower the dulse, back an forrit, back an forrit till it wis crisp. Oh, it wis a richt fine taste! Of course, we bedd aside the beach, sae we didna buy dulse frae the Fittie wifie, we gaithered wir ain dulse.
She took the bus oot intae the country, an wauked roon the fairms sellin fish there, tee. A lot o the fairm weemin bartered wi her an insteid o pyin her they'd swap a chucken fur a puckle fish. Her creel ay cam back as fu as it gaed awa, wi slabs o butter, fresh veggies, an mebbe a bittie bacon. We'd a wee rhyme we sang aboot fish. It gings like this:
Peter Rennie eatin fish
Alec catchin eels
Eels catchin Alec's feet
Eatin raw peels.
If yer mither needed milk fur yer breakfast, ye cud stop the milkie an buy a jug o it. The milkie hid twa urns o milk, an he traivelled roon in a gig pued bi ae shelt. The weemin war affa fond o the shelt. They'd send their bairns oot wi a heelie o breid fur the horsie. It wis fed aawye it
gaed. Here's a wee sang aboot a horsie an food:
My mither said I must go,
Wi ma daddy's denner-oh,
Chappit tatties beef an steak,
Twa reid herrin an a bawbee cake.
I cam tae a river an I cudna get across,
I pyed five shillin fur an auld blin horse.
I jumped on its back an I gaed it sic a crack,
That I made it daunce the polkie
Till the boat cam back!
THE TIMMER MAIRKET
The nicht afore the Timmer mairket, aa the bairns in oor street eesed tae sing this sang:
The morn's the Timmer Mairket,
We'll aa be dressed in blue,
A blue ribbon in wir hair,
An a sweetie in wir moo
Ma brither hid a stallie in the Timmer mairket, jist ower frae the Sally Army ha. He selt tin pluffers, an he made toy widden barras an corn craiks. Corn craiks war rattles, 6 or 8 inches lang, that ye swung roon an roon tae makk a soon. Fowk took them tae fitba matches, bit efter a while they war banned frae Pittodrie, because ye see, ye cud get an affa clatter on the lug wi a corn craik, so it wis classed as a dangerous weapon.
Ye cud buy feather dusters at ma brither's stallie as weel, an timmer pegs, onything widden. If a littlin's faither wis flush, he micht buy the littlin a scooter, it wis made wi timmer an aa. Ye stood on the scooter wi ae fit, an pushed it ower the cassies wi anither. It made some soon, the timmer wheels duntin ower the steen cassies...rick-ma-tick-ma-tick
Candy Belle the sweetie seller eesed tae come tae the Timmer Mairket. She wis wee an stoot. If ye gied yer a hauf penny, she'd sell ye a pyoke fu o sugar smush...broken bitties o sweeties. Candy Belle twisted a page o a newspaper inno a cone shape, and poored the sweeties inno that. There wis nae plastic, aathing wis rowed in paper.
In the summer, Fool Friday wid be there sellin ice cream. In the winter, he roastit an selt chestnuts. Fool Friday wis Italian, ye see, a din-skinned craitur. The rikk frae the roastin chestnuts made his face an hauns darker than they war tae stert wi. He traivelled aboot pushin a wheeled cairtie..an he wisna bonnie. He didna shave aften, an he wore an auld suit wi a paddy hat, een o yon saft bowler hats. He eesed tae ging tae Markies tae prigg for bladdit fruit tae mak it intae wine.
Yorkie wis a favourite attraction wi lots o fowk. He wis a one-man-band. Yorkie hid clappers tied tae his legs, cymbols, ye ken, an cairried a big drum on his back, wi sticks strapped roon his elbows tae beat the drum. He'd a moothie hung roon his neck tae sook an blaw intae, and he'd even clappers tied tae his oxters! Afore Yorkie tied on aa his instruments, he ran ben the street tummlin the cat. He wis an acrobat in a circus at ae time, likely he'd been wi een o the traivellin circuses that eesed tae pitch their tents on the links. We didna get in tae see the circuses, it wis ower dear, bit we used tae watch the boxers fechtin in the booths ootside.
The verra first day I gaed tae King Street schule, masel an anither five loons war teen oot an belted fur spikkin. I widna dee a thing I wis telt efter that, it pit me clean aff the schule. Some o the puirer bairns, fa's fowk cudna afford sheen, got parish beets...beets haundit oot bi the parish. And parish beets hid eyelet holes punched in the sides o them, like the holes ye get in the front o sheen tae lace up yer pynts. This wis tae stop fowk pawnin the beets. If ye took a pair o parish beets tae the pawn shop, they kent richt aff fit they war and far ye'd got them, an they widna gie ye money for them.
I didna like ma parish beets. Fin I set aff fur schule in the mornin,I stopped at an auld crumbly waa an pued oot a brick. Then I took aff ma parish beets and hid them inno the hole, an shoved the brick back again. Onywye, ae day a quine in ma class noticed an she clyped tae the teacher. 'Please Miss, John's not wearing his boots'.
Efter schule, on the wye hame, I stoppit at the wa tae takk the parish beets oot an pit them on ma feet again. I saw a bike lyin in oor close, an I thocht 'Fit fine! Ma aunty's cycled ower tae visit us. I'll get a fine piece fur ma tea.' An I ran up the stair an in at the door.
Bit it wisna ma auntie ower tae visit us at aa. It wis the teacher, ower tae tell ma mither I'd bin gaun barfit an hidna bin weirin ma beets.'Fit's this I'm hearin aboot you nae weirin yer sheen!' said ma mither.
In the playground, we eesed tae hae coalie-bag fechts. Ane o us wid jump on the ither's back, a rider an a horsie, an we'd find anither pair. The riders wid skelp ane anither till somebody fell aff the horsie. Anither game wis Humfy-dig. Ye hoppit on ae fit, an banged ane anither wi yer shooders till ye knocked somebody ower.
Winter wis ay gweed fun, wi snaa baa fechts, an lang slidies ye cud skyte doon made o hard packit ice.
If I got scunnered an winted a change, I wauked tae Rosemount tae see Cockie Hunter's zoo. Cockie Hunter hid a big shoppie in the Castlegate, ye cud buy aathing frae a needle tae an anchor there, mangles, wash tubs, tin baths, scrubbin boords, dishes, mirrors....aathing wis biggit up in piles, wi wee roadies through aa the stuff so ye cud wauk through the shop. Bit afore he ained that shoppie, Cockie Hunter bedd in Rosemount, and I used tae sneak ower his dyke tae look at his zoo.
He keepit monkeys there in cages, sittin squeakin an flechin, an I eence thocht I saw a crocodile there. I wis affa feart, bit then somebody telt me it wis jist a lizard. Green, it wis, wi its tongue sheetin oot an in...
Cockie himsel ay wore a broon suit an a bunnet. He keepit guinea pigs, tee, in cages. Fowk wid ging in tae see the zoo, an buy something fin they war there. Oh, he wisna feel, Cockie Hunter!