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John's Story - Chapter 3

I never saw Mister again. He went away. Everybody went away.

I donít have any photos to show him. Theyíre all in a trunk.

We live in a new town now. I go to a new school. The teachers are all Brothers. I donít know any of their names. We do sums and learn our catechism.

My big brother Barry and Mama and Daddy and me live over Mr. Monsonís shop. Mr. Monson sells furniture. Heís bald, and heís nice.

Barry is a Linotype operator. He took me to see where he works. The machinery is huge, far huger than Aunt Marieís and Uncle Johnís. Uncle John is fun. I think heís afraid of Aunt Marie. Aunt Marie tells him off. She gets cross with people when they make mistakes. Sheís always cross with Frank Bourke when she catches a mistake in spelling. One day I imitated her being cross. I didnít see her, but she saw me. She saw me waving my arms pretending to be angry, and she heard me. She laughed, and laughed. Aunt Marie isnít so bad.

After we stayed with Aunt Marie and my Uncle John we came here to Sligo to live with Barry. Before that he was a boarder with Mrs. Riordan.

One day Barry took me on a long walk to see a whale. It had washed up at Strandhill.

It had died and was smelly. It had a big, big head.

Another day the whole town was excited. An aeroplane landed in the middle of Wine Street. A man got out, folded up the wings, and drove away just like a car. I want a car with foldy wings when I grow up. I could go anywhere. Mama says people will have rockets on their backs some day. She would like that.

Another day Barry took me for a long walk and he talked about God. I told Mama he should have gone to the monkery instead of Brian.

Me and Daddy go on walks down to the harbour. Thereís a ship always tied up there. Itís called the Tartar. Daddy tells me stories. Daddy knows everything, about Queen Maeve, and the big graves, and ships, and badger holes, and ferrets. Mama makes fun and asks does he know how to put on his trousers over his head. Nobody knows. I stopped trying when my arms got tired.

Barry has a girl. Her name is Gladys. She likes puffed cracknels. I donít. Gladys has a brother named Dermot. Dermot has a wireless shop across the street. Me and Mama went to visit Mrs. Taheny. Mrs. Taheny asked if I wanted to help make the tea. I was bored listening to the big people talk and put the tea in the teapot, one spoonful for everyoneóI counted them all--and one for the pot. When they poured it out everybody laughed at me. I felt awful.

Mr. and Mrs. Taheny lived "up the Line". I never saw the line. Mr Taheny took me for a ride in his motor car. He is a nice man. And he tells funny stories. He said his mother once sent him to the shop for a half pound of tea, and he didnít return home for eighteen years. When his mother asked what kept him, he said he had gone to America.

But he remembered to bring her home the half pound of tea!

One day I got a crush on a girl. I didnít know what a crush was. She was beautiful. I told Mama about her, and brought Mama to see her. She worked at the sweet counter in a shop in OíConnell Street. I told Mama I wanted to marry her when I grew up.

When I was at school we were taught singing. One day I was told to go to the Cathedral to practice in the choir. It was in the evening, and when I went I couldnít find the right door, so I went home.

Next day I was sent back again, and told where the door was. Then I climbed a whole lot of steps and stairs, and there was a man in front of a bunch of boys. He thought I had been there all along and asked me some questions about what he had taught them. I didnít know the answers. He was cross so I never went back there again.

Another day there was great excitement when the Bishopís Palace burned down.

Brian came home from college on his holidays. There were fights, and you could hear them over the radio. Barry and Brian got to stay up to hear them in the middle of the night. I begged, and begged, and one time Daddy woke me up and let me listen. The man was all excited on the radio. I donít know who won Ďcos I fell asleep again.

Barry plays the violin and practices every day. His instructor is Mr. Franklin. Mr. Franklin says he is gifted.

Barry has to dress up when he plays in competitions. He wears a dicky-bird tie and a dress suit. Mama has a photo of him with cups he won at the Feis Ceoil. He is a real classical violinist everybody says.

One day a man came to demonstrate a vacuum cleaner. Itís a new sort of machine that makes a noise and sucks up dirt. He pushed it over the carpet and then emptied the dirt. There was a big pile and Mama had to clean it up afterwards.

My Uncle John came one day and brought me to the pictures. Tom Mix is the greatest cowboy in the whole wide world! And heís never afraid of anyone. He shoots bad guys, and Indians, and stage robbers. I want to be a cowboy when I grow up.

Daddy has gone to Dublin. Itís far away. I miss him. But he remembered my birthday, and sent me a birthday card with a shilling in the corner. You could see the shilling through the envelope. He said we would join him soon.

We had an auction before we went to join Daddy in Dublin. I donít remember much, but Mama was sad as the furniture and things were sold and taken away, even the cushions that Daddy had hand painted. They had big red roses on them. But she kept Daddyís paint box. I miss looking at the pictures in the books. There was one of dead soldiers. They looked horrible. They had no skin, and there was dead horses. When Mama saw me looking at the pictures she took the book away.

Barry and Gladys got married. Mama and me went to live with Daddy in Dublin.

I missed seeing the Tartar.

Footnote: Sligo was the place where John went to the Marist Brothers school. Wine Street was where The Sligo Champion had its printing works. Mr. Monsonís furniture store was on Market Street.

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