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Roy French (1938 - 1940s)

A thank you to Mr. Livingingston for maintaining this web site.

I came upon it somewhat by accident. My children, grandchildren and great grandchildren have been urging me to document our family ancestry. To that end we acquired our first computer although I personally am very much computer illiterate.

However, I am learning a little more each day. On a hunch I searched Google for Elmgrove School and, lo & behold, there it was.

I was born in Woodlee Street, in 1934. Right around the corner from Elmgrove. Moved to Dunraven Avenue and finally to Hollycroft Avenue just further along Beersbridge Road from the school.

Teachers'  names that come to mind include Mr. Sullivan, the principal. I was not in Mr. Mark's class but I suspect everyone knew "Baldy". I'm sure he knew the nickname although the students invariably addressed him as "sir".

It would never happen to-day but, Mrs. Shearer had a class that to-day would probably be called home economics. Boys were included and we were actually taught to knit. Always recall my first effort was a red, green and black scarf. These were the colours of Glentoran the football team that played at the Oval.

At almost 70 my memory is a little dim but I think Mr. Preston taught an art class. Mr. Fulton, whom I highly respected in grade 8, also taught the agriculture class that looked after the plot at the back of the school. That was my introduction to gardening and is a favourite hobby to this day.

I was never much of an athelete although I did try out for the school football team, prompted by the fact my uncle, Johnny "Chit" Geary had played for Glentoran and had a few International "caps" Alas, the talent and ability did not filter down to my level. The fact that Billy Bingham, Eddie Witherspoon, Norman Reid etc., were on the team did not leave much room for lesser lights. My memory can't be too bad as I recall Bingham played outside right, Witherspoon left back and Reid inside left. Those positions don't exist in to-day's modern football.

Should mention I always had a crush for Billy's sister Janet. Unfortunately the sentiment was not reciprocated.

I always looked forward to the swimming trips to Templemore Avenue Baths. The little triangular red bikinis the boys had to wear would be considered very risque, even by to-days' standards. Swimming I was reasonably competent at and was a member of Neptune Swim Club and played goal for the water polo team.

I delivered newspapers for McClugan's shop for a few years, while still at Elmgrove. In the mornings, before school, it was the Whig, Irish Times and the Newsletter. After school it was the magazines such as Woman's Own etc. In the evening it was the Tele (Belfast Telegraph). On Saturday we also had to deliver the "Ulster" (Ireland's Saturday Night). Ater the Ulster delivery we picked up our pay and went straight to Annie's Fish & Chips.

Other stores (shops) I remember well were Hunniford's (fruit & vegetables), Gilmour's (Butcher) Lowry's(Cleaners) and Saye's(Barber Shop)

Family finances did not allow for additional education and in 1948 (at age 14) I was hired as a junior clerk at the Anchor Line, on Great Victoria Street, near the Albert Clock. Initially went to work on my bicycle. Later used the train from the Knock Station. At 17 acquired a Velocette motorcycle. Great except when it rained, which was fairly often.

I was a member of Maryland Wheeler's Bicycle Club and almost every week end went Youth Hostelling. 

Learned to dance at Betty Staff's and John Dossor's.

Couldn't afford going to the Ritz, Classic or Hippodrome pictures very often. Mostly to the Astoria, Strand, Ambassador and the Winkie (Willowfield). The front rows at the Willowfield were benches without backs. They had Saturday matinee's which cost one penny. Mostly cartoons and serials like Flash Gordon.

My hobby was short wave and ham radio. Could not afford my own equipment so joined the YMCA radio club. Call sign GI6YM. Never did get my own ticket.

Emigrated to Canada in 1952. Worked mostly in sales and marketing in the electrical industry. Retired as vice-president, marketing, for Thorn - EMI Ltd. (A U.K. based company) which had, and may still have, a branch operation in Belfast.

To keep me out of mischief, I now work part time at a large Do-it-Yourself home renovation store, Home Depot, which most Canadian and U.S. residents can identify with. (Mr. Fulton would not appreciate seeing a sentence ending with a preposition.

It is 55 years since I attended Elmgrove but I would appreciate hearing from anyone who attended in the same time frame.

Roy French