Little Billy Started Tough Guy®
This is little Billy Wilson aged 8 years old. This was Saturday morning and each child had to queue at the gasworks in 1945 to collect ½ cwt of coke in a handmade cart or old pram or a sack on a strong back.
Little Billy Wilson had to push his pram a mile uphill from Dunstall to North Road/Red Cross Street. On the way home he had to pass through 3 different gang territories and suffer the punishment of passing through. The Hill street Gang would sit him in the pram and push him back down the hill. Sometimes Little Billy managed to steer the pram for 500 yards to skid the wall and step. Sometimes the pram would tip over and the coke had to be reloaded by hand, this pleased the Hilly Gang but either way Little Billy would once again push his pram through their territory.
The worst was the Stafford Street Gang. Torture, teasing and penance forfeits was their bag. One day they captured Little Billy and marched him to Bone Mill Lane where an overhead railway bridge steep bank was scaled. Little Billy was tied by his hands to the railway line. The train could be seen approaching because of a big bend to the right. The trick forfeit was to roll sideways to let the train cut the string that tied Little Billy’s hands. Little Billy then cleaned his hands on the grass of the embankment, got behind his pram and pushed it without a murmur through Stafford Street Gang territory.
Then suffering the punishment for being late home which was a severe scolding from Mom. If Father Arthur was home it could be any number of punishments, from being locked in the dark spider cellar, a thrashing with that big leather belt or stand in the corner to have darts thrown at or worst of all was the hot poker.
Father Arthur was once a talented man but first the man took a drink, then the drink took a drink, then the drink took the man. He gave his soul to the Devil and the Devil took him to within an inch of his life when his drunken wanderings took him into dangerous territory. He became a cabbage with damaged brain and body.
Little Billy’s mother was born in Birmingham Workhouse and was brought up by good Catholic nuns/Sisters. She appreciated the Church all of her life and devoted her life after rearing her children to follow the teachings of Jesus. She took father Arthur in his cabbage state of a rocking imbecile and cared for him in his last ten years.
hat is a hard act to follow.