'And finally, not everyone’s being doing topical. In fact, here’s the rather lovely 6 Oxgangs Avenue devoted to the history of the development of the area, this week highlighting how the block of flats came into being. Could have been prompted by Who do you think you are? Or just a timely reminder that not everything worth blogging about is in the here and now.'

Kate Higgins, Scottish Roundup 26/08/2012

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Entrepreneurs At The Stair No 1 Jumble Sales

There was an distinct divide in The Stair between those children who had part time jobs whilst attending school and those who didn't. Many of The Blades; and The Hoggs; and the The Hoffmanns all had paper runs; or milk runs; or served petrol at the National Garage; or sold potatoes from a van, To my knowledge The Hanlons; The Duffys; The Swansons; and Norman Stewart never had jobs for much of the decade of the 1960s, although now that I think about it I think Boo-Boo Hanlon joined Iain Hoffmann selling potatoes from the Tattie Van on Sundays.

The reasons why they didn't work varied from household to household. Norman Stewart perhaps didn't need the money or have the inclination; The Swansons didn't appear to have the freedom to come out to play when they wanted to, so there was little chance their parents would have countenanced them venturing out to work on dark winter mornings-I suspect Molly and Dougal would have been more cautious too in terms of health & safety as well as ensuring nothing got in the way of Heather or Gavin achieving their academic potential.

The Hanlons were interesting-Hilda and Charlie Hanlon ran a tight ship-a considerable achievement with four energetic boys separated by not much more than a hand-full of years. All the boys behaved well despite playing with all their peers, but were called in at an earlier time than the rest of us-the loss of four players could spoil a good going game of football! Whilst they might complain in a minor way, they would always go home when told.

Out-with receiving their Friday Treat from their father one wouldn't see them spending money on sweets, ice cream or comics-so they're needs seemed to be small. They seemed to be a halfway house between The Swansons and the rest of the children, although none of the boys were academic. Because of having less freedom and autonomy, it would have been surprising if they had been allowed out early in the morning to work.

There is a difference between working and being entrepreneurial. The best example at The Stair was Douglas Blades' milk run business which he developed at Wester Hailes. Two of mine featured a summer holiday chip shop and also promoting jumble sales.

My jumble sales were unlike Norrie Stewart's scatters. First of all there was a small entry fee of a penny to be paid at the gate entrance to the back garden. My primary money spinner was placing a shilling in the centre of a bucket filled with water. Participants had to drop-more usually slide a penny in to the water. If the shilling was covered by the penny, then the shilling was won-a very rare happening-I must have worked out the odds! If the shilling was slightly over-lain by the penny then the customer got their penny back. As well as being a guaranteed money spinner it generated some excitement as a spectacle, which of course was good for business-keep an orderly line now!

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