Most people would be inclined to disbelieve me if I were to tell them that some good came about, as a result of the wretched overcrowding; but the cloying proximity of the people of the slum made for loyalty to one's ilk. It provided protection from outsiders, quite a few paid dearly for entering the area with evil intent. Let us now meet some of the Lonoa* neighbours, as we scurry hither and yon through the warrens of Wavertree.
The neighbourly throng included the cornerstore merchants. The butcher, Mr Parker, had great empathy for the poor and without his free lights - a nickname for lungs, hearts and livers - and the tripe, sheep's heads and bones, we would have been hungrier yet. The fishmonger supplied us with fish unsold at the end of the day. Jackson's Bakery benevolently supplied our daily, stale bread; whereas Schofield's cornerstore allowed the purchase of bacon 'on tick'. For a mere penny, we could eat fish and chips from the fish and chip shop, or a piece of chocolate from Brownrigg's. Once Aggie Brownrigg caught me, and my friend Lilly Webb, with a whole layer of chocolate bars from a new box, stuffed into the frayed hems of our tattered tunics. She let us off lightly. Other neighbourly acts came from the pawnshop, where old Feinstein would forward money for articles often useless or possibly stolen. The local peddler, Mr Epstien, willingly extended credit for such luxuries as lace curtains.
Another compassionate neighbour was Mrs Sinclair, the spiritualist. She would forecast money in our fortunes, then rush to put some under our plate. One of my favourites was the old nightwatchman, who guarded the Corpy's property. He was the sentinel of the night, and would provide hot roast chestnuts to all the poor children who passed by. Another venerable group of neighbourly people were the Liverpool Police Force, without whom many a child would have starved to death. The police force were the silent benefactors to the needy, providing both food and clothing. Their generosity made them a well-loved group. The acts of these people of the slum areas nurtured me, strengthened me and gave me courage but, most of all, from them I learned compassion for my fellow man.
(Note: LONOA = Liberty, Oak, Nebo, Ono and Abyssinia Streets,
off Wellington Road, Wavertree)