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by Robert Donaldson

Being only six years old at the time of the 1926 General Strike and obviously too young to know what was happening, there had to be something that stamped the memory of the soup kitchen on my mind. Most of my generation recall going along to Cuthill School to be served with a bowl of soup and a bread roll. It was several years later before I really understood why.
When the pits were working I used to walk along the coast road to meet my father coming home. I would be lifted on his shoulders and carried home. Like his mates, my father was black with coal dust but as there were no baths or sinks in our houses prior to the early nineteen thirties, he had to make do with a tin bath filled with water heated on the kitchen range. I often sat and watched him scrubbing the dirt off with my mother waiting with more water to rinse away any dirty water left on him.
Ours was a mining community and while life was most certainly hard for our elders, we, the children, never found life tedious, except possibly on Sundays. There seemed to be something mysterious in the way we all started playing the same games at certain periods during the year. Two such games were marbles and chestnuts. Everyone played and stopped at the same time. Then the all year round games would start up again. Boys up and down rows would be playing kick the can, "leevo", "hunch-cuddy-hunch" and even with the girls at "peevers". The girls had their own games too, mainly skipping or "peevers". The variety of games are too numerous to list or describe. All those games could be played with very little interference from adults, who seemed to prefer knowing where the children were simply by going to the door to check. Any interference was usually in the form of a call to dinner or to run a message. Life in Prestonpans now is so different that the housing schemes are like graveyards, compared to life around the miners' rows fifty odd years ago.
Football was always the favourite game and the lack of money to buy a full size ball was not allowed to hinder us. Tennis balls or rags bound with string would be pressed into service and it was not uncommon to see heading-the-ball competitions going on, using the same resources. The area
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