The Great Lemonade Robbery
From Harry Foy's Book 'Growing up in Portadown in the Thirties and Forties'
One night in our gang's den, we planned "The Great Lemonade Robbery". We had noticed that a mineral lorry belonging to Brigg's of Belfast parked each Thursday at the side of Bacci's shop in Bridge Street (now a Chinese Restaurant). The driver would go inside for his dinner and, as he was sweet on one of the girls who worked there, he was never in a hurry to leave. Thursday was a quiet day in the town because of the early closing and so it was suitable for the intended raid.
The gang was divided into sections. While the driver was in Bacci's, some members climbed on the lorry and handed full crates down to the waiting, eager hands. The cases were carried to the nearby field where we had our den. We emptied them and carried the cases back to the lorry. The purloined bottles were hidden around the perimeter of the field and covered with cut grass.
In less than an hour the gang, numbering about thirty in all had stripped the lorry of every bottle of lemonade and left it with just empty cases. We headed off to Selshion Moss to await darkness. After tea we all met at the den. Six large nails hammered into the woodwork of the hoarding acted as bottle openers. What a selection we had for our party - orange, cream soda, sarsaparilla, ginger and raspberry. By bedtime we were all sick of lemonade. The party, however, continued over the weekend.
On Monday morning, a surprise was waiting for us at school. Master Carragher came around each class and read out a list of names. Those called had to go to the Science Room. Awaiting us was the lorry driver and Stephen Houston, caretaker of the telephone exchange in Bridge Street South, who had witnessed the raid from an upstairs window.
So that there would be no adverse publicity for the school, it was agreed that the school would pay for the stolen lemonade but each of those involved had to bring in 3d per week until all was paid for. This meant that we had to go without the trips to the cinema and our sweets for months on end.
Strange as it may seem, our parents never learned of "The Great Lemonade Robbery".
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