The Sally Army, 1958

They would come, marching into Appleby Street in North Shields just like a squad of soldiers on parade.

On Sundays some days, us kids were tortured beyond belief.

Regularly as clockwork the Sally Army would come round the area playing their tunes.  Now, if you like this type of thing it was champion, but to us it was just a racket and drove us mad.  Here they would come, marching into Appleby Street in North Shields just like a squad of soldiers on parade, to the beat of a drum.  Once in the centre of the street they would form a circle, just like a wagon train would do being attacked by Indians.  Then the bandmaster would lift up his baton and away they went in full blast.

They would do a few tunes and people would come out of their houses, have a bit gossip to the collector and put a couple of coppers in their collecting tin.  When the last tune was finished they would again regroup and off they would march around the corner to the next street, which was Victoria Street.  Of course we would be marching behind, bringing up the rear.  I cannot remember when the Sally Army stopped going round the streets on a Sunday but I bet if they tried it today the kids would lynch them for causing a racket, good cause or not.

Another thing I remember is that years later, when we started to go out into the pubs drinking, as if by magic here would appear one of the Sally Army selling the Watch Tower and The War Cry.  We would pay him NOT to give us one.  If nothing else they had a sense of humour, that’s for sure.

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