Where do you live?, not an offensive question, perhaps a little unusual, perhaps a bit nosy but harmless nonetheless, I’m sure you would all agree. However, in Northern Ireland as I was growing up in the 1950’s it was indeed an essential and a two part question to ask a girl. Imagine a young man at a Saturday night dance, he asks a pretty young girl to dance . As they whirl around the ballroom he doesn’t asks, “do you come here often”? doesn’t say you are a marvelous dancer, he asks “where do you live”. An important question if he plans to ask her for another dance later, or if he perhaps plans and hopes to walk her home after the dance. The all important question,”where do you live”, provides him with vital information, knowing that gives him a good idea of her religion. Belfast would probably never admit to it but it is/was a city segregated/divided along separate Catholic-Protestant areas. For a protestant youth to ask a catholic girl for a date would surely end in failure from the outset, not too mention the possible dangers involved. Allow me to relate an experience I once had at the Plaza Dance hall. I saw this beautiful young girl sitting alone. I was immediately captivated by her loveliness and asked her to dance, we danced together the whole evening. I was certain I was in love!(I was only 15) and asked to walk her home. Alas, I had forgotten to ask that all important question “where do you live”. She agreed and we left the dance hall arm in arm, she only lived a few blocks away. As we approached her street she stopped me at the corner and said she would go the rest of the way alone. I bravely or maybe foolishly tried to insist I walk her to her front door, she firmly refused. She explained if her father caught her out with a protestant she would get a beating. He would then probably send her older brothers after me. Good sense prevailed, we kissed tenderly and then parted going our separate ways. I was never to see her again. How sad and stupid, this inane hatred between Catholic and Protestant causing two innocent young people to separate merely because of their differing religions. Now!! Remember I said it was a two part question???
You may still be wondering about the second part ? I once ask to see a girl home after a Saturday night dance, can remember how but I already knew she was protestant so neglected to ask her that all important question ‘Where do you Live”, Hell!!! she lived on the opposite side of town, cost me a fortune in bus fares to get her home. Then I missed the last bus back to the city and had to walk for miles and hours, it was near 3am when I arrived home.(remember I was only 15) I don`t think I ever saw her again either, if I did I certainly didn’t ask to see her home again.
God Bless and keep reading