Today’s song is ‘Oh Boy’. This song was a song written by Sonny West, Bill Tilghman and Norman Petty. The song was included on the album “The ‘Chirping’ Crickets” and was also released as the A-side of a single, with ‘Not Fade Away’ as the B-side. The song peaked at Number 10 on the US charts, and Number 3 on the UK charts in early 1958.
‘Oh Boy!’ has been covered by numerous groups and singers. It was covered by British glam rock group Mud in 1975 and reached Number 1 where it remained for two weeks on the ‘UK Singles Chart’. It was the band's third and final UK Number 1 hit. It was included on their album ‘Mud Rock Volume 2’, which reached Number 6 in the ‘UK Albums Chart’. Other versions include : Sonny West (1957): Paul Rich (1958): Bobby Vee (1963): Jackie De Shannon (1964): Pavel Bobec and Olympic (1964): The Rivieras (1964): The Everly Brothers (1967): Melanie (1978): The Shadows (1982): Alvin and the Chipmunks (1989): Connie Francis (1996): The Stray Cats (1996): Hank Marvin (1996): Daniel O’Donnell (2004) and many others.
When this song was first released in 1958, I was almost 16 years of age, and ‘Oh Boy’ was I full of myself! I had just emerged from a three-year period which saw me hospitalised for nine months after a life-threatening accident and was then unable to walk for almost three years.
After regaining my walking ability, instead of carrying on at school to obtain my GCE ‘0’ and ‘A-level’ examinations, I couldn’t wait a moment to start work and earn enough money to put some decent clothes on my back and some good leather shoes on my feet.
There were many things about working in the mill that all textile workers of my day will know about; customs and practices that only old mill hands are acquainted with. For a start, every new boy who started work in the mill would never get past his first day without being ‘baptised’. Unlike the Baptist Church, where there is full water emersion during their ritual service, all new-boy workers to the mill are given a textile 'dry rubbing' during their first day at work.
The new boy is given a fool's errand by the foreman or a senior workmate that invariably takes them through the 'Winding Department' where two dozen women worked.
With their work being so warm and sweaty, none of the women wore bras and most of them worked with their dresses tucked up to waist height and tied in a bow above their bottoms; thereby revealing their thighs and knickers (if knickers were worn during working hours).
After 'clocking in' on a morning, when the women arrived at their winding machines, before starting their work for the day, they'd often remove all of their undergarments (going 'commando'), and remain bare-bottomed until the end of the work shift. They would bunch their dresses up in a bow, allowing air to make its way to their undercarriage every time the rubber doors to their department were opened and closed; thereby creating a welcomed draught to cool their southern regions. Whenever the door was opened to the Winding Shed, the winding women would quickly untie their knotted dresses and allow them to fall back into their natural length, to preserve their dignity and good name. After the male visitor had left their department, before re-bunching and tying their dresses back up, the women would waft them like Can Can dancers to circulate the cool air all around their private parts. ‘Oh boy’, one good eyeful was enough to keep any hot-blooded male going for a full 8-hour shift.
However, all the mill women knew that none of the new boys aged 15 years would ever have been in the presence of two dozen busty women; none of whom gave a flying fig biscuit for polite convention. It was a laid-on certainty that no new boy starting at the mill would ever have been previously subjected to the ‘Textile Baptismal Experience’. This male mill induction would always distinguish the rough from the smooth crop of new entrant besides indicating which new boy would not return to his job the next day and which new boy would stay in the job long enough to become an 'old boy' on the shop floor.
When the new boy first innocently enters the Winding Shed, before they'd walked six feet, they'd realise that they'd been set up. An army of randy women would jump them, pulling them to the ground like a young heifer that was due for branding. Once grounded, the new boy would be held down and stripped naked below the waist, After their trousers had been pulled down, they'd then have their pecker pulled until it either hardened in youthful surprise or wilted in humiliating disgrace; after which it would be closely examined and spat on by the earthiest breed of women ever to emerge from the female cesspits of Heckmondwike and Cleckheaton. Most of the Winders were full-bodied women who looked like willing wenches on a Friday night behind the Working Men’s Club, and all swore worse than a sergeant major drilling his new recruits.
The first time a new boy at the mill was given a bogus task that involved him entering and passing through the Winding Shed, he would be fully clothed as he naively walked through the big rubber doors at one side of the Winding Shed, and would be as buck naked as the maternity nurse first saw him when he shamefully ran through the rubber doors at the other side of the Winding Shed with his hands covering his privates. His run of shame would always be observed by the rest of the mill hands jeering and jibing at his exposed manhood and slapping his cold arse with an oily rag as he ran the ‘Baptismal Gauntlet’.
Once one got used to mill life, it was one of the happiest times one could hope to have. It certainly contained the happiest of years I could remember. I will never forget the days out to Blackpool which the mill owners provided every spring. They were legendary. Everyone who filled the bus was out for a good time; and after a day’s drinking, all manner of hanky panky took place on the journey home.
During the bus ride back home, some passenger would request that the inside bus lights be switched off by the driver to allow one to sleep. Such would be a signal to all romantic passengers to engage in a bit of 'this and that' before alighting at their destination. It didn’t seem to matter too much who did what to whom, how and what with, as whatever took place on the darken bus ride home, stayed on the bus!
‘Oh Boy’, what carryings-on there was for a young man of 15-going-on-16 years of age to get a grip of? There used to be a saying by the older men in the mill which they told to every new boy who'd been baptised, “There’s much worse lad than being pulled down by a woman doing the dirty! Much worse".
'Oh boy’, I loved those mill days; and if the mill was still operating, you would now catch me running back and forth willingly through that Winding Shed all day long.
I dedicate my song today to my Facebook friend, Steven Spencer, from Stalybridge. Thank you for being my friend, Steven. Have a nice day. Bill x
Love and peace Bill xxx