MY LIFE FROM BIRTH UNTIL 1941 NANCY MCARTHUR (NEE RUSSELL)
Throughout a long lifetime my children and grandchildren have asked me to write down some of the many anecdotes which I have told them happened to me during my lifetime, and as it seems to them that I have a story to tell, I decided that when I retired from my work as a cashier in a printers office in December 1979, I would scribble down some of these incidents that I thought might interest them. The following pages are the result of these scribbles.
I was born on the 26th of May 1919 in a ground floor room and kitchen house in a tenement building at No. 42 Gourlay Street, Springburn, Glasgow, and was baptised Agnes Cameron Russell by the Rev. Mr. Gilchrist of Johnston’s church, Springburn, a few months later. My family consisted at that time of my mother, whose maiden name was Agnes Ferguson Cameron, my father Peter Russell whose trade was a brass moulder, and four sisters, namely, Marion Dick Russell, Mary McAllister Russell, Sarah Cameron Russell, and Anne Dick Russell. There was another sister Grace, who had died in February 1919 when she was only two and a half years old, and at the time of my birth three months later, my mother was in deep grief. My sisters were doing everything in their power to soften the bitter blow of Grace’s death, and they told me later that some of our friends knitted a beautiful shawl, with wool as fine as a spiders web, and another shawl of cashmere with long fringes. I was told that with all the nice clothes that neighbours and relatives gave me, my sisters used to quarrel over who should take me out, so that they could show off their baby sisters finery. I was told that one of my uncles laid eight half-crowns on my frock like buttons, and that was a lot of money in these early nineteen hundreds. The door to our house was in the close, and there were two other families with houses in the same close. The tenement had three stories, with three families on each story, making twelve families in that one close. I lived in this house for nine years, and as I recall the main door was on the left hand side of the close. If you were not one of the family there was a brass knob mounted on a brass plate. This knob was attached by a wire to a bell, and when it was pulled the bell rang out. There was a panel of glass above the front door which allowed some light into the lobby. On opening the front door you entered the lobby and turning to your right you were facing the kitchen door. Opening this door you were facing with the sink and the swan necked cold water tap beneath it. On the left of the sink, and at right angles to it, there was a cupboard where mother kept her groceries and pots and pans, and a the back of the press door there was a box with a lid, and this was where the cooking salt was kept. Next to this press was our half-range where all the cooking and heating of water took place. There was a fender in front of the grate where the children would sit getting the pleasure of the heat from the coal fire. Sometimes we toasted bread while sitting on the fender, holding the slice of bread with a long wire fork. There was a two ring gas stove on the range, which could be lifted up to leave space at the top of the range for pots or our large black iron soup pot. At the end of the range there was a large chest of drawers where most of the household linen, towels and clothes were kept, and this brought you to within a foot of the inset bed where my parents slept. This bed was about six feet by four feet approximately, and about four feet from the floor there were supports fitted to the wall to hold wooden slats which measured four feet by four inches by half an inch. My mother had a mattress which was filled with flock, and sheets and blankets would complete the bed furnishings. There was what was called a pond, which was like a curtain which covered the space under the bed, and hid from sight a large zinc bath, a hamper, and anything that was not in every day use. As there was no bathroom the zinc bath would be brought out at intervals, usually Friday night, and all the children would be washed in this bath which was placed in front of the fire. Father would have pots and kettles on the hob of the range, keeping a supply of hot water for the bodies needing bathing. Mother would bathe us and father would lift us out of the bath, dry us and get us ready for bed. On the wall opposite the fireplace there was a bunker which could hold three or four hundred weights of coal, and above the bunker was a long shelf where candle-sticks, jelly pan, tureens, and best dishes were displayed. The centre of the floor in the kitchen was taken up by the kitchen table which was about four long and three feet broad. It had two drawers at the side where all the cutlery and cooking utensils were kept. Father had a wooden arm chair, and there were six other wooden chairs. Entering the lobby from the kitchen, on the right hand wall there was a door, and this was our toilet. Not every tenement house had an inside toilet, most families shared a toilet which was situated on the half-landing, and depending on the size of the three families living on that storey, there could be as many eighteen people sharing that one toilet. At the end of the lobby there was the bedroom door, and entering through this door you were facing the window, which looked on to the street. The furnishings in the bedroom consisted of two double beds and a large mahogany wardrobe. As I grew older I remember my sisters Marion, Sadie, Mary and Anne all sleeping in one of these double beds. They slept with two heads up and two heads down, and in the other bed I slept with my sisters, Margaret and Winnie. Our family was complete when my brother Peter was born, and he slept in a cot at the side of my parents bed in the kitchen. All the floors of our house were covered with linoleum, and I do not remember any carpets in the Gourlay Street house. Looking from our kitchen window we would see our back court. Because of the positioning of our close we shared the back-court with two other closes, which meant that the back-court had three wash houses and three middens. Each resident had a day for washing and on our day one or two of my sisters would rise early and light a coal fire under the wash-house boiler so that mother could have hot water when she came to do the washing. There were at least four iron poles set in a square in the back court, and mother would tie her rope to the bars on these poles, pulling the rope tight so that the clean washing would not touch the ground. On our washing day, if the weather was bad, mother would bring the clothes into the house and hang them on the pulley. This consisted of a long pole stretching almost the whole length of the kitchen, this pole had a spar of wood at either end. On these spars a rope was tied from end to end on either side of the main pole. Two pulleys were screwed into the roof and a rope was fed through these rollers and connected to the main pole of the pulley. This rope was secured to a cleat on the kitchen wall, and mother would pull the pulley up to the roof, laden with the clothes that needed drying, and secure the rope on this cleat. The ordinary rubbish and ashes from the coal fire were put into large steel bins in the midden, and were cleared once a week by men whom we called Among my early pre-school memories is when one of our neighbours, a lady who had no family of her own, would say to my mother, “Dress Nancy nice and I’ll take her into the town “. I would only be about two years old but in spite of my tender years I can remember that she was a very fussy woman, and when I got tired with walking she would lift me up, holding me with my legs bent at the knee, so that my shoes could not touch her coat. Cakes were strangers in our house, and there was one of our neighbours who sometimes invited me in and gave me tea and cake. I remember one occasion when I stood outside her door singing, so that when she heard me she would invite me in and I could chose my favourite almond strip. Gourlay Street school was situated just across the road from our house, and I remember mother taking me to the classroom on my first day at school. There was a girl with red hair sitting at a desk and mother said to me “ There’s a nice girl to sit beside”, and I remember saying, “I don’t like red hair”. I was a very shy child, always trying to keep in the background, and one day I experienced the horror of horrors when the elastic of my knickers broke, and every time I stood up they fell to my ankles. The terror I felt was in thinking of how I was going get home without some of the other children seeing my dilemma and making fun of me. I waited until all of the children left the classroom, and holding my pants up as well as I could, managed to get home safely. At eleven o’clock we had a playtime and mother would come over to the railings that surrounded our school, with a can of tea and sometimes a roll or a piece with butter ( Margarine) on it. I was not particularly clever at school, and I remember a teacher, Mr. Smith, who was known by the children as “Specky Smith” because he wore large dark rimmed glasses, making me feel very small indeed. My sister Marion was the “Dux” of the school, and Mr. Smith admired her academic achievements so much that when he was serving in France during the first world war, he sent ten shillings to the school to encourage her in her studies. On the day that Mr. Smith was telling me off for my slow learning, he said to me, “ You’re Marion Russell’s sister, and where were you when the brains were handed out, hiding behind a door”? My mother was very strict regarding the way we spoke to one another, and if we said “Maw” instead of mother, or “Heed” instead of head, or “Ster” instead of stair, we were told in no uncertain manner that we were to speak English, and not broad Glaswegian. This led to all of our family being reasonably articulate, and I remember on quite a few occasions my teacher, a Miss Mclean, asking me to read from the book we were studying at the time, and telling the class that Nancy speaks nice and clearly. Our classes began at nine o’clock we had a break known as playtime. This was when we would play at skipping ropes, a very popular game with girls in all parts of the country. Some of our girls became very clever in the various ways of playing skipping ropes, a single rope for one person, and one or two long ropes for when many girls could play at the same time. Other games were played with a ball, stotting the ball against a wall and performing various clever ways of catching the ball or having the ball stot between your legs, and some of the girls were clever enough to use two balls. Peever was another popular game, and if you were fortunate in getting a piece of marble from the local sculptor, usually about two or three inches in diameter then you were lucky, but if you could not get marble then you used an empty blackening tin. Someone would obtain a piece of chalk and beds were chalked on the play ground. These beds took the form of a ladder, with a large oblong at the bottom and tapering to the smallest oblong at the top. The player would push the peever one oblong, and if the peever was not touching a line the she continued to the next oblong. If the players peever touched a line, the next player took over. Another beds game was Bee Baw Beds, and here the player would hop from the starting point on to the first bed, and from that bed would spread her legs so as to have one leg in number two bed and the other leg in number three bed, and so on to number ten bed. If a players foot touched a line, the next player took over. My sister Anne was six years older than me, and mother gave Anne the job of looking after the younger children. This meant that Anne was in charge of me, my younger sister Margaret, who was two years younger than me, and Winnie, who was two and a half years younger than Margaret. Anne was a wonderful sister, and she took us children every where with her. One of Anne’s friends sometimes invited us to her house, and her mother bought a pat of fresh butter “for father only”. For a treat for Anne and me, Anne’s friend, Greta Donan, would take the pat of butter, which had a flower pattern on its top, turn it over and scrape the bottom with a knife, spread the butter on a piece of bread, and carefully replace it on its dish, so that her mum would not see it had been touched. A highlight to our week was when Anne took us to the penny matinee at the local cinema. Mother would buy a cake of chocolate from the Co-op store, and as it was made up of four squares, we all had a square to ourselves. We rarely had any other sweets during the rest of the week. The penny matinees were held in various cinemas in Springburn, the KINEMA, the IDEAL, the OXFORD, the WELLFIELD, the PRINCE’S, are some of the names I remember. The seats were wooden forms which sat about twelve children, and in tese early days of the 1920s, the films were silent. When an actor or actress spoke, the words were written up on the screen, and I can remember that some of the older people in the audience would say the words out loud. Before the film started the words of a popular song would be put up on the screen, and a little white ball would bounce from word to word so that everyone kept in time with the piano that was playing the tune. This piano was played during the film, and if the film was showing an exciting scene, such as a war or something similar, the music would be fast and loud, but if it was a sad scene then the music would be soft and sombre. I can remember some of the actors and actresses names, such as-----TOM MIX, CHARLIE CHAPLIN, MARIE DREZLER, LAUREL AND HARDY, BUSTER KEATON, HAROLD LLOYD, PEARL WHITE, POLLY MORAN, THE STOOGIES, THE KEYSTONE COPS, RIN TIN TIN, the dog, and OUR GANG. My father and mother went to the cinema once a week, and Anne was left to look after the four younger children. There was one incident that remains quite vividly in my memory, and this happened shortly before I was due to start school. One morning I got out of bed and made my way along the lobby to the kitchen door. Finding it shut I must have assumed that mother had gone out, so I opened our front door and made my way to the back-court and entered the close where Mrs. Donnelly lived. I stood chapping at her door and I saw a coalman come down the stairs after delivering his bags of coal, and I learned later that he had seen Mrs Donnelly in the Co-op shop across the street, and told her that the wee lassie Russell was chapping at her door and she had no clothes on. It was only minutes later that I was in Mrs Donnelly’s arms and being safely delivered to my mother. The result of this escapade was a streaming head cold which lasted for a few days, Mrs Donnelly came to visit mother and she brought me along box of chocolate soldiers, which brightened me up no end, and another neighbour gave me a wooden doll, with its hair painted on its head. As I have already noted my brother Peter was born when I was seven years old, a boy, after eight girls !!!. I remember coming home from school at 4 o’clock on the 16th of June 1926, and as I was having trouble with my knitting I sat down at the close mouth to study the pattern. The afore-mentioned Mrs. Donnelly was passing and she said o me “ Do you know that you have a little brother”. I burst into tears and said “ I don’t want a boy, I just want girls”. Mrs Donnelly took me into her house and gave me tea and biscuits until about five-thirty when she took me to my own house. Try to imagine---one room and kitchen, an inside toilet, one cold water tap at the sink, father, mother, and four adults, and three children, and now a new baby. It does seem a bit much, and yet we managed very well, and in talking in later life to my sisters or brother, none of us is any the worse for it. My older sisters must have had a very tough time, yet I cannot remember any of them complain. Take for example our washing day, and think of the vast amount of washing that had to be done for such a large family. On the morning of washing day one or two of my sisters, usually Mary and Anne, would rise early in the morning and go to the wash-house in the back court, and by the light of a paraffin lamp, or candles, taking a rubber hose and attaching it to the cold water tap to fill the large boiler, and then lighting a fire with sticks and paper, so that mother had hot water for the washing. The wringer would then be secured on to a thick piece of wood which separated the two large “Wally sinks” . Mother would come down to the wash-house later and put the clothes into the boiler , and when they were thoroughly washed, with the aid of a pole she would lift the clothes out of the boiler and into the wally sink. The clothes were then rinsed with cold water and run through the wringer. If the weather was suitable the clothes would be hung up on the ropes strung between the iron poles to dry, but if it was raining then the clothes would be brought into the house and hung up on the pulley. Sometimes the washing would be done in the evening after the girls came home from work, but night or morning the same routine was followed. I remember my sisters when the evening meal was over, beginning to iron the newly washed clothes. There was a removable steel shelf attached to the front of the ribs of the coal fire, and it was on this shelf that my sisters laid the iron to heat. The iron consisted of a piece of iron about six inches by four inches by one inch thick, which tapered from the four inch end to a blunt point at the other. There was a handle rising from this base with an opening for the users hand to pass through and grip the iron. When the iron was hot enough the clothes were ironed on the wooden kitchen table. Summer time was a wonderful time for us children, and we played on the street from morning till night. As there was little or no traffic on the road our playground stretched from the wall of one tenement, to the wall of the tenement across the road. The type of traffic that may have come along our street was very slow moving, being a coalman selling coal from his cart, or a man selling fruit or fish from a hand cart. About once a week a cart with a massive barrel on it, and two gleaming brass taps at the back, the barrel being full with sour milk, which was sold for a penny a jug full. Now and again we would see a cart with bits of metal and old rags on it, and its owner shouting “Any old rags---any old iron”. We always looked out for the cart that came to wash our street. Here again this cart carried a very large barrel, but this one was filled with water, and at the back of the barrel there was a pipe that had a tap on it, and this pipe led to another pipe which went from one side of the cart to the other. Drilled into this long pipe were dozens of holes and when the tap was opened the water gushed out and washed the streets. The boys, and some of the girls, would pull up their trousers or frocks and let the water run over their legs. I can remember one summer when quite a lot of the children from our street were going on a trip to Rouken Glen. The red tramcar took us almost from door to door and mother put me in charge of Margaret, Peter and Winnie, giving me strict instructions that we were to sit in the inside of the tram, and on no account to go upstairs. The conductor asked me why we were sitting inside when all our pals were upstairs, so I told him that my mother had told me to sit inside and not to go upstairs. We believed my mother when she said that where ever we were, she could see us. One of Springburn’s wonderful characters was Seth Sykes, who was a sincere gospel preacher, and like the pied piper of Hamlin with his rats, the children of Springburn followed Seth. He, with his wife and two daughters would come to our street, his wife and he carrying a portable organ between them. Sometimes he would bring hats made from old newspapers, and dozens of children would line up with their paper hats on, and follow the Syke family to an open space at the end of Gourlay street. Mrs. Sykes would play the organ while Seth and his daughters would lead the children in singing ---I’m H.A.P.P.Y or, My cups full and running over, or Jesus loves me. About 1926 or 1927on a Saturday in July I was standing at the junction of Gourlay Street and Springburn road when I heard the sound of flute and pipe bands. As the bands came nearer I could see that there were five or six mounted police riding in front of the first band. The destination of the marchers was the Orange Hall in Cowlairs Road which was the next street towards Springburn cross from Gourlay Street. My mother was quite strict about any of her children being near the marching Orange men, so when they were getting near to Gourlay Street I rushed down to our house and excitingly shouted to her and some visitors, “The King Billies Are Coming”. At the same age, perhaps seven or eight one of my chums asked me if I would like to join the Rechabites, and as I did not know what the Rechabites were, she informed me that it was a society which met weekly, and you paid a penny at each meeting which paid for the Rechabite doctor. In these days there was no N.H.S, and if a doctor was required to attend to any of the family it would cost 1/- or 1/6 for the doctor’s fee, a sum of money not always available. When I told my mother about my chum asking me to join, she spoke to my father, and they both agreed that I should join, as this would take away the worry of where to find the doctor’s fee if or when I fell ill, and so that my sister Margaret would get cover, she also would join the Rechabites. Most families, including ours, depended on our Grandmas or our neighbours to see us through the less severe illnesses, and with the colossal knowledge that they had for cures for various ailments, most times a doctor was not called out, but there was always that time when an illness was serious and a doctor was necessary. My older sisters were covered for doctor’s fees by paying a small sum from their wages and registering with a panel doctor. Margaret and I joined the Springburn branch of the Rechabites which had as its foundation TEMPERENCE, and we had to promise that we would not “Touch, taste, or handle” strong drink. At our first meeting Margaret and I went through a ritual service, and it was here that you were told a password, and if you were late for a meeting you had to tell the SENTINEL that password before you were allowed to enter. Shortly after I was initiated I was asked to be the sentinel, and this meant that I had to stand outside the door, and only allow in those who knew the password. My other duty was to give the obligation to the new entrants, who formed a circle in the centre of the room, while I stood in the centre of the circle and read them the obligation, which they promised to obey. At the meetings we made our own entertainment, a boy or a girl would go to the platform and sing a song or recite a poem, and later we were taught the basics of ballroom dancing. At one of our meetings a chum of mine got on to the stage to sing a song, and she only sung half a verse when she was taken off the stage by one of the adults. The song she chose to sing was “Ha Ha Ha, you and me, little brown jug don’t I love thee”, which of course refers to strong drink. Once every year the Rechabites held a concert in the Springburn public hall, and hired a concert party to entertain the vast number of children and adults. When the concert was over we were leaving the hall, each child received an orange and a box of caramels, What a treat!!! A whole box of sweets to myself. There was a church just across the road from our house and it was known as “Duncans Church” after the minister whose name that was. On Friday night my sister Margaret and I would cross the road to go to the Band of Hope in this church, and we never missed a meeting. As with the Rechabites, the Band of Hope was founded on TEMPERENCE, and we often had slide shows which told the story of the horrors created by consuming strong drink. We thought that the meetings of the Band of Hope were well worth the half-penny we paid to get in. I was seven years old when I joined the BROWNIES in Duncan’s church, and I remember that it was a great sacrifice for my father and mother to get the money to pay for my uniform, which consisted of a large straw hat, a brown cotton frock, a brown tie, a leather belt, and a kelpie badge which was pinned on to the tie. All of these organisations helped to form the characters of those boys and girls who became members, and each of them taught us lessons on good behaviour and morals, and we were given basic lessons on how to light a fire how to cook a simple meal, and how to clean shoes. When I was eleven years old I joined the GIRL GUIDES in Johnstons church which was on Springburn Road and the Guides continued the good works that the Brownies were doing. I can remember the first time that I put on my Guide uniform, with the wings above the right hand pocket, and my mother and father saying how well I looked. I thoroughly enjoyed my Girl Guide activities, learning how to tie various types of knots, semaphore signalling, cooking, physical training and discipline. Sometimes at the weekends we were taken for rambles into the countryside, and this was my first taste of moors and mountains. At Christmas time our company would visit the carnival, and this was and this was indeed a highlight in our lives. We would save up our pennies over many weeks to pay for our circus tickets, and on the night of the great event mother would give us a whole shilling so that we got some rides on the round-a-bouts. The excitement of that day was intense as we all gathered at the church and marched to the tram stop. All of us felt so grown up, being allowed out in the evening to travel to the Kelvin hall, and maybe not be home till after ten o’clock. My sister Mary was a Sunday school teacher in the parish church at Springburn cross and when I was five years old she took Margaret and me to this church, and it was here that I got my first introduction to a Sunday school. It is strange how I can still remember all the children holding their halfpennies in their hands and marching round the chairs singing “Hear the pennies dropping, hear them one by one”. and dropping their collection money into the box. My parents attended Johnstones church in Queenshill Street and when I was nine years old I joined this church. Once every year there was a competition or test held to test the Sunday school members knowledge of the Bible and Catechism. At the age of twelve I entered this test and to my astonishment I came first and received a lovely book as my prize. Each year the church elders organised an outing to some place far away from Springburn, and as the day came nearer the children were getting more and more excited, and all of them were praying that the sun would shine and it would be a happy day. I remember one outing when mother did not have a nice frock for Margaret to wear, and poor Margaret went to that outing in her Brownies frock. On the morning of the outing we all gathered outside our church and each child had a tinny, ( tin cup) with tape or string through the handle, and slung over the shoulder. When every thing was ready we marched to Springburn station and boarded the train that would take us to the place where we would spend the day. Arriving at the park the children would all run wild, and later on they would take part in the many organised races run according to your age group. When my group was called I took part in the “\Egg and spoon race,” the three legged race and other races. and although the prize was only a lollypop we all tried to win.About one o’clock one of the adults would shout “tea up” and the children would all sit down on the grass while the teachers would hand out bags of buns and fill our tinnies with milk. There was many a child at these outings who rarely saw a bun or cake, and to have a whole bag to yourself was a great treat. I mentioned that mother and father went to the cinema once a week, and I recall one Saturday night when I was left to look after Margaret, Winnie and Peter while they were at the pictures. The only light in the room came from a swan necked brass tube on the mantelpiece, which was fitted with a gas mantle, and this gave off a good light. There was a gas meter in the lobby and when you put a penny into its slot and turned the the handle, you got a certain amount of gas. I had put my young brother and sisters to bedand was sitting down by the fire, when the light went out. On this particular Saturday night mother had not left a penny at the meter, so I had to sit in the dark until my parents came home. We had a chum called Fred Riley, and every year his mother gave him a birthday party. All his friends were desperate to be invited to this party because he had an aunt who always baked him a huge birthday cake, like a one-tier wedding cake. After we had our tea and sandwiches, jelly and ice cream, the big event of the day came, the cutting of this wonderful cake. I can say that our eyes were as big as saucers as we watched this being performed, and the ecstasy of devouring this lovely sweetmeat was heaven. My Cameron Grand-parents lived in No. 8 Firpark Terrace, Dennistoun, and as was common in these 1920s, one of the daughters of the family was chosen to look after her parents, as well as the other members of the family.This meant that while her brothers and sisters went out to work, she stayed in the house, cooking, cleaning, and generally being an unpaid housekeeper, and my Aunt Sarah was the chosen one. My sisters before me had all made their way to Grandma’s house on one day a week, to help Aunt Sarah with the many chores she had to perform. On these days Aunt Sarah did most of the work, but it was handy to have a child to go to the shops for messages, weed the garden, polish brasses, beat and brush carpets, and with mother having so many girls there was an endless supply of helpers. When I was seven years old it became my turn to go to Firpark Terrace, and mother gave me my instructions on how to get there. I was to take a half-penny half ticket on the tram-car to Castle street, get off at the Casino picture house and turn into Alexandra Parade till I came to Wishart Street and walk straight along to Firpark Terrace. I would be there from about 10 a.m. till about 4p.m. on one day a week. I liked going messages for Aunt Sarah. She would write out a list of messages she required from the grocer, or the greengrocer, or the fish shop, and as Grandpa was in business as a director of the Darngavel Coal Company and paid all his bills monthly, I did not have to handle money. The wonderful thing for me was that some of the shop-keepers would give me a penny when I was leaving with the messages, and this was a real treat. On my way home along Alexandra parade I would look into all the sweet shop windows, pondering on what I would spend my penny on. Every week until I was 20 years old I would go to Firpark Terrace, and when Grandma and aunt Sarah died, a housekeeper was engaged. On the housekeepers day off Margaret and I would visit Grandpa. We would make his meals, tidy the house, fill a basin with warm water, and using a large soft sponge and cuticura soap we bathe his feet, dry them off, put on his socks and slippers, and for this he was grateful. The second world war broke out in 1939 and Grandpa died in 1940, and during that year Margaret and I travelled to Dennistoun in the pitch darkness of the black-out, making our way to the house by the light of a small torch. I have already written about ten people living in a room and kitchen, with no bathroom and only a cold water tap, but life was still good in the tenements, where “Help thy neighbour” was not just a catch-phrase. One of our neighbours, a Mrs Spence, was taken ill and had to go to hospital. The young members of the Spence family, Jean, David and Ina, came to our house during the day, and mother made them there meals and looked after them until their older sisters came home from work to give them their evening meal, and later put them to bed. In the morning the children were back in our house for breakfast, and mother saw them off to school. How my mother kept her sanity I will never know, yet tempers were never ruffled, and everything was taken in its stride. One day when I was ten years old, the doctor was sent for because I had Scarlet fever. While the doctor was examining me Peter coughed, and the doctor looked up and said “He might as well go to the hospital with Nancy, he will take it anyway”. I was ten years old and Peter was three when we were taken to Ward 19 in the Ruchill fever Hospital on the 18th of October. Margaret was admitted a week after me, and Winnie a week after Margaret. I was allowed home on the 19th of December so that mother would have one of us home for Christmas. Margaret, Winnie and Peter were kept in the hospital for 13 weeks. It is now more than fifty years since I left this Hospital, but I can still remember every detail of my stay. The food I ate, the toys that were handed in for me, the names of nurses and things that happened such as having my head shaved, and having to go to school with a bald head and mother insisting that that I keep my hat off. My sister Marion started to go out with a young man named Alex Smith when I was about five years old, and at the beginning of their courtship he would wait in the close for Marion to come out. I remember coming out to play and saying to him “Marion will be out in a minute”. Once they were going out for a while he was allowed to come into the house, and Marion and he would go into the room, and we were well warned not to go near the room while they were there. Sometimes Alex would be working late and would come straight to our house for his tea, which was often a fish supper, and it had to be bought in Bradock’s fish shop in Flemington street, and whoever went for it had to say, “No vinegar please”. When I was twelve years old in 1931Alex and Marion were married in Johnstones church in Queenshill Street and Mary was Marion’s bridesmaid. There was a small reception in Alex house in Cockmuir Street, Balornock, and as the number of guests was limited, I was left in charge of Margaret, Winnie and Peter. Father gave me some money to buy cakes, sweets, and lemonade so that we could have a party all to ourselves. It was in this Gourlay Street house that Winnie was severely burned. Mother had poured a cup of tea without milk and Winnie had reached up to the table and pulled the saucer over, severely scalding her neck and shoulders. She was taken to the Royal Infirmary where she lay unconscious for ten days. In 1928 our family moved from 42 Gourlay Street to 60 Millerbank Street, which was just around the corner. This house was also on the ground floor and was classed as a two room and kitchen. The only difference from the Gourlay Street house was a very small room which came off the kitchen and could only hold a double bed and no other furniture. Before Marion got married Mary was going out with a young man named Bert Anderson, so the two girls had to come to an arrangement as to which night they wanted the use of the only spare room in the house. This was not a very good idea, because when either Marion or Mary were in that room the younger children were kept out of their beds. In 1934 Mary and Bert were married in the Registrars office, and the Co-op provided a purvey for the reception which was held in our house. Mary and Bert got a house in Adamswell Street and we were able to visit them at irregular times. Marion and Alex moved to a house in Bainsford, and our first visit there was very exciting. Neither Margaret or I had ever been on a long bus journey, nor had we ever slept in someone else’s house, so when we were allowed to stay over from Friday to Saturday then this was something great. The six week holiday from school was in retrospect, six weeks of glorious sunshine. Despite the fact that mother had four children under her feet, she always found time to play with us, and I do not ever remember her ever being “Stressed”, as some mothers of today are. We would be out of bed and dressed by 9 a.m. and after breakfast it was out to play on the streets, and as I have already noted the streets were comparatively quiet, with very little traffic. Friends from our own and adjoining streets would play the games that were in vogue at that time, and we would only be in the house for something to eat, or if mother needed a message. Most houses had what was called a clothes horse. This was a large wooden folding erection with spars, on which damp clothes were hung to dry indoors. During the holidays we were allowed to take ours out to the back court, and with the aid of a bedspread which we draped over it, it became a tent or a house , and many pleasant hours were spent playing with dolls, doing imaginary cooking, and other childish things. Mother was very handy at sewing and we and other children would bring sheets of crepe paper to her, and she would make fancy dress clothes, and these clothes enhanced our back-court concerts, at which we and our chums would tell stories, recite a nursery rhyme, or sing a song, and our efforts must have been appreciated, as many of our adult neighbours would gather to listen to our various talents and clap loudly. On other days we would search around the dumps for pieces of clay, and look for broken crockery or pieces of glass, and with the aid of a stool we would set up a shop where the broken crockery would be money, and if any of it had gold on it then that was a sovereign, while other pieces would have a lower value. We played at these games for hours and hours, never wearying or getting bored. Some of the children would own a pram, while some others would have a doll, and with these things we were able to play at houses, and except for meal times mother would only call us in for bedtime. Sometimes in the evening father and mother would let us have a concert in the house, and a large mahogany stool would be brought out so that Margaret, Winnie, Peter and I, could stand on it to do our acts. Again a nursery rhyme would be recited, a song would be sung or a story told, and the audience would be very happy with the actors, and clapped with enthusiasm. I remember one evening I told a joke that went something like this---- Pat and Mick went into a tailors shop to buy a pair of brown trousers that were to be the size for Pat. The tailor said that he had the right size, the same shape, but a different colour, and they would cost half-a-crown. Pat put his hand in his pocket and offered the tailor a penny. The trousers are half-a-crown. Well said Pat, its the same shape, its the same size, and its only a different colour. A pleasant of Millerbank Street was when Hallowe’en came round. Mother would bring out the big zinc bath from under the bed and fill it three quarters full of water, and put maybe six or seven apples in the water. A chair would be placed at the end of the bath, and after mother had swirled the water the children wood “Dook” for the apples. Each child would kneel on the chair, and holding a fork in his or her mouth would drop the fork into the bath when they thought the fork would stick into an apple, which would then be theirs. Mother sometimes made mashed potatoes and hid small trinkets in the rolled up “Tatties”, and the squeals of delight when a trinket was found made Hallowe’en a gala occasion. We also had cakes bought from the “City Bakeries” with Hallowe’en faces on them. I remember one Hallowe’en when we were playing forfeits, and my forfeit was to buy a pennyworth of chips on a shovel. When I got the chips in their bag I turned the chips out of the bag and on to the shovel. Father was not pleased, the chips were intended to be a treat for the children but that was not to be after they had been on the dirty shovel. When I was nine years old mother gave me a penny to give to my teacher for the necessitous children. These were children whose parents were unable to feed, clothe, or take them for a holiday. These children were dressed in what were known as Parish clothes, rough, grey, Tweed cloth, and I am sure that the children who had to wear these clothes would hate the stigma that went with them. One Saturday of each year all the children of our school went to the Prince’s cinema as a treat for the necessitous children and I remember that the film was Charlie Chaplin in “Easy Street”. In this film there was a giant of a man who threw Charlie all over the street, and I was terrified all through that film, and even today I can recall the fear I felt that day. My Grandma Cameron (whom I am named after.) owned a small house in Millport, and I have memories of being taken to this house on holiday. My sister Mary would be told to take her annual holidays from her work about the middle of April, so that she could accompany Grandma Cameron to Millport. The purpose of this was so that Mary could clean the house, wash the blankets and linen, and generally get the house ready for the summer letting. I must have been six years old the first time I was taken to Millport, because Peter had not been born.