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willie campbell

1950s Glasgow

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Glasgow 1956.

Dad owned two butcher shops and a drink problem.Butchers shops in the '50s were gold minesNo supermarket competition meant queues on Fridays and Saturdays,and brisk business the rest of the week.Life was good for my mum ,dad and me,but that changed.

Dads five years in a Polish prisoner of war camp,ensured the 18 year old who had gone to fight for his country ,unsurprisingly,returned as someone else.
He started one shop from nothing,then a second.He was what would now be called a functioning alcoholic,drinking heavily,but turning out for work at 6 every morning regardless.He seemed driven by something.
Mum tried everything to make things right for him,but the mistress in their marriage was alcohol,demanding ,and changing the way he thought about everything,literally poisoning his mind.
Eventually he lost the two shops,the lovely house,and home became a third floor room and kitchen in 17 Regent Moray Street,you know,opposite the Art Galleries.It was small,but that was a blessing in a way as all my mothers furniture had been sold along the way,the leftovers poined by sheriff's officers and sold in a "warrant sale".The disgrace of that advert in the paper was unimaginable and a cruel wasted exercise as there was nothing left to sell.
I attended Hillhead High School,as my proudly working class parents had wanted a better education for me than they had.It was fee paying,but the money dried up for that too.
At around that time my fathers sister arrived back in Glasgow from a divorce in London.Now divorce in the '50s was a no no,but aunty Frances arrived like a breath of fresh air, glamorous,curvy,long titian red hair,smelled of Evening in Paris scent,but more than any of that,she was funny!
Today I could see her doing stand up,but then she quickly got herself a job in Guys Restaurant in Glasgow,holding court in the cocktail bar,in one of the few stylish restaurants in Glasgow at that time.
Her "getting ready" to go to work was a performance in itself,but the finished invention touched the right spot,and at 10 every morning,she orchidaceously wafted onto the bus for town,in the highest heels possible.She was the only lady in our street who went to work in a cocktail dress,usually black,and paid tax on her income.
As there were now four of us in the room and kitchen,aunty Frances slept in the bed recess in the flats living room,I slept in a "cabinet bed" in my parents room.Having lost the businesses,my father quickly got a chauffeurs job,not ideal for someone with a drink problem.
Glasgow in the '50s was grimy and smoky'everything blackened by years of coal burning homes and factories,consequently smogs were commonplace in the winter,and most people smoked.There was also an epidemic of T.B.,and to that end the health board sent out huge mobile x-ray unit vans to identify T.B. sufferers and stop the disease in its tracks.Hopefully.
So aunty Frances thought nothing of it that morning as she walked across George Sq and popped in on her way to work for an x-ray in the mobile unit.
A week later,and my mother,father and me were all x.rayed too following a visit from a doctor confirming both Frances and 8 years old me, had T.B,but my parents were given the all clear.It was a random disease.The poor housing conditions were to blame in our case,everyone living on top of each other,but treatment began at once.Aunty Frances became desperately ill,and was moved to East Fortune Hospital,a sanatorium near Dunbar.Now Dunbar is only handy for Dunbar,and it took hours then,and three buses to visit. Frances was there for months with few visitors, and I know she was both ill and lonely.
My parents were re-housed in the healthier environment of E.K.,cleaner air and no smogs.I attended Hairmyres Hospital, which was a sanatorium, for years.Doctors advised that if asked by neighbours why I wasn't at school for so long,I was to cite kidney problems,but never declare T.B.Aunty Frances never really recovered her health,and died aged 37.
I was luckier and,after two years of treatment,slowly got my health back,and eventually caught up with all that lost schooling.
Its hard to believe looking back,that only 50 years ago T.B.was common place in the city killing thousands,social conditions for many were dire,and Glasgow was a grimy,smoggy city,where so many died tragically young from easily preventable causes.
Times really were tough then,in spite of distance lending enchantment.

Willie.x

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Willie, I was sad but glad to read your story. Glad to learn a wee bit more of Glasgow's social history but sad cos of your loss. I too had family n friends affected by nowadays uncommon diseases. My cousin & several of my school mates were affected by polio. Thankfully, due to the childrens primary immunisation programme. I remember standing in a big long queue to jet jagged against polio !! I also remember the sugar cube being dealt out. We have moved along, weans are covered from so many diseases now that 50 years ago, they would have died from. It is great !

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Willie, that was very sad losing your Auntie Frances when she was so young. You have certainly retained a very vivid image of her.

The Evening in Paris perfume was a favourite of my mother's and what a beautiful wee navy glass bottle with the silver stars.

I remember the Sanatoriums being discussed in hushed tones and, like Hingmie, I remember the scourge of Polio. When we were kids we were often told not to go in the paddling pond in the nearby Glen Lusset for fear we would contract the disease.

Lots of improvements in housing and healthcare but Glasgow is still a city where people tend to die relatively young. Not the healthiest of places.

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Willie, that was very sad losing your Auntie Frances when she was so young. You have certainly retained a very vivid image of her.

The Evening in Paris perfume was a favourite of my mother's and what a beautiful wee navy glass bottle with the silver stars.

I remember the Sanatoriums being discussed in hushed tones and, like Hingmie, I remember the scourge of Polio. When we were kids we were often told not to go in the paddling pond in the nearby Glen Lusset for fear we would contract the disease.

Lots of improvements in housing and healthcare but Glasgow is still a city where people tend to die relatively young. Not the healthiest of places.

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Dear Hingmie and Pat,

thank you for your kind words.If I have a sense of humour or style,then its certainly due to my wee aunty.

Soir de Paris, to give it its posh name, did indeed come in an iconic bottle,and takes one straight back to that time.The unmistakeable cobalt blue glass and little silver stars.

I occasionally see vintage bottles for sale on vintage sites,and I will bid for said perfume one of these days,

Willie.x.

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Dear Hingmie and Pat,

thank you for your kind words.If I have a sense of humour or style,then its certainly due to my wee aunty.

Soir de Paris, to give it its posh name, did indeed come in an iconic bottle,and takes one straight back to that time.The unmistakeable cobalt blue glass and little silver stars.

I occasionally see vintage bottles for sale on vintage sites,and I will bid for said perfume one of these days,

Willie.x.

I hope you find a wee perfume bottle, Willie. You should definitely treat yourself to that memento. :)

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I was sent to Strathblance Childrens' Home Hospital for a period of 18 months because of the problems with smog in Glasgow. There were lots of children there recovering from TB and other respiritory ailments. Every morning they used to throw back the ward doors and wheel beds out into the fresh air. It was a miracle we didn't all die of pneumonia. I came back to Byres Road when I was 5 and never looked back but many of the children never really recovered. :(

Yers ago I found the story of the Children's Home Hospital in the Mitchel Library and some great archive photographs of the hospital itself. Sadly, by the time I became interested in researching the history it had been knocked down to build luxury flats. I have really fond memories of the place, it was where I met my first coo. :lol:

http://www.strathblanefield.org.uk/history/ChildrensHome.html

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I was sent to Strathblance Childrens' Home Hospital for a period of 18 months because of the problems with smog in Glasgow. There were lots of children there recovering from TB and other respiritory ailments. Every morning they used to throw back the ward doors and wheel beds out into the fresh air. It was a miracle we didn't all die of pneumonia. I came back to Byres Road when I was 5 and never looked back but many of the children never really recovered. :(

Yers ago I found the story of the Children's Home Hospital in the Mitchel Library and some great archive photographs of the hospital itself. Sadly, by the time I became interested in researching the history it had been knocked down to build luxury flats. I have really fond memories of the place, it was where I met my first coo. :lol:

http://www.strathblanefield.org.uk/history/ChildrensHome.html

Really interesting Harper . Thanks for that. One topical point may be that there was an issue with the care facility not being near home for the families or child. I am thinking about the " centralisation " of care services that has been popular in recent years. No one seems to have taken into account how detrimental to recovery that being isolated from family n friends or how difficult for them to visit can have an affect on recovery. They have not learned from or ignored these old reports. It is also very sad to read about the very strict visiting times. How many weans were emotionally scarred by those restrictions. I was 5 when my mum went to hospital, she was having difficulty with her 6th pregancy, we were not allowed to visit. I can remember standing outside Braeholm, Helnesburgh being told to wave at a window where a face could be seen, mibbe my mum, mibbe not. I was bewildered but waved anyway! I am grateful that someone ( cant remember who) took the effort to take me there and try to achieve contact, they were kind.

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Really interesting Harper . Thanks for that. One topical point may be that there was an issue with the care facility not being near home for the families or child. I am thinking about the " centralisation " of care services that has been popular in recent years. No one seems to have taken into account how detrimental to recovery that being isolated from family n friends or how difficult for them to visit can have an affect on recovery. They have not learned from or ignored these old reports. It is also very sad to read about the very strict visiting times. How many weans were emotionally scarred by those restrictions. I was 5 when my mum went to hospital, she was having difficulty with her 6th pregancy, we were not allowed to visit. I can remember standing outside Braeholm, Helnesburgh being told to wave at a window where a face could be seen, mibbe my mum, mibbe not. I was bewildered but waved anyway! I am grateful that someone ( cant remember who) took the effort to take me there and try to achieve contact, they were kind.

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dear hingmie,

visiting times at hospitals in the 50s and 60s were indeed very strict,and children under 12 were simply not allowed into many wards to see there parents or other relatives,and in sanitoriums it was a complete no.it was emotionaly scarring for all concerned,bad enough being ill, but add to that not having contact with your nearest and dearest.

you are right about having the beds wheeled out in all weathers in t.b.wards,as i endured that at hairmyres.kill you or cure you.

as i was saying i was in sanatorium in e.k. and they sent my aunt to east fortune hospital on the east coast.why?it was cruel on many levels and certainly didnt aid recovery one bit.you would like to think things are better now.

and smog..you would have to experience those yellow sulpherous miasmas that hung about for days to really know why it killed people.your clothes were filthy,your respiratory system was blackened with the soot trapped in the smog,traffic came to a halt with conductors walking in front of buses and trams to guide them inch by inch along the road,and hospital admissions increased dramatically as did mortality.but i think most people still managed to get to work and school,unlike some sectors today who cant wait for a duvet day siting any excuse.perhaps we were hardyer then,

willie.x.

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I was sent to Strathblance Childrens' Home Hospital for a period of 18 months because of the problems with smog in Glasgow. There were lots of children there recovering from TB and other respiritory ailments. Every morning they used to throw back the ward doors and wheel beds out into the fresh air. It was a miracle we didn't all die of pneumonia. I came back to Byres Road when I was 5 and never looked back but many of the children never really recovered. :(

Yers ago I found the story of the Children's Home Hospital in the Mitchel Library and some great archive photographs of the hospital itself. Sadly, by the time I became interested in researching the history it had been knocked down to build luxury flats. I have really fond memories of the place, it was where I met my first coo. :lol:

http://www.strathblanefield.org.uk/history/ChildrensHome.html

Harper, that's amazing that you were not traumatised by being away from home for so long. Does that mean that when you started school you didn't know any of the other children starting along with you?

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I moved to Glasgow to start school at Downhill Primary when In was 5, so no, I didn't know any of the local children but that changed quite quickly.

I have very positive memories of Strathblane, even though it was an odd place. Visitors had to hand in sweets so that they could be shared amongst all the children. I have a very vivid memory of sitting in a field with my Dad, eating a bag of chocolate buttons in secret. :lol: I loved the fields, the cows and the blackbirds that used to hop into the breakfast room where we all used to eat at long tables. The children that were well enough, used to have country walks each day and we would all get a bar of highland toffee. I was well enough to come home to Glasgow in time ot start school. Glasgow seemed so dark and gloomy and it seemed to rain all the time.

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I remember getting a chest x rays from a mobile van while at  school, twice when I was in primary school in the 60's and once when  I attended secondary school in 1970's, Never knew what or why they did that.

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Was that in Glasgow, Bowie?  Sorry just seeing this comment now. 

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