Personal Recollections ~ Saltcoats
I was born in 1948 at 9 Wellpark Road. I was the youngest of the family and the only boy with five five sisters. My earliest memory is the day my sister was knocked down by a car, it happened at the Aberlour on the High Road. She was crossing the road and got hit by a guy hurrying to catch the Arran ferry. It was a Saturday morning in August 1951. She was only six years old.
I can mind we had letting folk from Glasgow, they were in the back room with the scullery, we were in the front room. I don’t remember my sister but I do remember that morning. My faither saw the accident from a bus, but he didn’t know it was his wee lassie. She lasted a week after that, being in Kilmarnock Infirmary and then Killern Hospital where she died. She was a twin to another sister, Milly.
My next memory is of standing in a queue outside of the Co-op drapers, my mother trying to get a bargain at the sales. My faither went to work at the cemetery early in the morning and I used to slip into his warm bed when he got up.
When I was a wee bit older I used to go to Howie's for the warm rolls. Old Frank Howie used to give me a fruit slice and I hated them ,used to kid on I was eating it till I got out the bake house then threw it to the seagulls. Sometimes we used to go to Elliott's the bakers, their bakehouse was in Glencairn Street at the back of the billboards. My mother would send me for gas mantles to Mary Burns’ shop. It was in Raise Street .over the back wall from us in Wellpark Road. She would warn us to walk there and back, and not to climb the wall ‘cause the mantle would get crushed in your pocket.
We at last got electricity in 1958. Mr Nichol who had a shop in Springvale Street wired the house for us, It was great. I wasn’t scared to go to the stair-heed toilet at night any more. Before this I used to have to jam the door open to get a wee bit light from the lobby and try and hurry to do a pee before one of my sister shut me oot.
Went to St Mary’s school, it was handy just across the road. Many a time I got the belt for jumping the wall. Another thing that comes to mind is getting sent to Ried's in Stevenston for fish suppers or sometimes it would be Gonnelli’s in Argyle Road, another time it would be Torrtollano’s at the Melbourne Cafe. These places seemed that far away at that age and sometimes I would go to the Olympic in Raise Street. Of course my faither new the difference and that would be another row.
My first job was collecting deckchairs off the Stevenston shore. Billy Merrick was the owner and was one of the show folk that came with the fair, he lived in Union Street. The wee wooden hut was at the end of the prom. Later on they built a brick one and next to that was a first aid hut and behind that an ice-cream kiosk. Mr Tennant was the first aid man along with a Mr Crocker who went to Australia. The Loweries from Miller Rd. rented the ice-cream hut. After that I worked for his sister Kattey in her shooting stall at the fair and then her brother Alex in his amusement arcade at the fair, then I worked for Billy Coates on his Hobby horses.
I couldn’t get out of school quick enough, was a message boy for Cox the chemist for six months then went to sea school and joined the merchant navy. Stayed for a couple of years then got married. to Liz Bain from the High Road. Been married forty years, got four of a family. My wife was in Sally Jameson’s class at school Sally (O'Connor) is out in Oz now. If she reads this I wonder if she remembers the night in oor hoose in Windmill Street, it was 1968 or 1969 and we were trying to do the ouja board thing when the glass broke and we all got a fright. I think I must have bored you all enough.