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Strathaven's Russian Princess

'Old Timers'

"One of the characters of the past in our wee town was Davie James, a coloured man who slept in the Gas-Works and took char in a wheelbarrow to the local bakehouses. A real old gent. Then there was Tommy Herrin' who sold fish - a dozen herring for a few coppers. Happy Days!" Mrs M. Brown, Ashkirk Road, Strathaven.

Minnie Lang - Strathaven - 1909 - 2001

"I recall when a Tradesman was recognised on the street by his apron and bag of tools; the butcher by his striped apron and 'steel' hanging at his side. I always expected to see his fingers getting chopped off when he sharpened his knives. Tommy Hill pushing his barrow with a box of Loch Fyne Herring and shouting when stopped 'stawn back and let the herrin' see the folk; or fruit, when in season.'Seville Oranges, the best o'stuff - nane o' yer  foreign trash here!' Davy James the 'black man' who slept at the Gas Works in Station Road and washed his face at the Drinking Trough in Green Street. As children we shook hands with him then wondered why our hands remained so white'. When he came to Strathaven? I never found out. He used to say "cows eat grass, give milk.' 'I eat grass and give no milk.

Webmaster's note - Strathaven - 2004

Census for 1901: Avondale: Schedule 16 - page 5.

David James, Crofthead Hut, Caldermill: single,  41 years of age, railway worker, born Barbados, West Indies. 

Tony McAlister - Strathaven - 1941 - 1951

"Mrs. Brown's copperplate writing which we had to copy from the blackboard without a blot - or else! Harry Lauder in full Highland regalia plus his wee crooked stick kicking off a cup-tie between Glenavon and Stonehouse Violet. The gas mantle light and the hiss of the gas. My red gas mask and the Blackout. The end of the war celebrations: flags flying, marching soldiers and cheering crowds in Green Street. My Uncle Freddy finally coming home, wearing his big Australian hat, after being captured in Crete and then escaping from a Prisoner-of-War camp. My pals Robert Hamilton, George Redmond, James Healy and Stephen Docherty. My dad bringing home a bunch of bananas for the first time and me trying to eat one without peeling it. Watching the blacksmith shoeing the big Clydesdale horses. Queuing at Casey the butchers for the weekly ration of meat. My first bereavement, Bran: Father Kelly's big lovable Airedale being run over outside the Church. The school sports: Mr. O'Rourke leading us up to the park on a beautiful summer's day. Coming second to R.H. in the hundred yards and winning a great bag of coloured marbles. R.H. got the prayer book! My first fight with R.H. - your weak point was always your nose. My second fight - my front teeth were coming out anyway. Jumping on and off the big red buses as they turned around into the Common Green. (A very dangerous game). Moving from 17 Glasgow Road to 4 Green Street. When the pubs closed on a Saturday night life got quite exciting. Playing football morning, noon and night. Hello again John Dempsey, if you are still around. (I was your wee goalie). The Fair up near Station Road. Only for a few days one summer, but it was special. Travelling into Glasgow on the train. The smell of soot and smoke, the clattering of the doors. Dixon Blazes, Colville's gigantic iron and steel works. A new pal, Peter Taylor who had a brand-new bike and a mum who fed us chocolate rolls. He was made very welcome. Going for the rolls every morning to Marshall's the Baker. Comics in Lorimer's. Before flitting to Glasgow, giving my store of comics to R.H. I hope you still have them. They must be worth a fortune now. The snow up to the top of the telegraph poles in the winter of 1946-7. My pal Billy Espie being run over and killed by a bus in Stonehouse. Sledging in the field opposite G.R's house until the end of March. Serving at 8 o'clock a.m. Mass along with R.H., in those freezing winter mornings and the Church still half full. Caught along with my pals stealing apples from an orchard. Parents had to collect me from the Police Station. Father Ward worrying about the fiftieth anniversary. A new porch being added to the Church. Carrying the coal up in a bucket from the sheds at the back of the house. Wee Ina who was always very cheerful and who came from the Orphanage. Moving to Glasgow. Paradise lost . . . " Quoted in Saint Patrick's Strathaven - A History and Insight - October 2001, printed in Great Britain by Cavalry Creative Services, Hatfield, Herts. Edited by Edmund J. Geraghty. 

Norman Robertson - Strathaven - 1944 - 1969

I was born in 1944 and lived at 75 Kirkland Park Avenue, Strathaven for 25 years. After that I lived in West Kilbride, Ayrshire for 10 years. Another small town, but on the coast. After that emigrated to Australia where I've lived for 20 years. My work in the oil business has taken me all over the world, but Strathaven is the place I remember best. Who could forget a childhood there? The park, pond and its paddle boats in summer. Skating on the ice in winter - 'the parkie' would let the water out so that it froze to the bottom. Getting chessies from 'Claudie's' (Claude Napier) in the autumn. Fishing and guddling in the Pomillon and Avon. Sledging all the way down Threestanes Road in winter - there weren't many cars around in those days. Tattie howkin' every year for two shillings a day. My pal - Angus 'Gus' Taylor (Taylor's Bakers) lived at either 17 or 19 Kirkland Park Avenue. I'm still in touch with him. I remember Robert Moffat very well. He used to have a rock group called 'The Chessmen' which later became "Brad Ford and The Frenziebeats'. They used to practice in the Crown Hotel hall. His father had the Fishmonger's shop in Main Street.


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