13/09/2018
Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Growing up in Possilpark in World War Two - Scottish nostalgia

93a84579-b785-4cfc-a996-58203c336cf7

Memories of Glasgow in the Second World War. By Betty Walton.

I was a pupil at Possilpark School when an unexploded bomb landed there in World War Two. What joy, an extra day’s holiday, this was more important to an eleven-year-old than thinking of the consequences of being blown up.

At this age, war was a big adventure, an exciting time, when we often had to leave our beds in the middle of the night for the air raid shelters, carrying our gas masks. We accepted all of this, just living for the present and not thinking what the future held for us.

Life in Possilpark

Not that life was easy living in the tenements of Possilpark. Here, money was short but everyone was in the same boat, which made poverty more bearable. Once a month the rent had to be paid and this entailed a visit to the Factors Office two streets away. This was a task Ma loathed, especially when the payment (as was often the case) was overdue. My brother Andy had to do the deed in that case.

Ma would accompany us to the close mouth where the Factor lived and wait until Andy and I climbed the stairs leading to his office. I can still remember our dread on entering and being faced with the high counter, on which, standing on tiptoe, we’d deposit the rent book and money.

The Factor, a giant of a man, would glare down upon us from behind the desk, his spectacles dangling on the end of his nose, demanding to know the reason for the late payment.

      MORE: Family life in the Forties

Almost as scary was a visit to the library. We loved our library books and usually changed them once a week but what an ordeal it was. The chief librarian was a woman who hated all children and terrified the life out of us.

Dressed in a tweed skirt and twin set adorned by a double string of pearls, her unfriendly eyes, framed by thick glasses, penetrated into our very souls. As we placed our returning books on the counter, she’d demand in a thunderous voice ‘Hold out your hands!’ and shivering in our shoes, we’d hold them up for inspection. Only then were we allowed to choose a book. This had to be done in complete silence, as children weren’t allowed to speak within the library.

On one occasion I had to return a damaged book, the cover of which had been torn off by Judy, our newly-acquired puppy. We knew that the ‘wicked witch’ as we called her, usually had Tuesdays off, so we returned that day bearing the chewed book. But as Rabbie Burns once said, ‘The best laid plans o’mice and men gang aft aglay’ and there she stood in all her glory, like a female version of St Peter on judgement day.

We stood listening as she raved on about allowing dogs to chew library property, before banning us from the premises until we’d paid for the damage. Needless to say, we couldn’t afford the fine so it was some years before we could return to our beloved books and by that time she was, thankfully, no longer there.

MORE: Shopping with mother

(image copyright Daniel Naczk)

Back to "Nostalgia" Category

13/09/2018 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Updates

Scottish conductor and composer James Muir Mathieson was born - On this day in history

Conductor and composer James Muir Mathieson was born on 24 January 1911.


James Stewart Earl of Moray was assassinated - On this day in history

James Stewart, Earl of Moray, regent for James VI, was assassinated by a firearm on 23 January 1570. ...


Margaret of Denmark: an enigmatic queen - exclusive free read from History Scotland

Dr Amy Hayes explores the life of Margaret of Denmark, wife of James III, mother of James IV and possibly the ...


Scottish MP Joseph Hume was born - On this day in history

Scottish MP Joseph Hume, who founded the memorial to the Scottish Political Martyrs in Edinburgh, was born on ...


Other Articles

Scottish theologian George Gillespie was born - On this day in history

Church leader George Gillespie was born on 21 January 1613 in Kirkcaldy.


Inventor and engineer James Watt was born - On this day in history

James Watt, inventor of the condensor, which helped make the Industrial Revolution possible, was born on 19 ...


Sir John Pringle died - On this day in Scottish history

Sir John Pringle, President of the Royal Society and physician to King George III, died on 18 January 1782. ...


The Duddingston Curling Society was founded - On this day in history

On 17 January 1795, the Duddingston Curling Society became the first formally organised curling club in the ...