19 November 2018
Remembering life in 1960s Scotland, with memories of teen life, first job and a Sixties wedding.
The decade of change
I remember 1966 very well. I had turned sixteen and that was the year I thought I was a hippy. That was not an easy thing to be when you lived in an East End Glasgow housing scheme and not San Francisco! For a start, bare feet were just not feasible in a Scottish winter although I did try that, one July weekend, when for once the sun was shining.
Some friends and I went to Queens Park in the South side of Glasgow all in bare feet and wearing long floral smocks, singing with guitars and giving out flowers – mainly daisies. We loved the music too and for my sixteenth Christmas I got a brand new Dansette record player and six 45 rpm records. I remember they were a mixture of Cliff Richard, The Beatles, Shirley Bassey and Frank Ifield.
Want history delivered direct to your inbox? Join the History Scotland newsletter today!
I also got my first ‘trannie’, a transistor radio, and on a Sunday night I could lie in bed with an earplug stuck in my ear, secretly listening to the top twenty on Radio Luxemburg between 11pm and midnight.
I also remember getting my first hotpant suit. It was purple lurex shorts worn over tights, with a long overdress. I am sure that sounds familiar as you can see that style around today or at least a variation of it. My father was outraged and didn’t want me to leave the house wearing it, but I covered it up with my long hand crochet poncho.
However, I was usually a studious kind of person who enjoyed school but those years in the Sixties did change a generation of young people and I believe lots of it, for the better.
Ann Craig, Arbroath
A Sixties bride
Marriage was so different over fifty years ago. Most weddings were in church and many ministers and priests insisted that couples attended marriage guidance classes first. Brides did promise to obey but all the girls I knew had their fingers crossed at that bit!
I left Jordanhill College in 1961 and got married right away since my fiancé James, ten years older, had been waiting impatiently for me to finish my studies. We had a traditional white wedding, followed by a reception at Paisley Town Hall, with fifty guests from each side. As was the custom then, my poor parents funded all this.
My gown, veil and white stain shoes cost £9 from Watt Brothers in Sauchiehall Street and my ‘going away’ outfit – a turquoise dress and jacket with jaunty boater – came from C&A.
Our first home was a neat semi in Bishopbriggs. It cost £2,000 and we had a mortgate of £11 a month. Neither set of parents had owned their own home and were horrified at this debt.
Our only marital discord was over me working. James was very much ‘agin’ it but I was determined to use my new teaching skills and at least complete my two year probation before starting a family. In the end, we compromised; I worked half time, mornings only.
James never so much as lifted a tea towel to help in the house. That first year was hard, learning to teach and cook. Surprisingly, the marriage survived and 53 years on, he does load the dishwasher!
Grace Murray, Forfar
My first job
When I turned fifteen in 1965 I left school and started my first job, unlike today, jobs were plentiful. No ‘gap year’ for me, I had one week between leaving school and starting work. That’s the time it took for my mother to meet a neighbour who told her about a job going in the local garage. I cycled down with my school leaving certificates and Andy, the manager, interviewed me.
The vacancy was for an apprentice mechanic, but for a year until I was sixteen when the apprenticeship would start, I was a general gofer and tea boy. On Monday I was a working man/boy and the wage was a massive thirty bob a week (£1.50 in today’s money). Most of the time I helped Bill – he was a welder, plumber, electrician and did most of the outside repair and maintenance work at the sites owned by J Brown who ran the garage. It was rumoured that Bill was making £40 a week, a fortune in those days.
It was the custom in our house on a Friday, when you got paid, that the wage packet was handed to my Mother unopened.
My mother took her share, that was my ‘dig’ money, and left me with some pocket money. Although she never asked for any of the cash in hand I got working with Bill at the weekends.
Colin Black, Belshill
(originally published November 2018. Reviewed July 2023)