Monday, May 6, 2013

Full of Promise


Margaret Selkirk Hay & Alister William James at the Glasgow Exhibition
They were full of promise that summer. The year is nineteen thirty eight. I imagine they are on a first date. She is nineteen, and he is twenty seven.  They looked so dapper in matching trilbies.

The Empire Exhibition, Scotland 1938 (unofficially known as the British Empire Exhibition, Glasgow) was an international exposition held at Bellahouston Park Glasgow, from May to December 1938. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empire_Exhibition,_Scotland_1938

This exhibition was a testament to Britain’s Industrial might. After the long years of the depression the British Empire was on the move again. Twelve and a half million people attended from all over the world.

One year later everything changed. Dad was in the auxiliary air force based at Turnhouse. War broke out, and he was called up. They married in December 1939, and he was sent to different training camps in England before he was eventually shipped to India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) for the duration of the war.

My older sister Rosemary was only six weeks old when he left and my mother and sister did not see him again for another four years. There were many such stories during those years of separation. Some did not make it. I am here to tell you that they came through that separation very well. Dad made it home in April,1945 and I was born in January,1946. You do the math.

Rationing of food was still prevalent in the fifties and with two boys,and another girl to feed money was scarce. Cultural activities were an important part of our growing up no matter the scarcity. Piano lessons and dance classes- visits to art galleries and libraries. Books and writing, books and writing were drummed into us. I’m not sure I appreciated those lessons at the time.

Mum was a homemaker and an occasional shopkeeper. Five children kept her very busy but still she found the time to sew and design costumes for our various endeavours on the stage.

Dad, along with working to keep a family of seven in food and clothes and our various pursuits followed many passions. He played the bagpipes, piano and thought he was a good dancer! He bought a horse and took riding lessons with my younger sister Caroline. When he was not involved in his many pastimes you could find him either reading or clicking away on his trusty typewriter.

Dad’s greatest gift was his writing. He had many poems and articles published. The website my sister made a few years ago will give you a taste for his writing. http://awjames.yolasite.com/
This is their birthday week. Mum would have been 94 on the 8th and Dad 102 on the 11th. They are both still missed.

Slainte,
Pam

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