Memories of Dundee - Part Four

I suppose one of the big things in my life was the Empire Exhibition. This was held in Glasgow in 1938, at Bellahouston Park. There was a special railway excursion to be running on the autumn holiday Monday of that year, them known as the October fast. We (my sister May and I) were taken along with Mum, Granny Gillan and Doris (my Mum's unmarried sister). It was so exciting-Glasgow! That was a long, long way away in those days and I had never been on such a long journey before. This was really something special for a seven year old like me. I remember being amazed at the fountains in the grounds and staring goggle-eyed at the sight of a red-coated Mountie just outside the Canadian pavilion, actually riding a horse. This was even better then Nelson Eddie playing the part of a Mountie and singing to Jean McDonald in the film 'Rose Marie'. That had been my only experience of these romantic figures until them - and that was in black and white!

Then we went to a restaurant for lunch - I seem to remember it was the Empire Tower restaurant - I can remember though that the adults were complaining about it being very expensive. That was my first experience of cube-sugar. I hadn't encountered it before then. Another pavilion I remember was the Post Office Pavilion which had a silhouette of an air-mail plane moving continually around the higher parts of the wall. These things were wonders to the eyes of a child.

The only thing I remember is that the weather broke and the rain came down in buckets, restricting us to the inside of buildings for shelter. Then just before we were setting off for home we went through 'The Clachan,' which was a sort of mock-up of a Scottish glen come garden. Granny had her umbrella up and it was blown outside in. She put it right, only for the same thing to happen again but this time it was beyond repair and had been thrown away.

Before going back to the train we called in at the house of a relation and the lady of the house rummaged through her sideboard drawers to see if she had anything for me to put on my head to keep off the rain and came up with a Balmoral. Finally during the journey home the train in front of ours broke down, holding ours up for hours, so that it was well into the early hours of the morning before we got home. Consequently, I was allowed off school the next morning and wasn't sent to school until the following afternoon.

My souvenir of this visit was a long, thick, tartan pencil, which was merely symbolic and almost impossible to write with.


Submitted by Walter Blacklaw