Memories of Dundee - Part Three

It was also round about this time, 1935 that George V and Queen Mary celebrated their Silver Jubilee and of course there were celebrations of all sorts throughout the country. I remember being given a tin of caramels at school along with every other pupil as a celebratory gesture from the government. There were also decorations in the shops etc to a degree. One thing which comes to mind is a lapel-badge featuring George and Mary that I was obviously given, probably along with the sweets. I remember looking at it and discussing it with my sister May as we walked down the Hilltown one day. However with the beginning of 1939, January 20th to be exact, (don't ask me shy I remember that date) the mood of the nation turned sombre, with the death of George V. I believe he had not enjoyed the best of health in his latter years. One of the souvenirs I have of his reign is a cigarette card album containing a full set of Will's Woodbine cigarette cards depicting 'The Reign of George V'. I remember being given it in a sort of throw-away gesture by Mr Gegan who had a tobacconist shop on the Hilltown, when I was in the shop for some reason.

The next big sensation was Edward VIII's renouncement of the throne. He had been the first heir to the throne, but he wanted to marry his fiancee the American Mrs Simpson, who was a divorcee. The Church of England could not countenance a divorcee as consort to the King of England, so Edward was forced to make a choice and chose Mrs Simpson. He passed on the right to the throne to his younger brother Albert (Bertie) who last became George VI. Because of Edward's choice the song of the street at the time, which parodied a popular sang ran "Look who's coming down the street, Mrs Simpson's sweaty feet. We don't want her for a Queen cause her face is never clean - ho - ho". They were granted the title Duke and Duchess of Windsor and went away to live in the USA, in disgrace almost.

1937 brought the Coronation of George VI and Elizabeth on 12th May. I remember this date, since it was being discussed in our school class and one of the most popular girls in class, Catherine Roxburgh, red satin ribbons in her hair announced, "That's the same day as my birthday". Again we were given a box of sweets, but a cardboard, cereal-like one this time. And then of course everything turned red, white and blue. These became fashionable colours for clothes etc. I remember my sister May having a white dress with red and blue flowers and motifs distributed over it. Streets vied with one another to be the most decorated in town and I think it was Bernard Street off the Hawkhill, followed by neighbouring Watt Street, which won the unofficial title. People came from all over to the view the festoons of decorations, which were a great talking point.


Submitted by Walter Blacklaw