Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
Sandy Beach

Monday, 25 February 2008

Highland Toffee and Baseball Boots

After the Second War ended in 1945,almost everything except carrots was severely rationed and required the appropriate coupon(s) to accompany the money.Even with enough money,a pair of trousers would use up a family's clothing allowance for months ahead.What naturally excercised me was my weekly sweetie allowance,which ran to a bar of MaCowan's Highland Toffee,every Saturday.One of the few things that eased the strictures of rationing was the large war surplus which helped to clothe me and a million other kids.The Royal Navy had zillions of navy blue balaclavas in surplus (no other colour),and all the wee Renfrew boys and some extrovert girls scoured the streets like a band of tiny bank robbers.A brilliant thing my mother bought me was a First War cavalryman's cape.It buttoned right up to your chin,had side pockets which allowed access to the Highland Toffee,and it happened also to keep out the wind and rain.With the balaclava pulled right down and the cape buttoned right up,I stood out in the school playground as some one to be reckoned with.Later still came the US surplus bonanza especially the US flying jackets,leather outside,wool inside and zip fasteners everywhere.I had never seen a zip until then.That jacket would be worth a bit today.To go along with that,there was the leather pilot's helmet.We were in our glory ! I used to tell my children about this pilot gear and that their Uncle Donald even had the goggles which he wore to school.I never disabused them of this until they were in their twenties.
Irrespective of other received knowledge,for my mother(and by association her children),summer began on the 1st of June each year and there was no discussion.It must have been an old Lewis ceremony like Beltane,when the sun first appeared over the moors.This notion was reinforced by our old neighbour in the close(tenement building),Old Bodach Goodfellow, who advised my mother thus."Annie,remember.Ne'er cast a cloot till May be oot".For us,the boys,June the First was a red-letter day,not the Queen's Birthday nor Battle of Britain Day.Still, my mother held to this adage till the dying hours of May the 31st.You see,on that June morning we laid aside the tackity boots,the wellies.the semmit and our vast array of Harris jumpers.On went the Sloppy Joe(T-shirt) and the baseball boots or black sandshoes.We became proxy Yanks in the land of the free.We could now run faster and jump higher than before,and that's probably why sports days in Renfrew were held in June.
June was my favourite month,because better was still to come.From the first day of July a grand migration of the Gaelic speaking exiles got underway.Whole families packed their things and returned "home" for the duration of the summer vacation.The Gaels and their offspring left the towns and cities for their Hebridean villages,in many ways like the wild Atlantic salmon making their way back to the river where they were born.And I would be part of this great exodus.

PS. I hope that Shelley in Boston can understand "English" words like "cloot","semmit"and "wellies" !

1 comment:

Shelley said...

Google is a wonder! "Wellies" I knew (Wellington Boots, naturally!), and "cloot" I thought might be clothes, but I went looking to be sure, finding this gem:

"Cloot means a claith or a rag, a dishclaith, a duster or a bandage. It can mean a bairn's nappy, or hippens, and it can mean claes. The weel-kent saw Neer cast a cloot till mey be oot means dinnae tak aff ony claes (no even yer winter simmit) until the hawthorn, or mey, is in flooer. It's cried the mey blossom because it aye comes oot at the end o Mey."


...and "semmit" I found here:

"Mawkit means very dirty as in "your semmit is mawkit". Semmit? - why that's an under-vest!"