Bill White - Maybole Memories - 1920's
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Cover    |   Introduction   |   1920's   |  1930's  |   Memories   |   More Memories   |   Destiny

I was born on the 2nd November 1916, my father was William McFarlane White, my mother Margaret Gibson. I had an older sister Agnes (Nessie) and a younger brother Thomas Gibson White (Big Tam). My father was a Journeyman Shoemaker who had served in the First World War in France and the Dardonelles, he had been wounded in the stomach at Ypres, and according to my mother he never really recovered from this wound, which lead to his early death. My mother never received a war pension, as the Doctor didn’t state that the wound had anything to do with my dad’s illness. As a result we were very poor and my mother had to work hard to rear a young family on her own. We as a family were on the “Parish”, a system devised to keep us out of the “Workhouse”. My mother received a very small allowance, just enough to meet the bare essentials to live on. As children we depended on hand outs for clothing and footwear, no extras, no toys, no sweets unless given to us when a relative visited who was fortunate enough to be in work.

My mother ensured we were more fortunate than other families who had been left in similar circumstances due to the war. She took in washing and ironing and any other work she could come by right up to my late school days. I remember often finding my mother crying with the pain she had to endure in her fingers from “hacks”, deep cuts caused by constant exposure to water and washing powders.

These were hard times for Scotland, so many young men lost or injured due to the war, very little work for those able to do so, low wages and poor housing. The 1920s saw an exodus from Scotland to Canada, Australia and America, of so many families who could manage to scrape up the fare to get away from poverty, and a land which offered no better future, sad days indeed.

My earliest memories of my childhood are very few, the only time I remember my Dad was one day he had taken me for a walk and it had started to rain, so we sheltered in a new house that was being built on our way to the Sheep Park. I have no other memories of my Dad. I remember my Granny Gibson, she was almost totally blind, and before she died she lived alone in Old Manse Close, long since gone. But what a collection of characters she had as neighbours, Ailsa Craig, Blackie McEwan, Wullie Majannet, the Grattons, Hannahs, Ingrams, Macdonalds etc. etc. even now I can see them and wish I could revisit to thank them for their many kindness’ and friendships freely given.

In those days travel was virtually unknown, the only changes to the population seemed to occur around Term Days when the farm workers changed their locations, being mainly dependant on the leather tanneries, the boot and shoe factories and agriculture. Maybole didn’t change much, everybody knew everybody else and a stranger was soon spotted and all informed. As children we were not aware that we were ‘deprived’, not knowing anything else.

We got on with our childhood days, and I have many many good memories, which far outweighs the bad times. We learned to fend for ourselves and to make the most of our school days, we also learned that if we broke the rules we were punished, but most of all I think as young boys we were aware that “grown ups” were not always happy, and in my particular case I knew my mothers life was a hard one, and although we may not have been aware of it then, I am sure the need to better ourselves was already forming in our sub conscious minds.

As a boy at Primary School my biggest hate was the “Soup Kitchen”. Being on the “Parish” I was allowed a free bowl of soup and a piece of stale bread each dinner time. I and many others walked from Kirkland Street to the Greenside where Mrs McCubben was in charge of the Soup Kitchen. I grew to hate the taste and smell of soup, and often my sister had to drag me in my bare feet to this stinking hall each midday break. When I left school I never tasted soup again until I was over 70 years of age.

By and large I enjoyed my school days, having been blessed with a good memory schooling was easy for me, and when I got to the Academy, I was always in the top three in class with Jim Houston and Jimmy McConnell. I attended Cairn Public Primary School and Carrick Academy, and left school at 14 years of age with a Scottish Lower School Certificate (the Higher and valued certificate I couldn’t take, having left school at 14), but I exploited my limited schooling to the very best effect in my CV’s after the war.

Cairn Public School
Carrick Academy                                                                  All of these terms used to my best advantage
Scottish School Certificate                                                 and I think without really lying.
Use of the word Rector, not Headmaster
No mention of leaving school at 14

The English had so much respect for the Scottish Education System that I was never questioned, most thought Public meant Private or Posh.

Cover    |   Introduction   |   1920's   |  1930's  |   Memories   |   More Memories   |   Destiny