Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dumbarton Nov. 1945: Post-War Penpals, pt 5

Loch Lomond Postcard 1945This is a transcript of a letter sent to my aunt from Dumbarton, Scotland on November 2, 1945. In pencil on the front of the envelope is a notation: Received Nov. 23, 1945. The original letter is in my possession. In the interest of security, should the author be living, this transcript may have certain details omitted. If you were the author or were involved in pen friends from this area please comment or email.

[street omitted]
Thurs. Nov 1st 45.

Dear Bobbie,

I received your letter this morning and since we have got a holiday to-day I am answering it straight away. I gave your pal’s name to a namesake of mine who is a dashing outside right in our Big Team.

I am sorry to hear that you are getting tests but they always liven up a term. We have had quite a few recently but a week on Monday (second week of Nov.) sees the commencement of our Term Tests. We get these tests twice a year. The first is in Nov. while the second takes place in May. But this year we are doomed for we get the Nov. Test, a schedule test in January, the zenith of tests,- the Highers- in March and the term test in May (commonly called the Highers) I think corresponds to Graduation in your country.

Last week at school we did the American War of Independence and this week we are doing the Industrial Revolution in England [omitted] while next week I expect we will be doing the French Revolution. In inorganic chemistry we are doing Sulphur. We learn how it is obtained in Texas, how it is treated and eventually turned into Sulphuric Acid for the making of explosives. We are very lucky this year for our new master was employed, during the war at the huge plant at Bishoptown. This plant, on the Clyde is reputed to be the largest in the world. It is actually a conglomeration of 4 factories rolled into one, 2 Nitric acid plants and 2 Sulphuric acid plants.

In Physical Training (gyms, games, etc.) Hugh [name omitted] and I have become “holy terrors”. They (the class & teachers) won’t let the two of us play in the same side at Netball, we score too many goals. However last night we went to a Swimming Gala where we were asked to swim for the St. Patrick’s Boys’ Guild. As we were out of training (I hadn’t been to the Baths for 3 weeks:- I had a cold) I did not swim but Hugh swam in the 50 yds team race but unfortunately the team was beaten by a narrow margin. However our other team won the 25 yds. team race by about 10 yds.

Last Thursday we went, as an invited party, to John Brown and Sons of Clydebank, to witness the launching of the 8,800 ton cruiser “Tiger.” While we were in the yard we saw the H.M.S Vanguard. I do not know if you have heard of it yet but she has to be successor of the “Hood” in being the world’s largest warship. On the Sunday before that we went up to Glasgow to see the H.M.S “Bellona.” She has been in action quite a few times and we were quite proud to board her.

I am endeavoring to collect some magazines and as soon as I get enough of them I will forward them to you (to show you what they smell like). We are now back to Greenwhich(sic) Mean Time and oh boy is it fun. It gets very dark just now at 5:15 P.M. and some places in the town don’t put the lights on. We are going to the baths to-night to thoroughly enjoy ourselves (I hope) because just before we leave the pond two gents will proceed to lob apples at us in the pond. This is our method of celebrating “Halloween.” I don’t know if you celebrate it over there and if you don’t you certainly miss some great fun. I am enclosing a page from the Sunday newspaper (now missing). It is called the Fun Section and you will get an idea of what we speak like (at home) from the same. “Oor Wullie” is supposed to be a typical Scots lad, while the Broons are the author’s impression of a Scots family. We get a great kick out of this Fun Section but perhaps it is peculiar to us, and you may not see jokes where we see them. When we were camping down in England (Southport) with the Sea Cadets we would not buy any English newspapers because they had no “Oor Wullie.” It may sound screwy but it’s the truth.

Our football team is back on its record run this year and it is simply mowing down the other teams. However we expect some pretty tough opposition in the 2nd Division.

One of my unconscious (i.e. I do it without thinking of it) hobbies is reading. I don’t think I have said very much about it before and therefore I won’t be repeating myself. I love to sit for hours alone and read novels. Not cheap ones for we can get the best supplied from the school. My favourite(sic) author is Dickens. Of his works I enjoy the “Pickwick Papers” best of all, although “David Copperfield” and “Nicholas Nicholby” are very near in standard and style. I have also read works by Jane Austen, George Elliot, Hardy and in poems Milton is my first choice with “Paradise Lost.” Macaulay’s essays along with Lamb’s are very good instructive works. McGonigle is tops for doggerel or slang poems and I shall take the liberty of quoting one of his favourite lines. (The scotch for a little sparrow is a “speug” said as spelled)

“Two wee burds sat on a barrow
One was a speug, the othe was a sparrow.”

I am afraid you won’t see the joke not living in Scotland but over here it’s the “joys.” Seeing you do Algebra I will give you a little sum to do, if you can, at the end of the letter. This ’ere sum has been handed down thro’ the generations at our school and I thought you might like to see it. I will send the solution in my next letter. Also at the end you will find a piece of “basic” english. You may have heard of this stuff but it takes some doing trying to write it. This piece of “basic” is the “basic” form of a well known piece of nursery rhyme but it is camouflaged almost beyond recognition.

Next Wednesday afternoon we are getting away from school to go and see one of Shakespeare’s comedys(sic). This comedy “Twelvth Night”(sic) was given to us to read as a home reader last Easter.

Oh and by the way you haven’t told me what that S.W.A.S.K. meant. I hope your team upholds its unbeaten record throughout the season and emerges victorious. I think I have covered everything so I will enclose the doings.

1. Prove: 2 (squared) + 2 (cubed) + 2 C + 8 L + 2 I + 2 . = 1 sniff

2. "Scintillate, Scintillate globule vivivic(sic),
How can I fathom thy nature specific,
Softly poised on the ether capacious
Strongly resembling a gem carbonaceous."

Well that’s all except please send a snap.


P.S. am enclosing a photo of Loch Lomond. GMC

Links to items mentioned in the letter:

“The Broons” and “Oor Wullie” Fan Site
The Sea Cadets Training and Administration website
H.M.S Tiger (C20) in The Shipping Times
H.M.S Vanguard at
H.M.S Bellona at World War 2 Cruisers
John Brown and Sons of Clydebank - Information at TheClydebankStory .com (not linkable)

Links to posts in the series:

Personal History: Post-War Penpals, pt1
Dumbarton July 1945: Post-War Penpals, pt 2
Bradford Sept. 1945: Post-War Penpals, pt3
Dumbarton October 1945: Post-War Penpals, pt 4
Bradford Dec 1945: Post-War Penpals, pt 6

This post also fulfilled Problogger's prompt "Write a link post."

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