Sunday School and celebrations

Once I began going to Sunday School, our timetable was altered and we walked out to the Toll later than before. The whole Sunday School met together and always started with the Catechism questions and answers. Each child had a little paperback book to use. We had hymns that we could understand and simple prayers, and always a penny for the collection. After the joint meeting we moved to classes, separate for boys and girls. Although I must have had several teachers only one has stood out in my memory all the years: Miss Kinloch. She seemed quite old but could have been in her fifties, perhaps. I was very fond of her. She was gentle and kind we learned a lot about the stories of the Bible. Every week we were given some verses, usually from a psalm, to memorise and recite to her the following Sunday. The service always started with a sung psalm. With some friends we also went to the Gospel Hall S.S. They had choruses and rousing tunes. They also had Soirées which we called swarries. That may have been the main attraction as there were games and a bag of buns at them!

Kilmacolm War Memorial. By wfmiller ( [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Kilmacolm War Memorial. By wfmiller ( [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Easter Sunday afternoon was spent at the Toll and all who were able to come, came. The War Memorial was across the road. It was erected in 1921 on a field with a hill given by the then Lord Maclay. Grandad was credited with having had some influence on the choice, as his knowledge of the area was wide. When I was able to read the names of the Great War casualties I saw that two of Lord Maclay’s own sons were listed. There were flower beds and grassy slopes and the Memorial was up on the hill. On the afternoon we would all go over to the Memorial and walk around it and the grownups would read the names of the young men they had known. Everyone had at least one decorated egg to roll down the grassy slopes and off they would all go. So they went from the solemn moments to celebration of the Risen Christ in the rolling and cracking of the egg ‘tomb’. I just enjoyed the excitement of chasing the eggs and rolling them on and having some for tea! There were chocolate eggs too, with white icing decoration on them. I remember getting cardboard eggs which were covered with coloured pictures of bunnies and chickens and had little toys or sweets inside. There was always an Easter cake with a nest of tiny yellow chickens and wee eggs.

New Year’s Day was another big event. The trestle tables were brought out and prepared by Granny and Annie. The huge steak pie, the biggest I’ve ever seen, was the traditional January 1st meal and was made by Stewart Cook and delivered the day before. I can’t remember what went with it but doubtless it was Golden Wonder potatoes and stored vegetables from the garden. We had soup first but, oddly enough, I can’t remember the pudding which was probably trifle. My focus was the pie! The pastry was incredibly tasty, as was the meaty gravy. I liked the tender steak, but the bit I liked best was the underside of the pastry which had been touching the gravy. It was white and I would like to have had a lot more than my share. Some butchers still make good steak pies but in restaurants they are usually disappointing. The meat is served with a piece of puff pastry separately cooked which just breaks up when cut and has little flavour. After all the clearing up was done and the grownups had a rest the games would start, and the gramophone too. Spin the Plate was a big favourite and Postman’s Knock, Pass the Parcel and guessing games too. The men would have a glass of whisky if they liked it and the ladies had port wine or ginger wine. I quite liked ginger wine but preferred lemonade. The lemonade man came every week and Granny bought six varied bottles of it.

That reminds me that Dino Baldi used to call sometimes in his pedal cycled ice-cream cart in the summer. A carton would be bought and we would all have an iced drink – American Cream Soda or other choice of mineral water, with ice cream in it. On a hot day it was just great. My Grandad had left his whisky days behind by then. I was told he used to hide bottles in the house, and the girls knew this and would try to find them. Auntie Annie told me she once found one in the toilet cistern and poured it down the sink. She never mentioned it to anyone and Grandad didn’t refer to it either. None of them drank much at all, it was more a special occasion thing. I know it must have been around somewhere but wine wasn’t part of the culture as it is now and Kilmacolm was a dry area. Any man who wanted to drink alcohol had to go to Bridge-of-Weir. The story was that, years before, there had been a vote as to whether Kilmacolm should or should not have a Public House. The local landowner made an arrangement that on the day of the vote all the people from Quarriers’ Homes would come and vote against the proposition. So the ‘No’ vote triumphed. I was never around when the last bus from Brigoweir came in, but it could be quite rowdy at times!

I suppose there must have been times when there were disagreements and falling outs among the Sinclair clan but I don’t remember ever being shouted at or hearing anyone raising their voices in anger. I remember a lot of teasing and joking and laughing and always security. What child could ask for more?


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