Memories from Charles Douglas Lillie

Douglas, John and Gran 1938

Douglas with my Gran in 1938

The following is a guest post from my cousin Charles Douglas Lillie. I was very excited to connect with Douglas during the course of research into my Uncle Drew’s art and writing.

My memory has been jogged through contact with  Cousin Jennifer Bertrand (twice removed) our common ancestor being Charles Lillie my Grand Father, Jennifer’s Gr.Gr. Grand Father. Born Peterhead Scotland 1851 Died Glasgow 1896. 

My Father John was the younger Brother of Andrew Lillie, Jennifer’s Great Grand Father, I am the younger of two Brothers John Alexander  1922-1996 and myself, Charles Douglas Lillie Born Coventry 1930 therefore I was nine years old when the Second World War started and fifteen when peace arrived again.

 To say that I was war hardened when the following events took place may be a slight exaggeration but the nightly air raid sirens, frequent  bombing raids, the sounds of bombs exploding,  whistling bombs intended to frighten the civilian populace,  parachute mines silent but deadly plus the ubiquitous incendiaries were as familiar to me as the daily newspapers.

During a holiday (yes we still had those in wartime) with my Mother, staying with my Uncle Andrew and Aunt Sarah in 39 Thorncroft Drive, Croftfoot, Glasgow it was decided to leave me there for a few weeks as an unofficial evacuee, the few weeks though stretched into a few months, but I was happy enough to be given Cousin Andrew’s bedroom whilst He was away on army service, this was to be an introduction into an adult world which I never forgot.

On one occasion only the air raid sirens sounded, my dear Aunt Sarah had what today would be called a panic attack, She did not know what to do, the McLean family upstairs however plus myself a 10 year old veteran convened in the Anderson air raid shelter dug into the shared back garden, nothing happened only a Warden ringing a hand bell! which should have signalled a gas attack which didn’t help my Aunt’s state of mind, the “All Clear” sounded and my only experience of a suspected air raid  finished without any casualties.

 I was spoilt rotten, by my Uncle and Aunt plus Andrew’s two attractive Sisters Annie, the elder,  and Elizabeth known as Betty, and I have to admit I was smitten by the very pretty 19 year old Betty although it was Annie who looked after me with extra curricular activities such as cinema visits to the “State” in Kings Park and the” Tonic” on Battlefield Road.

I was almost totally left to my own devices during daylight hours, must have made the bus journey from Croftfoot to St. Enoch Square fifty times, even today 72 years on I can remember the route.

Often took the opportunity to see Cousin Betty in her workplace, Pettigrew & Stephens a Department Store on Sauchiehall Street at the glove counter,  was this where she met and not long after married Robert Reid, perhaps this was why I did not see too much of Betty in the evenings, was Robert courting his bride to be at that time.

I occupied Cousin Andrew’s bedroom, an  Aladdin’s cave to a  10 year old avid  reader,  Just William (Richmal Crompton),  Biggles (Capt. W.E.Johns) plus anything by H. Rider Haggard was my normal fare.

 My literary education however was to make a giant leap forward when discovering in Andrew’s bookcase the delights of Boccaccio’s Decameron, Burton’s translation of the Kama Sutra, plus his Perfumed Garden; many, many years after, I came to realise that Andrew had developed quite an esoteric view on erotica, many of his poems featured this trait.

I missed quite a lot of schooling during the time in Glasgow, a school inspector called more than once but Aunt Sarah always had a stock answer: ” his Mother is coming to collect him next week” perhaps if I had attended a local school I may have picked up a wee bit of a Glasgow accent which would have really pleased my Dad.

Uncle Andrew was my favourite Uncle of many, I loved the fact that he was a skilled painter of  Glasgow trams at the Mount Florida depot.

He would take me walks to Linn Park close by, a small sketch book was  always with me, he would sit and watch me try to convey a scene to paper attempting to emulate my Cousin’s skills, I came a very poor second though.

Years later after retiring to the Black Isle in Ross-shire, Scotland I was able to meet up with Andrew on numerous occasions, his two Sisters had emigrated to Canada long ago, I never saw Betty again, but was in touch with Annie by phone frequently, it was very sad that neither Sister enjoyed comfortable harmonious marriages.

Andrew died in 1997 after a short illness  and his ashes scattered in his and my beloved Linn Park.

© Charles Douglas Lillie, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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