At home again, we certainly missed having Helen around. And I think the one who missed her most was Wilma, because when Wilma was a baby, Helen had been the little mother. Helen nursed, bathed and changed her, and was a real surrogate mother. I don't think Bessie ever really recovered from the trauma of Margaret's accident and the subsequent debilitating worries, plus the constant travelling to and from Ballochmyle. Helen made things much easier with her care and attention to her baby sister. Wilma thrived under her care and was a chubby little cherub. Wilma showed that she had an active imagination when we found she had an imaginary friend she spoke with when playing by herself. The friend was "Osemary," a name she knew from Rosemary McPherson, who lived across the street. Wilma was always a daddy's girl in her early years, and I remember one Saturday, we had her down to Clydebank to do some shopping. We went into Woolworth's, which, of course, was a paradise for kids. Wilma had her eye on a little handbag in tartan, and tugged my hand to come and look. I bought the little bag and gave it to her. At that time, you paid directly at the counter, so as we walked though the aisles, Wilma started singing, "Oh! Mein Papa, to me, he is so wonderful," etc. etc.! I don't know if she really linked the song to the gift of the handbag, but at three or four, who knows. People around us had a smile at her and of course, Daddy got a glow. Later, when she was older, probably about seven, she devised a birthday card for her mum, on which she drew some flowers and added her own lyric, "Lots of love and lots of kisses, To my daddy's nice wee missus." You can bet that got a good reception and a laugh all around.
So life went on at Attlee Avenue. Over the years, we had started a small garden with a flower border and a nice lawn at front and side. The back garden, where clothes were hung, had been a muddy, clay, lumpy area when we moved in. But the man next door and his pal and myself went along the canal bank and cut turf enough for the two backyards. And when it was done and all knit together, it was the best in the neighborhood. Everyone around made a big effort to improve their gardens, and the overall effect turned out very well. I started a privet hedge, which, over the years, grew to be four feet thick and more than six feet high. Although it meant a lot of trimming, it was well worth it.
There are a few other important details of 1957. Some time in October, I got a spark off the grindstone in my eye, which became badly infected. I went to the Glasgow Eye Infirmary and was detained there for four or five weeks before they were able to combat the infection with a new antibiotic. During my confinement, Margaret had made arrangements to go to the United States, and on the night she was leaving, she called the hospital for a good-bye visit on her way to the Airport bus depot in Glasgow. My friend, Andy Anderson, drove her up to the city. So that was another break in the family, and it certainly did not make any of us at home very happy.
Sometime in the 1960's, a very funny thing happened at 72 Attlee Avenue, and to tell it fully, you should know that the entire development of Linnvale was built to replace the many houses destroyed by bombing in the war. The developers devised a method of building these houses by creating a framework of tubular metal and then putting on the roof. They filled in the walls with steel plating, to which they added pebble-dash coatings. This was a method devised to build many houses in a short period of time. The term used was unconventional housing and supplies for the builders were hard to come by in those years after the war. Some items were strictly utilitarian, with no fancy frills, and one of these items was the toilet. When we went into the house in late 1949, the toilet had only the ring seat, with no lid. It's my feeling that lids on toilets were not made much before that period. Anyway, to continue with the story, that week, we had some problem in the bathroon and we had a plumber in to fix a pipe. As usual, the floor was messed up a bit and the bathroom was untidy. That night, Bessie was up the road at the church for choir practice, so I decided to clean up the bathroom and, at the same time, fit the new toilet seat complete with lid. So I mopped the floor and tidied up before fitting the new seat in place. My good deed completed, I retired to the living room to watch the television for awhile. In due course, I heard Bessie's key in the front door, which faced the bathroom door at the other end of the entrance hall. The next thing I heard was Bessie laughing loudly from the bathroom. She had come in the front door, walked to the other end of the passage and backed into the bathroom. She didn't see the lid down and consequently, wet all over it! We had a real good laugh and all ended well. The tail-piece to this story is that later that same week Bessie's sister, Ena, was visiting. She walked out of the living room and did the same thing again all over the new toilet lid!