EARLY 1960's -- probably '63 or '64
GEORGE AND KATHY
I can't pinpoint the exact year, but I know it was between '63 and '67 -- I received a call from George to say he had failed his driving test for the third time and would I take him out for some practice and pointers on driving. They had bought a nearly new Vauxhall Victor, and I learned that it had already been involved in a "shunt" with Kathy on the first day she went out with a driving instructor. The front got pretty well banged up, but after a visit to the body shop, it looked quite good. At any rate, she was taking lessons from a driving school. George was tired of driving schools, so he turned to me for help.
I went up to Scotstoun five or six evenings a week and on Sundays. I took George out and put him through all the stuff the examiner would be doing. I had him reversing into an opening from either side, turning the car using forward and reverse, without touching the curb. Parallel parking, stopping and restarting on a hill (with a stick shift) and all the little things which become second nature after a while. After a half hour or 45 minutes learning and practicing these maneuvers, I would take him for a drive somewhere, trying to cover parts of the city, with traffic lights, stop lights, etc., and usually with a spell on the high-speed road, like the Boulevard. After about two weeks, George was confident enough to rev it up to overtake slower vehicles. He re-applied for his test and passed easily. I think all he needed was to get his confidence boosted a bit.
During this period, we got back some of the camaraderie we'd had years before when George was single and we would go out for a drink together. So it was, that when we got back to Scotstoun or if we parked anyplace, he confided in me and told me that he was worried about Kathy. It seems that in addition to getting lessons from the driving instructor, she was going out with "Captain" Murray, a retired Army man who very pretentiously always used his rank -- Captain. He was some kind of staff factotum in the Singer Company and Kathy's brother, John Baillie, was the C.E.O. of Singer at this time. They were all involved in the Singer Caledonian Society and sponsored the Caledonian Ball every year. Kathy herself had been a secretary in Singer before she turned to teaching, so they were all part of a cozy little clique. George felt like something of an outsider, although he did attend the ball each year. George thought Kathy was becoming too cozy with the captain, although I tried dissuading him. However, there was apparently a confrontation shortly after George passed his driving test, and Kathy moved out to a large apartment in a red sandstone tenement in Govanhill. This was one of those large apartment buildings scattered around Glasgow with a front room like a ballroom. The ironic thing was that Kathy had passed the driving test, too, and when she left Scotstoun, she took the car with her. George never drove again and never got another car. When George indicated to me that he thought Kathy and Murray were an item, I never did believe it, because Kathy was an educated, sophisticated woman in her forties, and while she may have drawn apart from George, I think she was far too smart to get involved with a pretentious social climber like "Captain" Murray. Apart from the fact that he had a wife already, for my money, he was something of a caricature and I think Kathy just used him because she needed a driver to sit with her. In fact, when she left Scotstoun, there was no followup. Kathy and Murray had no further association, but the rift between Kathy and George was such that they did divorce after an interval. Today, Kathy -- remarried -- is living in Kingston, Ontario. George remarried -- another Kathy -- a lady who was a librarian in the Mitchell library - in the early 70's, and made a trip to the U.S. in 1973. Sadly, Kathy II died in 1976 and George passed away the following year.
Recounting some of these stories makes me realize I had a very diverse life and not too many dull moments. I enjoyed it, and I enjoyed my work in the factory also, as a different kind of work to any I'd done before. However, my days in the car-hiring business finally ended when the owner of the business sold out, and although I could have done the same stuff with the new owner, I didn't much care for him or his attitude, so I cut loose altogether. I know I'm probably skipping past a lot of stories and a lot of time, but everything in a life isn't always memorable, or worth recording, and there are always some things you'd rather forget anyway. I've tried in this memoir to be objective and not miss anything, but I know there must be a fair bit I don't remember.
So now I'm going to pick up the story in 1970. I was still Head Q. C. man in the division and I got to thinking I'd like to visit my daughters in the U.S. Wilma was working as a merchandiser on ladies' foundation garments and could be safely left home alone by then. Elizabeth was established in her own house in Fareham by then, so there was nothing in the way of our having a visit. I mentioned it casually in a letter to Helen and Joe, and almost by return of post, Joe sent us half the fare to come over! So we arranged to come to Philadelphia for the first time and to stay for the month of July, 1970. At that time, from Prestwick, the only option was to fly into New York, so when we arrived at Kennedy Airport around 4 p.m. on July 4, a hot, muggy day, we were met by Joe and Helen, Eddie and Margaret, with Stephen, Beth and David. When we left Scotland, it was about 60 degrees and I wore a three-piece suit and a Burberry raincoat. When we landed, it was more than 90 degrees and sweat just gushed from me. By peeling off the top layers and getting into an air-conditioned car, I soon got more comfortable and we enjoyed the drive to Philadelphia. Next day, we were entertained to an outdoor barbecue with all the Fizell and Brouse families, plus all the immediate neighbors in Horrocks Street. We got to know our grandchildren, David Brouse, Steve, Beth, and Wendy Fizell, and for the first time, we were able to meet them all in person. We met Joe's mother, Naomi, and Joe Fairweather, her husband. We met Eddie's father, Harry Brouse, and his wife, Gladys, and all of them really gave us a terrific welcome. That month of July was a thrilling time, and meeting our daughters for the first time in 13 years was a moment to relish for me. Joe and Eddie excelled themselves in driving us around . We saw all the historic places in Philadelphia. We went to Cape May, and visited Joe's father and wife at Somers Point. At Cape May, we were the guests of Charles and Rose Burg, whose permanent home was in Horrocks Street, but who owned the summer home in Cape May. We also met Frank Boyd and Edna, his first wife, at the Burg's. It was visits, parties, and lots of entertainment for the entire month, but all too soon, it was coming to an end. I am not sure who sowed the first seed, but the suggestion was made that we should think about coming to the U.S. permanently. At first, I did not even give it a second thought. I thought it was a nice place to visit, but I had no ambition to settle here in the U.S.A.!
However, when I got home and went back to work, things started stirring in Singer's and it soon became evident that a lot of reorganization was in the wind. Departments were to be merged and personnel shuffled around and a lot of positions were going to be eliminated. I was involved to the extent that they offered me a new position in charge of Research & Development, but I didn't think I had the kind of experience to handle it. Although I had been there for nearly four years by then, and had put a completely new design of machine into production without any master gauges, using pure measurement on the surface table, I didn't feel qualified for the position they offered. When I was in Philadelphia, I had a meeting at home with a personnel manager from the Budd Company and he assured me I'd have no problem getting a position at Budd's if I decided to come over. With that in mind, and given the obvious state of flux at Singer's, I decided I would take a chance and come to the U.S. I haven't decided even yet if I made the right decision. After completing all the formalities in the U.K., including an entire day spent in interviews, medical exams, and thousands of questions, we got a Visa to come to the U.S. with necessary green cards, and work permits for Wilma and myself.