HARLAND & WOLFF and MASONIC CLUBAs I wrote in a previous chapter from 1956, I was machine shop foreman in Harland & Wolff, and I was making my mark in the manufacture of hydro-electric machinery. There were several new power stations under construction in Scotland in these years, Loch Sloy, Pitlochry, and the truly amazing Loch Awe project. The Loch Awe scheme entailed tunneling out the unusually shaped Ben Cruachan and building a power plant inside the mountain. Then they created an artificial lake inside the hill at the upper level. At night, they pumped water up to that lake, and in the daytime, let it run down-hill through water turbines generating electricity on the way. It was a marvelous concept and very successful. In addition to the hydro-electric machinery, we still had a token contract for some naval guns, and later, we did quite a lot of sub-contract work for the Danly Press Corp. of Chicago. This contract was for the manufacture of large presses used to stamp out truck and car bodies. So Harland & Wolff had apparently found a new purpose, not totally geared for war production.
Outside of work, I had the Masonic Club to occupy my leisure time. Much of the arrangement-making was done with Bessie and Jimmy Sloan's wife, May, accompanying us so they were not left home alone when we were out running around. Another thing that took up some time -- usually Friday or Saturday nights -- was a little Scottish country dance band which was formed about 1963 and included Joe Gorman on accordion, Jack McPherson on violin, a drummer -- whose name I forget, and myself playing a bass vamp on piano, which was an ideal thing for an "ear" player. I played the oom-pa-pa accompaniment which demanded a good ear, and if you listen to any of the country dance bands, you can hear this when you listen closely. On at least two occasions, we played at our Masonic Club Dances, but I preferred to get another group for that, so I could be free to enjoy myself.
In writing a memoir like this, it is inevitable that some events will be remembered out of sequence, so I hope the reader may shuffle them into their proper place in time. One such event should have been recorded a few chapters ago, but as often happens, I was engrossed in other things which were happening at the time.
As I wrote before, the same year as Helen went to the U.S. in March and married Joe Fizell, Margaret traveled to the U.S. in November and stayed with Helen and Joe at first. Presumably, she was going to renew her connection with the Coast Guard sailor boy, who had been corresponding with her for a couple of years. However, as time went on, it became apparent that there would be no further advance in that affair and finally, we received word that Margaret had become engaged to Eddie Brouse, who was also in Joe's circle at the time. So it seems that the fellow who started the train of events which first brought Helen, and then Margaret to the U.S., was no longer in the picture. For one reason or another, about which I won't speculate, Margaret didn't remain under Joe and Helen's roof, and after a spell at the Y.W.C.A., she went to live at Eddie's mother's house in Frankford. They eventually married in October, 1960, in a Jewish ceremony. Helen and Joe were there, and Rosemary McPherson and her mother, since Mrs. McPherson was visiting the U.S. then. In the course of time, Margaret had a son, David, born in 1962. In 1972, she had another son, Joel.
The other additions to my extended family were Helen and Joe's children, Steve, Beth, and Wendy, all born through the sixties. Back home in Scotland, we could only see our Grandchildren in pictures, and after Elizabeth married and also went abroad, we had only Wilma left. She was growing into a lanky teenager. To say we missed them would be an understatement, and I'm afraid there were often occasions, particularly at Christmas or on birthdays, when Bessie and I just clung to each other and shed tears. Bessie's health was slowly improving and she was able to get back to normalcy. The only thing I felt was that her temperament had changed with the trouble she had, and she was not quite the same as before 1962.