MY PARENTSIn 1956, my mother died in the Southern General Hospital. She had been ailing for some time, but none of us realized how serious it was, and on reflection, I don't think her doctor did, either. She was ill enough that Peggy had taken her to Milton, where she could look after her. This, after a previous week in hospital, which hadn't improved her. One night, when I was visiting, she was in such pain that I called the doctor on the way home. He said he would have her admitted to the Southern General next day, a Friday. Visiting the hospital on Saturday, I knew she was terminal. She died on Sunday. It crushed us all and I know my Dad never really got over it. He let himself drift after that, and Peggy took him to Milton and had his house sold off. He gradually deteriorated and got so stiffened up, I had a difficult time getting him in and out of the car. He lingered on for five or six years after my mother died. He had no hobbies and his work and his family were his sole life. Peggy deserved a lot of credit for her unselfish sacrifices for both our parents.
That year, 1956, saw an upturn in my career, and after answering an anonymous box number ad for a machine shop foreman, I discovered the job was in Harland & Wolff's. When I went for an interview, the personnel manager whom I'd known for years before, was ensconced with Jock McCrae, now Works Manager, but whom I had known as a section leader and, before that, as an engine fitter. Johnnie McMillan was the Assistant Works Manager, and had been known to me when he was a tool-maker I'd worked with years before. They were concerned about condensers and condenser tube plates, and not one of them knew anything about them, so it was my experience at Metropolitan Vickers, plus the fact that they remembered my work record in Harland's, which clinched the job for me. After very little haggling on my part, the job was mine, and the following week, I went back to Harland's for the third time.
Shortly after, the Masonic Club in Harland's was being formed and I was invited to be social convenor with the Secretary and Treasurer as my committee. No one had a clue how to organize a bus trip or, as I did for several years, charter a steamer to sail up the Firth and through the Kyles of Bute, with a stop ashore for dinner in Dunoon or Rothesay. I also ran two dances every year. One was for members and wives, and the other was open to friends or family. The members only ran to about 80 people, but the open one, which we held in the Ca'Doro, the Grand Hotel, or the Prince of Wales Rooms, went to about 350 people. We embarrassed our General Manager, the company secretary, and the comptroller the first year we ran it, because they didn't expect the workers to be dressed up in tuxedos and they arrived in ordinary suit and tie! [I must go back a bit in time now, because obviously, the Masonic Club doings were spread over a number of years.]