Down Memory Lane, September 18 2020

Duncan Brown's daughter Marjorie and granddaughter Gail, right, present a cheque for £930 to Macmillan Nurse Maggie Wilkieson. 
Duncan Brown's daughter Marjorie and granddaughter Gail, right, present a cheque for £930 to Macmillan Nurse Maggie Wilkieson. 

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Proceeds from ‘boyhood memories’ booklet donated to charity

Family of the late Duncan Brown were delighted to present a cheque for £930 to Maggie Wilkieson, Macmillan Nurse at Campbeltown Hospital, in his memory.

The money was raised from the sales of his ‘Boyhood Memories of the Wee Toon’ booklet and electronic version – in which Duncan reminisces about shops, industries and shares numerous anecdotes from his childhood – as well as generous donations from family, friends, and members of the public.

Duncan’s family gratefully thank everyone who contributed to this sum as it was his wish to have it donated to Macmillan Nurses in Campbeltown in appreciation of the wonderful work they do.

The booklet was printed and published just a couple of weeks before Duncan – who was very highly regarded locally and well-known as the owner of a popular toy shop – died on August 11, aged 95.

Duncan’s family has given the Courier permission to serialise the booklet on our Down Memory Lane pages over the next few weeks, so those who missed out on buying a copy can share in Duncan’s memories and so it is preserved for future generations.

This week, we share the first half of the booklet’s first chapter, titled Longrow and Town Centre.

The book’s introduction reads: ‘I have written my memories in the best way I can for a man of advancing years. I have not changed the names of local characters because to do so would detract from the pleasures of having known these memorable people.

‘I do, however, wish to state that no malice is intended as I’d hate to offend any of their relatives who might live in the town today. Suffice to say, without them in the picture, my memories would not be so rich or so joyful.’

Longrow and Town Centre

I was born in 1925 and until I was 18 lived in Longrow. This suited me as I thought Longrow was the centre of the world – well, my world!

Probably the largest shop at that time was John Huie & Co Ltd, stockists of ironmongery, electrical goods, agricultural parts, china, glass and toys etc.

Behind the shop was a large garage, employing about seven or eight mechanics, and it stretched right down to Kinloch Road where they had pumps dispensing both petrol and diesel.

Our flat, where I was brought up, was directly above Huie’s shop, so I spent many hours in the garage getting to know the mechanics and watching them service the cars. Huie’s also had several lorries with a delivery service to Glasgow and a small 20-seater bus for private hire.

The next close down the street led to Campbeltown Sawmill where my old pal Jackie and I would sit and watch the men at work – from a very safe distance!

Jackie lived at the right hand side of this close, first above John Kerr, the baker, and then above Neil McArthur, the baker. The Courier Office retail shop was at the left hand side of the close, (where Donald Barr, the optician, is situated now).

The Courier was printed in a converted house directly above the retail shop. One of the printers, Bobby Albin, was a friend of our family and we would occasionally go in there to watch the Courier being printed.

Leaving the sawmill close and turning left, took us down to the Diamond Vault – nothing to do with a ‘girl’s best friend’! There are a number of theories about the origin of the name, but I never gave it a thought when I was young – I just enjoyed going there.

First stop was at the blacksmith’s and we spent ages there; the horses were always so patient and so was the blacksmith who never seemed to mind us watching him. Coming out of the smiddy, we would go into the kippering store and would watch Charlie Reppke preparing his products.

Boys used to sing:

‘Reppke’s kippers are the best,
In the belly, they digest.
In the closet, they go west.
Reppke’s kippers are the best.’

I have no idea who wrote this lyric!

See next week’s Courier for the second half of the booklet’s first chapter.