Another bite sized chunk of Blantyre History
Across the road on the other corner of Clark Street was a cobblers shop which I know you are very interested in Margaret, one of those shops that specialized in Clickity Clackity boots. The cobbler was a Lithuanian immigrant and without a doubt one of the best in Blantyre. He could take a pair of boots for mending and fix on a nice piece of leather and then add his touch with the steel plates and studs, when you put them on, you felt like Fred Astaire and it took all your willpower to stop yourself from dancing. NOW WOULD I KID YOU MARGARET!!. There was a large influx of Lithuanians and Polish miners into Scotland when their country was overrun by the then U.S.S.R. (The cobbler mentioned was Matthew Miller, known locally as Matha the Pole).
But all kidding aside he was a great cobbler and did all of the miners boots who lived across the road in Murray’s Raws.You could most times tell he was a miner, or a miners son, because even dressed in his very best they probably had steel tips and steel heals to their shoes, this was mainly used as a buffer against the quick wear of the leather. There was a time in the early 1950’s in Blantyre when it was the Fashion to have steel caps on your walking out shoes, everybody could hear everybody else coming down the road, this only lasted a very short time, I would say a year at the most.
Many different Fashions had a revival soon after the war years, everybody was trying something different from the other person.
This was the time of the Teddy-Boys The first teddy -boys that I ever saw was in London 1951. This was also the time that I got out of the army. Almost all of the young men who had been in the services, came out with a completely different approach to the way of dressing and their outlook in life. They had a much more positive approach to the world around them, and dress or the fashion of the day was a way of showing to the community where they lived the type of person they would like to be known as, of course the attention that the girls gave was of the highest priority.
There were three types of fashion for the young men in Blantyre. We had the Teddy-Boys, We had those that had the Beetle look, long narrow pants with a short 3 button jacket and a slim tie and then there was us yin’s, we thought we were the cat’s whiskers.
We wore the Saville row business mans cut to our suits, 2 button medium length, made from the latest materials, (Mohair) tailored in Glasgow by what we thought were the the top tailors in the Business.
Our shirts were hand made had French double cuffs, and with the Billy Ekstine, Tony Curtis high Collars, We had on our feet the latest soft Italian shoes or a nice leather Brogue, our ties were Italian made but not too slim. Our hair cuts were a copy of the Tony Curtis look, our version of. Our outer wear was usually a large Crombie Coat. The cat’s whiskers indeed.
We had by this time through working 12hr night shifts the money to spend on ourselves and fashion at the time dictated that this was for us the way. I know I did not want to look like a Teddy-Boy, and my pals were of the same mind. Not that I had anything against Teddy-Boys they lived all around me and I worked and socialized with them, I just did not like the cut of their jib.
In the 1950’s A change was taken place in Blantyre and the then structured life of the miners and their sons. Most of the fathers were advising their sons that the mines was not the only jobs available to them. With their better schooling they were now tackling anything and everything, and at this time a lot of the mines were closing.
Continuing the conversation between Thomas Dunsmuir Hartman in Chicago, formerly Logan Street, (known as TDH or Drapadew) and Margaret in Queensland Australia on TalkingScot.
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