Another bite sized chunk of Blantyre History
You can see where one block ended and another one started in this photo. The three storey block was a private one owned by the Stewart Family. Old Mrs Stewart as we called her, owned this block and had her Apothecary Store down stairs right where you can see the old truck and the shade pulled down.
Now!! to us here was a place of awe and mystery, one walked into her store and the smells were out of this world and alien to anything else you had ever encountered. She had those large magnificent shaped jars with a lid on each, which I have never seen anywhere else in my travels, each and everyone holding a specific herb or Chemical, and every one neatly labeled. One always approached this store with a certain amount of reverence, it was as if you were afraid that she may have the power to cast a spell on your being. I know that we did some time refer to the lady as being a witch. I think this was just our childish thoughts or a way to try and scare each other.
One of the the items I remember buying at this store was, and I am sure nearly every other boy in Blantyre remembers this too, his purchase of Cinnamon Stick.
We bought this as it was available to us and not being habitual, lit it and smoked it at the age of 9 years, It did not give us a high or any felling of euphoria, you could just smoke it like your elders did with their cigarettes and feel like some big guy.
Another favourite item from the store was the Licorice Root. A real good chew. This is one of the basic flavouring products used in the manufacture of the Licorice Candy. She also sold another specialty and at the time, a recognized cure for all that ails you, Sidlitz powder?. This was wrapped up by Mrs Stewart in a white parchment paper as were all purchases made at her store. In Blantyre if you had a Headache, Hangover, Stomach Pain, Toothache, Backache, you name it, the cure all was the Sidlitz powder. I suppose over the years she must have sold more of these powders than anything else in her store. If I can recall correctly she always wore long black clothes, maybe that is why we hung the witch monika on her, and she was considered one of the rich elite of Blantyre. There were a couple of other stores in her building the names I have forgotten. If you look carefully at the photo depicting her building, on the left hand side with the two trucks outside and the awning seemingly overlapping the trucks is the Stewart’s Building. This 3 storey building is quite different from the regular run of the mill tenement type building we associate with the Blantyre Main Street (Glasgow Road). I would think that she had this building built to her own specifications, (or someone else?) I think this had to be the only unattached building having high gables and bay windows in all of Blantyre as you can see from the photo it stood out among the rest. Mrs Stewart was one of the old type of chemist and her dispensing of the old type of remedies was greatly appreciated by the senior community of Blantyre. I do believe that Mrs Stewart would have been a Doctor of Apothecary in her own right.
Next door was the home and printing works of Clifford the printers, who published the weekly Blantyre Gazette, anything and everything that happened in Blantyre was published here, whether it was good or bad material. The Blantyre Gazette is archived at the premises of the Hamilton Advertiser. I do hope that some day they will put it on a DVD for the future Blantyre historians.
Next door to the publishers was Paterson’s the painters work yard. Not to be seen on any photo!.
Continuing the conversation between Thomas Dunsmuir Hartman in Chicago (known as TDH or Drapadew) and originally from Logan Street, Blantyre and Margaret in Queensland Australia on TalkingScot.
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