The Glasgow Boys (object 11)

Uncle John’s Glasgow Trams painting (photographed by Milton Grubert)

As may have become apparent, my parents came from very different backgrounds (I consider myself the product of a “mixed class” household). Dad came from a large, happy, affectionate working class family raised in a “room and kitchen” in a tenement in the Gorbals district of Glasgow. His father, my Grandad R., was a tram driver, and his mother gave birth to 9 children, including triplets who only lived a few days. Dad was born first, in 1913, and had 4 brothers and one sister (who died aged 18 of, I think, TB). Dad told us many stories of his early life, some of which he wrote down not long before he died, and I always had the impression of a warm and loving family home full of music and laughter despite financial hardship. The boys did well at school and although there was no money to extend their education, they all had artistic talents. My dad was intuitively musical, always able to coax a tune out of a “mouthie” or keyboard or strings by ear; when uncle Peter sang at family gatherings there was “not a dry eye in the hoose”. As a young man my Dad built himself an Appalachian dulcimer, on which he played very sweet, delicate tunes.  He also wrote songs and poems, and enjoyed sketching. My uncles John and Robert, however, were the really gifted artists. Both painted throughout their lives, and exhibited and sold much of their work.
Uncle John’s painting of Glasgow trams is very special to me for several reasons.  He had worked as a conductor on the trams, and I remember his and Dad’s stories of Grandad’s work as a tram driver. There was the time he stopped the tram because a cat had fallen asleep on the warmed lines – only to startle it awake, fighting and howling, with a sudden blast on his horn. He also used to stop the tram on its route past their home on Pollokshaws Road so he could collect his lunch. Uncle John died suddenly not long after he painted this picture, which was then given to my parents and hung in our hallway for the rest of their lives; it now hangs in mine. John was a lovely man and this painting always brings back happy memories of visiting the family in East Kilbride, and all those stories of Grandad and the trams.

Dad John Robert 1980

Dad, left, with brothers John and Robert, 1980


About Hoarder of Babylon

A chartered librarian and curator of my family archives.
This entry was posted in Dad, Glasgow family, Grandad R. (paternal grandfather), Paintings and sketches. Bookmark the permalink.

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