Sunday, 15 August 2010

First Beginnings

This was written by my father. 
I was born on 4th October 1922 at 16 The Crescent, Alexandria, Dunbartonshire. My parents were Charles and Lydia Jane Roberton. My mother's name was Whittaker, hence my middle name.

Alexandria is in the Vale of Leven which is situated between the town of Dumbarton and Loch Lomond. The vale takes its name from thefast flowing River Leven which flows from the fresh water Loch Lomond at Balloch and takes a very winding course until it flows into the River Clyde at Dumbarton.
I was born in a terraced house on the banks of the Leven near to where a road bridge called the Bonhill Bridge connected the parishes of Bonhill and Jamestown to Alexandria. This was probably an appropriate spot for me to spend my early years as my father was born in Jamestown and my mother in Bonhill.
As we left his house when I was only four years old, I have few clear memories of it and those I do recall are linked more to stories told and often retold by my father, than to actual memries of my own making. In particular, my father loved to recount the visit he had from a new sergeant of the local police nicknamed 'Chesty' who advised him that some lads had been seen removing railway sleepers from the nearby railway station and that my name had been given as one of those involved. As I was only three years old at the time the affair gave my father a great deal of amusement and no doubt caused the unfortuate sergeant a similar amount of embarrassment.
My only other source of information was from listening to the stories told at family get-togethers after we had left Alexandria. It was the practice in those days for close relations to visit each other periodically. There would be a high tea with boiled ham and a cake-stand full of home-made cakes and scones. After the meal we all sat in the 'front room' where the adults had a good old chinwag, the children being 'seen but not heard'.
 Our closest friends and relations were Willie and Jean Bennie and their children, Mary and Peter. Jean Bennie was in fact the daughter of my mother's stepsister althought they had been brought up as sisters.
At such a meeting, the two of them would go through the same routine of discussing all the local gossip, old and new, about the people they had known. At the end Willie Bennie would turn to my father and say "Well, Charlie, that's the Crescent put to rest 'til the next time".

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