Those Were the Days

Those Were the Days, by Anne Macdonald

As Teenagers in the fifties my friend and I just loved our Saturdays in Clydebank, this was a real ‘Mecca’ for us.

On Saturday morning while my Mum completed her weekend shopping, my duty was to look after young brothers. On her return, after a bite to eat, I was able to go off to enjoy an outing in Clydebank. As my friend lived close by, we met at the bus stop and travelled together to buy our own make up in the nearby town.

Woolworths Store, Glasgow Road, Clydebank, 1960s.
Woolworths Store, Glasgow Road, Clydebank, 1960s.
Courtesy of West Dunbartonshire Council Archives.

The first shop we went to was ‘Woolies’ as they kept a large stock of lipsticks and eyeshadows and the price suited our budget. The make was ‘Outdoor Girl’ and a lipstick was 1/3 (6p in today’s money). They had lots of colours, this was time consuming as we wanted to get a colour which made us feel good about our appearance.

When we had extra cash, which we got from babysitting, our next shop was ‘Galls’. Here we could buy a blouse for 3s 7d (18p today), this again was done in no hurry, as we wanted to make sure the colour flattered us. When our parents had applied for a ‘coop line’ stiletto heels were on the agenda. The Coop allowed credit to the end of the quarter, there were no credit cards for most people in those days.

Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass Perfume Magazine Advert
Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass Perfume
Magazine Advert. Image Source

Making our way along Glasgow Road, we frequently bumped into friends, who inquired about plans for the evening. La Scala cinema on Kilbowie Road, or Institute Dancing were our social venues.

After chatting we then travelled home to get our evening meal. Once the dishes were all cleared up I started to get prepared for the night out.

I wore black taffeta skirts with different coloured blouses, nylons and stiletto heels. In summer I wore a cotton dress from C&A costing £1. These would be our usual styles for the evening.
My hair was short and once dried at the fire, lip stick on, eyeshadow on and then applied my favourite perfume which was Blue Grass, I was ready to face the world.

As we met at the bus stop, with the local crowd from nearby, our excitement started.

Arriving at the Institute Dance Hall we paid a fee of half a crown, 2/6 or 12.5p in today’s money.

Catholic Institute Dance Hall late 1950s, Dumbarton Road, Clydebank.
Catholic Institute Dance Hall late 1950s, Dumbarton Road, Clydebank.
Courtesy of West Dunbartonshire Council Archives.

We left off our coats and applied more lipstick then made our grand entrance to the dancing. The band sounded wonderful to us. Girls on one side of the hall, guys on the other, both eyeing the talent. As we knew most of the lads, we were quickly asked up to dance. My favourite dance was the quickstep to ‘When the Saints go Marching in’.

Frequently we were aware of who would dance with you for a certain dance (really quite clannish when I think of this). During breaks in the dancing a non-alcoholic drink would be purchased, sometimes the lads paid for this if they wanted you up for the next dance.

Most evenings the dancing finished at 11pm but sometimes like at Easter and New Year the dancing ended at 1am though this had to be checked with parents beforehand.

My friend frequently got a ‘lumber’, which meant that lad would see you home, but usually all
travelled home together on a tram. In the summer evenings though we all walked home.

If a girl did get a lumber and seen home, a Wednesday night out at the cinema for the first date was acceptable, but sometimes due to the lads lack of cash he would ask you to sit in the stalls, the balcony was more expensive then you see. Us lassies would be put out by this, guys just paying for the honour of a good night kiss!

La Scala Cinema, Kilbowie Road, Clydebank 1950.
La Scala Cinema, Kilbowie Road, Clydebank 1950.
Courtesy of West Dunbartonshire Council Archives

Both cinemas we favoured were the La Scala and the Empire. They had a great variety of films. As there were no TVs for most families we thoroughly enjoyed the cinema.

Life was uncomplicated for us youngsters as our only worry was what to wear and our social lives. Sometimes we would be asked to an 18th Birthday Party which would be held in their family home.

Once we reached the magic of 18 years we spread our wings to Glasgow City were the Majestic and St Andrews Halls were our favourite places to go.

The town of Clydebank in those days was dirty due to the heavy industry and coal fires which meant foggy days and each winter was unpleasant. But I have always had a fondness for Clydebank.