The Blue Max Project

© 2016 Thomas Emme Some Rights Reserved

Glasgow....Exploring Scotty's old neighborhood.

All Bill Harrow's friends down at the depot in Los Angeles called him "Scotty".  He came to America when he was nineteen years old, following his father who came over first.  His first job was as a janitor working in the Westwood area ( established himself as a Bruin's fan early).  Eventually he got the chance to work for Union Pacific as a dispatcher at Union Station and he did that job for the rest of his working life.  He missed Scotland, wanted to go back and would tear up whenever he heard bagpipes.  We don't know why he and Shirley never went back, but in a lot of ways this trip was Robyn's chance to do for her Dad what he never did for himself.

We have bits and pieces of his story.  We have his birth certificate that shows him being born around 1916 in Dennistoun just outside of Glasgow.  His parents had manufacturing jobs.  He lived in tenament appartments.  He told us they would walk to the Tennents brewery and collect the "dregs" from the barrels of beer in jars because it was thought to cure diseases.  He hated hospitals, said that was where people went to die.  Some of that was because he had pluerisy ( a lung ailment) and spent a long time in the hospital trying to beat it as a young man.

Funny, for all the research I did ahead of time, I didn't really get a handle on where Scotty lived.  It all fell together when we visited today.  The main landmarks are all still there.

The google maps 3d model gives a pretty good feel of what these neighborhoods are like.  Blocks and blocks of housing built to give factory workers a place to live.

Today this is not a great neighborhood and I doubt it was a great place to grow up as a kid when Scotty was a boy.  The streets are narrow, very little green space and the backyards are shared.

We found some churches in the neighborhood.  We have some of Scotty's church school documents so with some more research may be able to identify one of these as his church growing up.

We think we found the hospital too.  Based on what we saw, you can understand how he felt about hospitals.  A pretty scary looking building.

The other landmark that is still there is Tennents Brewery.  It's roots go back into the 1500's when monks mades low alcohol beer to give to the locals.  At the time Scotty lived in Dennistoun it was a booming industry with housing, schools and churches for workers family.  It is the largest beer producer in Scotland and has a wonderful tour that Robyn and I got to go on.

Lots of great murals and artwork too.

Here is a photo and the actual vintage delivery truck they have onsight.

This drawing shows what the factory grounds looked like in that era.  If you look in the upper right hand corner you can see the church and school that the brewery built for the workers.

The school building is still there and you can see it in this picture.  Yes, they made as wear hair nets and safety vests.  We looked sharp, didn't we?

Like any good brewery tour, it ended with a free pint to taste.   No warnings about drinking and driving like the whisky tour.  Somehow I think the Scottish don't think beer counts. 

It was nice that the brewery tour was light hearted.  Seeing where Bill / Scotty grew up made us a little sad.  His childhood neighborhood looked rough.  Staying in that hospital had to be frightening.  Leaving the things you know to come to a strange country and take an entry level job working as a janitor must not have been an easy thing to do.  All that being said we learned a lot more about his childhood than we ever expected to on this visit.

It would have been nice if he could have come along with us today to share a pint with his daughter.