Port Glasgow Connections
John left a message in the guest book and then he was good enough to share his old photographs and story for these pages this page was originally added to the site in 2002.
My mom in 1956.
The group photo was taken circa 1885 in Edinburgh (although they lived in Port Glasgow), standing is my Great grand father John McAllister (17yrs) ,
Who was John McAllister? He was my Great-Grandfather. He wasn't a war hero (at least not that I know of) and he never rescued children from a burning building or discovered a cure for a disease. He was like most of us, a working man doing what he could to get by. Unfortunately, I never got to meet him as he passed on long before I was born.
My mother's parents left Scotland with her, and her sister, for England whenshe was five years old, to look for work. But she remembers going back for visits. She especially talked of going home for the launch of a huge passenger-liner that her Granddad had worked on...the H.M.S. Queen Mary. I grew up on those stories, stories of how my great-grand-parents had a tenement flat on Bay Street with a view of the River Clyde. And of how family and friends gathered to watch the majestic lady being guided down-river by tugs to the North Sea for her sea trails. It goes without saying that dignitaries, not men with calloused hands, get invited to ship launchings. But still, Mom told of how the men cheered wildly as the ship passed, egos swollen with pride at their great accomplishment. And she also told of how the women all cried, because the men were all out of work...again.
In May of 1999 my family and I vacationed in Scotland and of course we had to visit Port Glasgow. I found #47 Bay Street where the McAllister's had lived. The tenements are gone now, torn down for upscale "river-view" apartments. But still, for a few monments, I shared the same view they had of the River Clyde. And I could easily imagine the scene in that small apartment almost three-quarters of a century ago.
I live just two and half-hours from Long Beach, California where the Queen Mary is now docked, but I had never gone to see her. But in October of 1999, there was a Scottish Festival on the grounds adjoining the grand ship's moorings. I figured that it must be fate calling so my wife and I attended the festival. When I first laid eyes on "The Queen" I was totally awed be her presences.
Her size was over-whelming. She totaly dominated the landscape. That was when I really understood the pride those working men felt as they watched her sail down-river. As I stood there admiring their work, I remembered the view of the Clyde, and all Mom's stories came flooding in. And then something clicked! Suddenly the stories were real. These people weren't just "ancestors", but family! It was truly a grand awaking. So, who was John McAllister? He was my Great-Grand-Father. He died long before I was born, but in October, 1999... I met him.
by John Olinger
This page last modified on Sunday, February 13, 2011
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