Old Glasgow Club
Minutes of Ordinary Meeting of Club held at Adelaide’s, 209 Bath Street on Thursday 12th February 2009 at 7.00pm .
Mr Gordon (for President)
There were apologies from Anna Forrest, Jim Gibson, Maida Gibson, Petrina Cairns, Brian Henderson, Isabel Haddow, Janette Knox, Sheila Kelly, Margaret McCormack, Betty Sneddon, Elen Johnston, Terry Liddell, Ann Lenihan
Mr Gordon explained that at the January meeting he had omitted to ask for approval for the December minutes and asked the permission of the meeting to do so that evening.
The minutes were proposed by Jean Dewar and seconded by Stuart Little.
The minutes of the last ordinary meeting held on 8th January had been circulated –proposed by Margaret Russell and seconded by Marion McGuigan.
There were no matters arising.
There was no President’s report. Mrs Forrest being in Cyprus.
Mrs McNae advised that Glasgow University had asked us to publicise an exhibition currently on display. “The Maps of Glasgow - Historical to Digital” showing the growth of the city from 1654 to the present day.
Peter Mortimer, Past President of the Club will be guest speaker at SGHET on 24th February at Queen’s Park Church, 170 Queen’s Drive. His subject being “Glasgow Street Names and their Origins.
“Aye Write” book festival from Friday 6th March until Sunday 14th featuring great authors including our speaker for this evening David Simons. Linda Muir had very kindly brought along extra copies of the Glasgow magazine with a feature on the festival.
The Tappit Hen Bowling Tournament would this year, be held on 21st May at Kelvingrove Bowling Greens at 6.30pm followed by supper at The Drawing Room.
The first Club Bowling Tournament had been held in 1934 at Shawlands Bowling Club.
The J.A.S. Memorial Walk would take place on Thursday 4th June.
This year’s summer outing will be to Traquair House, followed by high tea in Peebles. Coach will leave Glasgow at 9.30am returning at approximately 8.00pm. Cost of outing £25.00
Mr Gordon introduced Mr David Simons, author of The Credit Draper.
Mr Simons introduced his talk by saying when he accepted the invitation he was anticipating a small chat about his book with about 20 people. Then, having done a bit of research on the Club website he wondered what he had let himself in for when he discovered the attendance numbers of 80-100!
He began his talk about his novel The Credit Draper, set in the early 1900’s, by talking about the Jewish community in Glasgow – both past and present.
His first picture was of the Jewish Tartan, approved by the Scottish Tartans Authority last year, representing a great deal of what
In Glasgow the first recorded instance of a Jewish citizen was in 1812 when a hatter called Isaac Cohen was admitted as a burgess to the city – he had arrived in Glasgow via London and Manchester and he is apparently credited with bringing the silk hat to Scotland. Cohen was typical of the first immigrants into the city as they tended to be merchants, tradesmen and professionals who had come of business reasons from south of the border rather than as a result of religious persecution.
The growth in the Jewish community in Glasgow can be seen in the establishment of its synagogues. However, by 1879, when there were only about 1,000 Jewish residents in the city, the first dedicated synagogue was built at Garnethill on Hill Street, just along from Glasgow Art School.
By 1891, there were about 2,000 Jews in the city and while most of them lived around the centre, there had been some Jewish settlement in the Gorbals area of the city. However from the 1890’s until the beginning of the First World War, things began to change for the Gorbals. Jewish immigration soared as Jews began to escape from religious persecution in Eastern Europe, most noticeably from Russia and Poland. Numbers jumped from 7,000 in 1900 to 12,000 by the beginning of the war in 1914. The core of the Jewish community in Glasgow was really established between 1890 and 1914.
Most had been bound for America but on reaching Glasgow had decided to stay.
Mr Simons painted a picture of tailors, pressers, machinists and capmakers, those employed in the tobacco trade, travellers, hawkers, peddlers, credit drapers, cabinet makers, slippermakers, clothiers, drapers, jewellers and watchmakers. Sweetmakers like Glickmans, the shop being opened in 1903 to provide the nation with their rations of Soor Plooms and Rosie Apples – at this point there was a rustle of a sweetie bag in the front row and he was offered (and accepted) a soor ploom!
For a lot of non-Jewish children living in the Gorbals one of the ways they might interact with the Jewish community was as firelighters. It being against the Jewish law to work on the Sabbath or Saturday and that included lighting a fire.
Around the 1930’s was the last wave of immigration with a further 1,000 or so immigrants coming in to Glasgow as Nazism began its rise in Germany. After the Second World War the Jewish population reached its peak of around 15,000 and then slowly began its decline.
Mr Simons gave reasons for this decline. An apathy towards their own faith as third and fourth generation children became more secularised in Glasgow. Intermarriage, emigration to Israel, movement to Manchester and London with larger and more orthodox Jewish communities. .
This can be measured in the status of the synagogues. Many have closed while Garnethill is open for Sabbath services only . There are only 5,000 Jews left in Glasgow of which only 2,000 belong to synagogues.
The community may be declining but it is still very vibrant. It has a fantastic welfare system for the elderly and infirm, and the Jewish school at Calderwood Lodge which was founded in 1962 continues to flourish. Mr Simons feels that the level of integration and comfort with which the Jewish community feels with it Scottishness can be witnessed by the approval of the Jewish Tartan (mentioned earlier)
A good number of the audience shared both memories and questions at this point.
Mr Simons then explained what drew him to write a story about the credit draper and gave an introduction to the story. Set between 1911 and 1924. It concerns the story of a young Russian boy who is sent from Russia to the Kahn family in the Gorbals at the age of eleven to escape being conscripted into the Russian army.
The story develops at the forefront of many other events going on at this time. Meanwhile the young boy’s dreams of being a footballer are interrupted by events in the family that mean he has to be sent to the Western Highlands to work as a credit draper with his adopted uncle.
Like a football match, the novel is a game of two halves –the first being in the dark, cosy, almost ghetto like confines of the Jewish world in the Gorbals before in the second section it branches out into the light beautiful, sparsely populated landscapes of the Western Highlands, around Oban, Connel, Benderloch and Glen Etive.
Mr Simons read a couple of exerts from his book and told the story of the whisky connection. Both of which must have whet the appetite of the audience, who purchased the entire stock of books he had brought along!
Vote of Thanks
Mrs Sannachan thanked Mr Simons for a very informative and enjoyable talk which in true storyteller tradition had painted great pictures in the minds of everyone present..
Mr Gordon advised that the next directors’ meeting would be at 6.00pm on Thursday 5th March at Adelaide’s.
Mr Gordon wished all a safe journey home.
Acting Recording Secretary