Monday, 6 December 2010

James Clifford Rolinson 1913-1994

Thinking of my father Cliff today on his 97th birthday, were he alive.

He was the first of three sons of James Ball Rolinson and Margaret Mayes Haig. They were in service at Dollarbeg in Clackmannanshire in 1913. By 1917 they were living in Glasgow.

My grandfather bought a car - a 12 HP Austin - in 1927 which must have been quite unusual. That first year they had it dad aged 13 wrote a diary of the weekly trips they made in it going to Loch Lomond or Gleneagles, sometimes taking neighbours along for the run. Its registration was V-9508, its year 1922, it had 5 seats. Its colour was Royal Blue and its fittings an Auster rear screen, side curtains, auto wiper and electric horn. He noted the route, the mileage and petrol consumption. I wonder if that is it in the photo above. The day they bought it 26 August they went to Dunoon and the following day to Calderbank, presumably to show the grandparents.
As a child in the 50s, I still remember going for weekend runs in my grandfather's big Humber Super Snipe.

My parents met at a dancing class I think just before the war. They married in 1942. Dad was in the Gordon Highlanders and served in Greece and Italy. He did winter training in Banff National Park in Canada which he often talked about, though I couldn't imagine him skiing. I never saw him do any sport unless minigolf.

Before the war he was an Insurance clerk for Legal and General but after the war he joined his father and brothers in the family garage business started in 1935. They were Rootes dealers - Hillman, Humber, Sunbeam in the Gallowgate in Glasgow. I remember when the Hillman Imp came out at first. My dad hit the accelerator instead of the brake when driving a brand new one.

He didn't have many hobbies but he liked photography. He was an elder in the Church of Scotland and did slide shows for the Men's Association. We would holiday in Scotland right up until 1968 when something persuaded him to go to Majorca. Thereafter my parents went abroad regularly. He had a heart attack in 1976 and we realised that he had never walked the length of our street, always taking the car! He recovered well from the heart attack but he was principal carer to my mother who had suffered a stroke. After she died in 1985 he had a good spell of retirement and enjoyed his grandchildren but gradually his sight deteriorated which was very frustrating for him.

He was an easy going man. I can't recall him ever losing his temper. I remember being shocked when he used bad language in the garage. To go to work or church he wore an overcoat and trilby. He would go out to lunch every day in Goldberg's in Glassford Street where he met some pals. Social life centred around the church. At Christmas time there was the motor traders' ball in Glasgow City Chambers and in the sixties the 5 past 8 Show at the long gone Alhambra Theatre in Glasgow's Wellington Street.

He was good with his hands and made furniture, a doll's house and a record player cabinet. He could type amazingly fast with just two fingers. He wrote a church newsletter which was cranked off on a hand turned Gestetner. He would have loved computers!
Dad and I on a picnic in 1957

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