Any Gum Chum ?
by Tom Huxtable
`Sweeties`, being rationed during the War, we children would shout to
visiting American soldiers “ any gum chum ? ”, and they in return would
give us some American Chewing Gum, which if stored carefully behind the
ear, when not being chewed, would last a very long time, unless
discovered by our Mothers!
So it was that Tom Kelly, Jim Bishard, Jimmy Gillies, Calumn McLean, and
myself, confronted an American Officer outside Wylie’s Store at
Tighness. He kindly gave us some gum, and I, noticing he was smoking a
cigar, had the bright idea that if we followed him, we could pick up the
cigar butt when he threw it away, and we could try having a smoke!
`Our Gang` followed this man all the way up the shore- road, as he
headed for Arrochar Hotel, where he was billeted (staying), all the time
dreading that he would throw the cigar butt over the sea wall. All went
well until he arrived at the Hotel, where he threw the butt over the
fence into the Hotel garden. How to safely get it ? I, of the bright
ideas, threw my handkerchief into the garden, and then went into the
Hotel to ask if I could go into the garden to” get my `hankie”. Having
received permission, I dived into the garden, scooped up the cigar butt
in my hankie, and off we bolted to our` Den` in a large rhododendron
bush in Arrochar House grounds, behind the football pitch.
There we all squatted down, and passed round the still lit cigar, which
by this time had burned a few holes in my hankie! (More trouble for Tom
when he arrived home). Not having tried to smoke before, but having
watched both my Mum and Dad smoking, I didn’t know that cigar smoke
should not be inhaled, so I was soon `feeling queer`. By the time I got
home to an empty house, and lay down on the rug in front of the living
room fire, I was convinced I was about to die!
When I was eventually found by my Mum and Dad, I was shivering, and my
face, according to my Mum, was a mixture of green and yellow,
appropriate colour for a future Celtic supporter! My Dad soon smelt the
smoke from my breath, and` treated` me to a glass of water with plenty
of salt in it! I was soon in the bathroom, on my knees, shouting for
“hughie” down the toilet !!!
From that day onwards I have never smoked, in fact I feel quite ill as a
write this, so there you have it, try inhaling cigar smoke if you want
to stop smoking.
“Daddy, what does declared mean?”
It was Sunday the 3rd of September 1939,
and I was attending Mass in Arrochar with my Father and Mother, Alex
(Sandy) and Hannah Huxtable. There being no Catholic Church in Arrochar
at that time, Sunday Mass was held in the home of my Godfather Mr Neil
McKinnon, who lived in a house above the Village Store at Braeside, (up
When Mr. and Mrs. McKinnon later on moved to Helensburgh, Mass was then
held in my home at 11, Kirkfield Place, later moving to the `Wee School`
at Tighness, and eventually to the present Catholic Church.
While Mass was taking place in Mr. and Mrs. McKinnon’s living room, the
young children, including myself, were in the front room overlooking the
road and Loch Long. I was sitting looking out of the open window, when a
man passed by on the road below, and shouted up to me a message that he
wanted passed on. So I went through to my Father and asked him, “what
does declared mean Daddy?” “Why Tom?” Daddy asked. I replied,”a man has
shouted up that I was to tell you, ”war has just been declared ”
To my surprise, my Mother and the other ladies started crying, and my
Dad looked very worried. I did not understand that because my Father was
in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Territorial Army, he expected
to be among the first to be `called up` to go and fight in the war
Though I was not quite 9 years old at that time, today 68 years later, I
can still picture this event in my mind.
Written by Tom Huxtable
If you know
of any stories or tales then please
us! and we'll publish them here. Thanks.
Also please see the following pages: -
Parish Church History
The Parish Of
Arrochar Parish Hall 1890-2006
Mountains by Bob Smith MBE