SOMETIMES it’s the smallest of things which prompt a memory thought long forgotten.

For Joe McGarry’s dad Tommy, it was a black and white photograph of his old family home, taken decades ago.

“My dad is in his 80s now and has the beginnings of Alzheimer’s, so he struggles to remember things day to day sometimes,” says Joe, who came along to our recent Thanks for the Memories readers’ event in Possilpark Library.

“But when I showed him this photograph, he said right away, ‘it’s the Mosshouse – I remember the Mosshouse….’”

Joe also has fond memories of his time at the Mosshouse, the name given to the house on Possil Road where he lived until the age of eight.

“We – me, my brothers Stephen and John, my sister Agnes and my mum and dad Cathy and Tommy -didn’t have the whole place, just the downstairs – a Mr and Mrs Turner lived upstairs,” he recalls.

“I remember every inch of that house, even though I was quite young when I left.

“It was owned by the Alliance Box Company, whose big A-B-C sign was displayed on the wall behind.”

Tommy McGarry was a supervisor for the company, which made corrugated fibre board for whisky boxes, among other things, and had been based in Warrington.

“My mum was homesick for Glasgow, so when the bosses told my dad they wanted him to move up north to work in the new Glasgow factory, he jumped at the chance,” says Joe.

“The house came with the job.”

Joe, who was born in Robroyston Hospital in 1957 and attended St Cuthbert’s Primary, recalls happy hours playing on the streets surrounding the Mosshouse.

“There was an old washhouse out the back we used to call the dungeon,” he says. “I remember Mr Bell’s dairy across the road, and Mr McPate’s paper shop.

“The Mosshouse used to be an inn, apparently, so when they opened up a pub around the corner they called it the New Mosshouse.”

Sharing the old photos with his dad – his mum died around 10 years ago - has given Joe the chance to revisit some old memories.

“I can see it all in my head,” he smiles. “I remember scootering up and down in front of the house, visiting the fairground – I think it was called White’s Shows – across the road.

“And I remember the cinema, the Astoria, just around the corner from the Mosshouse, where my mum and dad would take me on a Saturday morning. It was a happy time.”

Brother and sister Jim Ferguson and Anne Gilmour and their cousin Linda Boyce (nee McKay) also have great memories of growing up together in the north of Glasgow.

Linda, who lives in Cumbernauld now, grew up in ‘the black building’, a tenement on Petershill Road which isn’t as sinister as it sounds.

“It was called the black building because the stone was so dirty it had turned black,” she smiles.

“I have never been able to find a photograph of it, though I know lots of people remember it. It was four closes, with a wee post office on the corner.”

Though the buildings were black, ironically, the streets were often white, as Linda recalls.

“Everywhere was covered in a powdery white dust, from the Marinite factory, which is where my dad worked,” she says.

“They made asbestos products and formica.”

Jim and Anne lived on Muir Street in Springburn.

Jim recalls: “There was a big mansion across the road, owned by a Mr Timmons who sold firewood. I used to work for him – I remember he had a horse and cart. We used to bag up the wood and sell them to the sawmill for fourpence a pail of five shillings for a huge bag.

“I was about 13 at the time, and I got 30 shillings, which was a lot of money.”

Jim’s wife Pauline (nee Campbell) also grew up close by on Hillhouse Street, though the couple – who now live in Moodiesburn - didn’t meet until they were teenagers.

“Jim came home from the Merchant Navy when I was 17, and I knew him because his cousin was my boss at the hairdresser’s I worked in,” says Pauline.

“I eventually ran my own hair salon, called Paula’s, just round the corner from here on Balmore Road.

“It must have been the late 60s, early 70s.”

For Jim and Anne, childhood memories have a tinge of sadness too. Their dad, James, died at the tragically young age of 38, when they were just seven and five respectively, leaving their mum Annie a widow at just 36.

“It was hard for my mum, left with two young children,” recalls Jim. “She used to get up at 6 to go and clean the local school while we were still asleep, then come home and make us breakfast and get us out to school.”

Anne smiles: “But she lived to the ripe old age of 92 – and she only stopped smoking when she turned 70.”

Jim recalls the cinemas in Springburn – the Princess, the Astor and the Kinema, “which was a right old fleapit, shaped like a coffin,” he grins.

Anne, who now lives in Kilsyth, adds: “We used to get pieces thrown out the window of the tenements at us – all wrapped up in greaseproof paper.”

Jim laughs: “And we’d get the sweeties you got with your ration book, in a wee cone.”

Jim and Pauline say their own children laugh when they tell them stories about the ‘old days’.

“They don’t believe we had outdoor toilets, or only one TV programme – Watch with Mother,” smiles Pauline.

“They think we’re daft when we tell them there were hardly any telephones and if someone used yours while they were in your house, they’d leave money on the table to pay for the call,” adds Jim.

“It feels like a long, long time ago but it wasn’t really – things have changed very quickly.”

Do you have fond memories of growing up in Glasgow? Email and look out for news of our next Thanks for the Memories event at local libraries across the city. Read more stories online at