HELENSBURGH’S CAFE SOCIETY IN THE SIXTIES

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The Pier in Helensburgh which local people have raised a petition to try to save.

By Bill Heaney

There was a real holiday atmosphere in Helensburgh yesterday, Easter Sunday.

We topped off an enjoyable visit with lunch and ice cream at Dino’s, retired librarian and distinguished Dumbarton author, Arthur Jones, told social media.

He said: “Mr Dino himself was in the cafe. He told me he was 87, and that his wife, who still works there, is 85.

“He said that he bought the shop from his cousins in 1962. The shop front can be seen in the picture.”

Catherine Ainsworth said: “Dino’s in my day was where the snob kids hung out. Like my sister.  Us other peons hung out at Kings Café, where Eric Rossi was the person in charge.”

Thomas Argyll said he used to go to both cafes – “so I’m not sure what that says about me! My youngest currently works at Dino’s – I think she’s never worked so hard before but seems to love it anyway.”

William Creagh remarked: “A visit to Helensburgh is not complete without an ice cream from Dino’s.”

And Gordon Anderson said: “Many happy hours were spent in Dino’s in the Sixties with friends, Anne Anderson and Joan Baldwin.”

They all laughed at the suggestion that only “snob kids” went to Dino’s.

Stewart Jackie and Helen

Sir Jackie Stewart, motor racing icon to be, and his bride to be, Helen McNeill, of the James Street bakery family, were regulars there.

Joan Baldwin said: “I thought better not to comment, from time to time we did go into the King’s.

“If I remember the talent was better in Dino’s. The OK boys! and The Boys who stayed at Clyde Street School for two weeks in the summer hols. To name but a few.”

To name a few more the OK Boys included Tom Green, Warwick Darkins, the Keith brothers, Dougie and Leslie, and the Lindsays, Donald and Neil.

Helensburgh lads included Joe Sommerville, Robbie Don, George Sneddon, Dougie and Olly Ross, Angus Boyle, Brian Johnstone, Allan Baillie and Norman LeMay.

Lasses were Kate Smith, Maureen Malley, Patricia Connolly, Rosemary Hanlon, Marlyn Cummings, Sally Ann Campbell, Liz Neil, Mary and Colleen Henderson, Ann and Frances McKay, Joan Fairley, Geraldine Dick, the Kenny sisters and their brother, Charlie,  Joan Hodgins and many, many more.

Sue Tabor said: “I used to hang out there. Sit in a booth at the back and play music on the juke box. Happy days.”

Others who hung out there included Jinty MacPherson and her brother, Ian, and their pals, Starry MacIvor and Sheila Baillie, whose father was a big noise at the Singer factory in Clydebank, Aileen Moore, Sheila Sommerville.

Linda Plumridge said: “I loved the ice cream from Dino’s. Haven’t had one for some time.”

And Jo Readhead added: “Linda, you must come up and stay and we’ll go have a Dino’s ice- cream.”

Helensburgh oracle Robert Ryan said Dino Baldi was the original owner and informed Arthur Jones and the rest of us that the man he was talking to was Ronnie Giarchi.

One reminiscence of my own. I was a reporter on the Scottish Daily Express at the time.

The news desk sent me off in pursuit of a Redemptorist priest, George Giarchi, to interview him and a young lady he was going to marry.

That was very unusual at the time but George Giarchi was a personality priest, who gave ground-breaking talks in schools throughout the country on sex education.

He had been in Dumbarton not long before doing that at St Patrick’s High School and Notre Dame.

I travelled to London and Leicester to try to interview him but returned home empty handed. No scoop for me then.

My wife and I went out to the Ardencaple Hotel for a Sunday evening drink and on the way home I stopped at Dino’s to buy cigarettes (shame, horror, it wisnae me, honest).

The man who served me was George Giarchi and the woman in the blue overall serving the tables with Dino’s ice cream no doubt was his beloved wife to be.

You could have knocked me down with a pokey hat, but I decided just to let them get on with it.

One comment

  1. My father Dino Baldi(Dino’s cousin) had a cafe in Lochwinnoch, Baldi’s cafe. They both decorated the outside of their respective cafes at the same time with the same green tiles. Dad later opened up Dino’s in Glasgow.

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