The Mysterious 'Dragon'
["This fair dragon overlooks Irvine's wide beaches"]
In my father's Navy memoirs he writes about the following adventure while stationed at Camp Auchengate, two miles south of Irvine:
(W)e had to practice living on short rations, i.e., chocolate, hard tack and compost tea (tea, sugar and milk powder in what looked exactly like a sardine can). We received a small allowance, enough for three or four days, and slept aboard the ALC. It was tough going but we made it...
After one of those long sojourns without much food, no shaving, etc., we came back into Irvine and I couldn’t stand it any longer. I loaded my attache case and started up a street in Irvine and met three girls. I walked up to them boldly and said, “Pardon me girls. Could you tell me where I could get a shave and a bath?” They linked their arms in mine and said, “Sure can, Canada. Come with us.”
They took me to 22 Waterside St. in Irvine and I learned the sisters’ last name was Cricksmere. I bathed and shaved, was fed, and given a bed for many nights after a day of training. I corresponded with them after the war. They were English, living in Scotland, and their mum reminded me of my own mother. I know they fed me their own rations, even eggs.
There was also a son about 40 years old, 4 f’r, and he and I used to battle Johnnie Walker every night. After a few we would ride the bus to Dragon and get a couple of more because they were open longer. Moonlight Serenade and Sunlight Serenade were big hits at that time.
While in Irvine last month I found Waterside Street but as I walked past several houses, counting down the numbers, I discovered 22 Waterside was gone, as were all houses under Number 48. I spoke to a man taking groceries into Number 50 and he filled me in. To make way for a new round-about many houses were torn down. I was saddened, but had another old thread or two to tug upon, so my search for surviving Cricksmeres ended. I shall pick up that search again next time I visit the town, within a year or two.
But, related to the above story, that same evening I reviewed my poor progress with a few patrons at Harbour Lights Tavern and wondered out loud about 'the bus to Dragon' my dad travelled upon with George Cricksmere seventy-two years earlier.
"I've looked for 'Dragon' on maps and found nothing. But I did find the hamlet of Dreghorn just a short bus ride away from the downtown here."
"That's likely it then," said a mate.
"How do you say the name?" I asked.
"Drraygun," said the Scotsman.
["Pleasant, satisfied walk home from the Harbour Lights"]
Dragon, clear as a bell. That's what Dad heard, for certain.
One mystery solved per day is not a bad average and I was ahead for once.
Shortly thereafter I enjoyed a very pleasant walk home to bed.