The power of music is bringing Angus and the US together through the latest string in the bow of an award-winning local dementia group.
Carnoustie Memories has already developed successful programmes around golf and football to support those living with memory loss.
In their latest initiative, Memories Group members have been rocking and rolling back the years in transatlantic ‘jukebox days’ with new friends across the pond.
Kinloch Care Centre in Carnoustie and residents of Seaton Grove in Arbroath have joined the trip down musical memory lane.
Lorraine Young of Carnoustie Memories said: “Based on the successful football reminiscence projects which started back in 2004, Jukebox Days takes a similar approach using the pop music of the 50s and 60s.
“Groups in the Carnoustie area have been linked with similar groups in the USA and Canada and so far, seven pilots have proved incredibly successful,” she said.
“The Carnoustie groups have ‘met’ new friends in Vermont, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and North Carolina to share memories of the golden age of rock’n’roll.”
Lorraine added: “Sessions are held using Zoom and usually last for about an hour.
“They start with a look at the main events of a particular year in the 50s and 60s, the fashions, hairstyles, transport and films and TV.
“We then move onto the real business – the music they all listened and danced to back in their teenage years.
“Evenings at the local dance hall, memories sparked by pieces of music and then the long walk home for the men sparked infectious laughter.
“The ladies remembered ‘stiffening’ their petticoats with sugar and water to make them stick out more by way of ‘preening’ themselves for the night ahead!”
Caird Hall memories of the Fab Four
While Elvis Presley was the big favourite in the 50s, many recalled having posters on their walls with the likes of Bobby Vee, Connie Francis and Neil Sedaka.
In the 60s, the British groups took over and The Beatles, the Dave Clark Five and The Rolling Stones were equally hugely popular in America.
Lorraine said: “It was fabulous to see people from either side of the pond singing along, word perfect, to the music.”
The early sessions have also featured recollections of the high-pitched welcome from the crowd at Beatles performances in Dundee’s Caird Hall.
Lorraine added: “The sessions always begin by highlighting some of the links between Scotland and the particular American state or Canadian province in question.
“One of the sessions saw local people link with North Carolina, where they discovered that scenes from Outlander – supposedly set in North Carolina – were in fact filmed in Scotland.
“We discovered that Flora McDonald had fled to North Carolina and that there was a Flora McDonald College in North Carolina,” said Lorraine.
“They also have a Highland Games there, modelled on the Braemar Gathering.
“The sessions are continuing with events planned for other States including Texas, where the Scottish connection will be very prominent.
“Scots fought – and died – at The Alamo and many Texan place names betray a strong Scots heritage.”
Future sessions will also see the addition of Screen Memories, where memories of blockbusters from a bygone era, iconic stars and the unforgettable memories of a night at the cinema will be shared.
“We wonder if they had ‘jeelie jars’ for admission in downtown Dallas?” added Lorraine.
The group is keen to bring new members into all of their activities.
“If you know someone who might like to join in the sessions and they have a friend, carer or family member who can arrange access to a laptop, phone or tablet, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com who can also supply additional information on how to join Football Action and Golf Memories,” said Lorraine.
Golf Memories group success
The Golf Memories group which has been running successfully since 2015 has also forged transatlantic connections.
In 2018, the group also enjoyed a VIP visitor to its meeting the spectacular Links House base of Carnoustie Links.
US Masters champion Adam Scott was in town to contest the 147th Open Championship over the legendary Angus links.
The popular Australian took time out of his busy schedule in the tournament lead up to drop in on a meeting of the group and spend time with members.
A sister set-up was also established at the famous TPC Sawgrass venue in 2019 after a leading US golf figure saw the work of the Angus group.
Billy Dettlaff, the former national director of golf at the Florida course which hosts The Players Championship, led the development of the group there.
It was named after acclaimed course architect and Sawgrass designer Pete Dye, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and died in January 2020 at the age of 94.