Louie Zanre continued
Peterhead’s present-day Funeral Director Robert Mackie has kindly offered the following contribution to the Louie Zanre section
“I was fortunate to obtain part-time employment with Louie and Flora Zanre, working alongside their son Tony, John Antonio, Sheila Kerr, June Gerrard and several others including Alison Smith. Alison worked part-time then, but later gave great service to a later ‘Zannre’ team under Mr Rodger Morrison. I think she came from the
Long haven / Gask area, and now works for Morrison’s Supermarket.
I started with Zanres in 1972 when I was 15 years old and continued until I was in my early twenties. The three nights per week often became six.
The Zanre family were hard working people. If you worked for them they did, in return show their employees the utmost appreciation and loyal friendship. My always-affectionate nickname for Louie was ’Wullie’ He could be sharp at times, but we respected one another from the word ‘go’
Mrs Flora Zanre was a tender, kind-hearted lady and was generous to many unfortunate folk in Peterhead. Many a supper, bag of chips did she give away discretely and always with a warm sense of understanding the situation. When I would start my shift, she would let Louie take her home, but before leaving she would leave some sweets for me. Always remarking that the sweets would be finished off when she returned later that night. Also knowing that the money in the ‘till’ would be as it should be. It was great compliment to her staff that she placed the highest trust in their honest and integrity.
The menu then included fish, both haddock and cod (block fillet-not single as with today) Skate, dabs and always the ever-popular ’round’ haddock. Black, red and white puddings, haggis, mock chop, mince pies and steak pies (Ferguson’s)- (Well done Robert)
The aforementioned all cooked in the fryer fat. The supplier of these items was Aberdeen based and Tony Zanre on his day off would visit their premises so that he might purchase a selection of Curry pies, Stovie pies, and Macaroni pies. On the odd occasion I would accompany him, he would treat me to a beautiful meal at Gerrard’s French Restaurant and then journey home to the Queen Street shop, where we would unload and store the goods away. The Curry pies etc mentioned were cooked in the gas oven at the rear preparation area, as they were unsuitable for deep fat frying.
After being there a few months you got to know the 9.pm bingo customers, they were followed by locals from the different public houses, when it was then Ten o’clock closing. There were the Legion clients then later the Friday and Saturday Palace dancers. Dancers from Ellon waiting for a bus home and on Sunday the Buchanness dancers also on their way home. In those days we were indeed a busy group of Zanre workers.
When there was a quiet spell we would tidy up the counter and customer areas. Replenish the salt, sauce and vinegar dispensers (No sachets in those days) whilst also topping up the egg and pickled onion jars. When the ’second’ front stared we had to deal with phoned orders from the Euclid and Cleveland factories. The ASCO base and Peterhead Engineering at Seagate. All these firms brought lots of work to Peterhead.
Fishing boat crews, lumpers all coming and going keeping the town alive and the ‘tills’ ringing. Later on the oil related firms came along, barges with foreign workers. Italians, Portuguese and Spanish all being served at Louie Zanre’s and their numbers soon to supplemented by the Boddam Power Station workers
The sale of ice cream was proving very lucrative. I remember Louie and Tony making batches twice a week. We soon got to know the regulars who came in between Wednesday and Thursday for their customary half-gallon and gallon containers, which they returned for refills on the next visit.
Dear John Antonio would go to the British Legion for a few hours on his day off. John was a man always off the same humour. I can’t recall his moods ever change. Sadly John passed away a few years ago.
Mrs Zanre, as I said earlier, was a true lady in every respect. When she was getting older I would spend a little longer on my shift. Before going home she would give me something to eat and drink. If there were any unsold goods in the hot boxes Louie would rap them up and tell me to take it away. I lived in Almanythie Road with my granny and granda. Near them were two widows; Jessie Bruce and Peggy Thain
They were late bedders, doors never locked until between 12.30-1.00 am. I would visit them on my way home and offer them a fish supper and, or ice cream. They certainly enjoyed the night’s ‘last supper’ and all down to the generosity of Louie and Flora Zanre. Nothing is lost giving and sharing with one another.
It might sound strange to say; but yes! We can all smell the chippers of today, but Louie Zane’s fish, chips and ice cream were so pleasing to one’s appetite then, and so longed for today. The Zanre’s were a privilege to work for and I shall always be grateful to them for having had the opportunity to work there and where I got to know so many wonderful Peterhead people
We look on our town today, those of my late 40’s age group and older. All the richer for those precious memories. The memorable smell of a fish supper lingering on the wind. May it always be so?
Robert Mackie -Undertaker”
Following on from Robert’s ‘piece‘, he told me of Tony Zanre driving him to Dyce Airport on his way to a Malta holiday. When they shook hands at the airport Tony thrust £50 into his hand with the comment “Dinneh tell them fin yeh get hame (“Them” being Louie and Flora) Before Robert had left Peterhead Louie gave him £25 with the warning “ Dinneh tell Flora” Not knowing that Flora had also contributed £25 to Mackie’s Maltese Holiday fund. Robert went on to say he was humming “Happy days are here again” up there in the wild blue yonder.
This was Robert’s first foreign visit and his holiday choice would in time massively alter the direction of his life. It was there he would eventually meet and marry Carmen Spiteri. All who know Carmen would believe she was a top drawer Roanheids quine- with dialect to match
Mrs Flora Zanre died at the Ugie Hospital on May 15th 1988 in her 87th year
Her obituary appeared in the Buchan Observer and included the following;
“Mrs Zanre had the dual roll of bringing up a family of two boys and a girl, while helping to build up the business; and while her husband. Louis, was frying the potato chips to a golden brown in beef fat, she was serving with goodwill-as all her contemporaries knew how, before the public.
Her goodwill reached out, especially to the needy. The bairns had their poke of chips
topped up and many an adult had reason to be grateful for extra helpings. Mrs Zanre’s good heartedness was tacitly acknowledged and accepted in the spirit given
Among young and old Mrs Zanre did good by stealth”
Louie continued to live at the family home ‘Auchmore’ Queen Street after the loss of his much loved Flora. In a 1990 interview with the ‘Buchanie’s Kendrick Duncan Louie retells a few of his many memories.
He recalls the ‘country’ boys coming to see the films at the Playhouse and how he allowed them to use his rear Queen Street yard to park their bicycles. There were often a dozen cycles and Louie provided water for their calcium carbide cycle lamps. He went on to tell how he used the same ‘tattie’ peeler as when he started out in business.
He has not been back to his homeland in 30 years, the last occasion after the war when he arranged to go across with his elder son for six weeks
They ended up only staying ten days, because as Louie put it: “I got bored and wanted to get back to the business“. (End of obituary excerpts)
Well-known northeast author Jack Webster wrote at the time of Louie’s passing;
“ Farewell to Louis (BO 8/12/92).
They tell me that Louie Zanre is dead, but I don’t really have to believe it.
For as long as the sun will shine from a clear blue sky, we’ll see the round, shining face the warmth of personality, which has lightened many a grey dreich, day in his adopted Buchan.
It was the sunshine of a joyful soul, which Louie brought from his native Bologna in 1915, when he arrived in Peterhead as part of a great exodus of Italians who went in search of a better living.
They were-and- have remained a shining example of how immigrants can become part of an alien society, hard working, kindly and courteous.
Louie - for we never did give his proper pronunciation of Louigi - joined his uncle who was already making ice cream in Peterhead. And by 1921, he was selling the delicious vanilla as far as New Pitsligo, 20 miles away, arriving there by horse and cart to Maud.
By the time I remember him in 1934, coming to my native village of Maud, Louie was sporting a fine motorbike and yellow sidecar. And there as a little boy I would wait in mounting anticipation, with a saucer and a penny, as he appeared round the hill from Aikey Brae
Excitement was at bursting point. For Louie Zanre brought the ring of magic to many a childhood, greeting us warmly with his imperfect English and stirring dreams of heaven with that smooth vanilla which was poetry to the palate
And when winter came ...and we would lose ourselves in the Hollywood of Clark Gable and Deanna Durbin, we would leave the Playhouse and cross over to the chip-shop in Queen Street for a fish supper to last us home to Maud. And there we would see Louie in his other role as fish-chip-man.
When I grew up and went away to the south, I never forgot the part Louie had played in our childhood fantasy. When I returned Louie was still battering fish, while into his eighties
Back at his house, for the first time, I met his wife who was Flora Ferrari, a member of the well-known Peterhead-Italian family before she became Mrs Zanre.
A woman of fine beauty, she brought in the coffee and told me she had never seen Italian ice cream until she came to Peterhead! But here they raised their children, Joe, Tony and Noreena. and became part of the essential fabric of the community.
Louie never missed an Aikey Fair, nor did he ever fail to give generously of his products, especially at Christmas and New Year when Hospitals from Peterhead to Maud were the beneficiaries.
Three times in the course of his life, Louie had gone back to his native Italy, to its sunshine and Mediterranean fragrance, but always he himself longing for home, which was now in the cold bare blast of the Blue Toon”
And later in the same eulogy “He was one of us - and the warmth of his personality brought the sunshine of Italy into our lives. What better epitaph for Louis than to say he truly enriched our lives?”
This day of sadness is also a day of celebration and thanksgiving for the life of a memorable friend. The wonders of his ice cream and the aroma of his fish-and-chips will be offered in distant places by the smiling face we all remember.
They will rejoice even in the dullest corners of heaven - and welcome him warmly to the fold. Only on earth is it time for us to say.... Farewell to Louie
Louigi Zanre died at the Ugie Hospital on Wednesday December 1992 aged 93
Former Peterhead Town Councillor and retired driving instructor Rober Forman writing in the Buchan Observer:
“St Mary’s December 7 1992
The gathering of family and friends was, to my way of thinking, extra-ordinary. Quiet Symbolic surroundings, graciousness in Father Conlan’s simple introductory welcome of Christians from varying persuasions around the remains of a very well liked, ken speckle God-fearing elder gentleman was peacefully impressive.
The restfulness of “Abide with me” The majesty of “How great Thou Art”
The organ solo and sweet female voice. Words from the bible and book of wisdom. The challenge of “Will your anchor hold” Not forgetting the ice cream, fish and chips and Aikey Brae. All before “Going home”
Louie: All we wanted to say was in the farewell salute of the Police Officer as your cortege left your Kirk.”
With reverent thanks, Robert Forman (End of Buchan Observer. Obituary)
Next week Joe Zanre and his Buchanhaven connection