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Fool Friday
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Fool Friday

Historic Photographs
David Oswald
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Fool Friday
Historic Photographs
Fool Friday
We believe this photograph shows a man historically known as Fool Friday entertaining a group of children and adults outside a house in Aberdeen. Fool Friday was a street vendor who sold ice cream in summer and hot chestnuts in winter. He may have also played a street organ as shown here.

Fool Friday was an often seen, distinctive character on the streets of Aberdeen. References to him in recorded oral history and newspapers suggest he sold his goods around the town centre, including at the Castlegate. He appears to have been around in the earlier years of the 20th century, between the two world wars. Little seems to be known, or recorded, about the life of this intriguing figure.

He is mentioned in an article of reminiscences by Arthur Bruce from the Leopard magazine of December 1986/January 1987. Bruce writes "I am reminded of another worthy who lived round the corner in Harriet Street, an Ice Cream Mannie, with a home and family. Of Italian origins he was known as 'Fool Friday' - nothing to do with being stupid, I may add, simply the local dialect for foul or dirty. Legend had it that the nickname was well deserved, but as a child I was never aware of his less than hygienic approach to the business of selling ice cream from a 'cairtie'. I have never solved the mystery of the 'Friday' part, although I should be delighted to hear from anyone who knows the answer."

It is possible that this photograph shows not Fool Friday, but someone else entirely. A letter in the Evening Express of 30th October 1979, looking back to this earlier time, describes a man known as Can-Tam who played a barrel organ in the streets. The letter writer suggests that Can-Tam's organ was smashed by a tram and subsequently replaced by the council.

This photograph was printed as a postcard and these were perhaps sold to the families visited by the entertainer. This postcard was lent to Aberdeen City Libraries by Bill Cheyne so that we could create and preserve a digital copy for public use.
Aberdeen Local Studies
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