Early and School Days


Have you read Bill Bryson's The life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid - Travels through my childhood? In it he seems to have total recall of his childhood days in 14 chapters and about 400 pages of detail. I am afraid my memory is of a different order, but I have scratched my head and set the few remaining brain cells to work.


I thought I should add something to my web site about my early days. I am quite a private sort of person really, so I am not sure how this is going to develop, but I will give it a try.

I was born in Buckie and I have lots of fond memories of many summer holidays spent there with my grandmother. Then I lived in Boswell Drive in Edinburgh until about six or seven and started school there - going by train to Trinity Academy. My father came from Bathgate which is about 20 miles away in the Glasgow direction so presumably he had left there to get employment in the nearby big city.

Then I lived in Cults for about six months. Dad had moved to Aberdeen to get employment following redundancy. I know his choice had been either Aberdeen or Newcastle, and I am ever so grateful that he chose to stay in Scotland. Of course had he moved to Newcastle I would be a different me living and going to school in England. But the me that is me is the product of a Scottish background and education and it is this for which I am grateful. No doubt in one of the multitude of parallel universes - where all possibile probablity paths are followed in one version of quantum theory - there is an Iain Reid writing fondly of school days in Newcastle but lets not expore this thought any further.

Most of my primary education was completed at Broomhill primary school. Throughout my education I seemed to alternate between extremes of success and failure. I failed my 11 plus exams, and so went to the local secondary school - Ruthrieston. I then managed to pass an entrance exam for Robert Gordon's College where I went as a fee paying pupil at no small financial sacrifice for my parents. I must have scraped into Gordons as I started off in the lowest stream of the 5 first year classes - Class 1e. I then sat a regrading exam and jumped to the second stream - Class 1b. Thereafter I was always in the top class - Class 2a, etc, and left Gordons with 10 highers and entered Aberdeen University with one of the top science bursaries. So it was quite a mix of success and failure, and this was to repeat in later life, but that is an other story.

There are quite a few photos to display, so I will split these into sections as follows.



Early Days



  This is a picture of me aged 9 months. I have no idea where it was taken, my memory of the occasion being somewhat hazy.



  This I think is a class photo at Trinity. I am on the front row, extreme right.

When we lived at Boswell Drive in Edinburgh, it was only a short walk to the nearest station where I caught or was put on the train to school - Trinity Academy. I remember I liked the train journey, but hated going to school. We wore school uniforms and I had cap, which was once thrown out of the compartment window "only a short distance out from the station" said I. But the poor porter had to walk almost all the way to the next station to retrive the cap. We learned to write on slates. My writing was always, aways dreadful, and I started off as I meant to continue. I remember my sister and a couple of her classmates were once sent round all the primary classes with their slates to show off their good writing. I got the belt when my teacher saw my sisters work, as encouragement to do better. These were strange days in lots of ways.




 
Its always a delight when someone gets in touch, but it's an extra delight when someone gets in touch from almost sixty years ago !
Murray Farquhar was a friend who lived in Ianstown (part of Buckie) when I used to go there about the age of 4 to 6 to spend the summer holidays with grannie. Murray chanced upon the picture opposite, and got in touch. Thanks to Murray, I can now identify this picture as the Portessie Methodist Church Sunday school outing of 1950. Portessie was slightly along the coast from Ianstown. Murray informs that we were waiting at Portessie station in the days before Beeching for the train to take us to Garmouth. We would have a long wait now!

I am in the front row in my school blazer, Murray's brother Bill is next to my right standing in front of Murray and my sister is next over over to my right. Behind Murray are the Douglas boys. The lady in the middle is a sunday school teacher, Hannah McIntosh, and the minister is the Reverend Stewart - thanks to my cousin Jean for these names. The the tall boy behind my sister is my cousin Gordon. I seem to recognise the lad in glasses three over to my right as a friend who had a tent in which we spent long summer days on a green just behind the pebbly beach (the roarance - called after the roar of the sea on the pebbles). My grandmother lived at 4, Blantyre Terrace in Ianstown - part of Buckie. Murray lived across the main road, Rathburn Street in Manar Street, and my cousin Jean lived in the next road along - Richmond Street. She remembers Murray and Bill Farquhar sitting on the steps outside their house.

Grannie lived in the front room of my Auntie Bell and Uncle Willie's house. She had her own entrance but an outside toilet and we got water from the tap in the back yard.

As well as sunday school outings, I must have had lots of other train journeys as I am told that I was put on the train at Edinburgh's Waverley station when I went off to spend these long summer holiday's in Buckie with my grandmother. I remember and loved the times in Buckie, but stangely remember little of the train journeys. I think I remember a guard's van where I was seated in his care beside a caged section where the parcels went. I do remember also going to Buckie as a family group in my dad's car. We crossed at the ferry at Queensferry after long delays in the queue. You drove onto a turntable which turned the cars through 90 degrees and then you would reverse into position. Our car I remember had a manual windscreen wiper. Journeys took a long time and the car had no heater or one that did not work properly. I also remember later on we had an Austin Gordon Coupe - with a hood, and I can never remember that hood coming down. But this was before global heating.

In Buckie I was one of the local lads. I sometimes went to the cinema - the Playhouse. The film changed twice a week. There was a burn just outside the back door into which I once fell, and was being swept along towards danger in the harbour. My grandmother ran through the nettles to fish me out, but got badly stung in the process. I remember the shame when the doctor had to be called to tend to her legs. The baker was about 20 yards away in the main street - Rathburn Street. We lads would sit on the baker's window sill at night playing "the next car is". In this game we would take it in turn to own the next car that came round the corner and past the bakers' shop. So imagine the derision if it was an old banger. We did have a TV in Edinburgh but my grandmother had no such thing, so pleasures were simple.

Murray reminds me of some of the other things we used to get up to. The wood yard was further along from Richmond street between March Street and Freuchny Road and was unfenced in those days. The stacks of logs and sawn planks, plus the odd wheelhouse and funnel made a great playground. It was there that I remember a pretend fair - I had a stall and "customers" would throw bark at target cans to win old broken dinkies. We all spent a great deal of time on the beach where as Murray says, the options were many and varied - making boats with scrap wood with old cigarette packets as sails - and the great rivalry to see whose boat went furthest/ fastest. Then there was paddling, searching for crabs, fishing off Jones's pier, or attempting to use slings to get pebbles furthest out to sea. ( Talking of slings, I remember seeing the film at the Playhouse of David slaying Goliath with his sling , and then Uncle Willie sitting me down with the bible to read the true version of the story ). Then we might go up the burn to play cowboys and indians, or look for bird's nests, or just mooch around. I do remember the mooching around - we did a lot of that and got quite good at it. Murray reminds me that the lads played follow my leader - jumping back and forth over the burn which usually resulted in someone falling in. I wonder if that was what I was up to when grannie had to rescue me. A big, big thanks to Murray for his input and also to cousin Jean - it is good to remember such times as a lot of the old ways have now died out.




This picture was obviously taken at some wedding with yours truly and my sister dressed for the occasion.






Links to home page and early and school days
           Early days Broomhill Primary School Ruthrieston Secondary Robert Gordon's College.
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Links to other photos :

        Family pictures Photos of Jamie Photos of Kirsty Jamie & Kirsty
        Three of us Family Photos Photos of Me Family Cars
        Now there are Nine of Us