Hugh McGrory
Primary: Dens Road
Secondary: 1949-55
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I was born in 1937, in the bedroom of the right-hand ‘low-doon’ door at No. 2 Fairbairn St., Dundee, and was dragged reluctantly up to the other end of the street in February, 1942 to attend Dens Road School. Although it didn’t seem so at the time, this was the beginning of a happy 13 years of schooling, going to Morgan Secondary in 1949 by way of 6 months at Clepington School.

At Dens Road, I can remember speaking pan-loafie until skale was oot then broad Dundee with my pals. Butter wouldn’t have melted in our mouths in class, but our leisure activities ended with several, very minor, run-ins with police, admittedly for things we did ...

Just as well we weren’t caught for some of the other stuff - like climbing onto the roof of the Rashiewell Jute Works in the evening to play 'tig' in the peaks and valleys (the Rashiewell is now the Dens Road Market) - the game usually ended by having to out-run the watchie; or clambering along the foot-wide top of the 25 foot wall on the north side of Fairbairn St at the corner with Arklay St - if my mother had happened to look out the window at the wrong time she might have fainted!

I had some great teachers at all of these schools - if memory serves, I only ‘got the belt’ twice - from the Head at Dens Road, Mr. Allan (for standing on the garden wall and swinging on the branch of a tree, said branch having been worn smooth and polished by the hands of generations of kids swinging on it since 1907), and from Tom Hermiston at Morgan (for sitting on a garden dyke when the rest of the class were standing - can't remember where we were going).

I owe all of those teachers a debt of gratitude - they gave me a life-long curiosity and love of learning and problem-solving. At the same time, DC Thomson's Beano and Dandy comics, and, when a little older, the story papers the Adventure and Wizard on Tuesdays and the Hotspur and Rover on Thursdays, and later still, Dundee Public Libraries, turned me into an avid reader to this day.

Morgan also gave me a lasting love of sports; I played field hockey for 15 yrs, for the school and the FPs, sometimes on the same Saturday before going dancing at Kidd's in the evening. I then took up squash ('high-energy chess'), loved it, and played 2 or 3, sometimes even 4 times a week for 35 years - great for developing aerobic and particularly anaerobic fitness, but murder on the joints! I finally gave up at the age of 70, after getting my second knee operation, (for those who may be interested - good right and bad inside left and my new Oxford Prosthesis). I did try to play again with my new artificial half-knee, and had 30 minutes of joy then 2 hours in the emergency department - I can hear you saying ‘slow-learner’ - which brings me to taking up golf at 70 ...

After leaving school, I traipsed off to university - because I could, and because my parents, to whom I am eternally grateful, made it clear that this is what they expected – got a BSc in civil engineering at Queen’s College (with some struggle since I always believed in doing the minimum amount of studying I could get away with) - and 20 years later an MBA at the University of Toronto.

A word on my parents; together they came from ¾ Irish ¼ Scots stock; Dad started his working life by joining his father and older brothers in the coal mines of Fife, but quickly left to apprentice as a bricklayer, a job he had all his life, apart from his WWII service. Mum left school at thirteen and was soon working in the jute industry. Later she was an office cleaner at Telephone House for many years (as was my Gran); she became a kitchen-hand in the School Meals Service went to college when middle-aged (we were very proud of her) and became a supervising cook. When growing up, I never thought of us as being poor, can't remember ever feeling deprived, though in my early days at Morgan, my Dad caught TB and was in Ashludie for over two years - during this time the family received a weekly government hand-out, what I think was then called National Assistance, for my mother, wee brother and me.

Despite my tendency to be a self-centered, lazy little git, I did have little jobs throughout school days and university - at first for pocket money, and later to help out a little. At different times, when younger, I delivered newspapers, meat, milk (for DPM), picked potatoes near Forfar, raspberries (Blairgowrie) and strawberries (Longforgan - I lasted one day ...), then latterly, during the summer and at Christmas, I worked for the Post Office, was a bus conductor, canned peas for Smedleys, humphed dead meat around as a porter in the Market St. slaughter house, and was a ward orderly at Westgreen (Dundee District Asylum).

In the first eight years after graduation I worked in consulting, contracting and municipal engineering in London, Dundee, Perthshire and Glenrothes New Town – realizing in the first few years how little I knew despite my ‘piece of paper’ from St. Andrews University, but gradually gaining my engineering ‘sea-legs’ and a feeling of professional confidence. In 1966 and married with three children, an interest in traffic engineering and computers suggested N. America might be a place to be so we emigrated to Canada, settling in Toronto.

I joined one of the larger Canadian consulting engineering firms as a traffic engineer, and it so happened that the company was just beginning to get interested in the world of computers. By reading the book one page ahead of everyone else I became the in-house ’expert’ and was given the job of creating a computer department, from scratch. This began a fascinating and enjoyable career in computing for the next fifteen years or so and a VP appointment - until the severe economic downturn of the early ‘80s found me and many of my IT colleagues on the street looking for work ...

I then got hired as the first Chair of Data Processing at Centennial College; the job, managing teachers, though it has been described as akin to herding cats, was a lot of fun. I became an Associate Dean in the School of Business, then Acting Dean of the School and later of the School of Engineering. In 1983 I also began to teach business computing subjects at Ryerson University in downtown Toronto in the evenings (originally to increase my credibility with faculty, but enjoyed it so much that I only gave it up in 2009).

I left the college in the early ‘90s to join the Canadian National Research Council as a software specialist. The purpose was to advise and assist small and medium-sized companies to make better use of modern technology, particularly computers, to enhance their efficiency and to make them more effective enterprises - a very enjoyable, satisfying job! I finally retired in 2007.

I divorced and re-married in the ‘70s to Sheila - (this is our wedding photo - seriously). Four children, 3 daughters, 1 son, and five grandchildren 3 girls, 2 boys - we're very happy to be on good terms with all of them and try to enjoy their company as often as we can.

Sheila still works, but I don’t do very much in retirement – we live on a golf course north of Toronto and I play (badly) quite a lot of golf with my son and his friends, meet former colleagues from several workplaces regularly for lunch, read, travel, research family history, and mess around with computers …

Toronto, Canada, April, 2010