Vignettes
Stories from schoolmates who attended Morgan Academy, Dundee, Scotland between 1948 and 1955 – from schooldays,
and from life-after-school.
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One of life's pleasures is getting together with old school friends over a meal to reminisce about the old days, and to catch up on our lives-after-school. Since we're spread all over the world now, it's not so easy to get together – this is an attempt to create a poor substitute by publishing some of the stories we might tell.

Notes for New Readers:
1. New contributions are always at the top – you may want to start at the bottom, since a few of the more recent tales refer to earlier ones.
2. A reminder to rest your cursor over photographs – it may show a title. If the cursor changes to a hand it's inviting you to click for further information.

We now have 266 anecdotes from 31 different contributors.
Ashludie 2
Hugh McGrory
In a previous story I told of my father's time as a TB patient in Ashludie Hospital, and writing it made me think, for some reason, of change. If we live in one place for any length of time it's hard to notice daily, monthly, even yearly changes. If you leave, then re-visit a place the changes become much more dramatic.

Having lived in Canada for over 50 years, when I return to my hometown of Dundee, I often turn a corner expecting a view I grew up with, yet find it to be quite different – always a bit of a shock to the system. Which brings me back to Ashludie which, over the past 100 years appeared, and has now, apparently, disappeared again...

When I realised this, I had mixed emotions – I guess I have a love/hate thing going on – I never wanted to visit the hospital, but the doctors and nurses there did look after my dad for more than two years, and rid him of that terrible disease... I decided to see if any physical trace of the hospital still exists.

The ground, on part of which the hospital was built, was known as The Grange, and has a long history. Title to the land goes back to the 14th century when Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, granted a charter to Sir William Durham for 'faithful services as a knight'.

Through the centuries, ownership of the land changed a number of times, until 1864 when it was bought by Alexander Gordon, a flax spinning manufacturer of Arbroath. By 1886 he had built a fine mansion on the property.

About a hundred years ago, actually in 1913, Dundee Corporation acquired the mansion house and 48 acres of land to accommodate a sixty-bed sanatorium – the hospital was opened in 1916. A surgical block was originally built in 1932 as a combined orthopaedic and thoracic unit for tuberculosis, but wasn't fully operational until 1947.

Emergency wards were built in 1940 by the military authorities to accommodate air raid casualties and war wounded, and post war, they were utilised for medical treatments of patients suffering from respiratory complaints, principally TB. Medical staff at Ashludie were considered to be `leaders in the field' for treating chest problems.

'Open air' was an important part of the treatment, and the wards had large French windows which opened to the elements. Patients were also nursed in open-sided chalets (see various designs from around the world in the photos).


The hospital was transferred to the National Health Service in 1948 and in the late '50s was converted for geriatric patients. A new unit was added in the early 1970s. The facility closed for good in 2013, and one of the original ward blocks (nearest the house) was demolished in 2014. Since then, the remaining ward blocks have also been knocked down and the manor house has been converted into residential flats. The whole site has been converted into a large housing estate.

When turning land into a housing development, many factors are considered. The end result is a Plan of Subdivision showing where the roads with their individual lots will be located. Sometimes as in the example below, a simple, rectangular piece of land, the layout is obvious, and it's easy to make the most efficient use of the land.
However, many sites are not simple rectangles, and factors such as treed areas or ponds or high ground etc. result in curved street layouts, cul-de-sacs and so on. It can happen from time to time that orphan lots result – sites that are too small, or for which it's impossible to provide access. Sometimes, if there is room for an adjacent pathway, they can be turned into say, a parkette, or a children's play area. If not they're likely to be simply left as grass.

There is at least one such area on the Ashludie site – the Figures below show how this came about and the significance:
Fig 1. The first two ward buildings ca. 1921 showing two sets of seven chalets. Fig 2. Shows, ca. 1938, how two of the chalets (13 and 14) were moved to the other end of the row to make room for the new surgical block.

Fig 3. One of the trefoil-shaped ward buildings gone to allow for new wards in top right corner. Some chalet foundations still visible ca. 2001. Fig 4. From Google 2018, showing the small land-locked area.

I visited the site some time go and took some photographs which show that this is the site of one of the chalets – while the rails have been removed, you can see the base which held the central post that allowed the chalet to be turned. (The photo on the right shows a close-up of the central pivot point,.) My measurements indicate that this was chalet 12.


I find it comforting somehow, fitting, that this small physical artifact remains as a little remembrance of the men, women and children who were treated there – some who died, many who survived. Perhaps it will still be there a hundred years from now...

What You Gonna Do When They
Come for You...?

Jim Howie
Whilst holidaying in New England in 2002 we spent a week in Great Barrington, Massachussetts. The local cinema, the Mahaiwe (Mahican for 'downstream') had been converted for stage shows by amateur groups and Les Miserables was on during our stay – we booked tickets.


The Mahaiwe opened in 1905 as a vaudeville house, and also hosted graduations, children's festivals and
other community events. Since then it has shown movies and had theatre, opera and ballet performances. Refurbished, it offers today, year-round programming that runs from dance to music, theatre, classic movies, and live-streamed events from around the world. Stars who have appeared live incude Judy Collins, Joan Rivers, Whoopi Goldberg, and Melissa Etheridge.

Prior to the show we were walking through the local park which had a bandstand à la Dundee's Magdalen Green, when we were hailed by a family group picnicking there before showtime. They invited us to join them and we were soon the best of friends.

The Bandstand and Park across the Street from the Theatre.
On parting we exchanged email addresses with one couple from Lake Placid in New York State who also had a house in Albany. On visits to New England we would meet for breakfast at The Blue Benn Diner in Bennington, Vermont, which was midway for both of us.

In the railcar or boxcar style of the movies we saw in the '40s, this circa-1945 diner has the booths, the counter seats, the jukebox, the serving hatch to the kitchen, the all-day breakfast and of course all the pancakes and doughnuts you an eat...

After one meeting they suggested that we join them at their Albany home for lunch (actually in Troy, a nearby city), and told us how to get there. (Troy is where Samuel Wilson, born in Greenock, is buried, he had a meat packing business supplying the US army in the early 1800's. His barrels were stamped 'US', and he became known as Uncle Sam – the rest is history.)

Unfortunately the directions failed us and we ended up in a part of Albany that we preferred not to be in... Whilst sitting in our hired car weighing up our options an Albany Police cruiser drew up alongside and one
of the cops asked if we needed help – we answered "Yes!". He started to give verbal directions to our destination, then had a change of mind and said, "Follow us". We did and they took us to our destination, even putting on the blue lights as we arrived...

Our hosts were suitably impressed!!!

Ashludie
Hugh McGrory
It was around 1949/50. My dad, 'home from the war' some four years or so, was a bricklayer, about 40 years
old at the time; I was 12, my wee brother seven years younger. My mother was worried about Dad – he was losing weight, had a cough and seemed low on energy. He was reluctant, but Mum insisted he go see the doctor (for Dundonians, our GP was Doctor Jacob whose surgery was on Victoria Road opposite the Public Health Clinic).

To cut a long story short, Dad was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) and was admitted to Ashludie Hospital for treatment. The good news – he was eventually sent home cured. The bad news – it was almost two and a half years later...

It was a worrying time for my mother obviously – for both health and economic reasons. My mother, brother and I had to attend the Public Health Clinic in Constitution House (55 Constitution Road) to be x-rayed and tested to see if we had the disease. I remember getting a small injection on the inside of my left forearm and being told to come back in a couple of days. My arm got red and a little bump developed – I was convinced that I had the disease and would be sent to hospital too...

The size (diameter) of the redness was the key, and mine was in the 'between 5 and 10 mm' range which was explained to us as indicating that I had been exposed to the TB germ and my immune system had recognised it and was dealing with it. (A diameter of over 15 mm would have indicated infection). Thankfully, all three of us were clear.

We did suffer economically though – my mother worked as an office cleaner, but she didn't make enough to keep us. However, since the Poor Law had been replaced in 1948 by the National Assistance Act, my mother was able to apply to, and receive some money from the NAB (The National Assistance Board.)

I remember too, that I had to ride my bike, once a month, to the home of
one of the officials of the Bricklayers' Union (The Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers) and be given an envelope with something like £4 in it from their benefit fund.

I can honestly say though that I never ever felt poor – we had a decent home and were well fed and clothed. I'm sure that my mother struggled to provide this, but at that age I never thought about it. I was though, conscious that we were 'on welfare' and never spoke about it to my schoolmates, teachers or indeed anyone...

Some information I didn't know regarding TB:

In the late 1940's, TB was a huge problem in Scotland. By 1948 it was virtually the only country in Europe where new cases of pulmonary tuberculosis were continuing to rise unchecked. Scots were dying from this disease at the rate of one every two hours! Up to that time, treatment was quite primitive, and TB patients could spend a year or more resting in a sanatorium to give their bodies the chance to fight the disease. Half of those diagnosed died within five years. It was a dreadful time – made worse by the appalling stigma attached to the disease.

The three bedrocks of treatment were good nutrition, fresh air and strict bed rest. The idea was to improve the body's immune system to encourage it to fight the disease. The first two seem obvious and appropriate, but the bed rest was draconian... Here is a description from a female patient:

"Absolute and utter rest of mind and body – no bath, no movement except to toilet once a day, no sitting up except propped by pillows and semi-reclining, no deep breath. Lead the life of a log, in fact. Don't try, therefore, to sew, knit, or write, except as occasional relief from reading and sleeping." It must have been torture - especially in those days before TV! Today, it's no longer practised, being recognised not only as unhelpful, but harmful.

It seems that my dad was lucky to have caught the disease at the right time just as the wonder drug streptomycin – the first real cure – appeared on the scene. It was developed at Rutgers's University, apparently from samples taken from a dung heap and a sick chicken's throat... William Feldman, a Glasgow-born vet, helped refine it into acceptable form at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. (Sadly, streptomycin came just a little too late for Eric Blair who died in 1950 – the world knows him better by his pen name, George Orwell.)

Two new drugs, para–aminosalicylic acid (PAS) and isoniazid also became available, but no-one knew how to use them to get the best effect and overcome drug resistance. Over the next year or two it was realised that the key was to give new patients all three drugs at the outset. With this 'triple whammy' regimen, and with meticulous bacteriology and monitoring of each patient's progress a 100% cure for tuberculosis was suddenly a reasonable objective. Between 1954 and 1957 TB notifications in Edinburgh were more than halved – a feat unmatched anywhere before or since.

Some well-known people benefitted – Ringo Starr, Tom Jones, Tina Turner, Cat Stevens, Carlos Santana, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela to name a few.

My dad did suffer through bed rest when he was first admitted, spending most of his time in one of the wards which had walls with large doors/windows which opened up completely to let in that good Scottish sea air. I remember that he was on streptomycin and PAS – don't know about the isoniazid.

At one point my mum told us that Dad would have to have an operation. It was to induce a collapsed lung on one side (to allow it to rest and heal). He was told that in due course it would be re-inflated. He was finally taken into the theatre for the reversal procedure only to be told afterwards that it could not be re-inflated (because of scar tissue build-up or something similar). For the rest of his life he managed with only one lung.

For the last part of his stay, dad was moved into one of the chalets. These were little three-sided huts which accommodated two beds – the fourth side was open to the elements. The chalets could be rotated on rails to face the sun (or away from the rain). If rain was expected the patients would be covered in rubber type waterproof sheets to keep them dry.

I mentioned previously the stigma attached to TB in those days. It arose from the fact that Scotland was particularly bad with regard to housing the poor working classes. The dilapidated homes, poor sanitation, and overcrowding were an ideal breeding ground for TB and so it became associated with the poor and downtrodden. So, TB, like cancer, was a word that you almost never heard uttered.

My mum visited my dad every weekend – there was a special bus service from Albert Square in Dundee to the hospital. Every now and then she decided that I should go with her to see my dad. Being the self-absorbed little twit that I was I always tried to make excuses not to go – until she put her foot down.

I was just a kid then, but I feel ashamed now, that I felt ashamed then, just because my dad was ill. I was embarrassed that we were on welfare, that I had to go to dad's Union for a hand-out (although it was a benefit paid for from his weekly dues), that we couldn't mention the word TB to anyone – and I was always worried that by going to see him I might catch the disease...

As I said earlier, my dad spent almost two and a half years in Ashludie; thankfully he was cured, but he was unable to return to his job as a bricklayer. He lived another quarter century, worked as a storeman and retired at 65.

Our Air Raid Shelter
Gordon Findlay
During World War II there were more than 500 German air attacks on targets in Scotland and more than 2,500 people died as a result. Dundee was fortunate; the German war machine barely touched the city. (Local Dundee wits spread the rumour that the city was always going to be spared because Hitler's granny was born there.)

But early on in the war, Dundonians – like everyone else in Great Britain – were ordered to stop any light leaking out from windows at night, and air raid shelters sprouted throughout the city.

The majestic iron railings that ran around Morgan were removed and carted off to help fuel the country's war effort. Ornamental metal fences disappeared from homes. Brick air raid shelters for all the Morgan pupils were erected on that pristine stretch of lawn which faced the front of the school.

My father decided against building an Anderson shelter in our front garden. He felt they would offer scant protection from German bombs and he opted instead to construct a shelter inside our home at the corner of Shamrock Street and Mains Loan.

Our local Home Defence office provided my Dad with a basic guide to constructing a shelter inside a home. Essentially, you picked a floor-level room that had one or more major supporting beams above it, and with either no windows or a single one. This window was to be cross-taped to prevent broken shards from flying inward from a blast. Then, the homeowner was told to equip the room with bedding, since the family would retreat to this room in the event of a raid. Moreover, the room had to have one bucket of sand, one bucket of water, a flashlight, a first-aid kit that included anti-burn cream or ointment, our gas masks, a whistle (presumably to help rescuers find you).

We had a spare room downstairs and my Dad deemed it would serve as our "safe room", and once we had it ready and equipped I was anxious for the German Luftwaffe to come over some night so we could put our handiwork to the test.

And finally, it did happen.

The date was November 5, 1940 – one of the very few times that Dundee was hit by bombs from German planes. After dark the city's air raid sirens went off. My mother got me and my brothers up, and down we went to our safe room, where we found our father adding an additional water bucket to our supply.

We settled into the floor beds my mother had laid out for us. We were all much too excited for sleep. My older brother David said we'd be sure to hear the German bombs coming down because they fitted whistles to them so they shrieked and frightened people as they came down (that was very reassuring to hear).

The raid was all over within an hour, and soon after that the 'All Clear' sirens sounded. The Luftwaffe raiders had apparently been heading for Clydebank, but the lights of Dundee had stimulated some over-anxious crews to drop their bombs.

One bomb hit a 4-storey tenement on Rosefield Street and killed two residents.

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A previous story dealt with the bombing of Dundee in some detail. See it here if you're interested.
... all the towns in all the world...(1)
Hugh McGrory
I have a personal classification for towns – in my mind there are three categories:

1. All of the towns that don't fit into types 2 or 3 below – we've all been in hundreds of such places, all different, but really all the same...

2. Your home town which, I believe, is a special place for most of us. Given the mobility of the world population today, and the way people often live in many different places on different continents throughout their life, it raises the question "what is a home town?"

You might suggest the place where you were born. While that is an obvious definition, it's not very useful – if your parents moved while you were still a baby you wouldn't remember anything about your birth town.

In my mind it's the place you think of when people ask if you ever visit your home town... Specifically, I think it's the place where you spent most of your formative, teenage years – say from 13 to 16.

3. The Great Cities – those places that would be on your list if asked to name the ten great cities of the world. Places like London, Paris, New York, etc. No doubt there would be great commonality in such lists, the same cities showing up all the time, but there may be one or two surprises in each individual list – New Orleans and San Francisco would be on my list.

One of my favorites is New York. I've been there several times over the years, and it's always been a
fascinating experience. It's teeming with people, noisy (the Noo Yawk accent), dirty, smelly – always something happening around you, day and night. Every visit leaves you with fresh memories...

Around the '60s/'70s New York had a few places to eat that visitors had to try – places like Sardi's, Toots Shor's, Maxwell's Plum, Mamma Leone's – each with a different ambience – I've eaten in three of the four – all closed now...

I remember Mamma Leone's – my friend from Texas, Sam (whom I've mentioned before) and I, had dinner there in the '70s. I remember it for several reasons:

Size – so many rooms, tables, people... At the time, I believe it was the largest restaurant in New York.

So much food – To show my naiveté (I wasn't too familiar with Italian food) I heard the word antipasto, and, being as smart as I am, I figured "probably the sister – Mamma Leone and Auntie Pasto..."

Sam soon set me straight, so then, being as smart as I am, I figured it meant 'before the pasta'. Wrong again – as you all know, I'm sure, it simply means before food, the Italian version of 'hors d'oeuvres'.

The description of the meal below tells the tale. I barely got past Auntie's Pasto and could only pick at the main dish when it arrived...


The final thing I remember about the evening is a group of fellow diners. We were in quite a large room, and against one wall not too far from us was a wedding party. They sat at a long table against one of the walls, and somehow separated from us – can't remember whether it was on a slightly raised platform, had a small balustrade, or both.

In any event, it had the bride in white, the groom and others in tuxes, and we could identify the parents on each side, there must have been about two dozen to thirty in all. They seemed to be Italian, probably a good bet given the venue, and reminded me of the wedding scenes from The Godfather movie.

At one point, Sam commented on something that I had also noted – that the mood seemed rather subdued. I said "Maybe it's a shotgun wedding..."

Some time later, they got to the speeches, we tried to give them some privacy, and couldn't really hear very much. Finally, the bride stood up. This photo is from the Web – the closest I could find to my memory of that lovely young woman...

Noo Yawk, Noo Yawk – that city that never sleeps – definitely one of the great cities of the world... What would your Top Ten list be?

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(1)
You knew where this partial quote comes from – right? Rick to Ilsa?

"Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine."
Sandy Smith
Murray Hackney

Alexander Hall Smith 1920-2002, language teacher at Morgan Academy until 1954.

Most of our era will remember Sandy Smith, the 'one armed bandit' (we never called him that!) and learning
French or German in his classroom. A book written by him has come into my possession recently, but it is unlikely ever to be published. Called Maryfield Chronicle, a copy was given to me by his niece because I lived with my parents in Mains Terrace, only a few houses away from Sandy.

Much of the book concerns his thoughts about his neighbours, and might have led to libel cases if published during his lifetime! I have extracted and shortened bits relevant to the Morgan which might be of interest... First though, a few facts about this man who never talked about his extracurricular activities.

After primary and secondary education at Morgan Academy, Sandy graduated in
modern languages from St Andrews University with MA (Hons) in 1942. He then enlisted and joined the education branch of Somerset Light Infantry. Might sound like a cushy number, but it was anything but, as I learned recently. He saw action in North Africa, Sicily and Italy and rose to rank of Lieutenant.

In Italy, he purloined a motor bike and drove around collecting wine in two enormous pannier bags, and this was duly shared out to maintain morale in the ranks! Because of his gift for languages, mainly German and Italian, one of his jobs, unbelievably, was to crawl in darkness as near to enemy lines as he could, behind hedges etc. and eavesdrop for any information that might be useful. Imagine the swift reaction if he coughed or sneezed!

In one such foray in 1944, he overheard Germans discussing an imminent shell barrage in that area and hurried back to his lines. Superior officers doubted he'd got that right and took no action. Next day his small group was mostly killed by the shelling and Sandy was severely injured. Despite the injuries He walked several miles back over fields to a rear field hospital, where the sister in charge saved his life with a new medicine – penicillin. But his left arm could not be saved, and one finger of the right hand was missing (I never noticed that!) Amazingly, the sister turned out to be a native of Broughty Ferry, and Sandy took flowers to her for many years after the war, until her death.

Sandy graduated Ph.D. St Andrews in 1957 after leaving the Morgan and became lecturer in modern languages in Northern College Dundee, retiring in 1981, and died in April 2002. He was a fellow of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, member of National Trust, Abertay Historical Society, the Bonnetmaker Craft of Dundee, an elder in Dundee Parish Church (St Mary's) and a former President of the Dundee Franco-Scottish Society.

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Now for the extracts (I have omitted quotation marks...)
  • As a pupil before the war... As compensation for some very dull teachers, Bunny Hutch was my German teacher and inspired me with a zeal which has never left me. For maths we had RGC Peden, goalkeeper for Queens Park, a fine teacher and a hero. Art was taught nominally by Ninian Jamieson, who was losing his grip, necessitating frequent intervention by Curly Watson.

  • Teaching at the Morgan 1945-1954... On my return from the war, I was appointed teacher of modern languages, and my principal teacher was Charlie Elder who was very helpful to me. My classes were in dire need of being licked into shape, and fortunately I had army experience of all types of men and I enjoyed dealing with undisciplined youths trying to get the better of a young teacher – I think I won!

  • Nicknames...
    Miss Mackay – 'Kaiser Bill';
    Miss Hoy – 'Hoyser';
    Miss Stewart –'Kipperfeet';
    Mr Hutcheson – 'Bunny Hutch'
    And many others...

  • Tattie Holidays... Potato Duty for us junior teachers involved being at school before 6.00 am, home for breakfast then field supervision, followed by lunch at Kinnettles or Murroes, going home by public transport. I didn't enjoy that very much.

  • Rectors...
    Dr. Alexander Leighton was a stern man, greatly feared, but with a heart of gold. He met his match when he asked two boys in the corridor why they were not with their class. David Dundas, who became a lawyer, replied "We are the class, sir". They were on their way to Latin as the only two in that class.

    David E Collier. His claim to fame was to introduce mixed dances instead of the previous segregation of the sexes. He believed in the social side of school life!

    Peter Robertson was appointed rector while I was on active service in Italy, and he maintained traditions and always gave his staff their proper place and his backing.

  • 'Cheesy'... An English teacher, he was happier coaching rugby or talking about stamps. Teaching was not his forte. He was immensely popular because of his interest in extra mural activities, and his classes were inevitably chaotic – he did not seem to see it, or if he did, it did not bother him.

  • Musical Evenings... When I joined the staff, I was elected President of the Boys Lit. On the first 'Victorian' evening I sang the 'Gondoliers Duet' with Alex Melvin, and the 'Twins Duet' with Don (DB) Smith.

  • The Belt... Each teacher had his own technique, some casual, some more enthusiastic. A minority of us tended to use it for minor infringements, but generally it was applied fairly. Horse play in the lines often brought the command "my room, boy!" And this was usually worth two of the best.

    The Lochgelly special was 22-inch by 1 and a quarter inch and varied from one eighth to three eighth inch in thickness, manufactured by Phillips of Lochgelly or John Dick.

    Certain lady teachers boasted that they never had to resort to the belt to retain discipline, but I knew they asked male colleagues to do their dirty work! Outlawed now at great cost – anarchy in the classroom and nervous breakdowns amongst teachers. (This written in 1986 when Sandy could not have foreseen the situation now!)

  • The School Song... "Hail the Morgan, stately, splendid..." Words by Rev. Dr Blair, music by Anne C Bewick, who later became Mrs. Leighton. At prize-giving or closing days, the substitution of 'jail' for 'hail' was sung with great gusto, to the irritation of the rector, who was powerless to stop it.
  • --------------------
These extracts cover about a quarter of Sandy Smith's wee book, and the rest would be of little interest to anyone (unless they happened to live in Mains Terrace!)

Bernard Street
Hugh McGrory
Dundee, Scotland, the city of my birth, has a unique location on the north bank of the Tay Estuary. The town is dominated by The Law – a hill, almost 600 ft high, formed in pre-historic times by volcanic magma. The Law is the site of a tower and beacon memorial to the memory of Dundee men who fell in The Great War, 1914-1918.

Looking southeast over the Law, the City below, and the Tay Estuary.
(Click for a panoramic view from the far shore – a series of about a dozen photos I took in 2008, and stitched together. Click on the panorama to expand it.)
There are several watercourses crossing the city, the two principal ones being the Scourin' Burn(1) and the Dens Burn. During the early industrial age, the first factories followed the courses of these waterways, running water providing power and being used in the treatment of textiles, cotton, and later, jute. These streams exist today but are mostly covered over.

For those who know Dundee but may have forgotten their geography: The Dens Burn came round the Law on the east side via Dens and Victoria Roads, the Scourin' Burn on the west via Blackness Road, Brook and Guthrie Streets, and Ward Road. They met at the top of what is now Commercial Street, then flowed south to join the estuary at a creek situated at the intersection of Gellatly Street and the Seagate.

Industrial development around the beginning of the 18th century saw the building of textile mills along these two streams. This led to the concurrent building of housing for mill workers. When I was at school, my mother's younger sister Eleanor, with her husband Jim, and daughter Eleanor, lived near the top of Hawkhill, in Bernard Street, not far from the Scourin' Burn, in one of those old housing developments. Bernard Street was quite short, led southward from Hawkhill, with two or three-storey tenements(2) on either side.

The home of my aunt and uncle was a flat on the upper level of one of those tenements. Access was through a close between two ground-level flats and up an outside stair to a 'plettie',(3) passing the outside communal toilet halfway up.

I think that Jim's parents had lived in the flat, a but an' ben,(4) for many years before. I don't remember much about the home – I liked my aunt and uncle, but I know that I was glad that I didn't have to live there. I also remember that it seemed to be chock full of furniture – it was like an obstacle course to move around. The family eventually moved out to a flat which they purchased in Forest Park Road – much more comfortable accommodations.

Bernard Street was considered one of the poorest streets in Dundee at that time – around 1950 – but it was known for something else. It was known in local newspapers as "The Best Dressed Street in Dundee".

Every time there was a major event, VE Day, royal marriage or Coronation, out would come the flags and the buntings – and an article in the paper...

Bernard St. plettie
ca. 1925.
Coronation celebrations
1953.
Possibly VE Day celebrations
1945.
My aunt and uncle were decent, hard-working people – I'm sure that most of their neighbours were the same – living, at the time, in the very old sub-standard housing that was Bernard Street. I've always wondered what it was that made that community indulge in the periodic 'dress-up' of the street. VE Day is easy to understand, but The Coronation in 1953 – a celebration of the wealthy English by the poor Scots?

Go figure...

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(1) Pronounced 'scoorin'. The scouring or cleansing stream.

(2) A tenement is a multi-occupancy building – an apartment building.

(3) Access to these early tenements was through a close (a central passage-way giving access to the common stairs and the floors above). The two ground floor homes could be accessed from the close, but to get to the upper floor apartments it was necessary to continue through the close to the back yard.

There, uncovered stairs would ascend to uncovered platforms (known as pletties) attached to the rear of the building which gave access to the 'front doors' of the homes. See below:

The front might look like this. The rear like this... ...or this.

(4) But an' ben refers to two-room homes – as you enter through the front door, you're in the but, the living/dining room/kitchen, with another door connecting to the second, inner room, the ben, usually the bedroom.

A Toast to You
Bill Kidd
As a result of my sporting, social, employment and marital relationships I have been privileged to be on the fringes of that group of former Morgan pupils who have self-identified as a special intake and output of Morgan Academy. This group have had no corporate sponsorship by the school or any formal structure, they just seemed to coalesce as an entity. I know of no other informal group who have enjoyed a similar relationship over such a long period of time...

The seven reunions held over the years have proved to be warm and relaxed gatherings of friends who have enjoyed their time at school together, and an opportunity to hear how life has treated them and how they have treated life. They are truly a unique group and I have enjoyed their company.

As a mark of my admiration I offered to propose a toast at what, after seven decades, was to be the final organised meeting of the group, held on 15th June, 2019, and I set out the text of it below.

The Final Gathering – a View from the Edge

I stand here as an outsider, a pariah, a Harrisite no less! I am permitted to be here only because I met and married Muriel, who is one of you. What I did not realise then was that along with her, came a couple of hundred surrogate Morgan in-laws! Despite my obvious shortcomings, I confess that I have been made very welcome at every reunion that I have attended, and I thank you for that.

In 1984 you had your first reunion, organised by Bob Barnett and Murray Hackney. This was held in Bob's car showroom. I remember it well; we bought a Volvo from Bob a couple of months later! Regretfully Bob is no longer with us, but it is great to have Murray here today and to thank him for his part in organising that first get-together.

The reunions have become a highlight to be enjoyed every few years and judging by the playground chatter this one is up to standard. It is only right that we thank Anne, Richard and Hugh for their work in getting us together again today.

You are a unique group. Not because you were all pupils of Morgan Academy, or even that you all started your secondary education within a year of each other. You are unique because you are here, celebrating the 71st anniversary of the first of you commencing your secondary education and the 64th anniversary of the last of your cohort being cast upon this cold, wicked, cruel world to fend for yourselves.

And haven't you all done well? There is hardly a human activity or corner of the world on which you and the rest of your cohort haven't left your mark. Science, engineering, academia, sport, the military, education, commerce, the church, law, health......... I could go on! Part of your uniqueness is that you have kept together. At first informally, then networking by word of mouth, by telephone, by writing letters (perhaps you have forgotten what they were?). Then in more recent times by getting grandchildren or even grandchildren to text, email or set up and try to explain the mysteries of the internet to you.

After all those years you are still interested in each other and you still care about each other and remember with affection those who are no longer with us or are unable to join us here today. That is really why you are unique and why I am proud to be standing here to offer a toast to your group.

Please charge your glasses and remember those who have already passed and those who, for whatever reason, cannot be with us today, while I salute the students and teachers of Morgan Academy Secondary Department's 1st years of 1948 & 1949.

You Can't Judge a Book By...
Hugh McGrory
I spoke, in a previous story, of Gordon, a fellow university student in civil engineering. Gord was brought up on a farm near Perth, Scotland, burly, not very tall, always smiling – a down-to-earth type – what you saw was what you got with Gordon.

He liked his beer, and seemed to spend a lot of time in the Student Union. We didn't really know each other,
weren't teamed on projects, and I, being from Dundee and having my own 'haunts', didn't frequent the Union.

I have always felt that I was a good judge of character (I'm guessing that you feel the same about yourself?) If I'd been asked at the time what Gordon's career trajectory might be like, I would have said something like: "He'll probably live somewhere in the Highlands or Islands, work for a small construction company, live in a small town or village, and spend a lot of his time in the evening at his 'local' where 'everybody will know his name', and be glad to see him.

We haven't been in touch since graduating, and by 1966 I was living in Canada. One evening I was a little late in switching on my TV to watch
a documentary about the construction of the Tunnel under the English Channel between France and England – The Chunnel.

They were in the middle of an interview with one of the people involved, and after a few minutes I began to wonder if I knew him. I took a closer look and listened to his voice and suddenly realised that this was Gord. "He must have had some kind of fairly senior job" I thought, "maybe he was the PR guy for the project."

I didn't have to wait too long to hear him addressed by his job title – 'Engineering Director, United Kingdom Construction, Transmanche-Link Joint Venture'. Gordon was the top man for construction of the UK end of the tunnel!

To get some idea of the magnitude of this position, let me remind you of some of the salient facts about The Chunnel:
  • A railway tunnel that runs between Folkestone, England, and Sangatte (near Calais), France. Total length 31 miles (50km) with 24 miles (38 km) under the sea.
  • Longest underwater tunnel in the world and third longest total length (Switzerland and Japan have longer). Actually it's three tunnels – two for rail traffic and a central tunnel for services and security. There are also several "cross-over" passages that allow trains to switch from one track to another.
  • The boring machines were longer than two football pitches.
  • Used for both freight and passenger traffic. Passengers can travel either by ordinary rail coach or within their own motor vehicles, which are loaded onto special railcars. Trains travel at speeds as high as 100 miles (160 km) per hour; the trip takes about 35 minutes.
  • Completed in 1994, it cost £9 billion pounds.

So, the lad that I thought would spend his days on small construction projects in the Scottish Highlands actually became the top construction manager on the greatest construction project the world has ever seen. If you think that is an exageration, read on:

You probably remember learning about The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World at primary school:

The Pyramids, The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Colossus of Rhodes, Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Mausoleum of Helicarnassus, and The Pharos (Lighthouse) of Alexandria.

Did it occur to you that these are all major construction projects? Well, in 1994 the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) decided to put together a list of the most remarkable civil engineering feats of the 20th century. Nominations for this list were taken from all over the world. The seven selected projects are a tribute to the greatest construction works of the modern world:

Channel Tunnel (England & France), CN Tower (Toronto), Empire State Building (New York), Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco), Itaipu Dam (Brazil/Paraguay), Netherlands North Sea Protection Works, The Panama Canal.

In 2013, the International Federation of Consulting Engineers celebrated the best consulting engineering achievements of the last 100 years. Decided by an international judging panel of industry experts. The Channel Tunnel won the Major Civil Engineering Project award...

So much for my thinking that I'm a good judge of character! Good for you, Gord!

Above, Gordon looking over the Tunnel entrance around 1990. He worked in many parts of the world, before and after the Tunnel – Scotland, Nigeria, Peru, The Phillipines, Hong Kong – photo on the right was taken at an event of the Selangor, Malaysia, St. Andrew's Society around 2005.

Notes
You can see Gordon (and hear his Perth accent) in this video.

Gordon featured in a previous anecdote – see it here.
Dundee During The War
Gordon Findlay
As a boy, you are not much aware of war's privations. That was for adults to worry about. I don't recall ever going hungry, although for three years or so, potatoes and vegetables (which were plentiful) formed a large part of our diet. My mother was skilled in "making do" and as the war progressed, she was able to find a local farm which always had eggs – at a price.

Somehow, my mother managed to drive out there (gasoline was severely rationed and Dad only got his ration because he needed a car to service our pub) and buy a regular supply of eggs. We ate them while they were fresh; the rest were put down in a large stoneware jar in clear isinglass, a thick viscous liquid which preserved them until my mother needed them for cooking.

There was always – always– a huge bowl of freshly-cut carrots sitting in cold water sitting on our dining room table. You walked past the table . . . you grabbed a carrot stick, or two, many times during the day. They were our fast food all during the war. We must have eaten ten thousand carrots as boys, only learning later that we probably couldn't have eaten anything healthier.

The British War Ministry even floated the story that our brave Spitfire and Hurricane fighter pilots sat in their dispersal huts waiting for the signal to fly into action, and gobbled carrot sticks to sharpen their eyesight, thanks to the magic ingredient of carotene in every carrot. It was all pure bunkum of course. Eating a dozen carrots a day does nothing to improve your eyesight – but it almost made it loyal and sensible to be munching carrots when you felt a hunger pang.

The one thing I truly missed during the war was candy. I have a highly-developed sweet tooth (inherited from my parents, who both loved nothing better than a box of fine chocolates or a bar of Dairy Milk). But sugar was tightly rationed and the other ingredients of chocolate – cocoa beans for example which had to be imported from West Africa – simply stopped coming into Great Britain during the war years. There were some
tasteless ersatz candies made from saccharine and other substitute sweeteners, but they were all pretty horrible and few people bought them.

Later on during the war, around 1943, when the tide was slowly turning in the Allies' favour and beet sugar
was flooding into the stores, the sugar ration was increased slightly. And my mother heard that one of Dundee's candy-makers – (an offshoot of Keiller's the marmalade people) was offering a deal.

If you brought in two pounds of white cane sugar to the store, they would turn it into fresh candies for a reasonable price. My mother promptly managed to save up the two pounds of white sugar, took it down to the store, and a week later I and David were with her when she handed in her ticket and received our box of freshly-made candies.

She had used some precious gas to drive down to the store; Dave and I sat hopefully in the car, waiting for her return. When she got back she sat down, ripped open the box and said: "Help yourselves!" I think I can still taste that wonderful tangy taste of a real candy – I think they were a sort of sweet peppermint flavor – and how you wished it would never dissolve in your mouth. Our mother was also savouring the candy, and then she said: "Have two more!" They were even sweeter than the first, pure heaven in our mouths.

In five minutes half the box had gone. And Mum then said: "We're going to eat the lot!" And that's exactly what we did, sitting in our green Ford, united in our little orgy of candy-eating after being starved of them for so long. Seventy-odd years ago, and I can still remember that warm and vivid pleasure.

When my Dad went off to be a driving instructor down in England (freeing up a younger man to go into action) I wasn't really aware of any huge change in our lives, except that we were on our own in the evening, when Mum had to see to the running of the pub when it was busiest. And of course, as the war progressed, more and more military units arrived in all parts of the U.K. including our area.

A Different Point of View
Hugh McGrory
My last story described my visit to St. Paul's Cathedral, and the wonderful views from the 'top of the world'. This story describes the same visit from a different perspective.

You'll remember that to go beyond the Golden Gallery we had to climb a series of wooden stairs, each at quite a steep angle, one person at a time. Each section went up about 10 ft vertically through an open trap door into a little room which allowed us to walk around to the next ladder and repeat the process.

I was with a group of friends, four guys and a girl. We were part of a larger group of strangers ahead of, and behind us, who had decided to continue the climb. The girl's name, I remember, was Esmee; she was attractive, outgoing, liked to laugh, and got along well with everyone – just one of the guys...

Esmee and I were the last of our small group. I was right behind her, and, being the gentleman I am, kept a close eye on her in case she lost her footing.

Remember, this was 1959, and Britain had not yet entered the 'Swinging '60s', and Mary Quant and André Courrèges hadn't yet inspired the mini-skirt craze. In fact, below the knee or mid-calf full-round skirts were


in vogue. Such skirts needed support to look good, and paper or nylon petticoats were used extensively to create a bouffant effect. Several layers of petticoats were often worn, until, for a brief period, 'crinolines', or 'hooped skirts' were 'in' and multiple layers weren't needed.

Esmee was wearing a white skirt with lots of small pleats, accordion style I think it's called, with hoops. (Imagine the skirt from the iconic dress Marilyn Monroe wore in The Seven Year Itch but with a hooped
petticoat underneath). As we climbed, I, of course had to look up frequently to check on her progress.

From time to time we had to pause because of delays ahead, and during one of these she looked down at me and asked, "Enjoying the view?"

I would have looked out of a window at that point, but there weren't any... Busted!

I responded with some witty repartee like "Uhh... Yeah." She laughed and said "Just as well I put on clean knickers every morning..."

Memorable as that climb was, I'll always remember it for what happened next:

Behind us was a family of four, a couple of around 30, with two boys around 7 or 8 years old. We came to a halt again with Esmee standing on the fifth step and I standing on the platform waiting for the line to move so that I could start up.

The family below had been climbing with the mother in the lead, then the boys and the father bringing up the rear. It seems that the kids got a little bored and decide to pass their mother and have a race. As I stood
there, I heard the rapid patter of feet and the kids burst onto the platform. The one in the lead was looking back at his brother and, rather rudely burst past me and started up the stairs.

His attention was wholly on his brother, and he didn't look where he was going – until his head disappeared up Esmee's skirt. For a moment there was a frozen tableau – nobody moved – the kid was visible only from the shoulders down. I think he was so shocked and embarrassed that he didn't want to come out and face the music...

He finally reappeared and stepped down, his face like a tomato. Esmee and I, the parents and the younger brother all began to laugh, while the kid slunk behind his mother, so he didn't have to face us.

I'll bet he still remembers enjoying that day as much as I did...

Passport Control
(or Lack Thereof...)

Jim Howie
In 2004, my wife, Moira and I booked a holiday, flying to Prague, staying a few nights there, then onwards to Budapest and Vienna by coach.

We went sightseeing on the Friday in Prague's Old Town Square, and later we discovered that our passports and air tickets had been stolen from Moira's unzipped bag. She remembered being surrounded by three young girls at one point, so we think they were probably the pickpockets.

The nearest police station was like something out of the past, dark and gloomy, however we got proof that we had reported the theft to the police, and set off for The British Embassy.


We knew we were at the right place when we were greeted by a statue of Dundee's former MP Winston Churchill. On explaining our predicament to the receptionist, she explained that we would have to complete forms identical to the ones used in the UK and submit it with the photographs and with payment, but they would be unable to issue replacements until the Monday, by which time we were due in Budapest. They also said that if Moira was upset and needed support they could provide that at a cost!!! We did not take them up on that offer.

The next day (Saturday) we completed the forms and were asked to phone on Monday to confirm they were
in order. Apparently emergency replacement passports are only issued in life or death situations.

As The Czech Republic had just been admitted to The European Union days earlier, there was still some doubt about free travel between countries, and our tour guide suggested we travel without passports and collect them when we returned to Prague a week later - he suggested we sit at the back of the coach...

There were border controls as we entered Hungary, but we passed through without incident.

We had a conducted tour of Budapest and at the end I asked the guide where The British Embassy was, as I did not relish the idea of phoning from a public phone to Prague, he said he would take us there and chatting along the way he said he had been to Dundee and asked about The Discovery etc.

British Embassy, Budapest, at the time of the Story.

The staff member at the Embassy in Budapest was persuaded to phone Prague and confirm that our passport applications were OK and that replacements would be available for collection, this she did but was surprised we were there without passports and that we intended going on to Vienna then back to Prague without them, hinting that it would be unlikely we would succeed. I told her I would send her a postcard from Dundee when I got home later that week.

On re-visiting The Embassy in Prague, we collected our replacement passports; at the airport tickets were re-issued to replace the stolen ones and we made it back to Bonnie Dundee – and I did remember to send her that postcard!

St. Paul's
Hugh McGrory
In 1958-60 I worked in London, England. One day, I went to St Paul's Cathedral with a group of friends from work and had a tour of this magnificent building.
Recently, thinking back sixty years to that day, I recalled two things in particular. One I'll talk about now, the second I'll keep for another day and another tale....

I remember that we toured the ground floor and the crypt first, then set out in a group, with a guide, to 'scale the heights'. My memory is a bit hazy, but I remember lots of steps and stairs in various configurations mostly going around in circles...

There was an elegant, wide, spiral staircase, quite beautiful – The Dean's Staircase – 257 steps rising almost


100 ft to reach the Whispering Gallery. Then a one-person-at-a-time stone step spiral to get to the Stone


Gallery – a total of 376 steps rising to almost 175 ft. Finally a metal step spiral taking us to the Golden Gallery – 280 ft and 528 steps from the floor.

This is well worth the trip today, for the fine view of London from the Golden Gallery, 280 ft above the floor of the Cathedral . But we were made of sterner stuff back in the fifties. To put this into perspective, see the cross section of St Paul's. We actually got to the point marked 'X', about 355 ft above the floor of the Cathedral.
I remember a series of stairs going up from the Golden Gallery, each at quite a steep angle, made of wood, perhaps 3 ft 6 inches wide, so one person at a time. We would climb about 10 ft vertically through an open trap door to come out into a little room the sole purpose of which was to allow us to walk around to the next ladder and repeat the process.

We eventually arrived at the Lantern, and high in this structure were glass portholes, letting in some light – can't remember whether or not we could look out of them. We didn't stop there though...

There was a simple vertical builder's ladder, 12 inch rungs, going up perhaps 10 or 12 ft further. Those who wanted to, could climb this ladder. My memory is that my shoulders were brushing against the sides of the structure as I climbed to get to a point just below the Ball. When I could climb no further, my head and shoulders were surrounded by the eight golden supports holding up the Ball and Cross.

The supports had gaps between them open to the fresh air, covered on the inside, with chicken wire – presumably to keep out birds and bats. The view was wonderful – a quite brisk wind blowing through my hair added to the effect. I didn't know it, until now, but at that moment I was the highest person in the whole of London...

St Paul's was the highest building in London until the BT Tower opened in 1965. Full disclosure though, there just might have been someone higher than me at that moment – a steeplejack on the Battersea Power Stations chimneys, or a communications technician working on the Crystal Palace Transmission Tower – but unlikely – so I maintain my claim that I was, in fact, the highest!

This was the memory I had when I began to write this little story, but as I researched it, I began to wonder if I'd somehow made this up. The information about St. Paul's today only ever mentions tours going up to the
Golden Gallery. Maybe I was thnking of somewhere else, Coventry Cathedral perhaps?

I spent quite a number of hours over the last few days searching for clues. I found lots of photos of the Lantern Ball and Cross, but none helped – until I stumbled upon the one shown. If you click on the photo to get the enlarged version, you can see the golden supports for the Ball and Cross, and the angle is such that two of the gaps are in alignment so that you an see through to the sky beyond – and the chicken wire is visible. (Imagine my head looking out through the wire...)

Also, just yesterday. I came across this statement "There are 530 steps up to the Golden Gallery at the base of the lantern. It was once possible to climb even further up to the ball
under the cross but this is no longer permitted for safety reasons".

I rest my case.

Next time I'll tell you of the other reason I have fond memories of the views...

Queen and Country - 3
Bill Kidd
The anecdote describing our introduction to Bridgnorth, the RAF basic training establishment, ended with us being left with a series of tasks to be completed before morning parade at 08.00 hours. As reveille was at 06.30 there was little time available to wash, shave, get dressed and have breakfast, nevertheless we had made a good attempt.

At exactly 08.00 Corporal Rowe arrived, immaculate in his neatly pressed uniform and gleaming boots. He called us to attention and appraised the general appearance of the billet then slowly made his way round the room stopping at each bed-space and examined its occupant. Apart from drawing attention to one or two individual shortcomings of air-craftsman appearance the inspection was conducted in silence.

When he had completed his circuit he called us together and said the first kind words that we had heard from our masters since our arrival, "I have seen worse but you will have to work on your boots and webbing.", was magic to our ears. He then went on to say that our uniforms would need to be pressed before parade the following day. When asked if we could borrow an iron, we were told that this was not possible but that he had one he could sell us for 30/- and to let him know at lunch time if we wanted it. Needless to say, we each stumped up 2/- to buy the iron that the corporal had been given as a farewell present from the last intake of 6 Flight!

The rest of the day was filled by collecting a Lee-Enfield rifle each, receiving some instruction in how to handle it and store it securely in the racks placed at the end of the billet. This was followed by some basic rifle drill on the parade ground. There were also lectures on the history of the RAF, how to recognise the various badges of rank, who to salute and how to get your pay. All this activity filled in the day until 17.00 when we were marched back to our billet and dismissed until 08.00 the following morning with the warning that we were expected to look immaculate in our working blues. After dinner we did a little exploring around the station before settling into our new hobby of cleaning, polishing and pressing with our newly purchased iron.

The rest of the week continued in much the same fashion, parades, inspections, rifle drill, marching, lectures, physical training and sport. We became noticeably fitter and better organised in working together. Nearly everyone got on well with each other, the major conflicts only occurring when there was a mix up about whose turn it was for the iron!

During that first week we could not use the NAAFI or go to the cinema and were expected to go for meals together. We were recognised by everyone as the new intake because of the coloured disc that we had to wear behind the badge on our berets and consequently we received a fair bit of ragging from earlier intakes. About the only facilities that were available to us was the barber and the small NAAFI kiosk that sold cigarettes, sweets, soap, toothpaste and razor blades. By the end of that first week we were ready to face anything that the RAF could throw at us and looking forward to the extra freedoms that were to be granted to us in our second week.

For the next three weeks, although still confined to camp, we made the most of the precious free time that we had. We went to the camp cinema for a few pence a time, had cups of tea and buns in the Salvation Army canteen and made tentative sorties to the NAAFI to play table tennis and snooker, the high life indeed.

We became used to the pay parade that was held every Thursday. This consisted of parading in front of an officer, coming smartly to attention and saluting him when your name and "last three" were called. All this for 24/-, riches indeed! The days were overfilled with drill, P.T. in the gym, yet more drill, some sport and in keeping our hut and kit sparklingly clean. During this time, we learned to use RAF slang, to swear profusely and to light a cigarette during every smoke break.

We also had the privilege of attending lectures on diseases that your mother never mentioned and being injected with all sorts of vaccines. At the end of our fourth week of training we were given a thirty-six-hour pass which meant we could leave the camp, even return home, provided you lived close enough, in this we Scots were obviously discriminated against yet again! In truth it was great to just stay in camp and do just as one liked for two whole days.

The remainder of our basic training continued in much the same way as the previous three. In addition to the daily rifle drill we were given weapons training on Lee-Enfields that had not been abused on the parade ground and on stripping and reassembling a Bren-Gun. We were taken to a 25-yard shooting range where we fired ten rounds of .303 ammunition at a target and a further fifteen rounds as single shots and short bursts with the Bren. I gained two things from the live fire experience. First, the realisation of how easy it would be to kill someone with a modern weapon and second, how easy it would be for someone with a similar weapon to do me harm.

During those final weeks of training we came to respect the NCOs who harassed and chivvied us every day. They had a tremendous insight into the psychology of their charges. The first terrifying week of basic training was designed to build our flight into a team where we looked out for each other and used our talents to ensure that we worked well together. On the face of it we were bullied and belittled by the NCOs but very gradually most of us came to realise what a difficult job they had in only having eight weeks to convert a disparate group into recognisable members of the Royal Air Force.

During the final week of our training we were each told what our future role in the RAF was to be and where we would be posted to for our trade training. My own destination was to be RAF Wellesbourne Mountford for training as a Photographer. Following our passing-out parade on our final day at Bridgnorth we dispersed to our homes, most of us would never meet again but we all felt that we had shared a life changing experience. The last act of 6 Flight A Squadron RAF Bridgnorth was to present the Hut 26 flatiron to Corporal Rowe as a mark of our gratitude to him. No doubt the next intake would club together to raise the 30/- to buy it from him!

As I already had photographic qualifications, I only spent four weeks on familiarisation training before being sent to what was be my only permanent posting, RAF Kinloss. There, more or less happily, I spent the rest of my service.

Looking back on it, I believe that I benefited from the experience. National Service certainly extended my horizons regarding future employment and location and gave me the opportunity to meet, live and work with people from a wide range of backgrounds and education.

Should we bring back National Service? The military wouldn't want it and if it was brought back it would have to include both genders. Perhaps some form of National Service involving the NHS, Fire and Police services could be incorporated into post-sixteen education, but I think that it would be a brave politician that introduced it. When asked what benefit there was in having the Nation's young men spend two years in the military my reply is, "Well you didn't ask that question in Russian!"

My Terrier
Hugh McGrory
In 1957, I looked around for a replacement for my (too noisy) Excelsior motorbike. I discovered the Triumph Terrier and was very taken with its look which was styled after the larger Triumph 6T Thunderbird.

1954 Triumph T15 Terrier

(Now many of you are saying to yourself "So what, I've never even seen a 6T Thunderbird", to which I
respond "Do you remember seeing Marlon Brando in the 1953 movie, The Wild One? The 650cc motorbike he rode in that movie was actually his own bike – a 6T.")

The Terrier had very similar power to the Excelsior (8 to 9 hp), though it was a slightly smaller bike, 150cc instead of 197cc, four-stroke instead of two-stroke (so didn't need oil added to the petrol) with overhead valves.

It was a great bike to ride, not very heavy, very responsive and cruised nicely at 50 to 60 mph. It could handle a pillion passenger,
and my girlfriend and I had a lot of fun tooling around Dundee and its environs. I remember late one afternoon we took a trip to Lunan Bay (about a 50-mile round trip from Dundee, the bay has a beautiful two mile stretch of beach on the North Sea).

Beach at Lunan Bay.

I remember this trip for two reasons:
  • As we stood on the beach, looking eastwards across the bay (towards the North Sea and Denmark) we saw a lone bottle-nose dolphin cavorting in the still water – appearing and disappearing, spending ages feeding or perhaps just having fun?
  • Resident East Coast Female Bottlenose Dolphin with Calves.

  • In those days, to get to and from the main road, we had to use a track through fields – really just two parallel ruts for car wheels. These had gradually gotten deeper over the years such that some of the cars, I'm sure, must have scraped their bottoms.

    I chose one of the ruts and did my best to keep the bike upright. We finally found a pothole which caused my footrest to hit the earth and pitched us and the bike over. We were only doing a few miles per hour – neither of us was hurt, and the bike wasn't damaged.
Looking back, I fell off various bikes five times. I wore a leather jacket and a helmet, and was never really injured, apart from my pride, just minor scratches and bruises, and none of the bikes were damaged apart from some scrapes. I mentioned in a previous story riding the pillion of my buddy's twin 500cc BSA somewhere in the English Midlands at two in the morning, running into black ice and landing on our backsides. Probably doing around 50mph but neither of us were hurt.

On another occasion, riding home to Clement Park and making the turn from Lochee Road into Lansdowne Place, not noticing that some workman had pumped out water from a hole at the side of the road. My rear wheel slipped out from under me, probably only doing about 15mph, and the bike and I slid through the water and mud. Uncomfortable and messy but no real damage to the bike or me...

I can't remember the other two occasions, but they were also low-speed events. Motor bikes are great fun and allow you to spread your wings geographically (when you can't afford a car), but they can be dangerous, and no matter what you hit at speed, you and the bike are going to come off worse.

They're not a lot of fun in Scotland's rain either – when travelling to the university, I had a light-weight bike cover which I carried around with me for such days – used to park the bike behind the old Student Union building, just at the entrance to the Geddes Quadrangle shared by the Engineering and Physics faculties.

The Heart of Dundee University, The Geddes Quadrangle.

I had the bike during the time I was a meat porter in the Dundee Slaughterhouse – used to park it out of the way in a grease-covered courtyard near the furnace room where offal was disposed of by burning.

One of the other porters asked if he could try the bike and I, reluctantly, said yes since he told me he knew what he was doing... I started the bike for him, told him that the clutch was quite sensitive so he should let it out gently, and only give it enough throttle to prevent it stalling as he got underway.

You know that scene in cowboy movies where a horse rears up trying to throw its rider, then gallops off with the rider hanging on for grim death...?

That's exactly what happened – the idiot gave it too much throttle, let the clutch out too quickly and the bike reared up (did a wheelie) and took off across the greasy yard, dragging him. It and the clown clattered into one of the buildings and came to a sudden stop. He wasn't badly hurt, and the bike survived remarkably well. I had a rear-view mirror on a long stalk and it was broken – I told him I expected him to pay for the replacement – he never did.

I had many happy days with that bike – sold it off when I left the Uni and headed out to conquer the world (London, England) and my first 'real' job.

My Mother Could Be Tough...
Gordon Findlay
From a standing start, once my Dad had been called into the Army, my mother had to master all the aspects of running a popular downtown bar and lounge. As I said earlier, staffing was a constant problem. With wartime shortages another major problem was dealing with suppliers of everything from beer to spirits.

As luck would have it, my parents were social friends with the Ballingall family. Hugh Ballingall and my Dad had gone to Morgan together, and had kept in touch, so when Hugh took over the family brewing business (Ballingall's Fine Ales & Beers) Caw's switched to serve Ballingall's draft beer.

We never went short of beer, thanks to that close connection – but getting liquor was another question. Some of the distillers tried to take advantage of the wartime shortages by demanding kickbacks for supplying Caw's long-standing quota of Scotch, gin, brandy, vodka, and the like. My mother had to deal with them face-to-face, and in some cases to stare them down when they tried to dust her off. She had to be tough. And she was.

In one instance, she told me in later years with some pride, she dealt with a representative from one of her Scotch whisky suppliers – Dewars. In talking with a couple of fellow pub-owners in Dundee, my mother had learned that this particular representative had invented a sneaky way of using the war-created shortage to put extra cash in his pocket.

When he came calling, he would tell a pub owner that he could only deliver HALF of the establishment's normal order of Dewar's Scotch. When the owner objected, this slimy rep would say that the full, normal order could be had – but only if the pub owner paid a 'special commission' under the table – a bribe to the tune of £50.

When my mother heard this story she made some preparations. When the rep arrived at Caw's and smirked out his offer, my mother pulled out a letter she had written the day before. The letter was addressed to the President of Dewars, detailing the exact words of the graft this rep was trying to pull. My mother said something along these lines:

"This letter will be in the mail today, by registered post, to your employer, unless you fill our proper order. You won't be a Dewar's representative for much longer!"

My mother said she was thrilled when the man's face paled (because losing his job meant he would immediately become eligible for service in the Armed Forces). He very quickly signed off on the original order and got out of Caw's. She never had a problem with him again.

Excelsior
Hugh McGrory
I mentioned in a previous story that, in my late teens and early twenties, I enjoyed motorbike riding. I was the proud owner of a couple of small bikes. The first of these was an Excelsior 197 cc (it looked very similar to the one in the photo, though this is the 1953 model – mine was probably the previous (1949) version).
1953 Excelsior Roadmaster 197cc. (Photo by Alan Kempster).

Despite how much I loved my Hercules push bike, I was heading to university and decided that I wanted to ride there without having to sit in classes in sweaty clothes. I couldn't afford a car, but I had saved up enough money for a bike. My mother, initially, was a stumbling block – not sure how I got around her, but she finally relented and I began to look for a used bike in my price bracket (I think around £40/50...)

I saw an advert for one from a little garage in Brechin, a small town about 30 miles away, jumped on a bus and went to see it. I did the deal and then had to get the bike back to Dundee. I'd never been on a bike before, so the seller took me out to the nearby road, showed me the controls and told me to try it out, so I rode about a mile up the road and back, then put on my 'L' plates and rode it back to Dundee (without falling off or hitting anything), although I have to admit that I found the ride quite nerve-racking, and my shirt was rather sweaty by the time I got home.

The bike served me well for about a year. It was a two-stroke engine fueled by a petrol/oil mix. It had no battery, having a magneto to provide the spark. One idiosyncrasy was that the lead to the spark plug would slacken off and have to be tightened from time to time.

I remember one day I was riding down Lochee Road, just at Dudhope Park, and the engine began to misfire slightly. My brain immediately said, "Need to tighten the ignition wire at the spark plug...". I reached down to tighten it... Idiot! As soon as I touched the plug, I got a shot of electricity that almost knocked me off the bike, probably more than 10,000 volts (though very litttle current – just as well...) I thought for a moment that my heart was going to stop. I pulled over to the side of the road to catch my breath, and then my brain said "... and remember the engine has to be off before you tighten the lead...."

The bike needed a new piston ring, which entailed taking off the cylinder, and I took it into a small garage in Yeaman's Shore just north of the West Train Station. They promised it in a couple of days, but when I called up to see when I could pick up the bike, they kept putting me off. I couldn't get a sensible answer as to what was taking so long, so I went down to see them.

I got hold of the owner, and he told me that they had completed the work, but they couldn't get the bike to run – it would start but would then die again. He said he'd never had this happen before and was totally baffled – had even taken out the spark plug and put a drop or two of petrol right into the cylinder – that got it to start and run for a brief period but then it died again.

I asked him what they were going to do about it, and he said they were going to have to repeat everything
they did the first time, until they figured it out... A couple of days later they said I could collect the bike. I was very keen to hear what it was all about, so we looked at the bike together. See the photo – the corrugated thingy is the cylinder which was removed to effect the repair. The round pie dish lower down is the aluminium cover for the magneto flywheel – this cover was also removed.

The cover is held in place by three spring-loaded clips around the perimeter. They discovered that, after the work was done and they were putting the cylinder back, they hadn't noticed that one of the clips had flipped back underneath the cylinder, and was trapped there when the hold-down bolts were tightened. This broke the air-tight seal and was the reason the bike wouldn't run...

Sometime later, I needed the bike to be tuned, and my Dad mentioned that one of his workmates liked to work on motorbikes. The fellow did the work charging me a reasonable price.

I collected the bike and found that it was running well, but the engine was way louder than it had been – so much so that when I passed pedestrians, they would all look to see where the racket was coming from.

I went back to the guy and asked him what he'd changed to cause this, and he said that it was nothing he'd done. I said it must have been, he denied it, and things got testy. I gave up, realising that my Dad had to work with this guy, but within a short time I sold the Excelsior and bought another bike. More on that later...

Queen and Country 2
Bill Kidd
The first episode of my journey through National Service ended with my being newly inducted into the RAF and going to bed feeling apprehensive about the next day's transfer to RAF Bridgnorth and the eight weeks of basic training ahead.

Our wake-up call came through the loudspeaker at 06.30. This rude awakening was followed by a quick wash and the arrival of our corporal who marched us to the airman's mess for breakfast. Before we returning to our hut, we were each issued with a lunch pack for the journey. Our picnic box was rather more substantial than the sandwich, cake, piece of fruit and little bottle of squash dished out before the Sunday school picnics of yesteryear!

On returning to our billet we were ordered to pack all our possessions into our kit bags and small packs, then to strip and fold our bedclothes and to stand by our beds for inspection. Our corporal and a shiny new National Service Officer carried out this inspection, seemingly with the sole purpose of ensuring that we had not misappropriated any of the bedclothes or furniture during our stay! By 09.00, burdened by our worldly possessions we were ready to get into the back of a lorry and say farewell to RAF Cardington. Being pre-Beeching the lorry took us to the nearby local railway station where we climbed aboard the RAF special train bound for Bridgnorth.

Our non-corridor compartment train took about four hours to cover the 120 miles to Bridgnorth with only one mercy stop during the journey. We were certainly relieved to arrive at our destination, but relief quickly turned to terror as we were rounded up by a band of psychopaths in the shape of a sergeant and a small pack of corporals. We were informed in words of four letters and two syllables that we were indubitably the most untidy, lazy and stupid men that the sergeant had ever encountered but such was his lot and he would just have to do the best that he could with such poor material, even if it killed us!. Our morale took a dip and we were a tired, sorry and somewhat frightened bunch that climbed onto the lorry that was to deliver us to our final destination which turned out to be a large tarmacked area that was to become very familiar to us, the Parade Ground.

We were chivvied into some semblance of order by the sergeant and told that when our name was called out to shout "Sir!", fall out and stand by the corporal who had moved to the side of him. This corporal would have day to day responsibility for our training. The sergeant called out our surnames and the last three digits of our service number, pausing only to hear the responding "Sir" or to criticise the slovenly way that some individuals marched to the waiting corporal. With surprising speed and in no particular order we found ourselves sorted into three groups of thirty-six, each led by its designated corporal. We were then addressed by a previously unnoticed officer who told us that he was the officer in charge of us, Flights 4, 5 and 6 of A Squadron RAF Bridgnorth and that he would ensure that his staff would turn us into the smartest, most efficient intake of recruits ever seen. He completed his speech with a curt "Carry on Sergeant" and exited left. He only made another couple of fleeting appearances during the remainder of our stay at Bridgnorth.

The next hour was spent sorting each Flight into some sort of order, starting with "Tallest on the right, shortest on the left", then "From the right, number!", immediately followed by, "Even numbers one step forward, March!". Our very own corporal revealed to us that we were Flight 6. Those with even numbers were allocated to Hut 26 and the remainder to Hut 27. A simple and fairly efficient means of allocating accommodation but perhaps less sophisticated than the Hogwarts' Choosing Hat! This exercise was followed by us and our worldly possessions being marched to our allocated huts.

To say that the huts were devoid of any signs of welcome wouldn't be an exaggeration, apart from the beds, bedding, large and small lockers, the only form of decoration was a large photographic print depicting a bed space with an airman's kit laid out in the approved (the only) style. Our corporal's welcoming speech consisted in him telling us his name and that we should stand to attention when addressing him as "Corporal". He went on to say that when he returned, he expected to see that the hut had been cleaned, the floor polished, beds made up and kit laid out as per the photograph. He concluded by telling us that he would return at 18.00 hours to take us to dinner.

As promised, our corporal returned but before we set off for our meal he had a walk round our hut finding fault with our housekeeping. A few individuals had their kit deposited on the floor because some item had been displayed in the wrong way in contravention of the example in the photograph. With a muttered, "How am I expected to cope with this bunch of halfwits", the corporal marched us to the mess hall. On our return, feeling the better of a decent meal, we were informed that we were to rectify the shortcomings of our housekeeping and that he expected us to clean our kit, have breakfast and parade in our working blues ready for billet and kit inspection at 0800 hours. With a final sadistic, "Have a nice evening", he left us to our own devices for the first time that day.

Left to ourselves with a lot of work to do, some of it clearly requiring individual and some requiring cooperative effort. We put our heads together and somehow worked out that as we were all in the same boat it would make sense to share the load as far as we could. This was when being in the school Cadet Force, the Scouts, the Boys Brigade or even the Brownies became useful and we had soon evolved a system of work share that made the best use of the talents that we had. My greatest gift was polishing the toecaps of boots using the spit and polish method. I soon had half a dozen pairs of boots polished to a reasonable level while my brass buttons and badges had been brassoed and my webbing blancoed by the owners of the boots.

In this way the floor got polished and the lockers dusted before lights out at 22.30 and Flight 6 of A Squadron Royal Air Force Bridgnorth fell exhausted into bed wondering what was in store for us over the next eight weeks but having the satisfaction of knowing that the nation was just that little bit safer because of our efforts that day!

Believe It or Not...
Hugh McGrory
In 1965 I was working in Fife on the design and construction of new roads. I was standing in a field that was
destined for some serious earth-moving activities in the future. I had a crew with me (a couple of workmen with a small backhoe like the one shown here).

I was holding a plan which indicated that there was an old buried pipe carrying water there – our job was to find it, pinpoint where it was and how deep. There was a road bordering the field on the west side, running north/south.

The plan showed the pipe approaching from the east,
crossing the road into the field then turning southwards into the area we were interested in. The plan, unfortunately, was very small scale, and distances measured from it were suspect, however we could see the signs of the crossing point on the road surface.

I had taken my best shot – a SWAG estimate (a "Scientific Wild Ass Guess") at a place to start – at a point south of where I felt the pipe would have completed its turn southward, and I asked the guys to dig an east to west trench. They did – no pipe. I asked them to go deeper, they did – no pipe. I told them to extend it eastwards, then westward – no pipe, no pipe.

After an hour or so, we looked at each other, they wanting to know, I'm sure, what bright idea I was going to come up with next – I had no idea, and was visualising holes all over the damn field trying to nail down the location

Then, out of the blue, I had this thought... maybe dowsing would work! I wasn't convinced that dowsing had
any scientific merit, but – what the hell... I told them to take a break and I'd be back in about 15 minutes.

Fortunately, there was a site office not far away, and in a cupboard there I found a couple of simple wire coat hangers. I borrowed a pair of snips, and cut off two lengths about two feet long, I then bent them into the shape of an 'L' with one leg about six inches long and the other around 20 inches (like a pistol), then headed back.

My 'crew' thought I was an idiot, I'm sure, and I sort of agreed with them – but in for a penny...

I stood at the edge of the trench they had dug and headed eastwards, holding the two pieces of wire like
'Two Gun Pete'.(1) The effect was just like the photograph, though, if you look closely, you'll see that the guy is holding two little loose handles. Mine wasn't as sophisticated – I held each with one finger and thumb – my forefinger under the 'barrel' just in front of the 'grip', and my thumb pressing down on the handle about two inches below the bend, lightly, so that they could easily move horizontally.

As step followed step, with nothing happening, I began to feel more and more embarrassed, when suddenly, about 40 feet east
of the trench, the two wires turned inwards and crossed each other. The guys marked the spot. I then walked east about fifteen feet, reversed course and walked back. Just after I passed the mark, the wires crossed again, and the guys marked that spot. We now had two flags about three feet apart.

We looked at each other and shrugged, moved the digger up and dug. Some time passed, slowly, as the hole got deeper, then, at about six feet the spotter shouted "Stop!". We looked and saw the top of a pipe – we'd found it, believe it or not – and on our very first try!

Given that it worked so easily for me, does that make me an expert dowser? No – that was my first and last attempt at dowsing. Do I think that dowsing actually works? No – while there are all kinds of anecdotal evidence out there, there haven't been any reputable, replicated tests that show dowsing is statistically any better than guessing.

So, do I have an explanation as to why it worked (or seemed to work)? No... My approach was pragmatic – we needed to find a pipe and we did. I still have no idea why it worked then – but if I ever had the same situation, I'd certainly try it again...

--------------------
(1)If you remember playing Cowboys and Indians as a bairn, you may recall the name Two Gun Pete. I always assumed that he was a gunslinger in the Wild West. In fact, he was apparently a policeman named Sylvester Washington, in Chicago in the '30s, '40s and '50s'.

If the stories are true, he was Dirty Harry before Clint Eastwood... If you'd like to read his story you may find it here.

The Women Take Over...
Gordon Findlay
One of the factors that had an enormous effect on the women in Great Britain was that, during World War Two, the country had to dig deeper and deeper into the available pool of men for the war effort.

Eventually, the country conscripted men of 40-45, and that age bracket included men like my father. He was served with conscription papers and off he had to go – leaving my mother, with three children still at home, to run Caw's!

It was only in later years that I realized how huge a load had been dropped on my mother:
  • Parent of three young developing boys, all at school, all involved in school sport and with other outside activities.
  • Food on the home front suddenly in short supply.
  • A thriving and popular pub to run.
  • Having to cope with staff shortages as young females went off to the higher pay of working in munitions factories, or joining a branch of the women's services so they "could do their bit".
My father had the good fortune to inherit one truly outstanding person: Ina (Ritchie). Ina had started as a young waitress and had quickly shown the drive, personality and toughness to do well in that role, so that she rose to become head of all the wait-staff. She was a gem.

Ina knew all the Caw's regulars, greeted them by name, and could handle multiple complicated drink orders with ease. She was firm but fair with the younger waitresses in the lounge-bar and when my mother had to take over running the pub, she became her strong right hand.

On the male side, my father made another good hire: Bob (MacKinnon) the barman. He had come into Dundee looking for work and approached Dad for a job in Caw's. He was a country boy, and honest as the day is long. He also had one other extraordinary quality: he was a teetotaler. Never touched the stuff. Bartenders who didn't drink were as rare in Scotland as Zulus!

Dad quickly began to train him as our bartender. Bob mastered the job well and this took some of the pressure of my father who could now move between both the bar and the lounge-bar (where ladies and their escorts could sit down in comfy armchairs and sofas and where we had a nice roaring fire in winter.)

Whenever any of us boys showed up at Caw's, Ina Ritchie always had a spare candy in her pocket to give us. She had been jilted many years before by "her man" who had gone off to New Zealand to start a new life, promising to send for her as soon as he found a job and was established. Poor Ina. She waited with great hope and excitement for over a year, waiting to hear from him, waiting to book her passage to a new life in the Southern Hemisphere. But the rotter never got in touch, just disappeared completely.

Ina never did marry, lived on her own in a tenement, and apparently was well known for her big heart and her kindness in her neighbourhood. Janet and I made a point of seeking her out when we flew over to Scotland after we were married.

Bloody Scary...
Hugh McGrory
In previous stories I've mentioned that my primary school was at the far end of the street we lived on. I'm sure that my mother was very happy with such a safe environment for my journey back and forward, and it suited me, of course – I could trot back and forward every day for a home-cooked lunch. (which we referred to as dinner – actually 'denner')

One day I did just that. When I arrived home, the door was unlocked. I went in and as usual shouted, "Mum..." No Answer. I went for my fall-back: "Gran...". No answer.

I was puzzled – couldn't figure out what was going on. I went into the kitchen: empty – no food cooking, table not set. Tried the living room: empty – the bedroom, the bathroom: empty, empty... Now I wasn't just puzzled, I was worried! The house was eerily quiet, and I was alone....

I began to go through the rooms again and in the kitchen, saw that there was a trail of blood on the floor which led out into the small hall. Now I wasn't just worried, I was panicked!!

I could talk about the trauma inflicted by this incident – nightmares, insomnia, bed-wetting... I won't, though, because – there wasn't any (and not the point of this story)! My memory is hazy, but I think that either my Gran turned up to reassure me (or perhaps a neighbour first?) and finally my mother with her hand bandaged. She seemed fine and life immediately went back to normal – for me, at least...

Some background... In the '40s (probably just after the war), my mother proudly became the first on the block to have an electric clothes-washing machine. I can picture this large, green and yellow monster, but can't for the life of me remember the maker. (For some reason I've always thought it was a Canadian make...).

It was a single round vertical drum, a top loader with a powered wringer (no spin dryer, of course) . The wringer could be used to squeeze the clothes out onto a counter-top or into a sink with rinse water. It could also be turned through 180 degrees, so it could sit between double sinks and squeeze the clothes from one to the other. I've tried to find a photograph of it with no luck, but the photos below are very similar in design:

The one on the right looks most like the one we had.
So, on the morning in question, my mother had got her fingers too close to the rollers and had her hand pulled in and crushed. It actually squeezed so hard that a couple of her fingers burst – hence the bloody floor. My Gran came to the rescue and walked mum over to the DRI (Dundee Royal Infirmary) where her fingers were stitched. She carried the scars for the rest of her life.

Gran, previously, had done exactly the same thing including the trip to the hospital and the stitching... I didn't say so to my mum, but I was thinking "Not very smart thing to do Ma, when your own mother has already had the same accident...".

Some years later I was heading out the front door, with my bike on my shoulder and as the door was closing behind me, I heard my grandmother calling out to me. No doubt I grumbled to myself, but I dutifully put the bike down and went to see what she wanted. She was doing a wash, and she asked me to set the wringer in place for her, and make sure that it was in forward, and not reverse.

I did so, got the wringer in position, and to make sure that she 'got it', I said "OK Gran, turn the switch (actually a sizeable handle) this way and put the clothes in here..." I was standing on the output side of the wringer as I said this, and reached over the top with my right hand to indicate the direction ... Unfortunately – I got my fingers a little too close and – in my hand went until it could go no further despite the roller keeping turning and trying to suck the rest of my body through. (Failing that, it decided to just abrade the skin from the back of my hand.)

It took a moment to turn off the power but a bit longer to release the upper roller – it was a poor design and needed some force, complicated by the fact that I was draped across the top of the wringer. I eventually got my hand out and I can remember that it looked really pale (I guess from its exsanguinated state) and, as Gran and I looked on, it slowly turned a shade of purple and began to swell up. Fortunately, since my fingers were not as thick, they didn't burst, so there was no spouting blood.

Gran, being an expert in this situation, walked me over to the DRI where my hand was x-rayed, bandaged up, and put in a sling. When we got back and explained to my mother, she and Gran looked at each other... I'm sure they were thinking "Not very smart thing to do, when your own mother AND your grandmother have already had this accident...".

To this day I have a memento of the occasion – a patch of skin on the back of my right hand which doesn't grow hair...


Queen and Country
Bill Kidd
Young men leaving school in or around 1954 found themselves on the cusp of a career with or without spending two years as part of Her Majesty's armed forces. If you were undertaking a degree course at a recognised place of higher learning your call-up was deferred until you either failed a relevant exam or you graduated. The fact that young women were exempt from this call to arms ensured that I became a life-long advocate of equal rights for women!

In practice most graduates from the class of 1954 completing a four-year honours degree at a Scottish university were not required to undertake National Service. Similarly, anyone undertaking a formal training course in industry or commerce could apply for deferment from the call-up until the end of their formal training period. I came into the latter group and a few weeks before my twenty-first birthday I found myself on a train in the company of another conscript taking the sixteen-hour scenic route to Bedford where transport awaited to take us to the reception centre at RAF Cardington. During that journey my travelling companion and I formed a close friendship that continues to this day and led to us being each other's best man at our respective weddings!

To say that sharing a wooden hut with nineteen other confused and slightly frightened young men was a fun time would be a barefaced lie! We came wearing various fashion statements involving beautifully coiffed hairstyles, Italian suits and brothel-creeper shoes along with more normal flannels and blazers or sports jackets. Some of us, myself included, had gone to the barbers in advance of our adventure and had short back and sides haircut. After we had been left fend for ourselves for a while, playing musical beds without any music in earshot, we were visited by an RAF corporal who gathered us together and said that he was taking us to the mess for some dinner and that we would be going through the RAF induction process the next day.

The corporal then ordered us outside and marched us in loose formation to a huge dining room where we had to queue with a tray and the mug, knife, fork and spoon that was handed to us. As we shuffled past various sections of the long serving counter sliding our trays along metal rails and then copying what the person ahead of us was doing, picking up a piece of bread and a soup plate which was immediately filled with a ladle load of soup. This process was repeated with stew, potatoes and veg followed by a plateful of steamed pudding and custard. Clearly, the RAF in 1956 was no place for vegetarians!

Following our repast, we were marched back to our accommodation to spend the evening as best we could. We were a varied group hailing from all over the British mainland. The youngest had barely reached their eighteenth birthdays while the eldest was an old married man of twenty-five. Our occupations were just as varied as were our ambitions in life. Being away from home in a strange environment led to some very interesting conversations about hopes and ambitions for the next two years that in turn led to the discovery that most of us, no matter where we came from, were very much the same and that we may as well enjoy the experience that loomed ahead of us.

At 6.30 a.m. we were awakened by means of a sadist making a loud announcement on the Tannoy loudspeaker mounted in our hut. This was followed by a visit from our corporal who told us that breakfast would be in half an hour and that our induction into the Royal Air Force meant that we had a very busy day ahead of us. As good as his word he collected us and marched us to a porridge and bacon and eggs breakfast before returning us to our hut to await whatever was in store for us.

At 08.00 (the military was already affecting how we told the time) we were taken to a large building where we were interrogated about our name, age, home address, education, civilian occupation, religion, medical history and who was our next-of-kin. On completion of this impersonal interview we were each given a card containing a précis of our life history. We were informed that this card which displayed an ominous number of blank spaces had to remain with us for the rest of the day.

Our corporal herded us like a sheep dog and ensured that we remained corralled together as a group. When we all had our cards, we were moved on to the next room where we were invited to strip to our underpants before being weighed and measured and the results marked up on our cards. On to the next room where the doctor awaited to look at our teeth, sound our chests, get us to stand on one leg, tap our knees with a hammer, had a look at places that I had never seen and finally checking that I could cough without discomfort (further details are available on application). Now that the Royal Air Force was convinced that we were actually alive we were passed on to what I thought must be the biggest gent's outfitter in the land. It was time to get our uniforms!

Now we were really in the Air Force! A host of people in RAF uniform stood beside or behind a line of trestle tables. The person in front of my table wielded a tape measure and applied it, seemingly indiscriminately, to various parts of my anatomy, calling out a series of numbers to his companion behind the table. In a flash the table was covered by two RAF uniforms, one a 'working blue' the other a 'best blue' and a folded greatcoat. These were followed by a 'cheesecutter' hat and a beret, each with a brass badge attached. I was invited to put on the trousers and jacket of one of the uniforms to check for fit. Clearly, if I could fasten the buttons and continue breathing, they fitted. Next came shirts, shirt collars, P.E. kit, boots and shoes, underwear, socks, towels, bits and pieces for sewing, button and footwear cleaning. Kitbag, webbing small pack, belt and bayonet frog were the final items from this cornucopia. Dazed by this generosity we were encouraged to put what we could into the kit bag and small pack and to wear or carry what was left.

Loaded to the gunwales we were then led to the crockery and silverware department. There we received a knife fork and spoon each stamped with the number that appeared on our individual card. Little did I know then that 5029362 was to last me all my life and be the default for many a telephone misdialling. It was impressed upon us by our attendant corporal that we must guard these implements, along with the large mug with our lives because if we lost them, we would have to eat with our hands! From here we were marched back to our hut to deposit our new treasures in our bedside lockers. And so to lunch!

Having enjoyed a good lunch, we were returned to our hut and given an hour to don our working blue uniform and pack our civilian clothes in the cartons provided and label them with our home address before once again being taken out for the afternoon's activities. our first stop was the camp barber who had clearly been practising on a sheep farm. Gone in a flash were the carefully groomed Tony Curtis and D. A. haircuts to be replaced by a uniform very short back and sides. Next was the security section where we were photographed for our pass, the 1250 carried at all times by every member of the Royal Air Force. It was impressed on us that to lose this was a heinous crime, second only to seducing the Group Captain's wife.

Our next destination was a lecture theatre where we were told that after breakfast next morning we would be leaving for RAF Bridgnorth by train and that civilian clothing had already been collected and despatched to our homes. We were to have our new kit appropriately cleaned and packed. Our ubiquitous corporal would demonstrate how this was to be done during the course of the evening. Before returning to our hut we were issued with our neatly laminated 1250. I looked at the photo and didn't recognise myself as the airman portrayed.

I was now 5029362 Ac2 Kidd W, one of Her Majesty's defenders, already apprehensive of what awaited me over the next year and 363 days.


Sailing...
Hugh McGrory
In the early '80s, Sheila and I decided to take a week's vacation in order to take a beginner's sailing course. We did this by signing up at The Harbourfront Sailing School. This is on the Toronto, Lake Ontario Waterfront, so we would drive downtown in the morning and back home in the evening for the week-long course.

The format was classroom study in the morning, and hands-on in the afternoon. There were 12 students in the course, and the school had four 26ft. Bluenose sloops, with main and foresails. a cabin and smallish cockpit, so three students plus instructor to each boat (a bit crowded, but it worked.) (They put spouses into different crews).


The Friday morning was the final exam, and a promised opportunity to sail in the afternoon across the harbour to the Toronto Islands (mentioned in a previous story).


The marina was just west of the ferry Termnial – our course would be similar to the westmost route.

In the course we covered such things as:
  • Basic terms used in boats and sailing
  • How to tie basic knots – like figures of eight and bowlines
  • How to sail with, against and across the wind
  • How to steer a boat under sail and under power, and how to dock safely
  • 'Rules of the road'
  • Importance of weather forecasts
  • Man overboard recovery
  • Lifejackets, safety harnesses, and personal buoyancy aids
  • How to avoid, if possible, and also how to deal with emergency situations
At the end of the course we were awarded our first-level, internationally-recognised, sailing certificate. (We never did pursue sailing any further, but it was a most enjoyable week.)

One of the exercises we practised was how to pick up a mooring buoy. This involved sailing with the wind, passing the bouy, then releasing the sheets (de-powering the sails), turning 180 degrees into the wind and bringing the boat gently up to the mooring, close enough for one of us to touch it.

(That, of course, was the theory, but our efforts left much to be desired... But clumsy as we were, it was an empowering feeling to see how a boat under sail, could be manoeuvred so accurately when you know how...)

On the Friday, we had the end-of-course exam, had it marked, and were presented with our certificates (I think they were in the form of a little book with a stamp applied.)

The weather was quite blustery, and we were all thinking they might, hoping they wouldn't, say that we couldn't go out after all. However, after we finshed our sandwich lunch, they said put on your life jackets and let's head out.

As we got on board at the marina dock, the boats were moving around against their moorings. We moved out under power, and when we passed out of the marina and into the lake, the wind seemed quite a bit stronger and there was a fair swell.

All four boats headed over to the Islands under power, ploughing through the waves. While the other three boats ahead of us 'powered on', our (youngish) instructor asked how we'd feel about trying to raise the sails instead of crossing under power. We all said let's go for it, whereupon he asked for a volunteer to release the sheet and unfurl the foresail.

So I clambered over the cabin onto the foredeck, where I realised there was nothing to hang onto (see the photo above). The boat was pitching and rolling quite a bit, and I ended up spreadeagled with my feet and left hand gripping the gunwale, while I released the sail. It was an enjoyable, exhillerating experience with the wind blowing spray into my face. I wasn't in danger, and I'm sure if I'd fallen overboard the young instructor would simply have said "Oh, good, now we can practise our man overboard drill again."

To this day, I've remembered the different feel the boat had as soon as the engine was cut and we were under sail. Before we seemed to be fighting the waves, under sail we seemd to be somehow working with them. Perhaps it was beacuse of my delicate stomach that I particularly noticed this, but my slight feelings of sea sicknes immediately disappeared.

We entered the Island channel and switched back to power to navigate around some of the small islands – very pleasant and relaxing. On the way back, the wind was as strong or stronger than before, and as our little fleet headed for the calm of the marina, I noticed a launch coming out from shore. It made a big arc which brought it behind us and it seeemd to manoeuvre back and forward behind us. I didn't pay much attention, but thought that it looked a wee bit like a sheepdog with a herd of sheep.

When we got back and were putting the boats to rights in preparation for heading home, I chatted to the senior instructor and mentioned the motor boat.

He said, "This morning we instructors met to decide whether to cancel our sail. We didn't want to disappoint you all, and we decided it was doable. That boat was the harbour Police Launch – they decided to come out and escort us in."

Then he pointed to a flag flying at the entrance to the harbour and said "That red pennant is a small craft warning. That was the strongest blow we've ever taken students out in!"

It was a great week. We thoroughly enjoyed it – I wouldn't mind doing it again...

The Class System...
Gordon Findlay
In a previous story, I mentioned in passing that Dundee High School pupils tended to look down their noses a little at us Morganites, since our school had a long tradition of admitting a number of non-fee-paying students based on their outstanding academic achievements within the public school system. I never really thought much about the concept, if I thought about it at all.

Having said that, I can vividly recall when the first batch of those non-fee-paying students came into Morgan. I was startled by their ordinary Dundee accent. It was harsh and coarse, it grated on the ear. It immediately identified the person talking as someone from a lower level of society – the so-called 'working class', and certainly did to me and I suppose, to most of my friends at school.

This new influx of youngsters from less-privileged parts of Dundee was, I suppose, in keeping with the founders of Morgan, who wanted to establish a sound, solid bulwark of Scottish education.

However, the founders had also wanted to extend that privilege to at least some of those children whose parents were unable to afford the obvious advantages of a private school education. It was commendable, and unusual, for the times since the class system was a fact of life in Scotland as well as England.

One of the rather brain-dead decisions made around this issue at the time was this: non fee-paying pupils who came into Morgan did not have to instantly conform to wearing the school uniform. (I suppose they were trying to ease the financial burden on those families). But of course, it only made them stand out even more.

However, as World War II ground on, it became harder and harder to get proper Morgan Academy blazers, caps and grey pants (blue skirts, tunics and white shirts for the girls) so it became voluntary. Morgan pupils could wear the school uniform – or they could not.

I wore holes in the elbows of my school blazer, and I was shocked and appalled when my mother patched the holes with leatherette... but after much moaning and complaining on my part – that's how I went to school. Wartime forced some changes, and everyone had to adapt.

I became friends with one of the 'new boys' from the working class, and I can recall being startled and dumbfounded when he told me that – when he was going to his elementary school in Dundee, he and his fellows regularly used to throw stones at Morgan pupils they saw walking home in their school blazers.

"We all hated them. We felt they wis a' stuck-up, wi' pan-loafy accents an' a'." By "pan-loafy" he meant an upper-class accent, which did not drop the 'g' at the end of a word, and spoke in the way I always had in Maryfield, where I grew up.

I suppose, in retrospect, it was my first indoctrination into class distinction, and, though I hadn't really given it much thought I was certainly aware that there was a 'common' accent in Dundee.

Set it Free...
Hugh McGrory
Superannuated as we are, my wife Sheila and I reached the point where we decided to give up on the Christmas/Birthday/Anniverary/Valentine's Day/ hassle of exchanging gifts. We took, instead, to giving each other an appropriate helium-filled balloon (very reasonably priced at the local dollar store.) We found that they lasted quite a long time floating at the end of their six foot ribbons, anchored by little plastic hearts. On occasion we've had as many as three in various stages of senescence.

Usually, when they lost so much bouyancy that they'd touch the floor, we'd give them a swift demise (I'd usually stamp on them to enjoy the loud bang).

One day, when a balloon had dropped about halfway to the floor, I suggested, as an experiment, that we cut the string off and set it free – in the house, that is... Sheila was game, so we did – we've followed this practice ever since...

When a balloon is first set free it heads for the ceiling where the upward pressure of the helium together with the friction between the balloon and the ceiling tends to keep it there for a time. As the helium continues its slow, inexorable escape, the balloon begins to move around against the ceiling, then it begins to slowly head for the floor over a matter of days or weeks. That's when the fun begins... (The photo shows our current, Valentine's Day, balloon which has lasted very well, so far.)

People usually aren't very aware of the air currents in their homes. These come from several sources, of course – the heating/cooling systems, draughts from opening and closing doors and windows, and from simply walking through a room, pushing air before you and causing it to flow after you to fill the space. Of course if you have free flying balloons in the house you quickly become aware...

One of the first things we noticed was that you could walk through a room past a balloon and it would slowly follow you. A couple of times times I've had a fright, seeing one out of the corner of my eye and thinking it was an animal.

Sheila wakened up one day with her hand hanging over the side of the bed and something touching her... Another time she wakened to find that a yellow balloon with a smiley face had been watching her sleep from the ceiling above the bed.

I was sitting reading once, and found one had made its way to join me - I figured that it was reminding me that the golf had begun, so I turned the TV on and the balloon settled down to watch it with me.

On this occasion one appeared, and seemingly feeling that I watched too much television, decided to block my view...



It's said, "If you love something, let it go..." We discovered one had made its way into our garage (we usually use the side door through the garage to enter the house). The balloon stayed around for several days, then when the garage door went up one day it made a break for it, disappeared into the sky – and never did come back...

The star to date was a Smiley Face that discovered that it could ride the air currents from one of our heating/cooling vents. The air moving upward from the vent caused an inward draft that gently pulled the balloon into the updraft. It then took the balloon up some six feet whereupon it drifted sideways and down to the floor and again got sucked towards the vent.

I spent ages watching the balloon going round and round and round and... It figured that out by itself, I didn't teach it - made me quite proud of the little thing.
And people ask me "What do you do all day now that you're retired..."

"Huh? All kinds of stuff!"
NB - All of the photos above were serendipitous – none were staged, and no balloons were harmed for this story...
Gie's a Buzz on Yer Bike
Bill Kidd
Anyone who has visited Amsterdam or Copenhagen will have experienced the cult of the bicycle. Old fashioned upright bikes prevail, whole families get around without effort on streets where motor vehicles

Amsterdam Summer Copenhagen Winter

have to bow to the needs of the cyclist. Why is this? The terrain is flat, so nearly everyone uses a bicycle with the result that most drivers are actually aware of the dangers of carelessly opening a door or cutting in. The provision of tracks for the exclusive use of cyclists also helps, any readers with influence please note!

In contrast, by any stretch of the imagination, Dundee cannot be described as flat, nor could the granite setts and tramlines of my youth be described as cyclist friendly. In the late 1940s and early '50s cycling in Dundee
Dundee High Street – beware non-expert cyclists – skint knees and elbows be here!

was like being on a Commando course. In my case, coping with my heavy upright bike was like a sojourn behind enemy lines.

As I drive around Dundee and its surrounding area, I sometimes wonder how I survived. I certainly would not encourage anyone to cycle the routes that my pals and I covered on our bikes unless they had the benefit of a safety car.

I have ridden a bicycle on and off (sometimes only too literally) for most of my life. It was only during my late primary and secondary schooldays that having and using my first bike was of any importance to me. This was a formidable machine, a brand-new Phillips upright that must have weighed about half a hundredweight, well it certainly seemed so when going up a hill or climbing three flights of stairs with it over my shoulder. This was a basic bike costing £11.00, no gears, no panniers, no lights and only a tiny saddlebag to carry a puncture repair kit. It did have a bell and it also had a bicycle pump. I loved it! I learned to ride it by persuading my father to run behind me holding on to the saddle. At first it was to keep me upright but after the first ten runs he only remained upright by holding on. After a couple of such sessions I dispensed with his services and carried on by learning not to fall off!

I worshipped that bike, I cleaned it, I polished it and if it was raining, I took it apart and reassembled it. When the sun shone, I rode it all over the place. I learnt that if I let someone have a 'shottie' then the quid pro quo would be being picked for his football team, a rare event before I got my bike. Of course, there were those people who despised upright bikes, they had racing bikes fitted with five gear Derailleurs and drop handlebars, they also had a habit of showing off how light their bikes were by lifting them one handed above their swollen heads. Then there were those cyclists that were universally despised by both the upright and racing bike fraternity. I refer, of course, to those who had a touring kind of bike, usually a Raleigh with Sturmey Archer three speed hub gears, a hub dynamo, cycle stand, security lock and capacious saddlebag. They were regarded as boys on a girl's bike, if you gave one of them a 'shottie' it was only too likely to be a cricket team on which you would be offered a place!

Our favourite evening excursion was to cycle through Invergowrie to Longforgan then up the Knapp road through Littleton, joining the Coupar Angus Road for the return to Dundee. A journey of about eighteen miles covered in a couple of hours. Weather permitting, two or three of us would take this tour nearly every week, occasionally reversing the route for a bit of variety. Once in secondary school, my bike was the transport of choice. This required the purchase of a padlock and chain, not as an anti-theft precaution but to stop any unauthorised use while I was in class. Once, I suffered the indignity of losing my padlock key. This meant that I had to push the bike on its front wheel all the way home, much to the amusement of everyone I passed.

The Easter and summer holidays were an opportunity for more adventurous outings. I bought an ex-US Army bivouac tent from Millets so that we could have overnight stays. Our first such expedition was to Forfar where a relative had a farm and would allow us to pitch our tent in one of his fields. We loaded up our bikes with camping gear and set off. The first obstacle was the, then, formidable Powrie Brae. Pedalling up it without getting off and pushing was usually seen as a challenge but this time we accepted defeat and pushed our laden (or should it be leaden?) bikes from bottom to top. The rest of the ride to Forfar passed without incident and we duly set up camp as planned. I won't pretend that three of us in a two-man war surplus bivouac was comfortable or that we had great success at fire-lighting and cooking even 'though two of us had Scout badges that said we could do this! All in all, that trip was enough to encourage us to repeat the experience over next couple of years. One thing that I did learn on the way up Powrie Brae was that I needed to save up for Sturmey Archer gears.

Over the next few years we ranged around Angus, Perthshire and the East Neuk of Fife. With the aid of my new four speed gears, tackled Tullybaccart on the Coupar Angus Road, the Electric Brae on the road to Glamis and once the Devil's Elbow at the top of Glenshee. All of these barriers have now been modified to the extent that they can be driven over without noticing the gradient or even giving enough space to the cyclist nonchalantly pedalling uphill on a modern superbike.

By the time that I left school I had lost the taste for such excursions and my bike was barely used and the bivouac lent to someone who never returned it. Occasionally I would borrow my son's racer and for my 50th birthday I was given a modern ten gear lightweight bike that I used around my home area for over twenty years until lorries, buses and cars frightened me too much. Perhaps we should all relocate to Amsterdam!

Captain and Tennille
Hugh McGrory
So my wife, Sheila, and I, and the Captain and Tennille, were... Oh, wait a minute. I'm jumping into this story without any background...

I'm sure you all remember the Captain and Tennille – if not, or if you just want a little walk down memory lane, click here.

In 1974 when 'Love Will Keep Us Together' was a huge hit for them, their fans thought that they were married. In fact, while they were living together, they hadn't legally tied the knot. Urged by her mother, their publicist and their accountant, who told them that it would be more tax efficient, they decided to go for it.

They were in Nevada and wanted a small ceremony with no muss or fuss. They drove into the mountains of Western Nevada to the small old-time silver mining town of Virginia City (famous for the Comstock Lode). Directed to the Silver Queen Saloon, they found a local judge who could, and did, perform the ceremony. Afterwards Tony apparently asked if it was really legal – she was assured that it was and that their certificate would be mailed to them – it was.

Afterwards, walking through the town they decided they should have a photograph to commemorate the occasion, came across an establishment (it might have been Silver Sadie's Old Time Photographs) that could do the job, and had their wedding photograph taken.

When Sheila and I got married in 1979 (second time for each of us), we didn't want any muss or fuss either and had a simple civil ceremony in Old City Hall in Toronto. Afterwards, walking through the streets of Yorkville, we decided we should have a photograph to commemorate the occasion, and so we had our wedding photograph taken.

So was this a case of 'think alike' or 'seldom differ'...?
Tapping
Gordon Findlay
On Saturday mornings, Ballingall's would deliver the week's supply of draft beer – in barrels, of course – to my Dad's pub. A metal trapdoor in the sidewalk in front of Caw's would be opened up, and the brewer's delivery men would each slip a rope around their necks. The other end of this rope was slung around the
barrel, whch was then eased off the truck, through the opening and down the ramp into the cellar where it would be lined up on the rack, ready to be tapped.

I can remember that once all the barrels were successfully rolled down into our cellar, each of the delivery men would come into the bar and Dad would serve them a large tankard of beer. A small perk for a job well done.

On occasion it would be time to tap a fresh barrel of ale or beer to supply the draft taps at the bar itself. This needed a practiced hand and a sure aim. Dad would pull the plastic tubes from the old barrel, then pick up a special mallet with a sharp pointed head. He'd aim this mallet at the bung of the new barrel and in one swift hard swing, drive the bung into the barrel. At the same instant he'd jam the pointed end of the plastic line into the bunghole of the barrel before the beer came spurting out.
The trapdoor still in use today.

Another line was linked to this one – carrying pressurized carbon dioxide – to force the beer up the line to the bar taps above. Dad would draw off a couple of pints of foamy beer until it settled down, pour away this frothy mixture, and a fresh barrel was all set to go for Monday.

A Social Experiment
Hugh McGrory
In his story last week, Bill noted that Sir James Caird was the benefactor who provided the City with the wonderful resource that is the Caird Hall and City Square. The Hall has served the city well to this day. Over the years, many well known artists have appeared there including Nellie Melba, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Willie Nelson, U2, The Rolling Stones, Billy Connolly, Elton John, David Bowie, Bryan Adams, Led Zeppelin, Queen, The Who, Rod Stewart, Fleetwood Mac and the Everly Brothers...

The Cairds were a local Dundee family who 'made good' in the jute business – at one time they employed 2,000 people in two factories. They had a reputation as good employers who ran an efficient business and treated their workers well. They were also philanthropists, contributing to various scientific activities, such as cancer research.

I was interested to learn that James Caird helped to fund Sir Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic expedition on the


Endurance. When the ship was trapped in ice (and later sank) Shackleton and five of his crew made their epic (and successful) small-boat voyage of 800 nautical miles from Elephant Island to South Georgia, in search of help. The name of the small 23 ft. ship's boat they used was – the James Caird.

The Caird Hall was designed by the City Architect to be a strong, solid presence in the central square. Indeed, in 1982 it was used in the film An Englishman Abroad to represent a theatre in Moscow – as you can see from the photograph, it played its part rather well...


The hall has hosted all kinds of events, and amongst these, and of particular interest to this story, an evening lecture series on a variety of subjects. When I was a young teenager, there was such a series running. I realised, in writing this, that these were part of the Armitstead Lecture Series from a bequest aimed at educating and entertaining Dundonians. (I was surprised to learn that these continue to this day, though they are now hosted at Dundee University.)

Often speakers told of their travels to exotic parts of the world and accompanied their talks with numerous photographs. A couple of pals and I decided to attend one or two of these (don't know now whether they were school friends or kids from the neighbourhood – since never the twain did meet...)

We liked to sit in the balcony on the left side near the back of the hall – the photo shows almost the exact
spot... We learned that it was the practice for the audience to applaud when a particularly fine photo was displayed. I found this interesting, since sometimes I didn't think the photo was particularly good.

I decided we should try a social experiment and my buddies agreed to help me. Indeed, if truth be told, we didn't actually know that's what we were doing – pretty sure we'd never heard the term before. I just wanted to see if we could influence the audience...

We waited until a particularly mediocre photo was thrown
up on the large screen then clapped enthusiastically. As predicted, many of the audience joined in. As we laughed at them, I suspected that those who didn't clap were saying to themselves, "Why the hell are they clapping?", while those who were clapping, were saying to themselves, "Why the hell am I clapping".

It was an interesting insight into human group behaviour – I can think of two or three reasons why this happens – I'm sure you can too. (Some of you may have been in the audience that night – did you clap or not, I wonder...?)

Maybe I should have gone into social science instead of engineering...

A Present for Dundee
Bill Kidd
One of my earliest memories is going "down the town" with my mother. I clearly recall that both she and I had to be specially dressed for the occasion. To my four-year-old mind the only redeeming feature of the expedition was that it began and ended with a journey in the tram. The only other activity that I enjoyed that
day was chasing the pigeons in the City Square. It was only some years later that I realised the importance of the Square and the large building that cast its shadow over it, I refer of course to the Caird Hall complex.

During WWII the City Square was the venue for a series of fund-raising activities. I recall as a small boy getting the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of the Spitfire that was displayed there as part of the Dundee- wide fundraising effort to buy one of the aircraft. I am not sure, but I think that it cost my parents sixpence

Another youngster enjoying the same Spitfire experience as I - but about 70 years later...

for me to be lifted into the seat and have the controls explained to me by the rather harassed airman in charge. I had no idea what he was talking about, but I was allowed to press the button that fired the gun, a sixpence well spent! This was only one of a series of military vehicles and displays that graced the Square during the course of the war.

Every Saturday the Square was quite busy but on one Saturday in April it was always crowded for the Students' Charity day. Citizens mingled with tin rattling Angels and Demons, Roman Soldiers and Nuns with Beards, Carmen Miranda and Mickey Mouse all of these and many more made their appearance that day and this was in addition to the tableaux displayed upon the line of lorries that paraded through the centre of town. It was all much more fun than our current Red Nose Day on TV!

As the years went by my interest in the City Square gradually waned in favour of events taking place in the Caird Hall. Although the building's exterior suggests that it had been transported in Victorian times from Ancient Greece it is actually of fairly recent construction. The building and its surrounding area were the gift of Sir James Key Caird, he stipulated that the construction must include a considerable retail presence. This was intended to provide sufficient revenue from rents to cover the cost of running and maintaining the complex without it being a burden on the (then) Dundee Burgh Council. The Council accepted the gift and the foundation stone was laid on 10th July 1914 by King George V accompanied by Queen Mary. The intervention of WWI, which started less than a month later, delayed the project. The official opening, performed by Edward Prince of Wales, did not take place until 26th October 1923.

Since then it has been in constant use, hosting everything from Orchestral Concerts through Cinema and Exhibitions to Professional Wrestling, not necessarily in that order of popularity! The auditorium can seat 2,300 and boasts a pipe organ and choir stalls. Proudly adjoining the Caird Hall is the more modest Marryat Hall, the gift of Caird's sister Mrs Emma Grace Marryat, can seat up to 300 and is used for Concerts, Balls, Post-Graduation Receptions, Political Meetings, Civic Events and anything else that comes to mind!

I am unsure whether the revenue from the retail activities worked as intended but there certainly was a significant retail and commercial presence in the complex. The Cafe Val d'Or at the north-east corner
Cafe Val D'Or in it's prime location on the corner opposite Keiller's and Timson's.

of the City Square was a popular venue for local businessmen to have their morning coffee and, no doubt, catch up with the latest gossip and scandal. I understand that it was also popular with their ladies, possibly for very similar reasons! The bank on the west top corner of Castle Street and all the retail premises on the west side of Castle Street were part of the complex. The shops were a varied lot with a tobacconist, photographic dealer, ironmonger and public house among their number. The Ministry of Food also had a ration-book office close to the passageway that gave access to and from the public toilets, City Arcade and City Square.

The south side of the complex on Shore Terrace housed an Electrical Wholesaler, the City Arcade, a wholesale fruit and vegetable merchant and latterly the Transport Department offices. Other than the main Post Office, which was located on the south-east corner of Crichton Street, I cannot recall any significant commercial activity on that side of the complex. Unusually for the time, Crichton Street gave access to a sizeable underground car park that had pedestrian access from the City Square. I believe that the east and west sides of the City Square housed various City Council Offices including the one that collected money for vehicle taxation.

The City Arcade was a joy, it had its own distinctive odour and was always bustling. This constant activity was the result of its use as a thoroughfare between Shore Terrace and the High Street as people arrived and left on their buses. The closure of the Shore Terrace transport hub in the 1980s sounded the death knell for the Arcade.
Almost every kid in Dundee had a ride on Champion the Wonder Horse in The City Arcade.

Returning to the Arcade's unique odour, I think that it was a combination emanating from the goods being offered. There was the poultry and game shop, the linoleum emporium, the herbalist and druggist, places to buy toys and paper scraps, the amusement section – and probably a hint of people and wet clothes! It was a magic place, where else you could watch Charlie Chaplin, test your strength and get your name punched out on a metal strip for only a penny a time!

My first venture into the Caird Hall was around 1947 when I visited the "Dundee's Own Exhibition". This was a major post-war event and featured the commerce and industry to be found in Dundee. It also had demonstrations of various kitchen gadgets and extolled the benefits of electricity in the home. My mother bought a lidded beaker that could be used to make butter simply by pouring some milk from the DPM bottle into the beaker, fitting the lid and shaking the device. The demonstration at the exhibition produced a usable pat of butter after about three minutes. Regrettably, an hour of my more or less vigorous shaking failed to produce anything more than a greasy smear. Perhaps the demonstrator didn't get her milk from the DPM!

My second time in the Caird Hall was when I attended a joint religious service for all the local uniformed youth organisations. This was the first time that I fully realised the sheer size of the building. All I can really remember of the day was that it rained heavily, and our Scout Leader bought us lemonade and chips afterwards. My next and most memorable visit was to the afternoon children's concert given by the Scottish Orchestra. Again, it was a full house and I was fascinated by the sight and sound of the orchestra tuning up. Then the conductor, quite a small man, came on to the applause that we had been told to give. He faced the orchestra, raised his baton and my life changed for ever when the first blast of Bizet's Overture to Carmen came from the orchestra. It was wonderful and I have loved live classical music ever since.

I subsequently attended many more orchestral concerts in the venue, different orchestras and many different conductors but Karl Rankl, who hit me with the Carmen overture, remains top of my list. I have been in the
Handel's Messiah.
Caird and Marryat Halls on many other occasions, the Christmas performance of the Messiah, our son's graduation ceremony, an STUC Conference and dare I admit it, to numerous wrestling shows.

As gifts go, I believe that Sir James Key Caird and his sister got their choice just about right!

Squash
Hugh McGrory
If you've been reading these stories, you'll know that I was a keen field hockey player in Scotland for about fourteen years before I left for Canada. After a couple of years over here I discovered a hockey league and played for two or three more seasons – then I found squash, and just loved the game. This would have been around 1970, and I played every year for the next thirty years before having to give up the game after my second knee operation.

I wasn't a great player, and at first, almost every one I played against was way too good for me. I needed someone who was closer to my standard, and was lucky to find, early on, a workmate named Ross who was at exactly the same level as I – when we played, we never knew on any given day, which of us would win. This kept us playing each other for some twenty-five years – he thought he was slightly better than me – I knew he'd got that wrong...

We would play twice a week, sometimes three – one year I was playing four times a week. Sadly, a rotator cuff problem ended his career. As luck would have it, I stumbled upon a fellow named Mike who had played hockey with me when we first came to Canada. He turned out to be at exactly the same level too, so we played for several more years.

Squash, so-named because the ball squashes when it hits the wall, is played, as many of you will know, in a four-walled court with a long-handled strung racket and a small rubber ball. We preferred to play the softball (the 'British', or 'International' version) not hardball (the 'American' version). In softball, which is the
standard game internationally, the game is played with a softer, slower ball, with less bounce, on the kind of wide, tall court, shown in the diagram above. The ball stays in play far longer, and there is more court to cover, making it a physically demanding game that requires fitness, patience, and deliberation. Hardball squash, which is popular in the United States, is played on a narrower court with a harder, faster ball. The hardball game emphasizes quick reactions and creative shot making.

Every time your opponent moves to strike the ball, you have to try to figure out the possible shots he can make, then you have to react really quickly to try to get to the ball after it's hit. There's a reason why the game has been characterised as 'high-energy chess' – you're thinking all the time, and come off the court exhausted and soaked with sweat – and you can leave work, play, shower, grab a sandwich lunch, and be back in less than two hours.

One match sticks in my mind. Ross played a 'dink' shot into the right-hand front corner as seen in the photograph. I was determined to get to the ball but, for some reason, badly misjudged how close I was to the front. The photograph below shows a similar situation (I would be the guy on the right):
I ran straight into the front wall – hit the wall really hard with the top of my head, staggered back a few feet then fell on my back. Ross said, "Are you all right", then came over and said, "Woh, you really hit hard." and then "Oh shit, you're bleeding like a pig". Then he said, "Don't move, you could have damaged your spine – I'm calling 911." I didn't completely black out, but I was seeing stars, and just lying there seemed like a fine idea...

Ross came back and used a towel to try to stop the bleeding while we waited for help to arrive. When I felt a
little better, I gently tried to move my limbs, very slightly, one at a time, and was comforted by the fact that every thing seemed to be in working order. Finally, a group of firemen in full gear came into the court and surrounded me. They did a quick assessment, put a collar round my neck then brought in a clamshell (or scoop) stretcher – split lengthwise down the middle, it's placed either side then slid underneath until the two sides meet and lock together. The crew chief explained this to me and said "be careful, don't let it pinch your ass..."

To understand the next sequence, I need to explain the
layout. The Squash Club was in an office building and took up the two-level basement. To get into the main level of the club you took the elevator down one level. The, to get to the court level, you went down two flights of stairs with a 180° turn. Finally, to get into a court you went through a 4-foot high door.

The firemen brought a gurney (trolley) down in the elevator but couldn't get it into the court so they left it on the higher level and manhandled the stretcher and me through the little door and up the stairs. They placed the stretcher on the gurney then used bandages to tie it securely to the frame so I couldn't move. They then wheeled me to the elevator, pushed the gurney in – and found that the door wouldn't close...

They said, "No problem" and cranked a handle to elevate the head of the gurney to gain the couple of inches or so that they needed. Unfortunately, they had tied one bandage around my throat and then round the frame so that as they cranked, they began to strangle me. I shouted to them to stop they cranked it back a bit and I said, "Your strangling me!"

The crew chief said, "Can you hold your breath for 15 seconds?"

I said, "Sure", so they cranked it again, and pushed the button. The elevator went up one level, they pulled me out cranked the gurney flat and I was able to breathe again. I then got loaded into the ambulance and had the second ride of my life (the first was when I was about two, contracted diphtheria and was taken to King's Cross Hospital) – they even used the siren once...

I was taken into the emergency room and left in a small cubicle. Eventually I was x-rayed and stitched up. Any of you who have had a scalp laceration know that it bleeds copiously – I think, despite the amount of blood on the floor of the squash court, it was quite a small cut and only needed six or eight stitches. Fortunately, I didn't suffer concussion.

Ross was very supportive – he had driven down behind the ambulance and soon joined me. I remember that I was tied down so well while lying in the cubicle that the point on the back of my head in contact with the surface became really painful. I asked Ross if he could find something to cushion me and he dug around in the drawers until he found some gauze which he rolled up and stuck under my head. It really helped, but just as he was doing it a nurse came in, saw what he was doing and gave him hell. "Don't you realise that he may have a spinal injury – that you might..." She reamed him up hill and down dale. I told her it was my idea and she said, "Then you're a bigger idiot than he is".

To add insult to injury, when he finally left to go home he found that he'd received a hefty parking ticket for leaving his car at the emergency parking. (I did pay the fine for him...)

We were soon back playing – the blood stain had soaked into the wooden floor and the staff couldn't get it out properly. We referred to it as 'The McGrory Memorial Blood Stain'. It was visible for years as it slowly faded away.

Much like Ross and I ...

Did You Have a Radio?
Bill Kidd
It was quite a while after television arrived in Dundee before I had access to a radio set. Before that we had to make do with a wireless! Until the late 1940s the wireless in our house functioned on a diet of high tension batteries that were very difficult to obtain and accumulators that had to be taken to a local cycle shop to be charged. Despite the Lo-Fi features of our whistling and crackling wireless sets they provided many happy listening hours during my childhood and adolescence.

My earliest memory of hearing something on the wireless was Neville Chamberlain telling us that war with Germany had been declared. Why this stuck in my four year old mind was that the air raid siren sounded shortly afterwards. I can also remember in the early years of the war hearing Lord Haw-Haw's "Jairmany calling, Jairmany calling on the forty-five metre band". Hopefully this confession will not bring on a charge of treason after all this time.

During the war years and for some time afterwards there was very little choice as we were restricted to the BBC Home Service. As I recall there were two "must listen to" programmes, ITMA and the Nine O'clock News. At lunch time there was Workers' Playtime, a variety programme broadcast from a factory canteen and at five o'clock there was Children's Hour. Sunday's were "do-gooding" days, so no variety or comedy programmes, only classical or near classical music, mainly of the Palm Court kind, lectures on serious topics and news. When around 1948 the BBC decided to allow a variety programme to be broadcast on a Sunday there were protests from religious groups, newspaper editorials and questions in parliament about how such an attack on the nation's morals could be allowed and predicting an end to civilization as we knew it!

My wireless universe consisted of comedy, drama, sport, factual and Children's Hour. You will notice that music did not feature, this being purely adult territory and a source of conflict when Scots Country Dance Music clashed with Dick Barton, a problem that could be resolved by my listening to the Dick Barton omnibus on Saturday morning. Perhaps my rugby career would have been more illustrious had my parents been averse to Jimmy Shand or the repeats of Dick Barton could have been broadcast at another time!

Comedy was well catered for by programmes such as Take it from Here; Much Binding in the Marsh; Ray's a Laugh; The Navy Lark and Educating Archie. The latter starred Archie Andrews, a doll, voiced by ventriloquist Peter Brough (who said that radio fed the imagination?). Archie was tutored by a series of unknowns who later became top stars in their own right. I keep an eye open for these classics turning up on Radio Four Extra, when they do I listen and wonder why I enjoyed them so much

Drama was Saturday Night Theatre; Just William; Paul Temple and The Man in Black. To these I can add serials such as Conan Doyle's, The Lost World and The Poison Belt; Mrs Dales Diary; The McFlannels and of course, Dick Barton Special Agent whom I suspect was James Bond's father. The McFlannels were a Glasgow family suspiciously like the Broons in the Sunday Post. There was a cast of characters each with a cloth surname. The actors were, or became famous in Scottish theatre. Uncle Mattha was played by W H D Joss and the minister Rev David McCrepe was played by Rikki Fulton, none other than the Rev I M Jolly who over the years added so much to Hogmany. We had McTweeds, McCottons, McSilks and McSatins, as far as I am aware there was no McNylon or McRayon!

Sport was mainly international football and rugby with a bit of tennis and athletics thrown in. The not to be missed broadcasts were, much to the disgust of my mother, championship boxing featuring Bruce Woodcock, Freddie Mills and Randolph Turpin with inter-round summaries by W. Barrington Dolby (where did they get these names?). Perhaps, because a shilling-each-way was involved, my mother was less censorious about the Grand National and the Derby!

What can I say about factual programmes? They formed an important part of my education. Interest in science was more general in the late 1940s than is the case today. The enormous amount of research and development that took place during the war years was largely secret and after the conflict there was a great outburst of information about many of the wartime inventions. There was general fascination with how the atom bomb could be tamed to provide limitless cheap power. Radar became a topic of interest to amateur radio enthusiasts and the darkness of the wartime blackout gave rise to a renewed interest in the stars and planets. All of these interests were catered for by the BBC engaging articulate experts to give comprehensible lectures and participate in discussions on a wide range of topics.

The series that still stands out for me is The Nature of the Universe, a series of six lectures by Fred Hoyle setting out his single state theory of how the universe works. The fact that that the theory turned out to be wrong does not detract from the wonder that his delivery and logic created and is certainly the foundation of my continuing interest in the subject that he covered. Children's Hour was an amalgam of the other three topics and was a 'must' at 5 pm every day.

A lot of the output was English middle class with the family losing all its money and having to struggle on with only a maid and a cook. The Scottish output was rather more down to earth, much of it centring on a farm for Down at the Mains with some dialogue, music and singing. The ubiquitous WHD Joss was Tammy Troot as he told a story of the river and an Angus McVicar's play such as The Black Wherry added some adventure to the proceedings.

The national network added factual material on science, nature and travel and drama came in the form of Ballet Shoes; The Swish of the Curtain; Jennings at School; Journey into Space and Norman and Henry Bones the Boy Detectives. Children's Hour was under the Direction of a series of 'Aunts' and 'Uncles', the favourite being Aunt Kathleen (Garscadden) the Scottish presenter. If I nostalgically describe Children's Hour to my grandchildren they think I am beginning to lose my marbles.

Maybe they are right but I still think that we got the best deal by listening to the wireless!

The Men Who Killed My Uncle
Hugh McGrory
Coincidences – those strange, serendipitous, contemporanities that add interest to our lives, and make us say to ourselves "What are the chances..."

Many of you will remember my story about my Uncle Wullie – if not, you should read it before continuing – see it below.

My Uncle The Christian Krogh

During World War 2, Uncle Wullie was a crew member on the Norwegian ship, the Christian Krohg, sailing in Atlantic convoy OB-329, from Oban to the St Lawrence. The ship was torpedoed by U-108 on 10 June 1941, and lost with all hands.

Some time ago I heard mention on the radio that a book had been published with photographs showing life on board a U-boat during World War 2. I forgot about it for a few months then it came back to me, and I decided to see if I could track it down. I thought it would give some general insights into the U-boat fleet and their crews.

If it happened to be the same type of sub as the one that sank the Christian Krohg, that would be a real bonus. However, given that in World War 2, Germany built almost 1200 U-boats and the U-108 was a type IXB, and only 14 of those were commissioned during the war, this wasn't very likely.

I managed to track down the book and obtained a copy. Not only was it the same type of U-boat, the title was 'U-108 at War' – it was the actual submarine!

I want to show you a few of the photographs here – they tell a story which is, at one and the same time ordinary, and quite extraordinary...

The book actually has some 130 photographs, and should you be interested in obtaining a copy of the book, the author is Alistair Smith, and the publisher is Pen & Sword Books Ltd, 47 Church St, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, S70 2AS. A review of the book is here.

Klaus Scholtz U-108

The photo above shows Kapitänleutnant Klaus Scholtz, commander of the submarine.

Some of the Submarine Crew

If you ignore the clothes and the badges, you can't tell what nationality these men are or whether they're Allied or Axis combatants... "A Man's a Man for a' that."

The Elements – from Sunbathing near the Equator to Freezing off Greenland

The 108 crew, as in most navies of the world, carried out King Neptune ceremonies when crossing the equator and the book has photographs of the crew on the deck in late summer 1941, with the 'shellbacks' hazing the 'pollywogs' or 'tadpoles' (as those crossing the line for the first time are called).

But this wasn't a cruise ship – it was a highly efficient killing machine ...


The photographs above, taken from the conning tower of the 108 depict the sinking of another Norwegian ship, the Norland 20 May 1942 – the deck of the sub can be seen in the bottom-right corner of the first photo. The ship is dead in the water after being torpedoed.

The preferred mode for the coup-de-grâce (provided there were no enemy ships or aircraft in the vicinity) was for the sub to surface and use its deck guns (the one shown is a 105mm cannon which could fire a round weighing 50lb more than 9 miles – though they were usually used at close range).

The third and fourth photos show the results of shelling, and the sixth the last moments of the Norland as it rolled over and sank. The crew took to three lifeboats and amazingly, all, eventually, were rescued.

Death of a Merchantman

This ship is believed to be the Effna, sunk by the U-108, 28 Feb 1941, southeast of Iceland, west of The Faroes, while en route from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Liverpool. The ship was torpedoed, and the crew took to the lifeboats before the submarine finished the job with gunfire.

It was the practice for u-boat commanders to pull alongside lifeboats to question the crew, then point them towards the nearest land and send them on their way with some water, cigarettes, or perhaps chocolate – the photo above shows one of the lifeboats alongside the sub.

U-boats could not, of course, take prisoners. These seamen were left to face the rigours of the North Atlantic in winter. All of the men shown, indeed the whole crew of the Effna, 32 including the Captain, died.

The U-108 was finally sunk by US 8th Air Force planes, on 11 April 1944, in pontoon dock at the U-boat
base in Stettin. It was raised and de-commissioned on 17 July 1944 and finally scrapped in 1946 by the Soviets.

Klaus Scholtz was a very successful u-boat commander and rose to the ranks of Fregattenkapitän. His tally was 24 merchant ships plus one armed merchantman for a total weight of 128,00 tons.

He was in US captivity for 18 months and after the war he served from 1953 to 1956 in the naval arm of the Bundesgrenzschutz (Federal Frontier Guard), then transferred to the Bundesmarine (Federal German Navy). He commanded several naval bases, including Kiel, Cuxhaven and Wilhelmshaven. In 1966 he retired with the rank of Kapitän zur See. He died in Germany, 1st May 1987, at the age of 79.

Some final thoughts

I had just turned four a month before the sinking of the Christian Krogh. I don't remember my uncle – I don't know if we ever met – so discovering all of this information didn't really have any big emotional effect on me. What I'm left with is sadness and anger at the futility of war, and unbounded admiration for those seamen who fought it.

For every 10 German submariners who went to war, 7 did not return. Such horrendous losses were un-matched by any branch of any armed services in the Second World War (bomber aircrew were a close second).

As to my uncle and his shipmates, they were part of the Allied Merchant Navy which had representatives of many nations: Great Britain and the countries of the Commonwealth, the United States, Russia, China, Poland, Greece, Norway, the Philippines, France, and others.

Some 3,500 ships were sunk, and it should be remembered that merchant seamen were civilians who faced the same dangers of war as the regular armed forces personnel but who have rarely received the recognition they deserve (some were reviled in the streets of Britain – considered cowards for evading service in the armed forces).

They sailed in slow, virtually defenceless, ships often in unforgiving seas. In winter, in the Northern Atlantic, any seaman who ended up in the water without a lifejacket would die in anything from one to five minutes – with a life jacket, they might last an hour. More than 30,000 merchant seamen died.

This was our fathers' generation – ordinary men, Allied and German, who, though suffering great hardships were still able to show extraordinary fortitude in doing their duty.

Gordon Findlay
I've spoken before of my father's business, Caw's Bar, in Panmure Street, Dundee. I never really gave much thought to the fact that my parents made a living out of running a pub. It was just the way things were.

I can remember going down there every Sunday morning with my brother David to help Dad re-stock the shelves. Caw's had a very recognizable smell on a Sunday morning: an aroma which comprised part stale body odour, part stale beer with traces of perfume, ashes from the fireplace, furniture polish and – close to the washroom – just a hint of personal smells. Overall it wasn't a bad aroma – just distinctive.

There was a working fireplace in the lounge area of Caw's and on a cold Saturday night it was a popular spot to sit and enjoy an evening with friends. On Sunday mornings David and I were entrusted with cleaning out the ashes and setting a new fire ready for Monday evening. Then it was out to the bar and re-stocking the shelves. That was a two-step process.

Step one was to pull out all the beer bottles still on the shelves and sit them on the floor. Step two was to go down to the cellar (via a trapdoor behind the bar) find a fresh box of that variety of beer, heft it up the stairway, neatly rack them at the back of that particular shelf, then replace the 'old' bottles at the front of the shelf (so that the 'older' bottles were used up first on the next day of business). In the meantime, Dad would be checking on the liquor bottles and replenishing those that were getting low.

As a youngster I was always a bit leery of the cellar underneath the bar. It wasn't well lit, it was usually wet and damp, and Bob, our barman, had told David and me once that a family of rats were in residence down there. A lot of bar sales were in bottled beer and the cellar was always well filled with crates of Tennant's Lager, McEwan's Strong Ale and Light Lager, Ballingall's Nut Brown Ale and Light Lager, Younger's India Pale Ale, and George Brown's I.P.A., each with their own distinctive shape and colourful labels. I'm sure there were others but I've forgotten the names.

At one time my father decided to buy some craft ales by the barrel and bottle it himself, using our own capping machine. A tube would be slipped into the barrel, then one by one the freshly cleaned bottles would be filled up with the craft beer.

Once it had settled it was on to the capping process. Each bottle would be positioned in the capping machine. We would slip a metal cap into the magnetic head of the machine, slide the bottle into place, then bring down the handle sharply – and presto, – one capped bottle of beer just waiting for us to paste a label on it.

All these years later, the pub is still operating in the same premises under the same name, simply Caw's.
(Actually, the current owner has a string of pubs: Sandy's, in Lochee; Halley's, Strathmartine Road; The Bowbridge, Main Street; The Clep Bar, Clepington Road; The Barn, Nursery Road; and The Boars Rock on Arbroath Road. He also owns The Vault, on Reform Street in Monifieth.

A Wee Mystery Solved
Hugh McGrory
Gordon Findlay, who has contributed many enjoyable stories for this collection, wrote several times about a certain teacher – he said, "It was my great good fortune to come in contact with one of the finest teachers I was to meet during my years at Morgan: John Cooper, head of the English Department, who had come to Scotland from England because he liked the Scottish education system."

Having no memory of this man, I rounded up the usual suspects and asked them all if they remembered him. No one did. Casting my net wider, to the bi-monthly Former Pupils' lunches that Richard Young organises in the Yacht Club, and to my old field hockey teammates I finally got to the bottom of the mystery.

There were several reasons we couldn't pin it down: It wasn't Cooper, but Coupar; he wasn't Head of English (Cheesie was), and since he'd left the school before any of our two years had entered secondary, he wasn't in any of our staff pictures. We finally tracked down a former pupil closer to Gordon's age who remembered John Coupar and sourced a staff photo for us.

He is the tall fellow in the middle and seems to fit in with Gordon's description: "He was a tall, rangy man
who (to me, anyway) seemed to swoop down the school corridors with his black gown flapping behindh him like a pair of wings..."

(Click on the photo to see the Staff Photograph – my best guess is that it was taken between 1945 and 1949 – and I'm sure many of you will remember a lot of them.)

Gordon told of how Mr. Coupar's mentoring affected his whole career: "Coupar simply pulled me aside at the end of class one day and told me he had put my name forward to serve on the small team of pupils who would produce the School Magazine." Gordon enjoyed the experience so much that, as he stated, "I had to become part of the communications world. So a deep and sincere, thank you, John Coupar."

--------------------
It seems that John Coupar was one of those few of whom it could be said, "This was a teacher!"

Gordon Findlay emigrated to Canada in his twenties and spent his whole working life in the communications field. Sadly, he died in October 2017 at the age of 85. His stories live on in this collection.

WWII Childhood Memories
Bill Kidd
Our memories of growing up during World War II will vary depending on the actual year of our birth. I was born in 1935 and retain very clear memories from the early years of the war. Friends and family only a few years older not only share those memories but have greater understanding of what led up to them. On the other hand, those who are even a couple of years younger have little memory of happenings before VE Day.

Perhaps the differences in memory is the result of how the advent of war changed our experiences from what each of us regarded as normal! Here are a few of the 1935 vintage recollections:

There were no street lights as the authorities had imposed a total blackout to make it difficult for enemy planes to identify targets at night. Before putting on any lights you had to make sure that the windows were
properly covered so that no light escaped. My father made wooden frames covered with black paper that we put up at dusk every night.

Air Raid Precautions Wardens patrolled the streets and would complain if your windows were showing even a crack of light. The wardens were volunteers and they did this in their spare time outside their working hours as most of them had daytime jobs

Many of those too old or too young to serve in the fighting services were in the Home Guard that had been formed in 1940 to back
up the army in case of invasion. They manned anti-aircraft guns, cleared rubble, guarded damaged banks, pubs and shops, and assisted police and fire-fighters in rescue work and with other duties...

Everyone had an identity card and a ration book during the war. You could only shop for rationed goods at the butcher or grocer that you were registered with and when you bought your family's rations the appropriate coupons would be cut from your books. There were no supermarkets, so my mother (and sometimes me) often had to queue at the various stores in turn. Sometimes the queues were very long, particularly if it was rumoured that the store had just received a delivery of some scarce commodity.

There was very little choice in the shops, and quantities were limited – I never saw an orange or a banana during the war years ... Dried eggs, powdered milk and 'Spam' were widely used to complement the meagre rations. People who had access to a garden or allotment grew their own vegetables and some even kept chickens in their back yard. As well as supplementing their rations quite a few people also supplemented their income by selling their produce.

Goods such as clothes and furniture were in limited supply and were all labelled 'Utility' without a maker's name. I remember my mother and her friends embellishing their Utility clothing and furniture to give at least some individuality to their person and their homes. Rationing continued for quite a while after the war ended in 1945. In the following years various items were taken off the list but it wasn't until 1954 that rationing completely ended. One of the last items to come off ration was confectionery. During the war, sweets were in short supply, and ice cream pretty well disappeared altogether.

At home there was a container for vegetable peelings and other food waste. This was collected weekly for pig swill. Jam jars were hoarded like Ming vases to be refilled with home made jam when the extra sugar ration given for jam making became available. After some pleading and pledges of future good behaviour some of the extra ration was diverted into home-made toffee and tablet! Although rationing was very hard on adults, it didn't really have a big negative effect on me or my friends. As youngsters we had never been aware of many of the things that were in short supply and we didn't feel that we were being starved either!

What of the war itself? In Dundee we experienced little of it. There was a bomb that destroyed a building in Rosefield Street and a few desultory attempts at bombing the Tay Bridge and the submarine and seaplane facility near the Caledon shipyard. We had to carry our gas masks to school and had great fun in practising evacuating the school into the air raid shelters constructed on waste ground near the school.

Without having any idea of why we were doing it we collected "silver" paper and milk bottle tops for the Red Cross and waste paper for someone else. I don't remember wartime as being a particularly difficult time for us but then our family was one of those fortunate enough not to have suffered the loss of close friends or relatives.

I have shared a few of my wartime recollections. Each of us will have different memories of that period of our lives, so why not share your own memories of that time with your own anecdote.

Life Can Be a Drag – 2
Hugh McGrory
As I was writing my previous story, a memory of my friend Alan Mowat came to mind. Many of you will
remember Alan, a pleasant, quiet lad at school. Alan came to Morgan from Downfield School while I came from Dens Road, and, though we were in the same class for six years at Morgan, we only got to know each other in fourth year when we both took up field hockey.

We hung out together a bit, in our final year, since we were the only two headed for engineering. This continued into first year at university which was a general math/physics/chemistry year, but we drifted apart from second year on since he had chosen the mechanical engineering specialty while I went into civil, and he gave up field hockey, while I continued to play.

At school, Alan joined the School Army Cadet Corps and from time to time would go off for a week or so to various army locations where the young lads were exposed to some army training. His story was about one occasion when their sergeant said that
they were going to be shown how to drive in convoy.

Built by Bedford, the RL was the British military's main medium-sized lorry from the mid-1950s until the late 1960s. Each cadet was allocated a Bedford to drive in convoy, led by a regular army corporal
instructor, with the rear being brought up by the senior instructor, a sergeant. Alan happened to end up with the last truck in line, and found, to his dismay, that it wouldn't start.

The sergeant said that this was no problem since the truck was fitted with a tow rope. He manoeuvred his truck in front of Alan's and attached the rope from Alan's front bumper to his rear. Alan switched on the ignition, pushed in the clutch and put the gear shift into second. The sergeant pulled away and when they were doing about 15 mph Alan released the clutch gently and the engine started. Great!

Alan flashed his lights to tell the sergeant that he was good – but he just kept going. Alan waved his arm out the window – but he still kept going. Alan tried the horn, but it wasn't working – and they still kept going. Alan had by this time shifted to third gear so as to not over-rev the engine – and they still kept going. Then Alan had one of those, "It seemed like a good idea at the time", ideas... He thought that if he gently began to apply his brakes the sergeant would recognise the increased resistance and pull over. So he did – and they still kept going...

The tow rope, which had some stretch to it, was taut, of course, and Alan realised that if he didn't slacken off it might break. So he took his foot off the brake and the truck lurched forward. Realising that he was going to rear-end the sergeant, Alan braked again, the tow rope tightened up again, Alan had to release the brake again – and the sequence continued...

The third time, was the last, though... The whole tow assembly and rear bumper from the lorry in front tore off and Alan rode over it as it disappeared beneath his vehicle to be dragged along underneath.

Alan said that the sergeant, who was English, "Wasn't best pleased" and let him know what he thought of bloody useless Scottish twits...

Alan and I never met again after University – he moved to Birmingham after graduation and worked for Rolls Royce. Sadly he died in August, 2004.

PS A couple of hours after posting this story my old school friend Neil (Tam) Thomson sent me the following from his home in Barbados:

"I remember when Alan was chosen to take part in the advance party convoy to the OTC(1) camp at Fylingdales near Scarborough in Yorkshire. We had a great time there. That's probably when this accident happened!"

(1) The Officers' Training Corps (OTC) are military leadership training units similar to school/university clubs but operated by the British Army. Their focus is to develop the leadership abilities of their members whilst giving them an opportunity to take part in military life.

OTC units are not deployable units nor are their cadets classed as trained soldiers. The majority of members of the OTC do not go on to serve in the regular or reserve forces.

My Friend Effie
Christine FitzWalter Clark
I was very sad when I heard that my school friend, Effie Marshall (Gordon), had died in August, 2018, just before her 82nd birthday. We were great friends (here we are, side by side, in Third Year) – we had kept in
touch after school, and she updated me with Dundee news over the years.

At school reunions we always went to the school hall together as she wanted to see the Dux Board with her son's name – she did not like to go alone, and my name is very near, under Homecraft. Sadly, Effie's son died very young.

My memory takes me back to the day Effie swallowed a halfpenny in class (she thought it was a Polo mint!)

I put up my hand to tell Mr Brown (the Geography teacher) but he gave us a row for whispering! It was difficult to convince him, but we were finally sent to Miss Wallace (her title – Lady Superintendent – known to us all as Nellie).

Effie was taken to Maryfield Hospital and fed only porridge – until the halfpenny finally dropped...

Life Can Be a Drag...
Hugh McGrory
In 1960, my then girl friend's father had just bought a (used) Morris Minor car and the family were heading
down to London from Dundee for a few days (can't remember why...). She asked her parents if I could come, and her father said yes – I think reluctantly, but he was happy to have someone to share the driving...

We got to the outskirts of London OK, but the car had begun to act up over the last hour or so to the extent that, once we got to the hotel, the father decided that we shouldn't drive it any further. He contacted the car sales firm that had sold him the car and they told him to have it towed to a specific garage, Lex, to
Morris Minor – 1956
be checked out. He called Lex and they said they'd send a tow-truck.

So I thought things were looking up, that he (wrong) would travel in the cab (wrong) with the tow-truck driver to the garage a few miles away (wrong) the car would be fixed up in no time (wrong) and we'd be back to normal.

The Lex garage was, in fact quite famous. It was located in Brewer St, Soho, in London's West End entertainment district about a ten minute stroll from Leicester Square. The garage and asssociated multi-story car park was the first opened in Britain in 1928. In those days it had a cafe (for owner-drivers) and a separate canteen for chauffeurs.

For much of the 20th century Soho had a reputation as a base for the sex industry in addition to its night life and its location for the headquarters of leading film companies. So the car park and garage had many famous and infamous customers – movie people, 'exotic dancers' from The Windmill Theatre and the Raymond Revuebar, clients of the music clubs such as the 2i's Coffee Bar and the Marquee Club, and various spivs and wide boys...
The Lex The Windmill Raymond Revuebar
Cliff Richard was a Lex customer too, and that same year, he traded in his Sunbeam Alpine and bought a red
American Thunderbird with a white roof. He paid £4,000 for it (as a comparison, he also bought his parents a house that same year – for £7,000!)

The Lex firm is no longer there, but in 2002 the building was listed as an important example of Art Deco architecture and it
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remains in use as an NCP car park today, though it also hosts occasional events (such as a screening of Taxi Driver in 2010).

From the point of view of our story, the important fact was that the car would have to be towed from where we were on the outskirts of London, right into the heart of the city...

When the tow-truck arrived, it turned out that the car was to be towed on a rope – not a rigid tow bar. I saw my girl friend's father's face blanche when he realised this and – it seemed like a good idea at the time – I asked him if he'd like me to go instead of him. He had to think about it for a while – about half a second – before agreeing.

I didn't have a car at that time and didn't have much experience driving. I had recently paid for eight lessons from a driving school in Bromley, Kent, (7 hourly lessons plus the test) but I overslept and missed one – enough to pass my test, but I only had those few hours driving experience (plus the drive down to London...)

Those of you who have been towed by another vehicle by a towrope will know what it's like – scary! It needs skill on the part of the tower and the towee. The former has to drive carefully – very carefully – keeping the speed as low as safely possible, and pulling away gently, modulating the clutch to avoid 'snatching' the rope. That prevents a really unpleasant jerking action in the car being towed, and risks snapping the towrope.

A light foot on the brakes is a necessity and they need to be activated in advance to trigger the brake lights so the towed car has plenty of notice that braking is imminent. Turn indicators need to used well in advance to give the towee plenty of notice.

The AA says that the towee has the tougher end of the operation. First off, if the towed car has no engine power, power-assisted brakes and steering, if present, need much greater physical effort to operate. The towee has to keep an eagle eye out for brake lights and indicators on the tow car, and be ready to coordinate steering and braking actions. Ideally, tension should be kept in the towrope as much as possible by braking very lightly while being towed. This will prevent 'snatching' and will keep the rope from dragging along the road, and reduce the possibility of running over it.

I'm sure my tow truck driver was very experienced, and very used to driving in London traffic – but I was neither – and I had the impression that he quickly forgot I was there... I spent a nerve-racking hour and a half yo-yoing back and forward on the end of the rope amidst the thousands of cars trucks, buses and London taxis that seemed to come out of nowhere. I either reacted late then had to brake hard to avoid ramming the truck, or stopped too close to it then got a teeth-rattling jolt when he took off.

When we finally arrived, I was sitting in a puddle of sweat – I was literally at the end of my rope... The tow truck driver seemed just fine though...

The story didn't end there. The next day we got a call from Lex saying that they would have to strip the engine, and the seller back home gave the OK. The car needed major work on the crankshaft and piston rods, but was ready in a couple of days. When it came time to pick it up and pay the bill, the shop foreman told us that the engine was a lemon, and that they had found that paper shims had been used to temporarily take up slack in the bearings. They agreed to give us a letter describing what they'd found and a couple of examples of the shims.

The car behaved well on the way home, and fortunately, the company that the car had been bought from, Stout of Abernyte, were a reputable firm, as much victims as we were, and they reimbursed all of the costs involved. The car performed well for years afterwards.

For the glory of your House!
Gordon Findlay
Competition at Morgan was fuelled by another factor: the school was divided into four 'Houses' – Airlie,
Cortachy, Glamis and Mains – each of these being geographical parts of Eastern Scotland and each with some claim to historic fame... like Glamis Castle, where the King or Queen spent summer months. Each pupil at Morgan was allocated to a House, and from that moment on, you became identified with that House – academically and on the sports field – and could, if you wished, wear the appropriate lapel pin shown on the right, on your blazer.

In the school's large assembly hall, each House had its own massive wooden plaque on which was entered, by year, each student who had honoured their House with some academic honour – a dux in English, or French or Mathematics or some other subject.

The term 'dux' is used throughout the Scottish education system. The word is the Latin for leader or champion – from the verb ducere 'to lead'. The top pupil in a subject, class or in the school, became the 'dux' in that particular category. Achieving the 'dux' in an academic category was worth – as I recall – 200 points for your House. For sporting activities there were no duxes, but those who were selected for a team which represented Morgan Academy were awarded caps (real blue velvet caps, trimmed in gold with a tassel and the letters of the school embroidered on the front) – much coveted and sought after.

I eventually won my cap for rugby when I was chosen for the 1st XV which represented the school in competition against other private schools around eastern Scotland at that time.

Naturally, each year, one of the school Houses would emerge triumphant with most points earned over the year with a combination of total points earned on the sports field or in the classroom. The winning House had its name inscribed on the school's honor board displayed at the back of the main auditorium.

Again, I was lucky. If the first member of a family had been randomly placed in Airlie House, then subsequent members of the same family were allocated to Airlie.

My father had been an Airlie boy, so all we Findlay boys joined the House of Airlie. And as luck would have it, for some unfathomable reason over the many years of sport and academic competition, Airlie was by far the dominant House at Morgan Academy.

As a 'new boy' at school in the primary grades, you really didn't think much about your House affiliation; but as you grew older and became aware of the strong undercurrent of competition which flowed throughout the school, it became a very big thing indeed.

Inter-House rugby games were intense because not only were you playing for the prestige of your House, but you were playing against school chums who represented another House.

I was a very keen rugby player – even at that young age my competitive instincts were well honed. I practically lived for the annual grudge match against our across-town rivals, Dundee High School, the other private school within the city.

Morgan Academy Dundee High School
They looked down their noses a little at us, since Morgan had a long tradition of admitting a number of non-fee-paying students based on their outstanding academic achievements within the public school system. I never really thought much about the concept, if I thought about it at all.

What on Earth...?
Hugh McGrory
Long-term memory is weird, isn't it, the way things pop into your head for no seeming reason – I suppose we receive some sort of trigger from one of our senses - sound, smell - that we're not aware of, and bingo, a memory from years ago...

It just happened to me...

My home town of Dundee has a beautiful location on the north shore of the Firth of Tay, and is dominated by a large hill known as the Law – it was made by an ancient volcano, many miles away, when it released
a lava flow which was first covered by sandstone, then later by glaciers. They eroded the softer sandstone overlay finally leaving it bare when the ice age ended some 14,000 years ago. It's not very high, less than 600 ft., but there's a great view of the city and beyond, from its summit.

If you flew due north from The Law for about 10 miles, you'd arrive at Glamis Castle where Elizabeth, the late Queen Mother, spent her childhood. You couldn't see the castle from the Law, however, since a 20-mile range of small hills known as the Sidlaws cuts across country between Glamis and Dundee, south-west to Perth. Known as the 'Seedlees', in the local tongue, they're not very tall, ranging up to about 1,500 ft., but offer pleasant hill-walking opportunities to Dundonians who are so inclined.

But about that long-ago memory...

When I was about fifteen, I must have been at a loose end one spring day and decided to go for a solitary bike ride. I think I probably dressed as I would for school – blazer, flannel pants and lace-up shoes, and didn't intend to go too far. I headed north and soon reached the city boundary then the road began to climb as it headed towards the hills.

I just kept pedalling and eventually ran out of road where the Seedlees began. I parked my bike and decided
to go for a wee walk on the hills. One thing led to another, and I eventually found my way to the top of Auchterhouse Hill.

I didn't see another soul around, enjoyed the view for a few minutes, and after watering the heather, set off downwards. I picked up my bike and coasted downhill, looking forward to very little pedalling until I hit the town.

After only a few minutes of coasting I saw a farmer in a field abutting the road, with two large horses pulling a plough in preparation for spring planting. Not being in any hurry, I stopped to watch.

He came to the edge of the field, probably needing to give his horses a breather and stopped beside me. We chatted a little about what he was doing, and I asked a few questions about the horse, the plough and the process.

He then said, "You want to try your hand" and I thought – "Why the hell not...?"

So I climbed over the low wall while he turned the horses and got them, and the plough, lined up for the next furrow. He then showed me how to stand between the handles and hold the plough upright with the continuous reins looped behind my back, over my right shoulder and under my left.

He gave the command and we were off – I found it really quite difficult to keep the plough upright and kept stumbling over the earth in the furrow. At the far end, he turned the horses, lined us up again and we headed back.

I thought I was beginning to get the hang of it – it was hard work – when suddenly the plough stopped dead and in a flash the two handles sprang up either side of me until they were almost vertical. The horses stopped immediately, and I realised that the plough blade had hit a large boulder. If I'd been leaning to the side a bit, I might have been uppercut by one of the handles, or could have broken a wrist.

At that moment, I think the farmer had visions of having to call for an ambulance at some point and we mutually decided that maybe enough was enough. I thanked him gave the horses a pat or two then headed back to my bike.

(As an aside: The boulder was perhaps three times the size of my head, and, buried in that hard-packed after-winter soil, easily stopped those two large Clydesdales. As I write this, it occurs to me to wonder why it was still there, in a field that has probably been under cultivation for hundreds, if not thousands of years?)

My shoes were covered in mud and full of earth, and the bottom of my pants were really messed up. When I got home, my mother took one look and said, "What on earth...?"

I said, "Funny you should say earth, Mum..."

Just another wee, fun, interesting experience in life's journey – now what on earth reminded me of that story, nearly 70 years later...?

Postcards – 2
Anne FitzWalter Golden
There is much to learn in the detail of postcards, front and back, by looking at the stamp, the address, the message, the artist, the publisher. The price of the stamp, the date stamp and the reigning monarch will help you date a postcard.... and of course you can send a message according to where you place the stamp!

The address will show you various addresses where your folk dwelt over the years. I found my grandfather's
address in London from a postcard sent by Miss Ogronovitch, en route back to Russia – it was a residence for embassy staff who left in 1937.

We sold the house in 1976 to a maried couple you may recognise:
Grandfather's House The Purchasers - John Thaw and Sheila Hancock - mentioned in her book 'The Two of Us' page 172.
The message often reveals a bit of history. Here is one sent to J. Brydon and Sons dated 3rd July 1946,
which bears no relationship to my weekly shopping list!!

I inherited a card that I sent my parents from St Andrews with the message SOS, LSD, Quam cellerime! One broke student!

Some deltiologists collect particular artists. Example of sought after artists are:

Louis Wain whose humanised cats sell from £40 to £100...a fortune in the attic.

Donald McGill born 1875 was King of the seaside postcard from 1905-1962 with his suggestive designs of buxom ladies, wimpish men and double entendres!

His cards became more and more saucy leading to his trial under the obscenity laws in the early 1950s.

AR Quinton 1853-1934 is also a collectible artist. His cards from 1904 on were of beautiful landscapes and gardens. He also introduced colour which was pioneered on the Continent. There are also some very well
known publishers of postcards... Best known is Francis Frith a Quaker and wholesale grocer in Liverpool until 1855 when he pursued his new hobby of photography to which the development of postcards owes much. Thanks to develop- ments in rail travel he spent the second
half of the 19th century taking photographs all over Britain and on the Continent.

He moved to Reigate and set up a publishing firm with his sons, publishing his photographs in book form. These can still be purchased for many towns. Some are marked 'real photograph'... but don't believe everything you see, as for example Loch Ness, clearly marked on the back as 'real photograph'.

Another early publisher of renown was Raphael Tuck and Sons. His cards bear the Royal Warrant logo and were published often in sets of 6 or more. I have a set of Tuck's Ironclads... HMS Lord Nelson, St Vincent, Collingwood, Colossus and Hercules, warships built for the Admiralty thanks to Winston Churchill who foresaw WW1. Churchill became First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911. I have two other cards of HMS Iron Duke and of HMS Superb... so much history in postcards. I also have a postcard of Admiral John R Jellicoe and his autograph.

There are numerous other postcard publishers, most common of the largest being Salmon and Hinds but to
all Dundonians it has to be Valentines, later under the name Whiteholme of Dundee...

Our Richard Young used to work for them and sent me some old cards of Bonnie Dundee so I will end there, otherwise I could go on forever – 4000 postcards are a lot,
even for a deltiologist – and every one tells its own story!

Keep sending postcards!!!!

Carpenters' Hall
Hugh McGrory
Many Cities around the world have Carpenters' Halls. One of the most famous is that in Philadelphia in what is now known as Independence National Historic Park (which, as it happens, I have visited). Built in the early 1770s for the Carpenters' craft guild, it was the meeting place of the First Continental Congress of the US in 1774.

In London, England, the Carpenters' Hall, known as Livery Hall, was first built in 1429, and is now in its third reincarnation on the same site – a showpiece for the craft of carpentry.

Dundee too had its Carpenters' Hall. At the beginning of the 20th century it was in Candle Lane, but, like the Overgate, it seems to have fallen to the bulldozers of progress and, I believe, moved along the Ferry Road to a spot near Market Street opposite S. Baffin Street.

I'm talking about this because one of our long-ago classmates, Muriel Allan Kidd, reminded me of an event from our schooldays:

At our high school, Morgan Academy, one of the perks of reaching fifth or sixth year (17 and 18-year-olds) was that the school organized an annual dance attended by both years, where boys and girls could dance together (a teacher-chaperoned event, of course...)

In first year, we 12/13-year-olds decided not to wait, and an unofficial, non-chaperoned event sounded like a good idea. This is how the hall we knew as Carpenter's Hall came to be rented... (The hall still exists today – as you can see it's rather less grand than the previous two...)

The prime mover in organising this event was Pat Dowie (Stevenson), and, I believe, she was assisted by George Boath (though I'm less sure of that fact).

My guess is that this was a Saturday evening event. I remember that the girls were all dressed in their pretty and colourful party dresses. I think the boys mostly turned up as if they were going to school – perhaps changing their ties in deference to the occasion...

The band was 'The Gie Gordons', the pianist and singer being our classmate Bobby Moffatt in the middle, below.

I can't remember much detail, unfortunately, other than it was a success and a generally pleasant experience for all conncerned.

We boys all wanted to end up with a girl friend, but I remember that the girls gathered at one side of the room and the boys at the other. The girls did a lot of dancing with each other while the boys indulged in conversations along the lines of:

"She's nice – go on – ask 'er to dance"
"Ehm no' askin' 'er – you go."
"Ehm no' goin'..."

We all wanted to catch a girl, but I suspect we'd have been like the proverbial dog who liked to chase vehicles – the one that caught a car one day, sank its teeth into the bumper, then said to itself "Now what..."

I don't know how the girls managed to resist my friends and me – but they did. I mean we were, after all, rather smart and sophisticated – cursor over the photo to see us, click for a bigger version


(My growth spurt had clearly not begun yet – of course, when it did, it didn't last very long...)

There is a sting in the tail of this story, though, that I only learned a few years ago:

Somehow, word of the event got back to the school, and the prime organiser, Pat, was summoned to the Beak's office (sorry the Rector's office) as our headmaster was referred to. He was apparently furious and told her that she was to be expelled from the school.

Fortunately, after her parents went to see him, he relented, and Pat went on to a distinguished career in school and afterwards, culminating with the award of an MBE from the Queen.

--------------------
Author's Note

When I was writing this little story, I was bothered by a memory that said that, when we entered the front door, we turned right into the hall proper. Neither Google Earth nor Street View cleared this up for me, so I put it down to my advancing years... Thanks to an email from Pete Rennie (who, himself, has contributed several entertaining tales for this series) I have the real story...

It seems that some time in the more than fifty years since I left Dundee, the Carpenters' Hall we knew was demolished and replaced by the structure shown in the photo above. 'Our hall' was a similar old wooden structure, but it ran parallel to the street.

Books, Cakes and Sarsaparilla
Bill Kidd

The Dundee City Centre that I think I remember as an adolescent was a busy, bustling sort of place, with lots of people walking back and forth or jumping on or off trams. Apart for the trams, there was very little in the way of traffic in the Nethergate and even less moving through the High Street. I still fail to understand why the constabulary thought it necessary to have a police man or woman on point duty at the top of Whitehall Street (answers on a postcard please along with an uncrossed P.O. for ₤1.00).

City Square, on a rainy day, with Caird Hall in the background.
The civic hub of all this activity was the City Square, where the pigeons were constantly being scattered by people cutting across the Square to take the exit for the GPO (General Post Office) located at the foot of Crichton Street, or the alleyway to the east that took them to the public toilets on the way to Castle Street or down the steps to the City Arcade.

Across from the City Square were the pillars guarding Reform Street (and perhaps the High School?). The pillar on the right was the H. Samuel's shop adorned with the clock under which the scenario for many a Brief Encounter was played out. The left-hand pillar was the building containing Boots the Chemist which guarded the entry to the major artery to the heart of Dundee, the Old Overgate!


The Overgate in the 1940s and '50s was a strange mixture of biggish well-established shops, little specialist shops, pubs, restaurants, chemists and appallingly bad housing. It was possible to buy almost anything in the Overgate and the adjacent Mid Kirk Style market. It was a fascinating place to while away an hour or two of a Saturday or a school holiday. To illustrate what was lost when the old Overgate was vandalised to make way for the first of the "new" shopping centres I will take a trip down memory lane.

Entering the Overgate from the Boots' corner, my first target was Franchi's restaurant and confectioner's shop. Franchi's was a popular and affordable venue for family high teas, mainly consisting of fish and chips, bread and cakes, all washed down with a pot of tea. On a Saturday it was well patronised by folk coming in from the country for an evening at the cinema. Next door there was a dress shop but as I never had to buy dresses, I only have a vague memory of its existence.

Crossing the road, I recall two Dundee landmarks that I certainly made use of, Wallace's Land o' Cakes and Riley's Amusements. The Wallace of Land o' Cakes was a different Wallace from the pie shop on Castle Street, the L o' C Wallace was J.M. Wallace, later the entrepreneur behind the JM Ballroom. I don't remember his cakes being particularly inspiring but then you can't have everything!

The amusement arcade next door was mainly a magnet for young males who had a surplus of pennies to put in the various machines. I recall an inefficient crane that kept dropping chocolate, small toys and one occasion a watch, just as the grab was approaching the chute that should deliver the treasure. One of the joys of Riley's is that you could shelter from the rain without having to spend anything and pass the time giving gratuitous advice to the younger boys trying to operate the various machines.

On the assumption that it had stopped raining and ignoring Tally Street, the New Imperial Hotel and the entrance to Mid Kirk Style market I cross the street to my next target, Greenhill's the chemist where, in addition to the usual cures and potions, sarsaparilla was for sale. In my innocence I did not realise that it's main claim to fame was as a renowned hangover cure!

Many a time I paid my fourpence and watched as the lady picked up a glass of the black liquid then added a white powder with a horn spoon and stirred until the drink had fizzed up to her satisfaction. Even as I write this, I can feel the saliva beginning to flow!

Moving on up the same side of the road we come to Birrell's and Patterson's, two of the main Dundee shoe shops. I cannot remember which of them risked shortening their customers' lives by the indiscriminate use of the X-Ray machine that showed if the shoe fitted properly.

Moving along, I recall a Stuart Patrick newsagent and tobacconist that held two items of interest for me. First, they sold single cigarettes and second, they operated a subscription library that enabled you to read books that the public librarians looked down their noses at.

On the opposite side of the road there was a row of small shops that each had a couple of steps to descend in order to gain entry. One of them sold song sheets, mainly traditional and Victorian. In addition to fairly well-known mainstream Scottish ballads they had a range of the most dreadful dirges that my grandmothers used to sit and sing when they visited each other.

Next door was occupied by the Polish photographer who seemed to attend every dance and party held in Dundee. You went into the shop and gave the details of the occasion that you were interested in. You were then shown the photographs that he had taken and for a half-crown you received a postcard sized print. If the photo that you were interested in had already been sold you could pick it out from a contact sheet, pay your half crown plus sixpence for postage and he would send it to you. The photographer was always in the shop during the day and as he was attending functions in the evening, he must have processed the films overnight, no sleep for the enterprising. I only hope that he retired before the invention of digital cameras!

Back on the right-hand side I make a slight diversion on to Barrack Street and Frank Russell's book shop, but I am not going to go in as I would be there until it closed. This is the real Frank Russell's not the ersatz version that turned up in the Nethergate. I remember Mr Russell himself helping me find what I needed downstairs among the second-hand books. Frank Russell's didn't smell of books it exuded the glorious bouquet of them!

Returning to the Overgate my next target is Lamb's Emporium at the corner of Lindsay Street. This shop was packed to the ceiling with sports goods of all kinds, toys and games, hardware and household items. If you had difficulty in finding something elsewhere in Dundee the chances were that Lamb's would have it. Continuing up the same side, opposite the end of Long Wynd I find Donnachie's, another chemist that sells sarsaparilla. To my mind their brew was a pale imitation of Greenhill's but if you had entered the Overgate from the West Port it could provide a welcome thirst quencher on a hot day.

Over the road there is an incongruous swing park and a tract of waste ground that has a few market stalls on it for a couple of days a week. If I continue further, I will leave the Overgate by the West Port, so I will just turn around and treat myself to another glass of Greenhill's Sass.

I still recall how I felt on returning from National Service to find much of the Overgate being torn down to make room for the Overgate Shopping Centre. I believed then, and I still believe, that the City Fathers tore
As it looked in the '50s and in the '60s.
the heart out of Dundee. Perhaps a more sensitive group of people could have taken a lesson from Amsterdam or Paris and found a way to retain the facade and spirit of the Old Overgate while integrating modern housing and shops.

But then, I am also reaching the stage that a renovation is needed to retain my own facade and spirit!

The Rent Man
Hugh McGrory
Many of you who grew up in Dundee in the '50s and '60s, if you lived in rented municipal homes, will remember a knock on the door on a Friday evening and a voice announcing, 'Rent Man'. Each household had a rent book, and after the rent man had been given the correct amount (usually by 'the wumman o' the hoose') he would enter the amount and initial the book for that week whereupon the book would be placed in its reserved spot – in one of the drawers, in the sideboard in the living room, no doubt.

In the early '60s I worked for a year and a half or so, for the Dundee City Engineering and Town Planning Department – many of you will remember the City Engineer at that time, John Armour, who later became City Engineer of Glasgow. I discovered, late in my employment there, that there was a perk to be had if you worked for the City Corporation. This was the ability to become a rent collector and earn a few bob collecting each Friday, after work.

So one of the 'old-timers' gave me the name of the contact who allocated the jobs – they were much sought after – and I finally got on the list and got a call to replace someone who was on vacation. When I turned up for my first assignment, I wasn't surprised to learn that 'those-and-such-as-those' got the prime 'territories' – the 'newbies' got allocated to the less salubrious parts of the city. I got the Overgate...

For those of you who aren't Dundonians, the Overgate was in the heart of the city, one of the oldest areas of this old town. The Dundee area supported humans for thousands of years, given its balmy micro-climate and its location on the River Tay – it was known as a port city, in Britain and Europe, as early as the 11th and 12th centuries.

Dundee became a walled city when Henry VIII decided to attempt to force Mary, Queen of Scots, to marry his youngest son Edward (the then Duke of Cornwall). In July 1547, much of the city was destroyed by an English naval bombardment.

The wall was punctuated by gates – referred to as Ports e.g. 'The West Port' – to allow commerce between the city and surrounding towns, villages and farms. The roads that led from the Ports into the town centre had names such as: Seagate, Marketgate etc.

The wall didn't last long – it was destroyed in 1651 by a Roundhead force, under the command of General Monck, determined to root out Royalists. Today there only remains part of one of the gates – known as the Wishart Arch.

Down through the years there was another reminder of that time however, in that several of the streets in the city retained their 'gate' names – the Nethergate is one, and a parallel street, at a slightly higher elevation, the Overgate.

'Tenements', as walk-up apartment buildings were referred to, were usually three or four stories. In the Overgate, the ground floor was mainly small shops, and 'closes' or pends, passageways, led between these to stairs that led up to the homes above. Sadly, the shops and houses of the Overgate that I knew in the '50s were completely razed in the '60s to be replaced by a shopping centre. The photo shows The Overgate as it was then and now:

The Overgate on the right going off into the distance. The tenements on the right were part of my 'route'.
In this early 1900s photo the boy with the basket stands outside a close between a clothing store and a hair- dresser.
How it looks today.
The toilets were outside and communal, the rooms were small though often extended families shared the space – illumination was from natural gas lighting – the buildings were around 150 years old.

But back to my brief career as a rent collector. The area described above was where I had to collect rents. I have a vivid memory of walking into one of the closes and being enveloped in pitch blackness – the gaslights in the close and up the stairs were all out – I literally couldn't see my hand in front of my face.

I was conscious of the fact that this was considered a rough area of the town, and I was carrying a bag of money... I wondered if it was an 'ambush'... I thought of missing the building altogether – but that seemed a 'wimpy' thing to do – and I would have had to explain the missing rents when I got back to headquarters...

So I took a deep breath and felt my way into the close and up the first flight of stairs, then I felt my way along the corridor until I found a door to knock on. Some people kept you at the door, others invited you to step inside while they got the rent money, and you marked their rent book.

The dim light as I left the first house let me see where the next door was, and I felt my way there in the darkness. I repeated this on each floor to complete the building. The folk I met were really very pleasant, and most of them had the rent money ready. No one was lying in wait to rob me and I got back to the street without incident.

I have to admit, though, I was sweating bullets by that time. I still remember how scary it was...

School Sports...
Gordon Findlay
The boys' winter sport at Morgan was rugby, the summer sport of choice for the school was cricket. Everybody had to play. No exceptions.

It certainly wasn't my favourite sport and I discovered early on that I didn't have the strong wrists, the muscled forearms or the quick reactions that you need to be a good batsman. I was a pretty good bowler, though, so I was able to win a spot on the Airlie House cricket team, as a bowler.

At Morgan, soccer – or rather, football as we knew it back then – was looked down on as a sport played by hooligans of the 'lower classes' who even played it (gasp!) for money as professionals . . . oh, the horror!

Gordon would have bowled on this pitch, probably with the same wickets, some years before this photo was taken.
Later on, as I was about halfway through my education, Morgan bowed to changing times and somewhat reluctantly introduced soccer into the accepted sports played at the school.

Eventually the school even fielded a pretty decent senior boys' team which competed against other soccer-playing schools in the district and accomplished itself well. Morgan even introduced an annual Masters vs Pupils soccer game which was enormously popular and even brought many parents out to see their youngsters playing against the teachers.
The annual Games Day at the school was a major event. The school's sports field was converted into a giant arena to display all the usual track and field events. Small viewing stands were erected, refreshment
booths were sprinkled around the grounds, and parents were invited to watch their children perform. Every student – and I mean EVERY student – regardless of ability, simply had to put his or her name down for at least one event. There were no exceptions.

Galveston, Oh...
Hugh McGrory
...Galveston,
I still hear your seawinds blowing...

In the 5 years from 1980 to 1984, Galveston was hit by 6 hurricanes and 4 tropical storms - Galveston is a city that knows from wind...

While Sheila and I were vsiting our friends Sam and Mary, Sam suggested we go down to Galveston and take a day trip in the company's sport fishing boat. We drove the 50 miles from Houston. It was a cloudy
day, a litle windy – helped to relieve some of the muggy heat of the city. We arrived at the marina and met the Skipper and the crew member.
I don't remember the boat terribly well - it was probably about 45 feet long – looked rather like the one in the first photo. The second is a poor snapshot that I took of Mary, Sheila, and Sam – it does show a glimpse of the actual boat...

The Skipper and Sam had a discussion and then Sam told me that it looked like there was going to be 'a bit of a blow', and the Skipper felt that it might be wiser if we landlubbers didn't go out...

We had a discussion, and I remember saying things like "Don't be such wimps." and "What's the worst that could happen?" – what the hell was I thinking! The others, reluctantly I think now, acquiesced to please me...

The Skipper said he'd take us out to 'The Bank' about 30 miles offshore (properly referred to as Heald Bank – a favourite spot for shark fishing.) The first few minutes after we left dock, sheltered as we were by the adjacent land masses, were very pleasant. As we moved into Galveston Bay, the swell began to be noticeable, then as we followed the channel towards the Atlantic (that part of it known as The Gulf of Mexico) the waves began.

We headed south east (in the general direction of Cuba), and the boat began to pitch up and down.
The contents of my stomach began to move in sympathy, prompting a message to my brain that said something like "does this idiot not remember that he can't travel 20 miles in a bus without getting travel sick...?"

I looked at Sheila, Sam and Mary – none of them seemed to be enjoying themselves – but none looked like I felt! I held out for a few more minutes then had to announce that I was about to throw up and made a dive for the leeward rail. The deckhand handed me a bucket ( he was prepared...) which I nursed as the Skipper turned us around and headed back. I would have been embarrassed had I not felt so bad that I knew I was about to die – so what was the point...

Once we got back to the shelter of land I began to feel slightly better. We tied up, and when I got on to the dock, I had that feeling that many of you will recognise when it feels as if the ground is moving under your feet. The others said that they were all feeling "a bit queasy", but they were all certainly much better sailors than I...

Full disclosure – for those of you who've seen the movie 'The Perfect Storm' and may remember the depiction of the highest waves ever recorded (100 feet), while my stomach thought that's what we were experiencing, I think, looking back, the waves were about 4 to 5 feet... Half an hour later I felt fine again. What can I say – it seemed like a good idea at the time...

The Gulf of Mexico is huge – close to land, the shallow continental shelf is a prime area for fishing and oil producing, but the whole of Britain could fit into the Gulf without touching the sides, and it's almost 3 miles to the sea floor at its deepest point.

Finally, for those of you who, like me, remember fondly, the late Glenn Campbell who made Galveston famous...

Serendipity...
Jim Howie
Like Anne Fitzwalter, I have collected old picture postcards for years – many of them feature Dundee in years gone by – I thought this story might interest you:

Whilst looking through a dealer's postcard stock in 2009, I glanced at the back of the card of The Queen's Visit to Dundee in 1908 as it had an advert for a motor car repair business in Reform Street which seemed unusual.

On turning it over I instantly recognized the handwriting of my great-aunt Georgiana W. Howie who was born in 1870. The card was posted on August 27, 1908.

Some three years later at a postcard and stamp fair in Perth, in another dealer's stock, was another of her cards 'The Latest Craze, American Roller Skating in Dundee', posted on February 2, 1909. This was in the Kinnaird Hall in Bank Street which had been floored over for the skating rink – we knew it better as the Kinnaird Cinema of our youth.

At an auction in January this year, I successfully bid for some postcard lots. Imagine my surprise and delight to find yet another card sent by my great aunt on March 24, 1909, of Windsor Street, Dundee, amongst the
cards I bought. They were all addressed to Mrs. Burns, Middle Craigie, Dundee which at that time was a farm on the eastern outskirts of Dundee.

Middle Craigie Farm was actually located just east of the Eastern Cemetery. The farmhouse and steading were in the area now occupied by North Isla Motors, off Mid Craigie Road – north east of the original part of the cemetery.

The Shootist – 5
Hugh McGrory
In the final scene of the movie Little Caesar, Edward G Robinson, playing the evil gangster Rico, says, as he lies dying a bloody death, "Mother o' Mercy. Is this the end of Rico?"

John Wayne's character in The Shootist, the 1976 movie of the same name (Wayne's last film), having only a few months to live because of cancer, ended his career in a bloody shootout in the local saloon against three rival gunmen.

My career as a Shootist came to a bloody end too – but not what you're thinking. I didn't do a Dick Cheney...

While we were on the ranch in Texas, my buddy Sam asked if had done any shooting. I told him of my meagre experience and he invited us to go hunt some doves the next day. It seems that Texas is, by far, the major dove hunting state in the United States, killing more than 5 million each year. The season only lasts about 2 months, but each year some 400,000 hunters manage to spend about a third of a billion dollars on food, lodging, transportation, licences, land access and equipment. The Texan dove hunters buy 75% of all shotgun shells sold in the US each year.

So, the next day, having provided me with a shotgun, Sam told me to walk along a lane which bordered the bottom of a field that had been recently harvested. He positioned himself at the top of the field and began to walk towards me with the intent of flushing some dove(s) into flight and towards me.

Our wives remained a safe distance behind me as I waited to see if we'd have any luck. Nothing happened at first, and my attention drifted slightly, when suddenly I heard "HUGH!!!". I looked at Sam and he was pointing. I scanned the sky as I raised the gun to my shoulder, and saw a small bird about to fly over the road about 40 yards ahead of me and perhaps 50 feet in the air. Remembering what I'd been told, I 'led' the bird slightly and fired while sweeping the gun in the direction of flight. The bird seemed to stop in midair and dive to the ground landing on the edge of the road. (While I was impressed all to hell with my shot, we have to remember that I wasn't firing a bullet, but rather lots of tiny balls which spread out as they go...)

I walked forward to pick up the dead bird, and heard the women coming behind me to take a look. As I got
to the bird, a little mourning dove, I realised that it wasn't dead, just badly hurt. The dove and I looked at each other and I could hear it saying to me "Why did you do that?" while I'm saying to myself "Why did you do that...?"

I picked it up and thought "I can't let this beautiful little creature suffer like this, and I don't want Sheila and Mary to see it either..." But what to do? They were only a few yards away by this time. From somewhere the phrase 'wring a bird's neck' came into my consciousness, so just as they arrived right behind me, I held the bird in my left hand, took its head between the thumb and forefinger of my right, then tugged and twisted at the same time.

The idea was right, but the execution (no pun intended) was awful. I pulled too hard, just as our wives arrived to see me standing there with the bird's head in my right hand, the body in my left, and blood dripping from both...

That day was about 40 years ago – I haven't touched a gun since.

Memory Chain
Bill and Muriel Allan Kidd
As we get older and odd memories pop up, seemingly out of nowhere, we are also prey to seeing or hearing something that stirs up a totally irrelevant memory that turns out to be the first part of a chain reaction that ends in a place and time that was Dundee in the mid twentieth century. Such was the case when Theresa May met the other EU leaders in Salzburg Fortress. This event reminded us of our holiday visit to the Fortress and so the chain reaction was triggered!

It was October 2003 and we were taking a SAGA (the UK travel service) break in the Austrian countryside. We flew into Munich Airport on a scheduled flight and, in accordance with our instructions, we were to wait in a specific area of the arrivals hall where we would be met by the SAGA representative. A small group of us gathered in the designated area and waited patiently for our rep to arrive. After half-an-hour we were less patient and had started to discuss among ourselves what we should do and decided that we would telephone SAGA in the UK.

Bill was the only one present with a fully charged phone so he spoke to the SAGA HQ who phoned back to say that the mini-bus had broken down and a replacement was on its way. All greatly relieved, we decided that a drink was in order. Meanwhile Muriel had been chatting with an elderly lady who was holidaying on her own so we invited her to join us in the bar.

When we got our drinks we exchanged the usual pleasantries and discovered that our new friend was not only an actress but had spent a couple of years at Dundee Rep. Her stage name was Nancy Mansfield and it was likely that we had seen her on stage in the Nicoll Street theatre. Over the week we became good friends and remained in contact until she died a few years later.

The next link in the memory chain was, of course, Dundee Repertory Theatre. Neither of us were regular theatre goers but over the years we did patronise the Rep and enjoyed many of the stock offerings from Agatha Christie, J B Priestly and Terence Rattigan. We even threw in the odd Shakespeare and Bernard Shaw.

As we recall, the company was always short of money but never short of talent! In later years it was always interesting to see someone that you had seen on stage at the Rep turn up in a TV show. Some of the Christmas shows stand out. Treasure Island and Toad of Toad Hall were particularly memorable. However, our all time favourite was a joint Dundee/Perth Rep production of Antony and Cleopatra when Antony got his Toga caught in a protruding nail on a rather flimsy on-stage pillar. Despite his best efforts he could not dislodge his toga and was followed around by the pillar much to the amusement of his fellow actors who were in fits of laughter. The Shakespearian pomp disappeared to be replaced by a wonderfully enjoyable hamming of the rest of the Bard's words. Live theatre is wonderful and unforgettable when the audience and performers are both enjoying the experience.

Our visits to the Rep were in the converted Masonic Hall in Nicoll Street, the company's home until it was burned down in 1963. By that time we were no longer in Dundee but kept an eye on how it managed to keep going in all sorts of temporary accommodation, including a marquee in Camperdown Park. A new home was found in a converted church in Lochee Rd where it remained for nearly twenty years. We are very happy that the Rep still flourishes and is now one of the jewels in Scotland's theatrical crown.

Reminiscing about the Rep took us to the anchor attached to this particular chain, the foundation of our love of the theatre. Not surprisingly, both of us being 1940s bairns, we shared the same experience but at different times and in different venues. How many of you have memories of trooping into the main hall of Dundee Training College or St Michael's School for an afternoon performance of Bertha Waddell's Children's Theatre.

If you don't remember Bertha Waddell then you are sure to remember the opening call of "Cooooooooee" which started behind the closed curtain and finished with a woman's head popping out on the final "eee" before stepping out onto the front of the stage! We think that this was Bertha Waddell herself and she went on to introduce the first act.

We can recall very little of the actual performance other than it was a series of tableaux illustrating children's songs, rhymes and stories. Although this was Bill's only experience of The Children's Theatre, Muriel saw them again but as a teacher accompanying her own classes to enjoy what largely seemed to be a similar programme to the one she had enjoyed in the 1940s. The company continued to tour, mainly in Scotland, still under the direction of Bertha with her sister Jenny. The final "Cooooooooee" came in 1968 when the company was disbanded. Bertha died aged 73 in 1980.

That is how our Salzburg Fortress memory ended, on a happy, nostalgic note. We can't help speculating on how Theresa May's Salzburg Fortress memory chain will develop!

--------------------

The Dundee Rep was founded the year World War 2 began, and is recognised as one of the top Repertory Theatres in Britain. Many stars of stage and screen in the UK either began their careers, or appeared in productions there over the years. You may recognise some of them below in film or TV roles for which they later became well-known. (If you need help, cursor over the photo.)


Deep in the Heart of...
Hugh McGrory
Sometime in the early '80s my wife, Sheila, and I spent a week at the home of two friends, Sam and Mary, at their home in Houston, Texas. They suggested we spend a couple of days at the family ranch. This was a working cattle ranch, and, of course, not something that we had experienced before.
They wanted us to get a feel for the cowboy life style – it was mid-summer and very hot, though thankfully not quite as humid as Houston. They said I had to wear a hat, and I was really glad for the straw cowboy hat that they loaned me.

They also insisted that I should be armed in case we ran in to 'any of those pesky varmints, rustlers, who'd been stealing cattle in the area...'.

You can see the result in the photograph (apologies for the poor quality photos).

The Shootist?
They asked if Sheila and I would like to take a couple of horses and go for a ride. We said sure, and they
provided Sheila with a really beautiful chestnut mare, and me with a smaller white one (not sure why she got the big one – I did tell them I was an experienced rider – as a kid – on the donkeys on the beach at Broughty Ferry...) Once they got the saddles on and the stirrups etc. adjusted they said
"There's the trail, see you later" and left us to it. We couldn't quite believe it, since neither of us had any idea how to ride. But what the hell...

So off we went, my horse leading. The early part of the ride was through trees which, thankfully, cut down on the oppresive heat. Sheila remembers, however, her horse diverting slightly so that she had to duck under a low-lying branch – she still believes that it was deliberate. We came upon a gate across the trail, and I had to dismount, open it, then close and remount – harder than it sounds since my left knee was not in great shape (after the first, but before my second operation).

Further on we came to a fork in the trail. We stopped, had a brief discussion and figured that the one on the right probably continued to follow the boundary fence of the ranch, while the other one was likely shorter and circled back to the corall. We decided to take the longer route.

I gently kicked my horse to get it moving and moved the reins to guide it to the right. The bloody horse
ignored me and took the left trail! I suspect it was saying to itself "This tenderfoot has no idea what he's doing, so I'm heading for the barn and the feed trough". And so we did...

When we got back, the ranch foreman prepared the evening meal, and I sat down, to – what else – a beautiful barbecued steak. It was a rib eye, about an inch and a half thick, cooked rare, the way I like it, and delicious – but it was the size of a dinner plate! Something like the one in the photo (though much rarer than that)! I could have made four meals out of it...

In closing, I want to go back to the first photo above for a moment. The weapons weren't loaded, of course, but they were 'working guns'. Sheila remembers, though I don't, hearing a couple of shots one day and seeing the ranch foreman, a little later, who said that he had just killed a rattlesnake.

I remember the feeling of wearing the holster and six-shooter, and thinking how much power they give you – literally at your finger tips.

Our US neighbors are currently very conflicted about the right to carry weapons, concealed or openly, versus the dreadful record the country has for mass or individual shootings of innocent people.

It seems that some men feel that carrying a gun and using it to harm others shows them to be 'real men' when all it really does is show that they can move one of their fingers about half an inch.

Postcards
Anne FitzWalter Golden
Following on from the Shootist I can be even more pretentious than Hugh, the Shootist, by claiming to be a Deltiologist and one time – note the one – a Speleologist.

The latter experience in a cave in the Appalachians was cold, muddy, wet, slippery and downright dangerous and a never-to-be-repeated experience. I would not have ventured there had I known the meaning of the word, but it was not taught in the vocabulary of our English-teacher sisters the Misses C and E Young!

Deltiology on the other hand has given me absolute pleasure. Note the 'ology' as Maureen Lipman used to say. Mere plebeians might call it cartology – the collecting and study of postcards.

My collection numbers over 4,000. Some very old ones from the Boer War, WW1 and pre WW2 were inherited from my grandfather and some later ones from my parents who never threw a postcard out.
Neither do I! While travelling and camping across the USA and back in 1959 I used to send a postcard or a letter back to my parents in Dundee almost every day, so I now have a record of my travels.

Frustratingly my father who was a philatelist used to soak the stamps off making it difficult to date precisely any cards of his.

My interest in postcards developed when at a Family History Fair in the early 1990s (I am also a genealogist) I bought some postcards of places and
churches where my ancestors had been hatched, matched and dispatched and I found some remarkable cards.

The one that excited me most was of Devorguille Bridge in Dumfries because I had come across Devorguille
in the early ancestral tree of the FitzWalters. We also had a connection to Dumfries on my mother's side as her grandparents hailed from Dumfries. Indeed here is a photo of my twin, Christine, and me clutching balls from our Granny marked 'A Present from Dumfries'.

Robert Burns referred to Devorguille Bridge, sometimes known as the Auld Bridge, as:

'Conceited Gowk! puff'd up wi' windy pride,
This mony a year I've stood the flood and tide...'

Devorguille was the granddaughter of David 2nd of Scotland and wife of John de Burgh Bailliol, founders of Balliol College, Oxford in 1263. Their son John was appointed King John of Scotland 1292-1296 by Edward 1st.

He had a sister Devorguilla who was the first wife of Lord Robert FitzWalter, the grandson of the Robert FitzWalter of Magna Carta fame and from whom all we FitzWalters are descended.

A story from a postcard – indeed every postcard tells a story, and I began to study my old postcards in more detail.

Deltiologists often specialise by themes – towns, churches, different forms of transport – lifeboats, ships, buses, trains, planes etc. – animals, artists, publisher etc... The list is endless as is the method of organising a collection.

The history of the postcard is relatively short and spans just over 100 years, taking off around 1894 when the Post Office monopoly was ended. It was in 1870 that the first official prepaid card was issued by the Post Office. The prepaid card was attributed to Sir Roland Hill. Previously the recipient paid on receipt of a delivered missive.

Sir Roland is said to have seen a maiden in distress as she could not pay for a missive from her amour and so payment by the sender was introduced. He is most credited with the introduction of the Penny Black on 1st May1840 and he also introduced letterboxes or 'slits' in May 1849 to improve the greater rapidity of delivery by not keeping the postman waiting.

From 1870 to 1894 the Post Office held a monopoly of prepaid cards. A postcard of this era was recently sold at auction for –22,000, exactly the same as my postcard below, which is probably my earliest postcard....

Well; it is not exactly the same! My 'clean' – i.e. unwritten – card lacks a signature, while for –22,000 the auctioned card was sent to Ealing Police station on 29th October 1888, days before the death of Mary
Kelly, his last victim and in which Jack the Ripper was goading the police.

From 1894 to 1902 postcards are known as undivided backs. Instructions were given as to where to put the stamp and how much to pay...half penny inland and one penny abroad. Only the address could be written on that side. The other side had a photographic picture and a varying amount of white surround on which a message could be scrawled.

My favourite example is a late undivided of Oriel College, Oxford and the message simply says 'IN'. How pleased he must have been. The stamp on the back shows that it was posted on 4th September 1904.

The Edinburgh card is dated conveniently on the front for July 22nd 1899 with the message 'I hope you like this view of the castle. I think it is sweet. Love to you all. Reata.' The stamp on the back is of interest, dated July 23rd 1899 but the stamp is upside down. In the language of stamps upside down denotes ' I love you truly'– little wonder Mrs Bucket was so particular (she wouldn't accept any mail that didn't have first class stamps)!

1902 was an important year in the development of postcards, the year when divided cards, as we know them, were introduced with instructions – 'Address here' is written on the right hand side and 'Message to be written here' is on the left! Post cards then took off and 1902–1914 is known as the Golden Age of Postcards. Up to 800 million were sent annually at this time by the Edwardians, 'Wish You Were Here' being the most common message. My brother in law once sent me a card saying ' Wish you were here – instead of me'.

1914-1918 saw a decline with the Great War but many photographs were taken of men and their families as they volunteered to go off to fight and these were produced as postcards. These personal cards continued to mark special occasions right up to WW2. There is one of our baptism in 1936 and the argument continues
as to who is who. Suggestions (on a postcard, please) gratefully accepted!

There was a revival of postcards in the interwar years, a decline during the Great Depression and then a further decline with WW2. Postcards from 1945 onwards are known as Moderns. By 2007 only about 350 million were sent and that figure is now much reduced, being replaced by tweets, twitters and selfies.

Next time I'll show you some more from my collection.

The Shootist – 4
Hugh McGrory
In the last story my friend Peter and I were sitting on the steps of his bothy having just tried a stupid experiment... For those of you who aren't sure what a bothy looks like, I found the photo below which is really quite similar to Peter's (though his was in rather better shape).
The terrain is similar too in that it sloped all the way from the top of Meall Liath down to Loch Tay, broken only by the road along the north shore of the loch. The slope had several flat areas such as the one the bothy sits on.

I mentioned that Peter had access to a second rifle. This was a .22 and must have looked something like the photo:
Marlin Model 60
Apart from plinking (look it up) the .22 was used for hunting rabbits which Peter did now and again to
supplement his diet.

The rabbits would emerge from their dens in the morning to graze, and would stay quite close to their burrows. They are very wary, of course, and if you aren't careful – approaching downwind, or making too much noise – you'll simply see flashes of white tails and they'll be gone.

My favourite spot was not far from the road. The slope climbed upwards, then had a small downward slope before the flat area. This let you approach uphill, the last few yards on your belly, then set up for the shot on top of the small rise. It was far enough away that they rarely noticed, if you took it slow.

The bang when you fire a .22 is not terribly loud, but it certainly breaks the peace of the early morning. Strangely, if you shot and missed, (which, of course, The Shootist rarely did...) the rabbits wouldn't scatter. They would startle, become very still and look around (they have very good eyesight) then go back to grazing. The zip of the bullet hitting the earth close by didn't bother them.

Now I know promised blood and gore in this story, but as I write, I realise that, while there's certainly guts, there isn't really much blood...

If you're going to hunt to eat, then you have to be prepared to skin and dress the prey – quite easy when you know how to go about it (and you have a very sharp knife). Here's how:
    o First, break each of the ankles then cut through the joints to remove the feet (unlucky rabbit's foot anyone?).
    o Lay rabbit face down, pull up the fur/skin in the middle of the spine and make a slit about three to four inches across (the hide of a rabbit is very thin).
    o Put two fingers of each hand into the wound and pull in opposite directions – towards the tail and the head. The skin/fur will pull off surprisingly easily.
    o Work the legs free and cut off the tail if it's still attached.
    o Pull the front part of the skin up around the head as far as it will go – remove the head by cutting through the neck.
    o With the rabbit on its back, make a small incision in the belly. Do this carefully – you really don't want to cut into the intestines or the bladder.
    o Extend the cut down to the pelvis and up to the ribcage.
    o Cut through the sternum, than put two fingers into the chest cavity and reach up as far as possible and press down to contact the spine.
    o Pull downwards towards the tail and you can remove all of the organs/innards in one go.
    o Cut through the pelvis and detach the anus being careful not to spill any of the contents of the intestines.
    o Tidy up the carcass (pull out any remaining membranes etc. from the chest and abdominal cavity) then cut it into pieces for cooking – usually 4 legs, 3 to 4 loin sections and 2 belly meats.
    o The heart, liver and kidneys can also be eaten, of course, and the pelvis, neck, and ribs can be put into the stock pot.
From this...
to this...
in about 10 minutes or so.
to this,
Or you could just go to a butcher's shop if you prefer.

The next (and last, I promise) Shootist story does have blood - but no guts...

In Memoriam
Pete Rennie

Since 2014 it cannot have escaped anyone's notice that we will soon be marking the end of the First World War 100 years ago. The war has been the subject of numerous books, films, plays, T V programmes and newspaper articles, how it started, how it progressed, how it ended and ultimately its legacy.

Putting aside all of these, ultimately it comes down to personal experience and how it affected families then and continues to this day.

I had an uncle who was a casualty of the war, he was killed on the 14th of October, 1918, aged 24, and although I had visited his grave twice previously I made up my mind that I wanted to visit again, 100 years to the day from when he fell.

This I may say, took a good deal of negotiation since my nearest and dearest was of the opinion that, at my age, I should not be undertaking a car journey of this length. Eventually a compromise was reached – we would travel to my stepson's home in Germany which could be accomplished in three easy stages, and then he would drive me to Belgium to achieve my goal.

All went according to plan, and I stood at my uncle's grave on Sunday 14th October, 2018, and paid my respects to this man I had never met, one of a family of ten who was born in the same house in Graham Place, Dundee, where I was born, in my Grannie's house, 18 years after his death.

To those of you who have never visited a war graves cemetery they are places of great tranquility which belie the violence which brought about their creation – they have common features, the cross of sacrifice, stone of remembrance inscribed with the words 'THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE', and row upon row of identical stones inscribed with an appropriate regimental insignia, the name, date of death and age of the person buried there. Some, but not all, bear an inscription chosen by their family – sadly, many bear only the inscriptions 'A SOLDIER OF THE GREAT WAR' and 'KNOWN UNTO GOD'.

I took with me two items – firstly, a pot containing a heather plant, and secondly, a box with some soil dug from behind my uncle's birthplace in Graham Place. Having dug a hole in front of his stone I placed it in the earth, followed by the heather, and tidied it up. The cemeteries are looked after by local gardeners employed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and are immaculately maintained.

I paid my respects and left – more than likely for the final time.

My Brother the Runner
Gordon Findlay
My brother Dave showed outstanding ability as a track athlete. Morgan Academy, like most private schools, had one ironclad rule: everyone had to participate in a sport. For boys, it was rugby and cricket. For girls it was field hockey.

Brother David showed early on that he had special talent. He set the school record for the 220 as it was then known . . . 220 yards or one-half way around the school track. He then set the school record for the 440. And as if that were not enough, he got interested in the javelin and the discus, mastered both disciplines, and soon became the school champion in both.
Finishing line at School Sport's Day - but taken some eight years after David's triumphs.
Later on, as a 17-year-old, racing against 18-year-olds (that was the cut-off age for qualifying athletes competing as schoolboys) I was on hand, with my parents, at Hampden Stadium in Glasgow, to watch Dave win the 440 yards race with a fantastic finishing burst which took him past two other young athletes and into the finishing line. We were all intensely proud of him, and it was a very happy family which drove back to Dundee later the next day.

I was a hopeless case at track and field. Didn–t have the twitch muscles for sprinting, and didn–t have the stamina for long races. In desperation I tried one year to become a shot putter, but our Phys. Ed. Teacher at the time – a Mr. Sorbie – took one look at my style and the distance I could heave that metal ball, and quietly told me I should really try something else.

I tried to become a long jumper, but frankly I hated training for that event, so that was a washout too...

PS If you're interested, see more photos of Morgan Sports Day here.
The Shootist – 3
Hugh McGrory
In the early –60s I was living in the village of Killin, Perthshire, while working as the Resident Engineer on various bridge and roadworks in the area. As many of you will know, Killin is famous for the well-known
beauty-spot, The Falls of Dochart. Entering Killin from the west you cross a bridge over the Falls – we lived about 500 yards from the bridge.

One of my staff of four, a young engineer named Peter, was living in a small rented bothy (a hut or small cottage) on the hillside above the north side of Loch Tay west of Morenish. The land here slopes from the lake upwards to the summit of Meall Liath around 1900 ft. above sea level (pronounced Miaowl Lee–eh in Gaelic, Meall means hill and Liath is grey).

The middle photo must have been taken from close to the bothy looking eastwards across Loch Tay.
The right-hand photo was taken from the east end of the Loch looking southwest, and shows a mountain in the distance with two smaller twin hills in front – the one on the right is Meall Liath.

Peter had access to two long guns (courtesy of his landlord); the first was one of the world-famous Mannlicher-Schönauer (M-S) rifles. This Austrian gun was used by the Greek army from around 1900 to
Mannlicher–Sch–nauer rifle Y1903/14
1948, and was the favourite of many big game hunters and African safari guides for killing lions and elephants. It used a 6.5x54mm cartridge (6.5 is the diameter of the bullet, and 54 the length of the cartridge case).

Although this was a smallish bore bullet it was quite long, giving it a high sectional density and good penetrating power. I found this quote: –A civilian version of the rifle, also introduced in 1903, proved very popular with deer and big game hunters worldwide. In the UK ... the 6.5–54 probably accounted for more red deer during the 20th century than all other rifle cartridges put together.–

The M-S was a favourite rifle of Ernest Hemingway, and in his book –The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber–, it–s the rifle that is used to kill Macomber–.

We didn–t do any hunting with the Mannlicher. We did take it down the slope below the road and shot at a log floating on the loch. I remember being surprised on two counts: the recoil from the gun was less than I had expected, but the noise was much greater – the sound of the shots seemed to echo up and down the loch.

One day Peter and I were sitting on the steps of the bothy having a drink, and got on to the subject of what happens when a bullet is fired straight up into the air. Some background:

Assume that you could fire a bullet straight up in the air. It would finally stop, and for a split second would be stationary, then it would begin the return journey. You might think that, when it got back to earth it would be travelling at the same speed as when it was fired (and it might if we lived in a vacuum) but not so, because of the issue of terminal velocity.

From the point when it began its return trip, the bullet would travel faster and faster under the effect of gravity. However, since it–s travelling through a fluid – air – the friction will cause drag. At some point in the descent, these two forces will be exactly balanced, and the bullet won–t get any faster – this is known as the terminal velocity and applies to anything falling from a great height.

In tests, it's been found that bullets falling back vertically don't remain point forward, but turn sideways, a more stable attitude, and tend to reach a terminal velocity of maybe 100 mph. If one of these hits a person it could be painful and bruising – but not likely to be lethal.

So why you may ask do hundreds of people die or suffer injury each year from 'celebratory gunfire'? The reason is that it's next to impossible to fire a weapon perfectly vertically into the air. Instead the bullets follow a parabolic path – and the spin from the rifling (the spiral grooves cut into gun barrels) steady the bullet and keep it travelling nose first. So there is no terminal velocity effect and the bullets hit at much higher speed. Such bullets have been known to kill innocents over a mile away.

So back to Peter and The Shootist sitting on the steps enjoying an evening drink... We convinced ourselves to try the experiment (it seemed like a good idea at the time) and so Peter held the rifle on the step between his legs and, looking south, lined it up, as best he could, vertically, while I sat beside him and tried to do the same looking east. He fired, and we leaned back a bit under the lintel and waited for the result.

If you're waiting for this tale to end with a bang, you'll be disappointed – it ends with silence. Such a bullet could take anywhere from one to two minutes to return to earth, and we waited and waited – we didn't hear a thing, no sound of any impact, not with the earth or, thankfully, the roof – nothing. (Given the science above, this was actually the expected result...)

As noted earlier, we had access to another long gun, but you'll have to wait for the next Shootist story.

Warning – there will be blood and guts this time...
A 21st Century Postcard from Falkirk
Bill Kidd

As I approach old age I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time reflecting on how much better things were when we were growing up. War, threats of war, ice on the inside of one's bedroom window... need I go on? Perhaps I should be spending more of my time in reflecting on what has changed in our lives over the last eighty or so years.

To my mind the biggest change is in the ease with which we can communicate and travel globally. For the upcoming generation a trip to Europe or America is regarded with the same level of anticipation as I experienced in advance of a trip to Arbroath, while the idea of looking for the tuppence needed for using the phone box is completely alien to them! What then are the changes in how we communicate and take for granted as an integral part of our daily lives?

One of the first things to come to mind is television. Since its arrival in Scotland in time for the 1953 coronation it has grown from a feeble monochromatic, flickering, tiny image with only one channel
being broadcast, to the enormous garish coloured screen giving a selection of at least a hundred channels to watch. Strangely, we seemed to have spent more time watching the 1950s 'Hobson's Choice' version than we do the present day, all singing all dancing, ever repeating, offerings. Not only can we watch whatever is on offer now, we can record our favourite shows or even freeze the show we are watching while we answer the telephone handily set on the table beside us.

We can even record aspects of our own lives on our video cameras or smartphones, instantly send the resultant images anywhere in the world or play them back on our own tv set without the need for additional special equipment. On the downside it is now almost impossible to walk down a city street or shop in a supermarket without being recorded on a surveillance camera, hardly a fair way
1953 GE TV 14 inch
cost 65 guineas
to treat shoplifters!

While growing into early adulthood we had an unquenchable thirst for the latest music. This was normally slaked in one of two ways; by listening to the Hit Parade on the wireless (probably Radio Luxembourg) or by splashing out 3/6 on a fragile 78rpm record. The mid 1950s introduction of long play records, followed by the reel to reel tape recorders made music more accessible and more affordable. To benefit from these innovations you needed to stay at home or visit a friend in order to enjoy your recorded music.

This remained the situation until transistor technology led to the introduction of the portable radio/tape cassette in the 1960s and the Sony Walkman in 1979. Unknown to many, the laser had already been invented
12-inch LP
1949
Phillips cassette tape recorder
1963
Original Sony Walkman 1979
without any obvious application in mind. A very great and profitable use came to the fore in 1982 when the compact disc hit the music market and very quickly became the preferred medium for domestic users. In parallel, the use of tape and CD technology had made the recording and playing of films on TV a practical proposition, bringing together domestic audio and visual home entertainment. This situation lasted until the turn of the century when affordable digital data storage measured in gigabytes made it possible to digitally stream music and visual material from the Internet into home computers, telephones and those portable music players little bigger than a cigarette lighter.

In our young days methods of inter-personal communication had changed little since the introduction of universal postage and the invention of the telephone in the 19th century. Postage was cheap while the cost of telephone calls was relatively high and this led to the use of the postcard for many aspects of social communication. Pretty well everyone who went away for a holiday sent a sometimes pretty, sometimes rude, picture postcard, to friends, family and colleagues. Birthday cards, Christmas cards, cards of congratulation or commiseration were an everyday part of our social life. Friends and lovers wrote long letters to each other, absent children received letters from anxious parents asking why they had not received a letter that week. The postal service sustained the business community by delivering invoices and receiving orders and cheques as appropriate. The rising cost of postage and reducing cost of other means of communication has meant that the word written on paper is gradually disappearing from our lives and the daily post largely consists of unsolicited catalogues for recliner chairs, footwear and holidays.

Personally, I am saddened by the demise of the written letter, there is something satisfying that someone was thinking of me enough to get out his/her pen and notepaper, put the product in an envelope, apply a stamp and walk to the post box all for me. I hasten to add this does not apply to anyone to whom I owe money!

We now come to the alternative, 21st century means of communication, the systems that our grandchildren patiently explain to us how to use, the system that sends the messages that pay little attention to grammar or spelling, the messages that I inadvertently send to myself, or even worse, the person that I am complaining about!

Email and the internet are awesome things, particularly when used in conjunction with a smartphone. After reluctantly accepting an outdated smartphone from my son I eventually got round to using this three-year old technological antique. The main use that I had for the phone was to telephone home and to make a few tentative forays into the art of sending texts. After a few months I came to realise how useful it was to be able to contact my other half and my hand-me-down phone was replaced with a more up to date version. No prizes for guessing who got the old one...

We already had WiFi access for our computer and I was encouraged to use my new phone to access the internet. This became my main channel for cheating crossword puzzles and catching up with the news. Now I am rarely seen without my smartphone and would feel bereft without it.

Although we enjoy getting news of friends and family we have avoided Facebook and Twitter so far and tend to use text or email to keep in touch. We send photographs to relatives in far flung places and receive calls from them through WhatsApp or Skype. After absorbing the incredible developments that have occurred during our lifetime we still remain a little apprehensive about using these apps to make our own video voice calls – but one day–?

The Shootist – 2
Hugh McGrory
The Shootist moves on from clay targets to live prey!

At the end of the last story, The Cousin had invited me to go duck hunting with him and his buddy on the shore of the Tay Estuary. (Actually, as I write this I'm wondering if it was duck or geese we were going after – truth be told I can't really remember – now I'm thinking geese). No matter...

The night before, I went to bed early and got up around 2:30 to get to his house by 4:00 am. I dressed warmly as instructed (this was late autumn). ...

Once in the car, they introduced me to some of the 'tricks of the trade'. First of all, it's necessary to know where the wildfowl roosting areas are – where the flocks gather to rest and preen through the night, as well as between feedings during the day – in our case, the extensive mudflats and sandbanks uncovered at lower tides in the Upper Reaches of the estuary. ...

Then, where they are likely to feed – usually farmers grain fields close to the river. Next, on a straight line between the two, finding cover close to the shore to lie in wait as the birds come in to feed at dawn. ...

We drove west from Dundee to Longforgan then south towards the shore (close to what I now know as Monorgan Farm.) We parked the vehicles, got the shotguns in order, and then walked across a large field to a line of trees which still had enough foliage to hide us from the flock as they came over. ...

The grey indicates the intertidal areas. The 'X' marks the location of the Great White Hunters.
We then settled in to wait... After what seemed like two days (probably about half an hour) I got a nudge and turned to see The Cousin with his hand cupping his ear and nodding his head in the direction of the water. I could hear the beginnings of bird noises, and it was clear that the flock was stirring and about to head our way. The sky was beginning to lighten and I began to see the flock through the foliage. ...

The Cousin and his mate had drummed into me the fact that we had to let the flock come over our heads before firing. This way the shot would have a better chance of penetrating the bird's feathers. ...

We were spread out about 20 ft. apart and I was facing away from the river waiting for them to pass over my head. Suddenly, before the lead bird had reached our trees, The Cousin and his mate jumped forward and started blasting away. To say that I was dumbfounded was putting it mildly – not to mention mad... I asked "what happened to 'Wait until they pass overhead'?" They both looked sheepish and mumbled something or other. ...

And that was it. The flocks wouldn't come back to the same spot, and it was getting light – they didn't hit a bird and I didn't even get to fire my gun! ...

And I got up at 2:30 for that! ...

And All That Jazz
Jim Howie
In the mid 80's there was a TV programme highlighting Brits who had gone to America and were competing in areas that were considered to be exclusively American - like Jazz in New Orleans.

We spent a week in 1986 in New Orleans celebrating our Silver Wedding, and on Sundays in The French Quarter there were numerous bands and singers entertaining the public. As we watched and listened we recalled the programme and realised that one of the bands was led by Chris Burke who had featured in the
programme.

Al Rose, a well-known jazz historian who has written extensively on the New Orleans jazz scene described the self-taught clarinetist, Chris Burke, thus: "the elfin and resourceful Chris Burke from Nottingham, England, had become a fixture in the world of New Orleans music by 1985. Not prepossessing to look at, short and slim ... his quick wit and geniality made him an ideal master-of-ceremonies. He could as well have been a stand-up comic as anything else".

At the interval we approached him and he was delighted to be recognised.

He said that on week nights he and his band played at The Storyville Jazz Club along with the sole survivor
Site of the Storyville Jazz Hall in the Mid-Eighties
of the original Ink Spots, Jerry Daniels (1915 - 1995). You may remember that the Ink Spots hits were numerous and included Whispering Grass, Java Jive, My Prayer and many others, at their peak in the 1940-50 era.

Chris invited us and an American couple we were friendly with to come along and see the show, which we did, and on entry, he stopped the band and waved us to the best seats in the house and introduced us to Jerry.

We had an enjoyable evening topped off by Chris taking us back to our hotel.

The Shootist
Hugh McGrory
OK - I know that's a rather pretentious word for a person who shoots guns.

The Oxford English Dictionary states that the term was first used in 1872 and defines it as One who shoots game or competes in a shooting match; one skilled in shooting". (It was also the title of John Wayne's last movie in 1976).

It appealed to me as an appropriate title for this story of my own shooting prowess – we're talking long guns here not handguns...

This tale was inspired by an email from Anne FitzWalter Golden who mentioned that her father was an accomplished marksman and had once taken her and her twin sister Christine to a shooting competition in a quarry setting west of Dundee. I recognised this as what is now the Auchterhouse Country Sports Shooting Grounds (the quarry seems to have been filled in).

I remembered shooting there – it was around 1960. My then girl friend had invited me to tea - also invited was her cousin. He was a big guy, into hunting and fishing and the like. I don't remember his name so we'll call him 'The Cousin. We got on quite well together and he mentioned that he and his shooting buddy were going out to do some clay pigeon shooting near Auchterhouse that weekend – he invited us to come and watch, and we did.

After we'd been there for about an hour watching the various shooters, The Cousin asked me if I'd like to try.
I said "I've never fired a gun". He said "Well this is a good time to start – you can use my old gun." (It was a side-by-side rather than the more upmarket over/under type). I thought, "Well, what the hell!"

I bought a ticket (for five targets) and waited at the 'down the line' stand. This is where the target springs up from ground level, and away from you at a speed of about 42 mph, high or low, to the left or the right, or down the line.

So I'm standing waiting to shoot a gun for the first time ever. For some reason I was dressed in a sports jacket and pants with shirt and tie (not sure why...) amongst all these shooters dressed as they do. Looking
back on it, they were probably thinking one of two things – either "This guy looks like he may be some kind of visiting-expert shooter", or "Who's this dork?"

"I soon showed them which..."

When it's my turn, I assume the position and shout "Pull". The clay target flies out, I fire and miss. I call again – and nothing happens! I realise that I didn't call loudly enough and he didn't hear me. I lower the gun slightly and turn my head towards him and, with authority shout 'Pull!" He does. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the gun back into the proper position fast enough and didn't even get off a shot! I missed the next target, hit the fourth and missed the fifth – 20%... pretty awful.

The Cousin was undeterred. "Let's try a different set up." I soon find myself standing at a butt facing a line of quite high trees. I'm told that the targets will fly over the trees towards me and over my head – I'd have to shoot them above my head, or high behind me by turning.

To cut a long story short, I hit the first two, got cocky and missed the third, hit the fourth and missed the fifth – 60%... not bad.

The Cousin was impressed. He said "How'd you like to come duck hunting with us tomorrow. I thought, "Well, what the hell!"

So he said, "Ok, be at my house at 4:00 am tomorrow morning." "I said to myself "Oh, bugger!"

But tha's another story!

PS The Oxford English Dictionary, when defining the word Shootist, notes that it's usually used jocularly or disparagingly...

Coping with Math
Gordon Findlay
My brother Morris wasn't much help, I'm afraid. He was rather dismissive of my struggles. "Math isn't that hard, Gordon. You just have to learn the basic principles. Do that, and the rest will come."

Not to me... It all seemed so dull and antiseptic, with answers depending on some basic formula which you applied. I can still remember trying to master one of those esoteric math problems that presented itself something like this:

"The engineer on Train A leaves Manchester at 8.50 a.m. to go 65 miles to Liverpool. His train travels at 84 miles an hour. The engineer on Train B leaves Liverpool at 9.10 a.m. to travel to Manchester, and his train travels at 95 miles an hour. At what time will the two trains pass each other?"

I'd sit in my bedroom with this math textbook, considering this problem, but before I knew it, my day-dreamy mind would loop away from the cold, rational problem and start to think: "Is engineer A annoyed that his train can only do 84 miles an hour? Has engineer B tinkered with his engine so it can go faster at 95 miles an hour? Is it a contest? Are they bitter rivals? Do they wave to each other as they go thundering past? Do the kids of engineer B boast that their Dad''s train is the fastest on the line?" And so on.

Until I was having a lot more fun thinking about all these real-life situations than I was in trying to solve the bloody math problem. Believe it or not, I can remember even writing out a little fictional short story about these two engineers and bitter rivals on this Manchester to Liverpool railway line and how their murderous rivalry wound up in bloody destruction and mayhem.

But eventually, I conscripted a couple of my pals (stuttering Bob Partington one of them) to give me some help, some tips, some proven formulas which I had neglected to absorb in class. Slowly – very s-l-o-w-l-y – I began to make sense of some aspects of basic math, and geometry, so when exam time arrived once again, I was not in the sheer cold sweat I had been in the first time around. I passed. I was through!

I would get my H.L.C. and if a few other things worked out, I was eligible for university. All I had to do was escape from the clutches of the British War Ministry and the program of National Service. I foolishly opted to do my military service first, and of course, never did get to university, but I swore that any kids I fathered, if they had the ability, would definitely get their opportunity.

Travel Travails – 5
Hugh McGrory
I spoke, in a previous story, of borrowing my friend Ron's motorbike one lunch time – this was 1958, in London, England. (I had managed to drop the bike, but fortunately without damage!) Ron and I worked together for a firm of consulting engineers – he was also from Dundee and a civil engineer (he didn't attend Morgan Academy, though).

On the way back to the office after that lunch, I was coasting into the parking area and thinking that I didn't even have to mention my little accident to Ron, just as I got a little too close to the bumper of a parked car. The bike was a BSA 500 twin and Ron had added a rear rack with two panniers, saddlebags, hanging down
each side. The car bumper caught the bottom of one pannier, right on the bottom seam, and sliced it open along the seam as cleanly as if it had been a scalpel. As I rolled by, the contents of the pannier, assorted tools, spilled onto the ground with an almighty clatter.

So much for not fessing up to Ron! I said I'd buy him a replacement, of course, but a day or two later he said that he'd been able to sew the seam together and it was as good as new.

At Christmas time, we decided that we'd drive up to
our home town, Dundee, to spend the holiday there – we shared the driving and the fuel. We set off mid-evening, and it was freezing cold. We both had helmets and 'leathers', so it wasn't too bad – if not driving we hunkered down as best we could behind the driver to keep out of the wind.

The distance was a little short of 500 miles, so with stops, say 12 hours. I always enjoyed long overnight journeys, especially stopping for something to eat. We used to look out for truck stops (service areas for lorries) with lots of heavy vehicles in the parking area. A 'full english' all-day breakfast (fried eggs, bacon, sausages, tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding, fried bread and baked beans) with a large mug of hot, strong, sweet tea at 3:00 am on a cold day is one of the best meals ever...

In the wee sma' hours Ron was driving, I was half-dozing behind him. It was pitch black, we were between towns, no other vehicles on the road, making good time – then suddenly we weren't – we were skidding down the road on our backs behind the bike on its side.

When we came to rest, and established that neither of was hurt much, we tried to get up to see to the bike – and couldn't! The road was covered in black ice – invisible, but treacherous enough to bring us down. It was so unbelievably slippery, that we literally couldn't get up ' we eventually dissolved into laughter and sat there giggling, with tears streaming down our faces. Fortunately, the bike wasn't much the worse for the wear and we were able to resume our journey ' very gingerly...

After the holiday period it was soon time to head south again. We were in Northern England, I was driving, when the feel of the bike changed – it wasn't handling properly. I told Ron I thought we might be losing air from the rear tire, and pulled over to the verge. The tire seemed OK, then we realised that the one of the struts of the rear rack had broken. The load had shifted hence the change to the feel of the bike. So we had to figure out what we could do...

We were on a rural road (this was the late '50s remember) and the grass verge beside us sloped up a few feet and was topped by a drystone wall (drystane dyke as we Scots would call it). We looked around to see if
there was any scrap wood or metal around but found nothing. There was a wooden telephone pole a few feet away with two guy ropes supporting it, and as I looked at it one of the guy ropes looked slack. I took a closer look and realised that the wire had broken, and someone had simply pushed it into the dyke to stop it flapping around. Ah-ha – maybe we could jury-rig something with this!

I found that I could bend it, so we took turns working it back and forward until it eventually broke giving us about three feet of wire to work with. We
were able to MacGyver a fix, re-load the panniers and get on our way.

A hundred miles or so later, Ron was driving, he pulled over and said "She's handling funny". This time it was indeed the rear tire – the bead was damaged and we'd need to get another tire. Fortunately there was a garage not too far ahead – closed, of course – so we pushed the bike there and left it with a note.

We then hitched a ride to the nearest town that had a main railway station – can't remember which one – and caught the next train to London. With our leathers and helmets we must have looked a bit unusual – like two cowboys who'd had their horses stolen... It was so nice to have a soft seat in a warm compartment – I slept all the way...

Ron contacted the garage, got a new tire fitted, and picked up the bike the following weekend. I offered to go with him, but he knew that I had a regular weekend field hockey match and said that it wasn't necessary – so I got to freeze my butt off on a hockey field instead!

D' Ye Mind the Carnival at
Gussie Park

Bill Kidd
Hugh McGrory's anecdote about his visit to Epcot and his non-experience of the Soarin' feature set my thoughts to similar experiences from my childhood. Not Disneyland in my case but Gussie Park and its Carnival. Before proceeding further I should make it clear that the use of the word "carnival" in Dundee did not bring to mind the carnivals to be found in Rio or Venice but only a rather down market fun fair! The very
name "Gussie Park" sounded less than posh and I had only heard the word "gussie" in the context of eating an orange. I subsequently learned that a gussie was a young pig and that Gussie Park got its name as the place for parking your pigs! But I digress, that's what happens when you reflect on Hugh's anecdotes.

The machine that was brought to mind by the Epcot Soarer was a funfair ride called the Rib-Tickler. This gave you the experience of being tumbled around a room, being suspended upside-down from the ceiling and being held horizontally from one or more walls, it was the opportunity to be terrified for sixpence and good value as long as you kept your eyes open. Hugh could have enjoyed this experience a couple of hundreds of yards from home and saved himself all the bother of going to Florida.

The Rib-Tickler was a practical optical illusion. It featured a large hexagonal drum that looked as if it was constructed from giant tea boxes that had seen better days. The outside was garishly painted and the inside was divided into six sections painted to depict the floor walls and ceiling of a room with the remaining two sides left matt-black. Inside was three rows of benches each capable of seating around ten punters. When everyone was seated the overhead lights were extinguished and the ceiling illuminated. The benches, which were mounted on a swing, were set in motion. Suddenly the drum began to rotate, slowly at first, then faster giving the participants the feeling that that they were spinning inside the room. Suddenly everything would stop and they were stuck to the ceiling and staring at the floor. The swing would start again and the victims hung on to their benches for dear life. The drum started again but this time in the opposite direction giving further variations of the sensations. After about five minutes everything stopped, the room lights came on and the victims staggered off to find their next thrill.

Gussie Park was a small, muddy patch of land but when the carnival arrived it was packed with all the usual fairground rides. Dodge'em cars, waltzers, motorbikes, kiddie's rides, swing boats and chairoplanes. Surrounding them were the sideshows consisting of horror exhibits, the boxing booth, the magic show, a hypnotist, fortune tellers, prize shooting, archery and darts stalls, ice cream and candy floss. I remember the
excitement of the bright lights and blaring music as I pondered on how I would spend my half-crown.

Like so many other locations from my childhood, Gussie Park is completely changed. It has now been redeveloped as the Dundee United Foortball Club training ground and known as the GA Arena. It is well
used by other sport and cultural groups and plays a key role in the Dundee United community outreach programme.

Wonderful as this is, I cannot help having a few nostalgic thoughts about the Gussie Park carnival and the Rib-Tickler.

I Skied the Rocky Mountains
Hugh McGrory
In 1969, I was trying to convince the owners of the Canadian consulting engineering company that I worked
for, to agree to install their first computer. I had done the investigative work that convinced me that IBM's 1130 computer was the right choice. I signed up to attend a conference, in Boulder, Colorado, where engineering firms that already used the 1130 would be presenting papers on their experience to date. Two IBM salesmen from Toronto, keen to get our business, decided to attend the conference too.

We got there a day early, and they convinced me that we should spend the day skiing in the Rockies - they were both experienced, I had never worn ski's... We could have headed for Aspen, 170 miles one-way, or Vail, 110 miles, but settled for Arapahoe Basin (A-Basin) about 75 miles away.

We set off in the morning and got there before 10:00. It was a beautiful sunny day, warm, and the snow was quite blinding - unfortunately I had no hat or sunglasses. They took me with them to hire skis, then suggested that I should try the 'nursery slope'. They then showed me where the Pomalift was, helped me into the skis then left me at the back of the queue for the lift while they headed for the real slopes.

For those who haven't skied, the Pomalift was invented by a Frenchman, Jean Pomagalski. A-basin was the first of many installations in North America, in 1953. The Poma was cheaper than T-bars or chair lifts to install and run, they offered reasonably high capacity, and were safer - should a skier fall, the tow-bar could be released quite easily. If anyone falls, which happens quite often, following skiers can usually steer around the fallen skier until he or she can get out of the tow-track, or the lift is stopped. While there have been injuries involving Pomalifts, the risk of entanglement, a problem with rope tows and T-bars, is greatly reduced.

So there I was, on skis for the very first time, with no instruction, shuffling along with what felt like ten foot skates on my feet, in a queue that was getting closer and closer to the contraption ahead. The Poma consists of pylons which climb up the hill with an endless cable attached which runs continuously to the top and back down again. Attached to the cable are long poles, each with what looks like a seat, a sort of hook shape covered with a plastic disk on the end.

When it was my turn, I had some trouble maneuvering into position but the attendant helped me line up my skis in the twin ruts that headed uphill. Then, my pole whipped round the corner, he grabbed it and stuck it between my legs from the front. I felt the spring-loaded tension increase and settled down onto the seat for the trip up. When my butt immediately hit and dragged along the ground, I realised that it wasn't a seat, and that I was supposed to stand up all the way. I managed to get upright again without falling off and after a minute or two began to relax and enjoy the ride, the view, and the warm temperature.

As we neared the top, the ground rose up onto a little hill and the tension in the pole eased off - it was only as I went over the hill, felt the tension increasing again and saw the empty poles in front of me whipping around the
end pylon and heading downhill again that I realised why the hill was there - well who knew...

I had a dickens of a job getting the pole out from between my legs finally standing on one leg and lifting the other, ski and all, into the air. I managed it and collapsed onto the flattish space where people congregated before launching themselves downhill. I got back onto my feet with considerable difficulty, still facing uphill, and immediately started to slowly slide backwards towards the top of the ski slope. One or two people looked at me in a bemused fashion as I slowly passed by but one kind fellow reached out, grabbed me then helped me to stop and turn around to face the right way.

The launch area was quite small, and the lift kept disgorging more people, so I had to edge forward with everyone else until I was at the edge. At this point, the 'nursery slope' which had looked OK from below now made me feel as if I was on the peak of a roof and about to slide off...

I had no choice but to go - but, knowing that I had no idea how to stop, I headed across the slope instead of straight down. The surface which looked fine from below turned out to be all humps and bumps carved with the tracks of hundreds of skis. I managed to stay upright, but saw the piles of snow at the far edge of the slope approaching - I'd no idea how to stop, so I simply ran right into pile and fell down. I remember thinking "Ok, use your pole to help you to stand up", so I plunged the pole into to the snow bank. It simply disappeared and stopped with just the handle clear of the snow...

I finally got up pointed towards the slope on the other side, and pushed off - after doing this several more times I managed to get to the bottom.

At that point, I realised that there was no point in repeating the fiasco since I still had no idea what I was supposed to be doing, and really needed to take some lessons. Also, I wasn't feeling very well - hot and headachy, a little dizzy, not sweating but thirsty and a bit sick to my stomach.

I returned my skis, didn't feel like eating but got myself a drink, and then decided to find a seat in the sun and relax until the two salesmen had had enough. I half dozed for a couple of hours or so before they turned up. When they saw my condition, they decided to get me back to the hotel. We had intended to go to dinner together, and they were starving, so I told them to stop when we came to one of those old mining towns that dot the Rockies and cater to tourists. I told them to stop and have a meal while I'd try to sleep in the back seat of the car.

I'm sure they rushed their meal, though it seemed that they took forever, and we finally got to the hotel. I managed to get to my room, threw up, staggered to the bed and slept until mid-morning the next day, missing the opening sessions, but managing to make the lunch.

I described my adventure to the table, and one of the locals said, "You know you had sunstroke. It's quite common - people don't realise the effect of clear skies, a hot sun and no hat, at an altitude of around 11,000 feet! And the worse thing you could have done was sit in the sun!". Who knew?

In researching this piece I came across the following statement "The Pomalift continues to be a challenge for the skier who's had little experience with riding a surface lift of any kind."

In fact, people stand around and watch the lift line-ups so they can see the hilarious pratfalls that occur. Click on the photos below if you're interested.

The Poma Looks Simple A Smooth Takeoff is Crucial One Approach to the Climb
A Different Technique Taking the Safety Fence Too Chair Lifts Can Also Be Tricky

That was the only time I skied the Rockies – actually the one and only time I ever skied anywhere!

--------------------

See some pratfalls here. (Make sure your sound is on.)

The Scots show how here.

The School Magazine
Gordon Findlay
In a previous story I spoke of John Cooper, a fine teacher of English who had influenced my career. Because of his position, he headed up the small school committee which produced the annual Morgan Academy
school magazine, a glossy production which incorporated news of the school's academic and sporting triumphs, plus a selection of teacher profiles.

There was always a piece or two about the history of the school, and a large selection of art, poems and essays on various subjects written by pupils. Cooper simply pulled me aside at the end of class one day and told me he had put my name forward to serve on the small team of pupils who pulled all these items together to produce the magazine.

For a couple of months I was absolutely intoxicated with the thrill of it all, as our little team assembled the mass of entries, went out to interview teachers, dug into school archives to discover our school's history, mapped out the magazine page by page, then met with the printers to see it all come together.

For me, it was like a sudden bright light coming on in my mind. I loved this whole process. It was challenging. It was stimulating. It was exciting, and enormously satisfying. I think I realized right then and there: this was what I wanted to do, somehow, some- where.

I had to become part of the communications world. So a deep and sincere, "Thank you, John Cooper."

It was my first introduction to the business of putting a publication together. And it was instant love. However, the reality of obtaining a Scottish Higher Leaving Certificate (high school graduation, in other words) meant that you had to achieve a 60% or better in three 'basic' subjects – like English, or history, or geography, French, or German or Art, plus the same passing grade in two other subjects in the 'hard' disciplines: math, algebra, trig, chemistry, or the like. I had got through in chemistry, but failed (badly) in math. So my first time around in 5th Year was not a success. I had to take a second lap – in 6th.

In one sense it was enjoyable. We had a fairly easy schedule of classes, I was a sergeant in our school Army Cadet Corps, and of course I was a regular with the rugby 1st XV, so school life was – in one sense – a bed of roses. But what made that bed uncomfortable was the thought that, somehow, I had to get a passing grade in math: a monumental task, I thought, for the subject seemed like some obscure Chinese language to me – remote, cold, and incomprehensible. But it had to be mastered, somehow...

I was a Cub Scout Too...
Hugh McGrory
You may remember that Gordon Findlay wrote a story for us entitled 'A Cub Scout' – you can see that story here. It reminded me that I too was once a Cub.

It must have been a year or so after the War that my mother decided it would be a good idea for me to become a Scout. I told her that I wasn't interested – she explained to me that I was... So a few days later, I set out one evening, along Dundonald and Dura Streets, towards the Church which is now known as Stobswell Parish Church (it has had quite a number of name changes over the last 150 years...)

I had some trouble getting in – started with the main entrance on Albert St., but finally found a back door on Dura St. which led into the hall where the Cubs were meeting. The photo shows where that door used to be...

Looking South from the Morgan School Gates towards the Church. Looking north towards the Morgan showing the door that is no more.
Here's what I remember of that evening:

At one point we sat around a pole with an alsatian's head on it and the dozen or so other boys chanted something weird. I looked around and thought "My mother was wrong – I'm definitely not interested in spending time with this lot..."

I guess, before long, my attitude was becoming apparent, and the man in charge asked me what was wrong. Deciding that lying would serve me better than saying what I really thought, I said that I wasn't feeling too well. He asked if I would like to get some fresh air and I said I would, so he asked one of the senior boys there if he would escort me outside. We went for a little walk along Dura Street, and he asked if I would like an ice lolly. I said I would, and he bought a couple from a little store near the church and we continued our strolling until we finished our treats.

My memory is a little hazy at this point – I'm not sure if I went back in and hung on till the end, or whether I said I felt like going home and took off (I think it was the latter). I still remember though, the kindness of the older scout, the concern he showed for me, and his parting "Hope to see you next week".

"Aye. That'll be right!", I was thinking to myself.

So as I said, I was a Cub Scout – for about an hour and a half...

Gordon said that the church was called St David's, which didn't ring any bells with me, but on re-reading his story, I realised that he said the church was in the Stobswell area. I think he mis-remembered the name – I don't think it was ever St David's, perhaps it was Ogilvie back then... in any event, if you take a look at the map below, you'll probably come to the same conclusion as I did – that this was the same Scout troop that Gordon enjoyed so much. I wonder if, had I given it a chance, I might have enjoyed it as much as Gordon did...

Gordon, five or six years older than I, may actually have been there that night – I like to think that he might even have been the older Scout who was so kind to me. When he and I finally met over lunch, here in Canada, it was almost 70 years later.

Did You Read The Wizard?
Bill Kidd
Who was the first man to reach the peak of Mount Everest? No it wasn't Sir Edmund Hillary as suggested by the record books. Who was the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes? Once again the record books have got it wrong. Any avid reader of the boys' story paper the Wizard would immediately give the correct answer that both feats were achieved at the age of about 150 by William Wilson.
Of course, these feats were achieved with the aid of the Elixir of Life! Boys, particularly those with little hope of emulating him, were avid followers of his exploits. Unsurprisingly, hero worship fell short of following his mode of dress which consisted of bare feet and a black, close fitting, one-piece Victorian swim suit. Certainly not suitable wear for Dundee weather!

Over the course of the 1940s Wilson got involved in World War II! (thankfully on our side), nearly coming to grief during the Battle of Britain when having to ditch in the English Channel and being forced to swim some twenty miles back to the British mainland. After the war he was sent on a diplomatic mission to a sports mad African dictator. Wilson saved the lives of thousands by undertaking to provide a rugby team to beat the dictator's hand picked fifteen. Needless to say, the only British locals available were rejects from part one of their Charles Atlas course! Despite this the British team won by the simple expedient of collapsing every scrum and allowing Wilson to score amidst the confusion. On more mature reflection I have come to the conclusion that the rules applied in that game had more in common with Rugby Railway Station than Rugby School!

Wilson was only one of the fantastic characters to be found in the four boys' story papers produced by D C Thomson. These publications, the Wizard, Adventure, Hotspur and Rover were part of the staple reading diet of those boys who grew up in the 1940s and early 1950s. The stories they contained, even if they occasionally stretched credibility, served to stimulate imagination and often provided an entry point for more fruitful reading. The subject matter was mainly sport and adventure served up in a variety of guises and located on sports field, boarding school, jungle or battlefield. The good were very good and the bad were very bad indeed. The environment was strictly male with only the odd sister getting involved when there was a message to be run or meal to be prepared, remember this was the 1940s!

The only other hero that I can recall who had athletics as his basic activity was Alf Tupper "The Tough of the Track".
Tupper was a gifted middle distance runner whose lifestyle did not meet the standards of the athletics establishment. Alf made his living as a welder and survived on a diet of sweet tea and fish and chips. Despite being regularly diverted by rescuing people from drowning, or from a burning building, or capturing a gang of thieves on the way to an important track meet, Alf usually managed to overtake the "establishment" runner in the final few yards.

School stories were always located in an upmarket boarding school. The hero occasionally being a "scholarship boy" dragged out of his comfortable downmarket state school to suffer from the malign attention of a snobbish group who, sometimes with the contrivance of an evil teacher, tried to bully him. He always found a posh friend and an unexpected talent for cricket that enabled him to take the final wicket or score the winning run against the rival school team whilst at the same time giving absolute proof that he had not stolen the much revered school trophy.

Boarding schools were a fruitful setting for almost any plot that you could possibly dream of. One could easily transport a prisoner-of-war story into a school setting. The boys being the rebellious prisoners with the teachers being the camp guards. There was often a caretaker or groundsman who acted the part of the evil security officer! Stories were often given a sporting theme where the hero was the son of a legendary old boy who had taken all ten wickets at some famous victory in the past. However, the son of the legend couldn't bowl for toffee and found it impossible to convince the old sports master that he was a brilliant batsman until after many issues Son of Legend scored a double century at the inter-schools championship. Stories woven around almost any sport or subject were standard fare at those august seats of learning although there did not seem to be a great deal of learning going on!

Football was another much exploited subject. Football stories always had some peculiarity about an individual or even the team. Characters that come to mind were Limp-along Leslie who overcame his disability by having an exceptional football brain and tactical skills. Baldy Hogan who saved his club by recruiting and training a whole lot of unlikely characters including a Gipsy goalkeeper who would not make any attempt to save a shot that he did not think he could reach.


Finally, there was Billy "Cannonball" Kidd, an incredible goal scorer who went from schoolboy promise to international hero. I must confess that Cannonball was not my favourite character for the simple reason that I shared his name. I went through some years trying to avoid the touching belief of my contemporaries that I shared his skills but found little difficulty in convincing those daft enough to select me for their team. One session was always enough!

The Seabraes
Hugh McGrory
I've always had a soft spot for the Seabraes...

The Perth Road, as it leaves Dundee, runs along an ancient beach 60 feet or so above current sea level. For many years there has been a municipal garden opposite the University campus known as the Seabraes. (If the word brae is not familiar to you it means a steep(ish) hillside or road.)

Airlie Place and the University Campus from The Seabraes
So, a hill from which you can see the sea – except that you can't. However you can see the wide sweep of the estuary of the River Tay, and since the Tay is tidal upriver for some twenty miles beyond Dundee – close enough!)

Some years ago the park (really a parkette) was given a major face lift, but I remember it as it was in the early '40s.
The Old Seabraes
There was a wide flat area with flower beds and seats, then flights of stairs that led downwards with short paths leading off to the left and right every 15 feet or so, with more flower beds and wooden seats.

The Fife Shore, Railroad Yards and the Tay Rail Bridge
Sitting on a seat at street level you could admire the Fife coast across the wide estuary, and upriver the Tay Rail Bridge. However, if this was too bland for you, you could start downhill, and find a seat overlooking the bustle of the railway main line and marshalling yards.

It was a pleasant place for older folk to sit, and no doubt for young teenage lovers – I wouldn't know, since I was around three years old when I used to visit the gardens.

At the beginning of the Second World War, both my grannie and my mother worked. I spent a lot of time at my grandparents – not sure if we lived with them for a time when my father was away in the army or if we just visited a lot! In any event my granda and I were apparently buddies, and he used too babysit me.

His name was Frank Ryan, born in Scotland but of Irish blood. He and Gran lived in a house in Wilkie's Lane, which ran from Blackness Rd, with St. Joseph's Catholic Church on the corner, to Hawkhill opposite the Princess Cinema.

The Buddies – Granda and Me...
The photograph shows Granda acting the clown for the camera in the living room in Wilkie's Lane. The
other snap is me, on what I always thought of as my Mickey Mouse bike. (In researching for this story I came to the conclusion that it wasn't, in fact, a Disney product, but rather a Tri-ang, made by the British company, Lines Bros., who in the late '40s claimed to be the largest toy-maker in the world. The photo shows that model...)

Apparently, my Granda and I would go out for little trips, with me on my bike – I suspect that on the way back he was probably carrying the bike (and possibly me too...)

If the weather was good, we would head for the Seabraes – down Hawkhill to Balfour St. then I seem to remember a jog through a pend (a pend is a passageway through a building often for pedestrians only, but sometimes for vehicles – usually one-way) which took us out into Airlie Place with the Seabraes across the street at the bottom.

Granda, I'm sure, enjoyed sitting in the sun, watching the river and the trains. It seems that to keep me occupied, and give him some peace, he always brought my bucket and spade along, and he would set me down in one of the flower beds and I would dig them up to make sand (dirt?) castles.

I couldn't for the life of me find any photographs of the sloping part of the old Seabraes gardens, but this is what the replacement looks like: (notice the green slope to the left where you can still make out the terraces where the flower beds and seats were – you can just make them out on the right hand side as well...)


I have to say I'm not impressed – I still prefer the old people-friendly Seabraes!

A Great Teacher
Gordon Findlay
It was my great good fortune to come in contact with one of the finest teachers I was to meet during my years at Morgan: John Cooper, head of the English Department, who had come to Scotland from England because he liked the Scottish education system which, at that time, made 'core' subjects (English, languages, math and physical education) mandatory.

He was a tall, rangy man who (to me, anyway) seemed to swoop down the school corridors with his black gown flapping behind him like a pair of wings (all our teachers wore suits, with long black gowns over them in those days). I was happy that Cooper was my teacher since I was pretty good at English and also, I suppose, because I was anxious to impress him.

I can still remember his signature phrase, which he repeated often: "Think for yourselves. Don't just say or do what everyone around you says or does. If you do, you'll just be like everyone else. Is that what you want? Be yourself." And, unusual for these times, he always set aside ten minutes at the end of a standard period: 'Questions and Answers'. This meant that we could ask him anything at all about the topics in the class just ended . . . but also about anything else we were curious about, puzzled at, or angry at.

There were many topics and issues we youngsters wanted to know more about or didn't fully understand. I can remember we asked some obvious questions. Did he himself like rugby? Football? Did he like Scotland better than England? And: "Where did you grow up, sir?" "Do you have brothers or sisters?" "Why did you come up to Scotland, sir? "Will you become Headmaster some day?" He patiently answered them all.

The one startling comment Cooper made during 'Questions and Answers' time popped out when the subject was war: the topic surrounded us every day; many boys had family members serving in the armed forces, and the war dominated everyday news.

The talk had got around to why every person had a role to play during the war: the front-line forces, the workers in factories who kept them supplied with war materiel, the air spotters who identified the direction and number of enemy planes flying into Britain, the hospital doctors and nurses who tended wounded servicemen.

Then Cooper said: "And the women's forces." Then he paused and added: "Although many of them seem to think they're only there to service the men."

Those words dropped on us like a bombshell. We all looked at each other. Did Cooper mean what we thought he meant? So finallly some brave soul asked:

"You mean . . . like . . . sex, sir?" Cooper realized he was treading in deep water, but he quickly said: "Yes – that's exactly what I mean. And this subject is closed!" Our grasp of sexual matters was almost non-existent, but we knew we had broached a touchy subject – and that John Cooper had strong – and unconventional – views on it. The subject was never raised again.

I truly loved every minute of his English class, and for the obvious reason: I was good at it. Even then I loved words, loved discovering new ones, learning them, understanding them, knowing how they could be used in language and in sentences. Each week Cooper set a class test: he asked each of us to produce a piece of original writing.

It could be anything at all: pure fiction, sci-fi fantasy, an essay about a topic we were interested in, thoughts on life – or death; a composition about an experience, a holiday or family life; descriptions of the city and countryside around us, profiles of people we admired, loathed, or feared. It could be poetry if we were so inspired . . . he put no limits on our creativity or imagination.

I can remember writing a piece about the anger I felt at losing a key rugby game and blending those thoughts into a description of a summer storm which swept through Dundee. And I can still recall the adrenalin surge I felt when Cooper told the class he had received "one very fine and quite mature piece" and then proceeded to read my essay out loud to the class.

I'm quite sure my head swelled to twice its normal size. It was shortly after that, that Cooper asked me after class one day if I was proposing to make writing a career choice once I was nearing the end of my education.

Like most young schoolboys, I don't think I'd given much thought to the prospect of earning a living. But at that precise moment, the idea was planted in my head, and it pleased me.

--------------------

Note from the Editor:
I don't remember a teacher named Cooper. However, since Gordon left Morgan in 1950, Mr Cooper may have left around the same time.

I looked at the 1950 teachers' photo that we have and these two were the only men that I couldn't identify. Can anyone confirm one of them as Cooper, or provide their names?

Feedback:
Pete Rennie says that the teacher on the left above is Mr Melvin.
A Temporary Situation – 4
Hugh McGrory
I've always enjoyed watching experts practising their craft (in whatever field) seeing how education, training and experience can make demanding jobs look simple. For instance it can be really difficult to cut a tongue out of a head if you don't have the knowhow – but when you do...

Between the first and second years of my engineering studies I was again looking for summer employment. One of my fellow students, Arthur (not a Morganite – Lawside Academy) said that he had found a job and that there was another one going if I was interested. I said "Sounds good, what's the job, and he said "Meat porter in the slaughterhouse", and I said "Gulp!" That's how I became a meat porter for three months...

Note: I've limited my use of photos in this tale in case the sight of blood and guts might be upsetting to some readers – I have, however, provided some links if you're interested in finding out how
This, in 15 minutes, becomes this.

The Dundee abattoir was at the corner of Dock and Market Streets. The photos show it as it was originally, and as it is now – a tank farm for Nynas (formerly owned by William Briggs and Sons).


Market St., on the left, runs uphill away from the camera and East Dock St, runs across the photo. You can see window openings in the wall along the front, and these indicate the location of the work areas for several wholesale meat companies (for one of whom we worked). They would purchase slaughtered cattle, sheep and pigs from the abattoir and sell them on to retail butchers.

It took me a few days to adjust to the sound and smells – blood, shit, and grease that permeated the place, and the occasional bellows and squeals of scared animals – but as one does – I adjusted quickly. The process was as follows:

Animals would arrive on trucks (Monday was the big day), and be directed to the pens in the diagonally opposite corner of the site to the one shown in the photos. The cattle were supposed to be handled gently and kept in a calm state. (If cattle are in a state of anxiety or panic, the quality of the meat will be affected – they will have darker-colored meat.) In my experience, the level of 'gentleness' varied with the individual drover...

I believe that the animals were inspected on arrival by a vet to detect any evidence of disease or any abnormal condition that would indicate a particular animal is diseased. Any such animal would either be condemned on the spot or be marked for special post-mortem scrutiny.

On the Tuesday, the cattle would be driven from the pens, one at a time, through a pathway that ended up in a tight killing-pen with a space at the end for the beast to naturally stick its head in and look out.

At that point, the 'killer' (the term used – the top dogs in the slaughterhouse and earning very good money) would pull a lever that trapped the animals head in a fixed position. A humane killer (captive-bolt) would be placed against the animals forehead and fired, driving the bolt into the brain and causing the animal to collapse (the bolt then retracts).

The killing-pen had a floor which tilted so that the carcass could be ejected to the left or right bleeding-floor, thus enabling two killers to work at the same time.

With cattle, the process thereafter was:

Bleeding: The point of a very sharp knife was stuck into the animal's throat immediately below the jaw-line and a 12" to 18" cut made parallel to the neck through the dewlap, trachea, esophagus and jugular vein to allow the blood to flow out. The animals are bled before being dressed to prevent coagulation in the tissues which could make the meat go bad. I noticed that the killer would often grab the animal's tail, then use a foot to pump its belly – presumably this helped the outflow of blood.

Removal of the head and limbs: The head and lower limbs, are split from the carcass by cutting, sawing or by use of a cleaver.

Skinning: The carcass was positioned on its back, and opened up by means of a shallow cut along the median line of the belly from the cut already made in the throat right to the genitals, and the hide was separated from the belly, sides and legs.

The cut along the belly was deepened and the breast bone sawn open. Beef hooks were inserted into the hind legs behind the tendon that runs from the tip of the hock up to the tibia, and the carcass was hoisted up to hang vertically – the skin was then stripped from the back. The breast and pelvic bones were sawn.

Removing viscera or offal: The midline cut was deepened and all internal organs except the kidneys are removed – they just plop onto the floor in a heap. The anus was cut out, and the offal was dumped out into a cart or barrel to be hauled away.

Splitting the carcass: A cleaver was used to split the carcass through the centre of the backbone and the tail was removed. The spinal cord was removed during this process and discarded.

Final Inspection: A Meat Inspector examined the carcass and either stamped it approved or condemned it in which case it was burned.

Washing the carcass: The split carcasses or halves were washed with cold water using a pressure-washer, and left to dry.

Storage: The halves were then kept in a cooler room at a temperature of around 34 degrees Fahrenheit for a minimum of 24 hours.

For those of you who want to see this process, I looked around to see if I could find a video that showed the process as I remember it. The one that was closest comes from New Zealand – an itinerant killer who goes round farms and slaughters animals for the farmers. If you're sure you want to see it, it's here and shows a very skilled man at work.

As meat porters, we didn't, of course, kill any animals. We helped to get the newly arrived animals into the
pens and sometimes in herding them, one at a time, to the killing pens; we rolled the freshly killed carcasses along the overhead rails to the cooling room; then, when butchers bought the meat, we carried the quarters to their vans.

A quarter of beef would have weighed somewhere around 175 lbs., though could be up to 200 or more. When I was first told that I'd have to carry these, I figured there was no way! However, once shown the proper technique I was able to handle it – I must say I preferred the smaller quarters though – which most of them were. Here's how it's done:

Take a look at the sides of beef above. Imagine that a cut has been made across the carcass between the twelfth and thirteenth ribs – by leaving one rib on the hindquarter it holds the shape of the loin and makes it easier for the butcher to cut steaks. The cut starts about five inches from the edge of the flank, leaving a flap, and stops at the spine. The spine is then sawn through so that the forequarter is hanging by the flap. We would then place our shoulder against the outside of the carcass (so right forequarter to my left shoulder and vice versa). We would then run forward until we were upright, adjust the weight to balance then a colleague would cut the remaining flap and we would take off to deliver the meat to a customers van.

The hindquarter required a different technique. We would stand under the quarter hanging from the rail and hold the spine like we were tossing a caber. Once we had taken the weight, the colleague would use a long wooden pole with a curved metal piece at the end to pull the hook from the tendon – we would let the spine slide down our body until we got to the balance point, swing the piece to horizontal then take off.

With regard to the above two-man process, one of our butchers turned up seriously bandaged one day. He was a butcher whose job was to travel around the surrounding countryside in the firm's van visiting small abattoirs and farms to pick up dressed carcasses. Usually someone would be around at each stop to help him, but on this occasion there was no one there.

He decided he'd do the quartering and loading himself. Everything went fine when he approached a side, made the cut between the ribs, sawed through the spine and had the forequarter hanging from the uncut strip of flank. He then took his (very) sharp knife in his right hand, half-squatted so he could use his legs to help hold the carcass, and wrapped his left arm tightly around the spine and back. He cut the flank and quickly grabbed at the meat with the same hand to steady it. His one error was that he didn't drop the knife and managed to drive it into the palm of his left hand and out through the back...

Some of my other memories include:
    – The pervasive patina of grease that seemed to cover every surface in the place, including our hands and coveralls. The fact that we had cold running water but no hot contributed to this. I usually brought a sandwich or two for lunch, and had to use soap with cold water to try to take the worst off before eating.

    – The fact that the throats of cattle and pigs were cut in the same way – down the neck, whereas sheep were bled using a cut across the throat. There are good anatomical reasons for this – click here if you want to explore further.

    Pigs: Pigs were stunned into unconsciousness, by the use of stunning tongs, before having their throats cut. This worked well on the smaller pigs (though the squeals were piercing and sounded almost human). I remember one occasion when they were dealing with a large boar (probably weighed between 500 and 700 lbs.).

    The operator placed the tongs either side of its head and switched on the current. The animal went stiff, while the killer straddled its back. After quite a long time, he turned off the current. The boar shook itself then took off at a run with him on its back. To cut a long story short, they repeated this scenario three times before the boar finally succumbed.

    Sheep: Seeing a rabbi appear one day, take off his coat and roll up his sleeves before performing the ritual slaughter of lambs to ensure that the meat would be kosher.

    I would have liked to stay and see how he did it. (there are strict rules that the rabbi has to follow – for example the throat must be cut in one motion, any pause part way through will render the meat non-kosher). Unfortunately I had other duties to attend to and wasn't able to stay.

Finally, I want to re-visit my first paragraph for those of you who read it and said to yourself "cutting out tongues – what the hell is he talking about now..."

When sheep (actually lambs) were killed, the heads were cut off and thrown into a pile – by the end of the day it could be quite large, and the heads were simply taken to the furnace and burned.

The experienced porters had a sideline going – cutting out the tongues and selling them to butchers.

Once I'd been there a week or two I was allowed to take part in this sideline – and this brings us to how to cut out a tongue... If you were asked how to do this and had no experience, you might open the mouth as wide as you could, then reach in with your (very) sharp knife and try to cut across the tongue without taking off any of your fingers. That doesn't work very well! You see,
This isn't a Tongue... This is!

Here's how it's done: You stick your boning knife under the point of the chin and cut the flesh down either side of the jawbone as far back as you can go. You then reach in and pull the tongue out so that it hangs down the neck (rather like a Colombian necktie...)

You then firmly press the blade against the bone and run it along each of the V-shaped edges of the jaw. You bump into bones at the end of each, and sever them exactly at the two cartilaginous joints.

So there! With my newly acquired skill I made a little extra pocket money – I also remember taking a lamb tongue home to my mother who cooked it up (not sure how), but it was delicious...

An Even More
Temporary Situation

Bill Kidd

Hugh's tale of his short time as a bus conductor put me in mind of an incident in the equally short bus conducting career of my friend the late Charlie Dixon. Many of you will remember Charlie from school. He was a likeable fellow – friendly, intellectually impressive, but rather height challenged – much closer to five feet than six... (see him, front right, in the photo).

Charlie spent several summer vacations working alongside me in Lindsay's photographic processing establishment. However, the lure of Mammon in the shape of Dundee Corporation Transport Department wrenched him away from a life of holiday snaps!

I guess that Charlie's induction into the world of public transport would have followed along the lines so graphically described in Hugh's anecdote. After gaining some experience Charlie was allocated one Friday evening to a 'Special' service. This consisted of a double decker bus going from the Caledon Shipyard to the City Centre.

His driver told him that it would be very busy with thirsty shipyard workers who had just been paid and would be anxious to slake the dust of a long hard week. It was impressed on Charlie that there must be no standing upstairs and only twelve were allowed to stand downstairs. The final word of warning was that on no account was he to abandon his platform. With these instructions in mind the empty bus drew up in front of the works entrance of the Caledon about 4.55 p.m.

At 5.00 p.m. the huge gates opened and a flood of eager passengers descended on the bus. Charlie stood firm and asked the intending passengers to form a queue, the response to this request would have been familiar to King Canute, and a tide of people flooded on to the bus. It quickly became clear from the fact that there was a line of people standing on the stairs that all the upstairs seats had all been taken. A quick look at the downstairs deck showed that this too was full.

With great courage Charlie told the horde still trying to board the bus that it was full and that some of the excess would have to get off the bus and wait for the next one to come along. Somehow, just after that, Charlie found himself off his platform, standing on the road, hearing three bells ring out and seeing the bus moving off in the direction of the City Centre!

It must have been a pitiful sight to see a disconsolate, uniformed bus conductor, complete with money bag and ticket machine trudging along Broughty Ferry Road in the direction of Shore Terrace. I understand that the Transport Manager was not best pleased that the fares had not been collected before the bus was hijacked.

We now have two tales that illustrate why the experiment of having students as bus conductors was not a great success and I have a sneaking suspicion that the complete withdrawal of bus conductors followed soon after!
--------------------

Dr Charlie Dixon was a Senior Lecturer in the Mathematics Department at the University of Dundee and worked there for over 47 years, retiring in 2000, which made him one of the University's longest serving members of staff. Charlie was a dedicated and enthusiastic teacher and was the students' perennial favourite. He was an avid supporter of extending access to University to those who might not have considered further studies, was the founding member of the University's Schools Liaison Office and the first Dean of Students for the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Sadly, Charlie died suddenly in 2009. He was active to the last, and is recognised by the creation of the Charlie Dixon Award. These awards, given
to mathematics students from the Dundee area who have shown exceptional dedication to their studies, represent a fitting continuation of Charlie's lifelong efforts.

The Terrorist
Hugh McGrory
I mentioned in a previous story how, in 1974, I went on a business trip to Europe with a colleague, David. He was an American professor of engineering based in Pittsburgh and we were visiting national engineering computing centres in France, Holland, Germany and the UK.

While passing through London (heading for the Genesys Centre at the University of Loughborough), David said that he'd like to see the Houses of Parliament. I'd never been inside, despite the fact that I lived in London for a couple of years and worked only 15 minutes from Big Ben, so we decided to see if we could get into the Commons gallery while Parliament was in session.

Question for you – think back over the last 50 years – which decade saw the most deaths from terrorism in Western Europe? In fact, it was the '70s – 1974 (with about 410) was third highest after 1988 (440) and 1980 (425), and just ahead of 1972 (405) – and this was London, and the 'Mother of Parliaments' – don't forget the IRA... So, in those days, though security wasn't as tight as it is now, there was a serious societal awareness of the issue.

I also mentioned that every time we entered a new country, David sailed through immigration while I always had to undergo an enhanced security check – I guess I matched too many items on their profile (looked like a Turk, had an Irish name...?) If you're interested, you can see that story here.


I don't remember the security procedure in any detail – I'm sure there was one – but it certainly wasn't rigorous (nowadays it's 'airline standard'). We entered through St Stephen's Entrance into the Porch (12 on the plan above) and through it to St. Stephen's Hall (11). Originally St. Stephen's Chapel, this magnificent room was actually the first House of Commons.

Hover your cursor on any photo for description then click for a bigger version.

In St. Stephen's Hall there were four rows of seats awaiting us, two rows against the outside walls and two back-to-back down the middle. David and I settled close to the far exit against the south wall (on the right).


We waited to be called into the Central Lobby (when the group in front of us was departing from the chamber), not saying much since we were both quite tired from our travels, just relaxing, admiring the room and its accoutrements and studying the multi-cultural group around us.

I casually noticed one man who sat at the end of the row facing us, closest to the exit we'd soon be passing through, with a briefcase at his side. A few minutes later I noticed that he was no longer there ' but his briefcase was.

I looked at the case, looked around for him – no sign – then back at the case. At that point, I began to think of scenarios ranging from 'he's gone for a pee', to BOOM!!!

I hoped it was the former – truth be told I was feeling a bit like peeing myself at that moment! I then thought of possible courses of action – the first, and my preferred one, was to do nothing, since in all likelihood it wasn't any cause for concern – no one else seemed to be reacting.

At the other end of the range was to shout "Bomb! Run like hell everyone". At best, though, that would probably cause quite a few broken limbs, concussion and perhaps even deaths – and how dumb would I feel when the bomb disposal guys opened the case and found two egg sandwiches...

I decided it was better to be embarrassed than dead, so I devised my plan – I would tell David we had to leave, giving him a quick reason why, then walk quickly to the door we came in (at the far end from the bomb) and tell the security people. I nudged David who was dozing and started to explain when, half way through my sentence, the bomb went off and we were both killed!

Actually, as I spoke, I saw, over David's shoulder, the guy come back and sit down. Panic over! I can't even remember what he looked like.

What would you have done, back in the day?

A few minutes later we were called to file into the Central Lobby (10), then a sharp left through the Commons' Corridor, (17), the Commons' Lobby (16) and into the balcony of the House itself (15).


After more than 40 years, apart from the 'terrorist' and the over-the-top architecture, the main impression that stayed with me is that the House of Commons is way smaller than I thought it would be...

My First Car
Ian Gordon
In early 1962, I was a young C.A. in South America trying to learn a new language, trying to understand how big American companies did business and put their numbers together, and trying to have fun in an exhausting 7 days a week work schedule. (Don't know how we put up with such conditions for relatively poor salaries – but such were the times!)

In any case, after I had amassed about $1,000 in savings – there was nothing to spend money on – I decided to invest my dough on a real asset, an automobile as my American friends called it. I soon discovered there was no real value in an automobile. However, I reckoned that to get in with the American group I needed to turn up at events (mainly boozy parties) in my own real car, and not in an old battered taxi. So I went car shopping.

There were very few used car lots in Medellin, Colombia at the time, but every used car workshop (of which there were hundreds) had a car or two for sale. Cars ranged from genuine guaranteed 100% original parts to mongrels with assorted reconditioned parts. With my true auditor's zeal I did discover my dream car, with the right precedence– a 1948 Buick Roadmaster, owned previously, I was assured, by two young American gold prospectors whose cash assets did not last long enough to continue prospecting. I was also assured that the automobile probably needed a touch-up here and there, but could be mine, as is, for $1,000.

Putting things in perspective, I would like you to imagine the picture of me with my new automobile. Pete Rennie describes how his car was too small for him. Well, I was then about a foot smaller than Pete, and my Buick Roadmaster was about twice the size of Pete's Morris Eight. Some people used to think it was a driverless vehicle when I passed by, and I must admit I had some breathless moments when making sharp turns on Colombia's mountainous terrain. Some of my friends called the car –Big Bertha,– which I think was unkind, but perhaps understandable.

I had an unfortunate start to my social life as a car owner. I invited a sweet young socialite called Maruja to have lunch with me on one of my few days off. Our venue was to be a new restaurant called El Punto de Vista (The Point of View) situated halfway up a very large mountain, about one hours drive away – quite a test for Big Bertha. However, the dear car huffed and puffed its way up the winding mountain road and took us to our destination without fail.

Unfortunately, the interior temperature in the car became almost unbearable, even with the windows open. It seemed to be caused by an unstoppable blast of hot air emanating from the over-worked engine and blowing into the front right seat, occupied by Maruja– who had turned a violent shade of beetroot by the time we arrived. The lady did not take it well and rushed immediately to the restrooms on arrival. Everyone in the restaurant, including close friends and relatives of Maruja's, stood and gasped –Esta muy mal? (Is she very bad?) Maruja returned in a few minutes, acknowledged her friends with a brief nod and ate a light lunch. She never spoke a word to me.

Just when I thought things couldn't get worse, they did. After its gallant efforts to get up the mountain, the beleaguered engine of the car would not turn over. Now, starting a car in Dundee was relatively simple and we had all done it many times. Just hold the clutch down while you get a push from the back and release it at the right time. But here we have a mountain road to push down and no clutch to release.

I wasn't about to get into that huge vehicle and let it run downhill without an engine – but I had to! I got a push out of the parking lot, put the car in neutral and hoped the engineers in Detroit had thought about this situation. The engine caught at my second attempt – and my heart started beating at a normal pace again. The people in the restaurant actually cheered as I returned to pick up Maruja.

I learned a lot in my time with Big Bertha. The car you see above is in very good condition and recently offered for sale for $23,000 U.S. Bertha was not in very good condition, but she taught me, and many other owners, that having your own car has given us a freedom of movement, and action, that we would never otherwise have had. We may lose that freedom when the driverless car finally arrives!

A Temporary Situation – 3
Hugh McGrory
In a previous story I told of losing my temporary bus conductor job early in the summer - fortunately I, and several other schoolmates, were lucky enough to find work in the Smedley factory on Clepington Road in Dundee.
As it was then. Photo taken from railway bridge on Clepington Road. Burnett's Bakery on right, Kerr of Balfield's Dairy on left, Smedley's buildings in the background. The path behind the fence led to Kingsway at the Ice Rink.
Smedley's opened in this location in 1933 as a fish cannery. It converted to vegetables and fruit, such as peas, raspberries and strawberries. Such products are of course seasonal, and for us it was the pea season.

I knew nothing about canning, and was ignorant of the process which takes a green pea from field to table. The steps are:
    1. Harvesting
    2. De-vining and shelling
    3. Shaker/cleaner for washing
    4. Sorting by size
    5. Blanching (parboiling)
    6. Can Filling (peas topped with brine)
    7. Capping and crimping
    8. Sterilising (in a pressure cooker)
    9. Cooling
    10. Labelling
    11. Packing
    12. Transporting.
We were assigned to tasks involved in steps 6, 7 and 8

Hover your cursor on any photo for description then click for a bigger version.

Some of us were in the loft – this was where boxes of new empty cans and lids were delivered, opened, and the cans and lids put onto separate gravity-driven rail systems. The can rail did a vertical 360 degree turn on the way down so that the cans would turn upside down and any loose material that might have got in would fall out.

The cans were delivered to a machine where they were filled with peas, then transported to the brine station, on a horizontal conveyor, for topping up. They then went through a machine which added the lid and crimped it into place, and then onto the pressure cooker for sterilising at 100°C.

I was initially assigned to the steriliser – my job was to stand there wearing heat-resistant gloves and make sure that every can going by was upright. This was to ensure that any can that had fallen over was removed; since it would inevitably jam the cooker (didn't happen often).

This machine was about 40 ft. long by 5 ft. high and 20 ft. across. The conveyor went in, and then doubled back multiple times so that the cans followed a snake-like path, the distance and speed calculated to give the correct exposure to the heat to ensure proper sterilisation.

At first I thought that I had lucked out by getting an easy job, but that feeling wore off after about 20 minutes – it was soul-destroyingly boring! After some time had elapsed, I felt a smack on the back of my head. It was one of the foremen passing by who wanted to make sure that I was awake. I was really pissed-off at the time, but I needed the job – and, to be honest, I couldn't swear that I was actually awake...

A machine which filled the cans was nearby, and at a break, I spoke to the kid operating it (a stranger) and asked what the job entailed. He told me and asked what I did. Long story short we agreed to switch jobs – that was, I'm sure, a no-no without a foreman's permission - but I don't think they could tell one of us students from another...

As you can imagine, the various pathways for cans, lids, peas and brine were synchronised, and the worst thing that could happen was that one of the lines would develop a fault of some kind and have to stop. There were red buttons around at strategic points to be used in such emergencies to stop the particular conveyor – and of course all of the others. It would also cause lights to flash, horns to go off and foremen to come running.

The inevitable happened, and it turned out that, at the pressure cooker, a can had been allowed to go in sideways, and jammed. This was a major issue, since it meant that the top of the cooker, which consisted of heavy plates bolted to the chassis, needed to be taken off piece by piece until the blockage was located.

This was bad enough, but remember that the plates were being heated from below at more than 100°C. This meant that the whole line was down while we all waited for the beast to cool down enough to let the foremen/mechanics get on top and start the process. In fact they started too soon, no doubt being pressured by the next layer of management, and before long they had taken on the hue of cooked lobsters. But we all got a few hours of relaxation before the line finally got back into action.

I felt sorry for the kid who had taken over the job from me (but, in truth, was so glad that it wasn't me). He disappeared – I don't know if he was fired, quit, or moved to another area (my time was yet to come...).

Looking at the incident, it was easy to see that the disaster was inevitable. In the first place, the conveyor was badly designed – it was ridiculous that they needed someone to stand on guard for cans which had toppled over!

Secondly, given this flaw, they should have arranged for operators to rotate in and out of the job frequently so they didn't fall asleep or die of boredom – no one could have done that job well!

Back at the can filler, I felt I'd mastered the machine after an hour or two, and the days and weeks became long and boring, with an enervating sameness–until they weren't...

I was standing at my post, thinking about whatever, when I got hit on the head with something, then another – for I moment I thought one of the guys was throwing peas at me, until I looked up just as an avalanche of peas came down on my upturned face. I dashed for the red button and everything ground to a halt. (On the plus side it was nice and quiet...)

To understand what had happened you need a brief explanation: the peas ready for canning appeared at my station from a conveyor belt about 15 feet in the air and were deposited into a large hopper – funnel-shaped, rectangular at the top end, say roughly 6 feet square, then tapering to a round spout at the can-filling end some 10 feet below.

At the top end, it was divided into two halves, 3 feet by 6, separated by a paddle which could be moved from side to side by pulling chains. This allowed the peas to fill up one side, then be diverted to the other side so it would then fill up. I just forgot to pull the chain and it had overflowed...

To make matters worse, the full side was so stuffed with peas that the paddle wouldn't move no matter how hard I pulled on the chain (as I stood in layers of slippery wegetables rapidly becoming mushy peas...)

Very soon, of course, a foreman appeared, with a face like thunder, and we finally had to get a tall ladder and climb up to ladle peas from the full to the empty side. We eventually got the line going again; I didn't get fired, but my dreams of a job for life standing by that machine were irretrievably dashed... Perhaps just as well, since, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't my fault, Smedley's Dundee factory closed down in 1972. In its heyday it employed more than 700 people.

Then
The company has been sold several times since then, and the Smedley name, once so ubiquitous has all but disappeared from the shelves of the UK. However, the original 1924 Smedley Canning factory in Wisbech, a small town in the Fens of Cambridgeshire, and now known as Princes Foods is still in the canning business. Apparently, Smedley's beans and peas are available at the local LIDL, and Smedley's tomato soup can still be found at the Co-op.

Now
In researching this story, I came across a piece written by a man who, as a teenager, had worked on the line in Smedley's Wisbech factory. The following excerpt is pertinent:

–Very often my job was to sit next to a line of small rails on which freshly sealed tins of food rolled along flat stretches or long bends, or up and down steep slopes, to some mysterious destination where I suppose they got on to pallets or lorries.

When a tin fell off the rails or caused a 'traffic' jam, I was supposed to wake up from my drowsiness and start frantically to throw the derailed tins into a large metal tub, then place them as soon as possible back on the rails for them to resume their journey. I understand why the bosses did not check our professional expertise or our IQ before they hired us.

I remember Ivan M., a Czech guy, who was sitting close to the rails some distance from me. One evening, he nearly fell off his chair because watching those tins in the din of the factory had put him to sleep...

Schooldays
Gordon Findlay
Most of my schoolday memories have long since faded away. I'm left with little cameos . . . episodes or incidents which for some reason remain implanted in my memory.

I can remember my pal Eric Dargie (who as an adult emigrated to Australia) coming to our side door in the
Eric on the left and Gordon on the right flanking
Jake Anderson in the School Rugby Team 1949-50.
morning, so we could walk along Shamrock Street together to Morgan. Sometimes we were joined by Jimmy Partington who had the worst stutter of any person I can remember.

Poor Jimmy. To be saddled both with this affliction and a three-syllable, three hard-consonant name like Partington was just plain cruel. Even telling someone his name took a superhuman effort on his part: face reddening, lips twisting, eyes bulging, he would try desperately to get out the letters of his name . . . –P-p-p-PAR – t-t-t-Ting-t-t-t- TON–, the last syllable blurted out like an explosion from his contorted face.

One thing I do know: I was not a particularly bright student. Adequate would be the word. Not a bad all-rounder, but deplorable in mathematics and the sciences. Just could not get my head around the complexities of algebra, trig and geometry. It might as well have been Greek.

And of course, being the youngest, I had to follow the academic trail blazed by my two brothers ahead of me. David had been pretty good in the mathematics-oriented subjects. Oldest brother Morris had been a star in all these subjects – a fact I was reminded of forcefully and frequently by Mr. Peden, head of the mathematics department.

When I landed in his math class, it didn't take Mr. Peden long to discover that this last in the line of Findlays was not cast in the same mould as my brothers. I was quite simply, a dunce in math. A memory which still stings after all those years is this: a math problem is presented in class. Everyone begins to solve it. I am at a total loss.

When time is up Mr. Peden surveys the class and decides that a little bit of light sport will liven his day up. –Let–s see if Findlay has the answer, shall we?

"Well, Findlay, speak up!" I would get to my feet and for a few agonizing moments I would mumble some gibberish until Peden tired of my ineptness and barked: "Sit down, Findlay! You don't have any idea, do you? And I didn't.

Fortunately, I was strong in English, decent in history, geography, adequate in German and French. But I really lived for English class because for whatever reason, I simply began to enjoy putting words together, and have had a life-long love affair with them.

Always found it wonderful to find and learn a new word to add to memory, couldn't wait to start on a free-style English composition, almost wore out an edition of Palgrave's –Golden Treasury–, the famous anthology of English poetry. I was stirred by the use of language in that book . . . Matthew Arnold, Tennyson, Rosetti, Coleridge, Thomas Hardy, Kipling, and of course, one of the most famous Scots of all, Robert Louis Stevenson.

A Temporary Situation – 2
Hugh McGrory
Actually, this should probably be entitled 'A Very Temporary Situation'.

Around 1954, I was looking for a summer job, and, like quite a few of my classmates, heard that the Dundee Corporation Transport Department ('DCT') was hiring students as temporary summer staff. Those were the days before one-person crews, and the bus and tramway system in Dundee had a driver and a conductor for each vehicle.

Quite a number of us applied and were hired. We duly reported en masse to the Bell St Bus Depot for indoctrination. As you can see from the photograph, this was a huge hanger of a building, and we were gathered into a large room where our duties and the administrative procedures were described to us. We were provided with uniforms though I can't remember anything about how, nor can I remember whether or not we were provided with hats - I have no memory of ever wearing one...

Old Bell St Bus Depot A Real Dundee Bus/Tram Conductor
We were also provided with our ticket machine and spare rolls of tickets, and our shoulder bag for collecting fares and dispensing change – I do remember this experience. There was a table at the side, of the room when we entered piled high with bags – a few brand new, but most in various stages of dilapidation.

Being the smartest guy in the room, I positioned myself close to the table so that at the end of the session when they told us to grab a bag, I was in the first wave and was able to snag a brand new one. Pretty smart, huh? Well actually, no – No, No, No! Can you figure out why?

I really don't remember all that much of my time as a bus conductor – just a few vignettes:
    – I had been allocated to a bus (as opposed to a tram), a 'double-decker'. We were on the Barnhill route which meant a trip due east from the Shore Terrace Hub in the centre of town to the eastern boundary at Balmossie Street then turn around, return and repeat.
    Shore Terrace Bus Service Hub circa 1950
    I met my driver the first day, a nice enough fellow, though he didn't seem enamoured about being lumbered with a know-nothing student.

    – It was on that first day that I realised the problem with brand new money bags. They were very sturdy, made of cowhide about a quarter of an inch thick, with three compartments that basically didn't want to open. By the end of the day the cuticles on my left hand were raw and bleeding. Ok, maybe I wasn't as smart as I thought...

    – I do remember a couple of times the driver pulling over between stops for no apparent reason. He later explained to me what was going on...

    It seems that the bus had a semi-automatic gearbox (this is often called a pre-selector gearbox, where the driver can move the shift lever to indicate the new gear he wants, but the gear doesn't actually engage until he depresses the clutch. This is supposed to give a smoother change.) Apparently, for some reason, the clutch would, on occasion, spring back aggressively, and as he said "Bloody near breaks my ankle".

    – One of my duties was to check that all passengers got on and off safely, and to bell the driver to let him know that it was safe to pull away. On one occasion I rang the bell, and he just sat there. I tried again – nothing. Why the heck wasn't he moving? One more time, then I see him turning round in his seat, giving me the stink-eye. I didn't know what he was telling me until a helpful passenger said –The traffic light is red– and then so was my face...

    – The bell at the rear platform, which was my station, was a push button, but there was also a strip which ran the length of the roof of the downstairs compartment down one side of the aisle, nicely colour-coordinated in green and white, the signature look of the DCT. This allowed the conductor to bell the driver while inside the compartment collecting fares, and passengers to signal that they wanted to get off at the next stop.

    I remember one trip when a Morgan school girl got on the bus. She was very pretty brunette, a year or two younger than me (first name Gloria), and I decided to 'chat her up'. The bus stopped, and I checked we were good to proceed, then reached up to the roof strip, belled the driver then shifted my attention from the bell to the belle.

    I then realised that we hadn't moved, so I reached up again – nothing. The driver turned around in his seat and looked at me with a raised eyebrow. All of the passengers on the lower deck were trying to figure out what was going on. I spread my hands to indicate that I'd tried, then demonstrated by doing it again – at the same moment as I realised that I wasn't pressing the bell but the matching decorative strip on the other side of the aisle. So the bell was unpressed - and the belle wasn't impressed.

    Mr. Cool had done it again...

    – One last memory... The bus was very full - passengers were standing on the rear platform (see photo (a London bus but the same type - Dundee actually bought some of London's cast-offs). Passengers on the platform was a no-no, but often done. It was raining and we stopped to pick up several more people. At the back of the line there was a middle-aged man frantically looking through his pockets. I asked him if he was getting on, and he said that he'd come out without any money.

    I told him to get on anyway, then, remembering the indoctrination I'd just completed, I told him that I'd need his name and address. (The dreaded Inspectors (see photo) who moved around the various routes just might turn up unexpectedly.)

    We got to the Town Centre (Inspector free) and he asked if I had a pencil. I told him to forget it (I figured it would probably have cost the Town five bob to collect the tuppeny fare anyway).

    I enjoyed the job - it wasn–t boring, the money was good, and there was opportunity for overtime – too bad that I got fired after two weeks. No I didn't do anything wrong, the Corporation fired all the students! Union and management were gearing up for a power struggle over upcoming attempts to move to one-person crews, so the Union complained that
    we were taking jobs from their potential members - and management caved.

    Damn - so we were all back on the job market!
My Morris
Pete Rennie

Recent tales of cars have inspired me to write a brief tale of my first:

Having recently graduated from Art College, gained my first salaried employment and, of course, passed my driving test, my thoughts turned to the purchase of a car.

I went to see my old school chum Bob Barnett now well established in the motor trade. I was not disappointed for Bob had exactly the vehicle of my dreams! It was a black, four door, 1947 Morris Eight Series E– registration ESC 634 and came with the guarantee that it had only been used by two old ladies for shopping!
It cost me 㿭 and I drove it away along Riverside Drive even though I had never before been in a car on my own. To make matters worse the lady driver must have been quite small since the driver's seat was as far forward as it could be and my knees were nearly touching my chin. I made it home after a nerve-wracking drive through the city centre where I was able to examine my purchase at leisure.

As with Sandra Dow's car, it had a hinged windscreen (which was stuck shut) and semaphore indicators (which sometimes needed assistance to appear!)

Also there was no spare tyre! I was so entranced at being the owner of a car that I was able to overlook these 'minor' deficiencies. I looked forward to distant horizons – without a lot of thought as to how I might return home. In truth, the car was a heap – but it was my heap!

One day I drove down to Broughty Ferry and I got a puncture! I managed to get down a side street and found myself outside the Fire Station. I decided to ask for help there and one of the firemen obliged.

He produced a jack, jacked the car up and together we got the wheel off and I was able to get the puncture repaired and drove off quite happily.

Several weeks later I was driving along and heard a strange grating sound from the rear of the car. I stopped to investigate and on lifting the carpet at the rear seats I discovered a tear in the metal floor. I realised that my helpful fireman hadn't positioned the jack properly.

I decided to have a word with Bob about this without, I must admit, revealing the circumstances! Bob was not best pleased to see the car again but grudgingly agreed to have the tear welded. The repair was done and I drove off guiltily – but secretly satisfied.

Newfie, eh? – 3 of 3
Hugh McGrory
The Avalon Peninsula

In my previous story, I was continuing my journey southward in search of the Avalon caribou herd.

The Avalon (see the map) is a large, almost-an-island, peninsula that makes up the southeast portion of the island of Newfoundland. Despite being small in area compared to the rest of Newfoundland (less than 10%) the peninsula is home to more than a quarter of a million people, about half of the Island's total population, according to the Canada 2011 census.

The round trip I'd embarked on is known as the Irish Loop (see the map), round trip from St, John's is about 200 miles. Back in the 1500s, Europeans, particularly from France, England, Spain, and Portugal crossed the Atlantic to fish for cod off the Avalon coast to feed Europe's growing population. By the 1700's the Spanish and Portuguese had been pushed out, and the French and English fought over the abundant resource until 1815.

During this time communities around the Peninsula grew from small seasonal stations to year round settlements. Beginning in the early 1800's, large numbers of Irish began settling year round and caused the regions demographics to be changed forever. By the mid 1800's, unlike other parts of Newfoundland, the great majority of settlers in this area were Roman Catholic and of Irish descent – hence 'The Irish Loop'.

The area is home to many animals, coyotes, beaver, lynx, mink, muskrat, otter, red squirrel, fox, snowshoe hares, weasel, the odd black bear, whales, seals, moose and, of course, the object of my interest, caribou.

I had seen photographs and film of vast herds of thousands of caribou in their grazing grounds or migrating south before winter, and since the Avalon herd numbered around 6,000 or so at the time of this story I had high hopes of seeing them.

I travelled south on Hwy 10, and shortly before I'd have to turn west along the bottom of the peninsula
I saw an animal in the distance to the east. I stopped the car and got out for a closer look – it seemed to be a single doe, further away than the one in the photo. With my small camera it seemed pointless to take a photo so I decided to wait until I found one of the herds. But it was 'My First Caribou' – a good omen to have seen one so soon...

I stopped at a small store and asked if they could tell me where I might
find caribou, but the server and the few customers weren't very helpful and didn't seem to have any suggestions – more on that later... So I continued west, then north on Hwy 90.

I kept scanning the land on both sides of the road, but as I got further and further north I came slowly to the realization that 'My First Caribou' was also 'My Last Caribou'– I never did see another one!

Looking back later, I realised that my expectations were rather ridiculous. If you were a caribou with all that open space, would you hang out near roads...? In fact, the south east third of the island is referred to as The Barrens, and the central portion of the Avalon Peninsula has been designated The Avalon Wilderness Reserve to protect the most southerly caribou herd in Canada– it covers more than 400 square miles.

In fact, the south east third of Newfoundland Island is referred to as The Barrens, and the central portion of the Avalon Peninsula has been designated The Avalon Wilderness Reserve to protect the most southerly caribou herd in Canada– it covers more than 400 square miles.

A rolling plateau, the area is dotted with boulders that were left behind by melting glaciers more than 10,000 years ago. The landscape pattern consists of, usually stunted, almost pure stands of Balsam Fir, broken by extensive open heathland, ponds, rivers, and bogs.

So if you want to see the caribou, you really need to visit the Reserve (as you'll see from the map, I just drove all the way around it...) To do so, you are told that you should observe certain guidelines:
    – obtain an entry permit
    – let someone know your route and expected time of return
    – travel light and leave no trace of your passage
    – carefully plan your clothing, footwear, and equipment
    – take a compass and appropriate 1:50,000 topographic maps
    – note that if you take a cell-phone, coverage will be spotty, though it is possible to make calls from some hilltops
    – read and abide by the rules and regulations which are:
      – Carry your entry permit (and other applicable permits) with you while in the reserve.
      – Camping in one location is restricted to a maximum of 10 days.
      – Pack out everything you bring in, including cans, glass, and other refuse.
      – Snowmobiling is not permitted in the reserve.
      – Keep dogs and horses under control at all times when in the reserve.
      – Outboard motors are restricted to Cape, Mount Carmel, Franks, Bloody, Blackwood, and Southwest Ponds or other ponds accessible by road and must not exceed 6 hp.
      – The use of ATVs for game retrieval is not allowed in the reserve.
      – Aircraft must fly above 300 m, except during take-off and landing.
      – During some seasons, open fires may be prohibited. Contact your local office of the Department of Natural Resources to determine if open fires are permitted. Completely extinguish fires before leaving
So getting back to my rather cool reception in that little grocery store on the tip of the peninsula, I think they looked at me – dressed as if I had just nipped out to get a pint of milk, and expecting to see hundreds of caribou grazing by the roadside – they simply wrote me off as an idiot 'come from away' and not worthy of their attention... Having said this, though unlikely, it wasn't altogether out of the bounds of possibility that I might have gotten lucky...

I never did see another caribou, but I recently came across a video, a 1980 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation documentary film telling the story of Mike Nolan, a fur trapper turned wildlife officer, who played a huge part in saving the Avalon caribou. The survival of this herd is a North American conservation success story. The herd had dwindled to only a few dozen animals by the early 1960s, but it rose to a high of six to seven thousand animals in the early 1990s (when I was there). In 1998, it numbered around two thousand animals.

If you're interested, you may see the video here. It lasts about half an hour, but you could skip to about minute 22:00 to see the part of interest to this story.

D'ye Mind Korky the Kat?
Bill Kidd

How many of us can pass a Dandy or Beano left lying about somewhere without picking it up and flicking through it to see if it retained any of the characters that we remember from our childhood. If it is a Dandy, hang on to it, it may become valuable! The last printed edition was issued in December 2012 and was replaced by a web only edition. The printed version lasted 75 years but the web version ended after only six months.
First Edition Jul 30,1938 First Edition Dec 4, 1937                Last Edition Dec 4, 2012
Recently a Beano First Edition sold for £17,300. In 2004 a Dandy First Edition sold for £20,350.

Today's Beano is nothing like the version that we grew up with. Big Eggo the ostrich got up to all sort of unlikely antics on the cover page of the Beano while Korky the Kat risked at least one of his nine lives on the
front of the Dandy. During the war years these comics were published on alternate weeks in order to save paper. At the height of their popularity during the forties and fifties it is believed that their weekly circulation peaked at an astounding two million copies.

In their early years both the Dandy and the Beano were innovative in that they replaced having text along the bottom of each
picture with speech bubbles that were an integral part of the illustrations. Many of the illustrations were printed in solid colours and the characters were instantly recognisable. Right from the beginning the somewhat anarchic story lines were attractive to children that were expected to behave well at all times.

Perhaps one of the most important effects of these comics was that they encouraged children to read, this was particularly true of the earliest editions because they also contained stories in text only.

I have a clear memory of many of the characters featured in these comics. How many can you remember?

One of my favourites was Desperate Dan whose diet of cow pies must have played havoc with his arteries! His phenomenal strength could either get him into trouble or help the citizens of Catcusville out of many a tight spot. He smoked a pipe and was not averse to lighting it by bending the post of a gas street light to use in place of a match. Dan is now immortalised, sans pipe of course, by his statue in Dundee.

In the Beano one of my favourites was Lord Snooty and His Pals. This strip featured Lord Snooty, appropriately dressed and an assorted group of rag-a-muffins who got up to all sorts of adventures under the disapproving eye of Aunt Matilda.

During the war I can remember one storyline where Hitler had invented a ray that caused snow to fall over the UK. This led to the gang having a wonderful time sledging, snowman building and snowball fighting. I have no idea what it did to the war effort!

At the risk of being accused of racism I recall another wartime character Musso da Wop (He is a big ada flop). This was a satirical view of the competence of our other arch-enemy, Il Duce, Benito Mussolini.

There was a fair bit of violence involved in many of the comic strips of both publications. Teachers, wielding the cane, parents chastising children with slippers, dentists pulling teeth with pliers and vandalising property were only a few of the activities that you certainly wouldn't find in any present day children's publication. Living in such a society I sometimes wonder how we survived!

The choice of a character's name could even have a bearing on one's nickname at school. Characters that appeared regularly such as Hungry Horace, Keyhole Kate, Dennis the Menace, Pansy Potter, Roger the Dodger, Absent-minded Alfie and Meddlesome Matty were often a convenient starting point for renaming a teacher or fellow pupil.

Many adults, possibly Moaning Minnie's, frowned upon our weekly comic, saying that they were a bad influence, that they stopped children from reading 'good' books and encouraged bad behaviour. There may well be some truth in this but I don't believe that two million kids can be wrong and we didn't turn out too badly did we?


Newfie, eh? – 2
Hugh McGrory
Kiddy Viddy

Pronounciations vary, but this is how most Newfie's say the name of the village and lake of Quidi Vidi (no one seems sure of the derivation of the name). The photo shows the village in the foreground and The Gut, the channel that leads to the Atlantic, and in the background, Quidi Vidi Lake.

Quidi Vidi is a picturesque old fishing settlement of around 600 people thought to have been settled first in the early 16th century. It's well worth a visit, since it has the genuine feel of a typical Newfoundland
outport – a small group of houses around a sheltered harbour clinging to and protected by surrounding hills. It has one of the oldest wooden buildings in North America, Mallard Cottage, which was repaired in
recent years and is recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada.

I enjoyed my visit to Kiddy Viddy – and here's two more reasons to visit – it has a brewery, and, amazingly, is situated no more than a mile and a half from downtown St. John's.

Heading South

The following day, I set off south from St. John's on my trip to see the Avalon Peninsula caribou herd. Almost immediately I diverted east to visit Cape Spear. Not that there's much to see, mind you, but it does
let you say that you've stood on the most easterly spot of Canada and the USA. After this brief diversion I resumed my journey south.

After driving for some time, a sign for a restaurant ahead extolling the view from its location reminded me that I was hungry, so when it appeared, I stopped for lunch. It was a pleasant place with decent food and
good service, and a great view. After I ate and was paying my bill, I said to the waitress that I had a suggestion for the owner. She said "Tell him yourself."

With my usual sparkling repartee, I responded "Huh?"

"He's sitting at that table in the corner", she said.

So I went over and said hello, and made my point as follows:

–I like your place – the food was tasty, and the waitress was friendly – I'd certainly come back – but you need to do something about your windows. When I'm sitting at the table, the only way to see the view properly, is to lay my face sideways on the table or stand up...!

He sighed. "I know–the horizontal bar gets in the way."

If you look at the couple dining by the far window you'll see the issue.
"Why don't you go after the architect and get it changed – and I'd suggest at no cost to you – it's pretty significant after all!"

He sighed again and said "I can't."

"Howcum?"

"Well, during construction I visited the site, saw the first window being put into place, didn't like it, and told them to turn them all upside down."

We looked at each other for a moment, I said "Oops!", and left to continue my Great Caribou Hunt.

To be continued...

The Beach at Arbroath
Gordon Findlay
Our gang of kids had one favourite place: the beach at Arbroath, about 16 miles east of Dundee. Arbroath was graced with one of the longest and most beautiful beaches on the east coast of Angus, and since it had
a direct rail line, getting there was fairly simple for us. We would load up with sandwiches and Barrie's lemonade, our towels and bathing suits, and off we went to the Dundee East railway station to catch the train to Arbroath.

There was still a bit of romance about rail travel back then: the trains were steam-powered, belching black smoke into the air, and the windows of the compartments rolled down, so you could sit with the rush of the wind blasting in the window, smelling the hot, sooty smell from the engine up front and taking turns leaning out that window, yelling at other kids in the streets and parks we passed, and all of us getting an early start on our lemonade because it was a treat to have a whole bottle each to drink.

Once arrived at Arbroath station, it was a quick walk down to the dunes, across them, then down to the endless beach and the chilly North Sea (although I don't remember ever feeling it was too cold to swim in; we just dashed in and out the whole day and let the wind and sun dry us off).

Arbroath beach had one other huge attraction: the friendliest, most active sheepdog we had ever seen. It seemed to live on the beach and was always racing around it looking for cheerful company. As soon as we'd arrive, the dog would magically appear and come racing over the dunes, as excited to see us as we were to see it. Endless hours of chasing balls, sticks thrown into the sea, or just rolling in the sand with us.

Naturally, we called him 'Rover'. None of us had a dog at home so we all loved this exuberant, happy-go-lucky dog which seemed to live on Arbroath beach. He wore a leather collar, but no identification tag on it, so obviously he belonged to someone in Arbroath.

We shared bits of our sandwiches with him and he didn't seem to be fussy . . . whether it was a basic jam sandwich, a cheese bun, a wedge of apple or a couple of carrot sticks: he ate it all gratefully. When we left in late afternoon to catch our train back to Dundee, we'd troop back across the sand dunes with 'Rover' romping alongside us, but as soon as we reached the nearest solid path or road that led to the station, he'd stop and just stand there and watch us leave, tail wagging, his tongue hanging out.

Never, ever followed us along the road. Perhaps he'd been trained to stay on the beach; we never knew. He was just 'our' dog for the day.

Newfie, eh?
Hugh McGrory
Sometime in the 1990s I attended a Conference of the CSCE (Canadian Society for Civil Engineering) in St. John's, Newfoundland. I felt very much at home on the island, perhaps not too surprising considering that fully two thirds of the half million residents of Newfoundland and Labrador identify their ethnic background as English, Irish or Scots.

At the end of the conference I decided to stay an extra couple of days – I wanted to wander around St John's a bit more and enjoy the harbour, the colourful houses, and Kiddy Viddy. I also had it in mind to see the caribou herd on the Avalon Peninsula.

The Harbour

I can't claim to be a sailor, though I have done a bit here and there. Those of you who are real sailors and have been out in stormy weather will know well the wonderful feeling when finally making it to a sheltered harbour.

The photo below looks out over the heart of St. John's towards Signal Hill (you can see Cabot Tower on top, the location where Marconi received the first transatlantic telegraph message, from Cornwall, England, in 1901), and shows the north-east end of the magnificent harbour and The Narrows, the exit to the
Atlantic. The Narrows runs almost due east, and if you were to sail out along the line of latitude you'd end up very close to Saint Nazaire at the mouth of the Loire in Brittany, some 2200 miles away. Can you imagine braving the journey from Europe to North America through ocean storms to finally arrive at the Narrows and the safe harbour of St. John's – it must have been a wonderful moment for countless sailors over the centuries.

The part of Signal Hill overlooking the Narrows is called The Battery – from the location of the cannons which protected the entrance to the harbour. The hotel I stayed in was the white building high on the hill (top left in the photograph), and had a great view down the length of the harbour.

I walked up the road from the hotel to the top of Signal Hill, then took a set of steps which drop about 150 feet to a path that runs along the edge of the Atlantic Ocean dropping another 200 feet or so. This path called the North Head Trail, rounds the hill and heads back along the north shore of the Narrows about 60 to 80 feet above sea level. The path ends amongst the colourful houses of The Battery shown in a photograph below.

The Stairway The North Head Trail
Looking Back Along the Trail The Battery – End of the Trail


I took my time wandering along the trail, it wasn't very busy – a few people behind me and the occasional person or two coming the other way. When I got to the Battery I followed the streets back up to the hotel – probably spent about two and a half hours altogether. The 'Looking Back 'photo above is misleading in that it suggests that some climbing might be involved – in fact it's simply a walk along fairly flat paths. If you're ever lucky enough to visit St. John's I highly recommend it.

The Houses

One of the charming aspects of the city is the brightly-coloured houses. The practice isn't unique to Newfoundland, of course, and can be found in many places around the world – it does seem to be particularly prevalent in colder climes, though:
Hover your cursor on any photo for location then click for a bigger version.

It's suggested that people who live further north, being more exposed to cold, rainy, shorter days, like to brighten up their environment. In St John's, one theory says that the practice springs from the Portuguese
dory fishermen who fished off Newfoundland's shores for some four hundred years. These men had one of the hardest jobs ever conceived, rowing out from a mother-ship in one-man dories for 12 to 16 hour shifts, long-line fishing for cod.

Their boats were painted in a buff colour which apparently made the best contrast to the grey/blue of the sea. Some Newfies came into possession of some of this paint – somehow – and began to use it for the exteriors of their houses. This gradually morphed into other colours.

There are now many colourful streets in St John's referred to collectively as Jelly Bean Rows – Victoria Street which runs up the hill from the harbour and downtown is a good example. Sights worth seeing.

Victoria Street.
To be continued...
Kingoodie Quarry
Jim Howie
Many of you will know that the hamlet of Kingoodie is just west of the village of Invergowrie which is just west of the city of Dundee. The quarry there produced large sandstone blocks for hundreds of years. The fine-grained bluish stone could be polished to a high sheen and was sought after for building purposes. The nearby Castle Huntly was built with Kingoodie stone.

The location of the quarry - a few hundred yards from the banks of the Tay River meant that the stone could be easily trucked to a pier and loaded on to barges for transport. Kingoodie stone was used for engine foundations, and for the construction of London's East and West India Docks, and Dundee's Victoria Dock and Esplanade.

The quarry was last worked in 1904, and was soon water-filled. The Dundee Courier recently ran the picture on the left below showing the in-filling of the quarry in 1973 - the second photo shows how the quarry looks today.

My relationship to Kingoodie began in 1970, the morning I walked along to Soutar St. and found that the garage for my Cortina Estate car had been broken into and my car was gone. Of course, I reported this to the police. Some time later they contacted me - they had good news and bad. They had found my car - underwater at the bottom of the quarry. They found another car or two there as well... I eventually heard what had happened:

A couple of lads who worked in a jute mill in the West Port area had 'clocked on' for their night shift, to provide themselves with an alibi, and had then taken off again. They stole my car, drove downtown then up the Arctic Bar pend (a narrow street off the High Street). They then used the car to ram the rear doors of the DPM Reform Street caf'. They stole a safe then transported it in my car to a lock-up near Balgay Park where they broke into the safe. They then put the safe back in the car, drove to Kingoodie, ran the car with safe into the quarry, then returned to work.

The police figured out somehow who they were, arrested them and they, and I, had to appear in court where they were duly convicted. Apparently they had pulled off other 'heists', and the police found swag behind the bath panels in a flat in a Dryburgh multi-story tower.

My car was written off, of course, but a pair of sunglasses in their case survived and were returned to me. I still have them.

A Cortina MK 2, Estate 1.6 The Survivor

Travel Travails – 4
Hugh McGrory
Airlines!!! Moving targets – everything always seems to be in a state of flux!

You'd think that to get from Toronto to Dundee would be a simple no-brainer, but, as I've mentioned before, on various trips I have passed through Detroit, Chicago, Montreal, Newark, New York; and Amsterdam, Belfast, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Glasgow, London, Manchester, and Paris. My latest round trip: Toronto-Frankfurt-Glasgow-Munich-Toronto. So I can add yet another city to the list...

The KLM Frankfurt to Glasgow flight, is a short one, and the valiant stewardesses work very quickly to hand out drinks and sandwiches then collect the debris – if you don't scoff your sandwich, you lose it!

On my latest trip, when they arrived at my row, I asked for a glass of orange juice and a glass of water. They handed them to me and at that moment the plane flew into turbulence. Most of the liquid from both glasses sloshed out onto me, and I ended up with an OJ-soaked right thigh and a water-soaked left.

After a few minutes when things settled down, they handed me a bundle of napkins and I headed to the toilet – I dropped my trousers and, with napkins on the inside and the outside of the wet areas, I wrung as much liquid as I could from each leg. Fortunately the wet areas were from mid-thigh down to my knees, so my underwear escaped the deluge...

I was wearing trousers made for travel, and I was surprised to find that when we got into the terminal, my pants were dry, and – bonus – no stains...

This incident reminded me of an earlier trip – more than thirty years ago – sitting in a plane on the tarmac waiting to roll away from the gate, and the pilot announces that they have a minor electrical problem and the maintenance crew were going to replace a unit so there would be a delay of about half an hour – and they wouldn't be able to put on the air conditioning. It was mid-summer and very hot outside, and, since the doors were closed, the heat mounted quickly! Just as we were all feeling quite miserable, the captain announced that we were good to go, the a/c came on, the engines started and we took off. Once the seat-belt sign was switched off I stopped one of the stewardesses and asked her something. We chatted briefly, and then she said, "You look rather warm – how would you like a large OJ?"

I said "That would be great!" A minute or two later, I see her coming up the aisle, with a glass in her hand – I pull down my tray and begin to salivate...

She got almost to my row – I was in an aisle seat – tripped, dropped the glass which caught the edge of the tray closest to me tilted over and landed, upside down, in my lap. Tied down as I was, I couldn't do anything, and there was silence as I looked at my lap then at her, and she looked at me and then at my lap. She was extremely apologetic of course, but it was an accident and could have happened to anyone – you can't get mad, can you?

She got napkins and I did the best I could to mop up – the plane was full, so I couldn't move to another seat.

I said to her "Would you ask the Captain to come see me, please?"

She looked apprehensive and asked "You want to make a complaint?"

I said "No, I want him to change pants with me..."

When I got home, about ten hours later, damp, stained and sticky, I immediately headed for the shower. As I stripped off, my wife, who had brought in some fresh towels, looked at me and said, "You look like you've had your dangly bits dyed."

I said "No – flavoured!"

Even I was Once a Boy
Bill Kidd

A recent inter-generational family discussion led me to thinking about present day childhood in comparison to my own experiences during and immediately after World War II. The first thing to strike me was the enormous amount of freedom that I had from the time that I started school. After getting home at four o'clock, until it was time to go in for our evening meal around six o'clock, I could go out to play with other local children. As there were very few cars around we were free to use the street as our playground.

We played all sorts of games, most of them involved chasing around and catching whoever happened to be 'it' while in others the chaser was the 'it'. When we tired of this the boys and girls went about their own specialist occupations. If there was a suitable ball available the boys played variations of football such as 'Five and In' or 'Keepie Up'. If no ball was available then an old tin can was used as a replacement. The girls with their skipping games using one or sometimes two long ropes were much more skilled than the boys.

If one or two balls were available then a suitable wall was used for throwing and catching games such as 'Capie Clappie', this game involved a complex ritual of special throws and physical movements as the ball or even balls bounced against the wall. All these girls' games were played to well established chants setting out the next movement or action(1).

During the war there was no street lighting and in the middle of winter our outdoor activities were severely curtailed, it was not only in cricket that bad light stopped play! However the government gave us some help by having double summertime which meant that we only had to abandon our street games for December and January. As winter gave way to spring we were again able to go out to play after tea. This was the time for other games such 'Red Light', a variation on 'I Spy'. This game involved the 'it' person having to guess something in a shop window (unlit). The other players stood on the other side of the road and they could take a step forward every time a wrong guess was made. When the correct item was shouted out the successful guesser chased the others and whoever was caught was 'It' for the next round. If a car came past during this game positions on the road were supposed to be resumed where they left off. You can imagine the great opportunities for cheating in this game!

Summer, particularly during school holidays, was a magic time, then children exercised their freedom to the full, usually leaving the house immediately after breakfast, retuning for a midday meal and then out again until tea. If the weather was good the local parks were a magnet, particularly if there was a pond where minnows could be fished for with a net and a jam jar. If it rained then we congregated in a close and had competitions to see how many steps we could jump down. Such activities were not always appreciated by the adults residing in that particular close. Residents who were particularly nasty to us may even have had their doorbell rung and not found anyone there when they answered it.

During term time there was a well established season for various games and pastimes. One week everyone was making match guns from a piece of kindling, hair grips and the rubber ring from a lemonade bottle. These devices fired spent matches and were used in games of cowboys and indians. The ammunition was garnered from the gutter where they had been jettisoned by the ubiquitous smokers. There were many more matches than there were cigarette ends as the scarcity of tobacco and the absence of filters meant that many fag ends were retained for re-rolling!

Just as suddenly the match guns were set aside to be replaced by another 'must have' piece of equipment. One such game was 'Pinner'. This game required two pieces of steel about a quarter inch thick and around one by one and-a-half inches in size. To find such treasures meant haunting the local engineering works and pleading, "any broken files?" or scrounging any other suitable piece of metal. The game itself was simple. It could be played as solitary pastime as you walked along the street. This consisted of throwing one pinner ahead of you and trying to hit it with the other from as far away as possible. The more common, communal game, was to throw your pinner against the bottom of a wall, then your opponents tried to win your pinner by hitting it with theirs. It was imperative to establish before a game started whether or not it was for 'keepers', many long-standing feuds started by failing to do this!

After a few weeks of pinner mania the game was suddenly no longer fashionable and was replaced by yet another fad that in its turn had a similarly short season. While these important boy's games were the main events in our social life we still continued to play other better established street games that needed accessories like chalk for marking the play area and an old boot polish tin to use as a marker.

We were never bored and always imaginative. We would re-live what we had seen on the cinema, perhaps waving an imaginary sword and making 'Z' motions like Zorro. If the main fare that week had been Hopalong Cassidy it would be an imaginary horse and a pointed finger pistol. These tales of derring-do would be incorporated into our more organised games with swords made from splitting a bit of loose fence from the backyard of someone else's tenement or, as red indians, fastening the pigeon feathers found in the street and backyards into our hair!

No, we weren't perfect, teachers could and did inflict corporal punishment and we usually took heed of any adult who scolded us. There were very few toys available so we treasured them. Sweets were rationed so we didn't eat too many of them. If we had any sort of cut that became infected we were packed off to the doctor clutching half-a-crown to pay for the consultation.

Can I compare my Dundee childhood to the one that present day children enjoy? No I can't, nor should I! Our material situation and living conditions are now way beyond what we could even have dreamt of in the 1940s. At least some credit for this must be given to the generation that I grew up in and I am sure, that given the opportunity, the current generation when they get to my age will be writing a very similar story.

We did have fun!

(1) One version:
"Capie, clappie, rollie ower backie,
Right hand, left hand, touch your toe,
And through you go, and a big birlie-o."


Mr. Cool – 3
Hugh McGrory
Like Gordon Findlay, I had great fun with motorbikes in my late teens. They're wonderful rides, and, for kids with limited resources, relatively cheap to buy and to run – and what a difference they made to our mobility compared to our faithful and trusty push-bikes.

Having said that, you have to use them with care and be very conscious of safe/defensive driving techniques. Flying along through the slipstream is one thing, but coming off and hitting another vehicle or a wall before contacting the ground never ends well for the motorbike or its driver.

In his story 'Damn Cassies!', Gordon Findlay told about coming off his 350 cc BSA motorbike in Princes Street, Dundee, and the price his bum paid in a fall that, in fairness, wasn't his fault. It reminded me of one of my 'adventures'!

It was in 1959, London, England. I was meeting a friend for lunch at a pub a few miles from Victoria St where I worked. A colleague and friend who also worked there, Ron, had a BSA 500 cc twin. We had shared the driving on a winter trip from London to Dundee and back (close to 500 miles one-way), so I asked him, if I could borrow it (he had used it that day to come to work). We didn't get a long lunch hour, and he, recognizing the time constraint, said "Sure."
This was probably the model, though Ron's had a windshield,
and a carrier over the back wheel with dual canvas panniers.
One thing about riding larger motorbikes that is worth mentioning at this point, is that they don't feel that much different from smaller bikes – when moving – but when not under power, they can be very heavy and ungainly to move.

So off I set. London at noon is always busy, but I made good time through the traffic and the pub soon hove into sight. It was a pleasant day, and the patio outside the pub was crowded.

My friend didn't know that I would turn up on a motorbike, and so, as I approached, and as one does, I gave the throttle a blip, just before cutting the engine so I could make a dramatic entrance – and I certainly did!

The roar of the engine had the desired effect, and all heads turned towards me as I drew to a stop and put my foot down to steady myself in preparation for sliding off the saddle and parking the bike. The idea is to coast to a smooth stop, put your left foot down to the ground, swing your right leg over, then slide the bike backwards so that it's an angle to the kerb/curb, kick the stand down with your right foot and lean the bike on to it – all in one graceful movement.

Unfortunately, I hadn't noticed that the road had an unusually steep camber down towards the gutter, and instead of my left foot meeting terra firma at the moment I expected it to, it was still about six inches above. So I and the bike continued to tilt to the point where recovery was impossible – I landed on the pavement with the bike on top of me! Could I have made a worse impression – oh yeah – I could!

Lying on the ground with the heavy bike trapping my leg and one of the hot exhaust pipes trying to get at my leg through my pants, I realised that I didn't have the strength to lift the bike. There was a bit of a delay while I lay there futilely trying to get my leg out before a couple of guys at a nearby table took pity, got up and lifted the bike off me.

Fortunately I wasn't hurt, and the bike wasn't dented – unlike my ego...

Mr. Cool had done it again!
Winter in Dundee
Gordon Findlay
Unless you lived in the hilly north, winter in Scotland was fairly benign, thanks to the effect of the Gulf Stream which loops up the west coast and gives the UK a fairly temperate climate. In Dundee, snow fell of course, but it usually didn't lie around for long, so sledgers (tobogganers) had to get out early if they were to enjoy the best of the snow. Within five or six blocks of us, we had some decent steep roads (Mains Loan, Dalkeith Rd.) and they were always a focus for sledgers.
Snow-clearing equipment was virtually non-existent; it was confined to a handful of snow ploughs which kept the downtown part of the city clear; the rest of the city just waited for the inevitable thaw, which almost always showed up in a couple of days – thanks to the warming efforts of the Gulf Stream.

My only vivid memory of whirling down that snow-packed steep road was the following. My brother David and I had set out with our own batch of friends to sledge down this road on a Friday evening. A decent snowfall had blanketed Dundee, and it was quite cold, so the conditions were good. The hill was packed with youngsters like ourselves, some of us on good, store-made sledges, others on home-made devices, and some others just sliding down the hill on bits of cardboard or dustbin lids.

I think I was with Colin Barclay and Bruce Davidson, and the three of us got in line with the crowd and were soon flying down the hill, over and over again. David had gone off with his pals and was doing the same.

Well, my little crew soon got a bit bored with just sliding down the hill. But we had a bright idea. We went off to the side of the hill and made a small pile of snowballs. As the ranks of tobogganers came sliding past
us, we took aim and let fly. It was huge fun, trying to hit a moving target – and when we scored a hit (great cheers from us!) they were flying past us so quickly that it was almost impossible for them to see where the offending snowballs had come from. All accept one group.

In our enthusiasm for this great new sport of snowball target practice, we got carried away. We poured a barrage of snowballs at one toboggan before we realized that it was filled with larger, older kids . . . and of course, that was the one we scored multiple hits on. They were not amused. No
sooner had we cheered our three bulls-eye hits on the figures going past us than they instantly slewed off to the side, stopped, saw us – and came pounding up the hill bent on revenge.

We were terrified. We might have been 9 or 10 and these kids were 11 and 12-year-olds – very angry 11 and 12-year-olds. We fled – raced up the hill with our hearts pounding and the threatening roars of the pursuing kids in our ears. It was no contest. They caught up to us right at the top of the hill and the next thing we all knew was that we had been thrown down on the snow and were about to be pummeled for our transgression.

And that was the precise moment that David showed up. Calm and steady as always and tall for his age with an athlete's build, he had noticed the commotion at the top of the hill, had spotted me and my pals being tossed around, and had come over. The exchange went something like this:

"Don't hit that lad!"

"What's it tae you? He hit me wi' a sna' ba' so Eh'm gonna bash him!"

"He's my brother. You hit him then I'll hit you – and I'll REALLY hurt you!"

Dead silence. Angry stares exchanged. But David was a quiet but towering presence, and his two pals shouldered in beside him as backup. My assailants muttered darkly, but in the end they picked up their sledge and walked away, glaring back at me and my pals. David mildly admonished us, suggested we stick to sliding downhill – and went off to enjoy himself again.

We'd been saved. And although it happened seventy years or so ago, the memory of it still shines in my mind.

A Span of Memory
Hugh McGrory
As a civil engineer, I always get mildly annoyed when I hear things like "It was a cement beam.", or "He crashed into a cement wall."

Cement is a powder made, usually, from crushed limestone.

For use in construction it's mixed with aggregate (sand, gravel, crushed rock), then water is added. The ensuing chemical reaction turns this paste into a strong solid known as concrete.

As an analogy, when flour is mixed with various combinations of salt, sugar, skim milk powder, butter, yeast and water, and the resulting paste is heated, it turns into the solid we know as bread.

So there – and if you'll use the word 'concrete' when appropriate, I'll refrain from offering you flour and jam with your tea.

Now that I've got that off my chest, to my story:

My first job after university in the late '50s was in London, England, for a civil engineering consulting firm. One of the jobs the company had, in partnership with another large consulting engineering firm, was the design and supervision of construction of the Forth Road Bridge – the suspension bridge, of course, not the new cable-stayed structure.

The three magnificent bridges across the River Forth a few miles west of Edinburgh. The photo
shows the northern approach road to the first (1964) road bridge – the one in the middle.
As a very green graduate, I was still trying to figure out which end was up, and had only a very minor design role for one of the bridges on one of the approach roads. I don't think my work was actually used for the final design, though I'm still not sure of that, a point which is significant to this story.

A few years later I was back in Scotland, and when driving to a work site on 22 June 1962, I heard on the radio that there had been an accident. By the time the story registered on me I had only gotten the last bit of the story. A bridge under construction on an approach road to the Forth Road Bridge had collapsed and three workmen had been killed. They had driven under the partially-constructed bridge in a site vehicle just as the deck collapsed.

I immediately began to worry. Was it the bridge I'd worked on? Had I made a mistake? Had I gotten those poor men killed and ruined my career at the same time?

The next few hours were seriously tense for me – I kept listening to see if I could get more information. Then, around noon, the black cloud over my head lifted when I caught the phrase –on the north approach road... My work had been on the south approach!

My thoughts then turned to Gordon who had been at university with me. He was a Resident Engineer on the North approach. Perhaps some explanation of terms here would help:

When a client, say the government, wants to have a bridge or some other type of structure built, it may hire a consulting engineering company for design work, and for the supervision of construction.

A construction company may then be hired to carry out the work – often known as the Contractor. The person supervising the actual construction work on site is an employee of the Contractor and is known as the Site Engineer (or Project Manager). The Resident Engineer, also on site, works for the consulting company that did the design, and is the client's representative to make sure that the work is done properly and to approve progress payments to the Contractor. This was Gordon's role.

Given the collapse of the bridge, the questions, as always, were, what happened, who was responsible, and how can we learn from what happened so that such tragedies can be avoided in future?

Some further explanation:

The bridge was being built of reinforced concrete. (You could refer to this as a concrete bridge as opposed to a steel bridge – actually a reinforced concrete bridge.) Concrete has high compressive strength i.e. when a load squeezes it, but it has a relatively weak tensile strength i.e. when stretched. To make up for this weakness, concrete is reinforced with steel rods (known as rebar, for reinforcing bar) – hence reinforced concrete.

So, picture this bridge being built. First the abutments are constructed – the walls at either end which retain the soil under the road behind them and also act as the supports for the bridge deck. The process involves setting up formwork, wooden frames in the desired shape for the component – abutment or deck – then the rebar is fixed in place and the concrete mix is poured and vibrated into posiition .

Over time, the concrete mix hardens and gains strength to become the concrete we're familiar with. It's important to allow the concrete to set until it reaches the appropriate strength. This is managed by creating test cubes from the concrete and crushing them. In construction projects, the aim is to allow the concrete to cure until it reaches the required strength before 'stripping' the formwork – don't wait long enough and the concrete may be too weak to handle the load – wait too long and the costs mount up needlessly...

From memory this is what happened (I tried to find the accident report for this story but was unable to do so):

The bridge deck was being constructed in sections working from one of the abutments and gradually approaching the other. So scaffolding would have been set up then the formwork built on top (something like the photo below) and the concrete poured.

At a certain point, when the concrete had cured to the desired strength, the scaffolding would be removed. Somehow, partly through this process, four workmen drove under one of the original sections from which the scaffolding had been stripped, and the deck collapsed just at that moment. The concrete had not cured long enough and was too weak to carry its own weight. One of the men survived.

You may find this video interesting. In terms of the inquiry the issue would be –how did this happen... – and this was when I worried about my fellow graduate Gordon.

As it turned out, however, I worried needlessly. Records showed that Gordon had written to the contractor noting this issue as a deficiency and asking that the problem be rectified. Thus he was not singled out for blame and went on to a long career in engineering.

Gordon will feature in a future story...

Jo-Anne
Sandra Moir Dow

Hugh's story about his first car brought back fond memories for me – we had just such a Morris 8 when I was growing up. Dad had bought it (her) in 1937 when my brother was a baby. The previous owner had had the exterior repainted all black but it still had the red interior trim. Her registration was YJ2868.

During the war she was off the road and stored on bricks – that's the way she was when I knew her first. We called her Jo-anne – 3 speed synchromesh gears, semaphore indicators and a 6 volt battery.

Our front windscreen could open up forwards, and Dad had to do this one day when driving through snow – the one wiper couldn't cope, and with no heating was too frosted to see through.

Dad taught me to drive in Jo-anne and eventually I passed my driving test in her. She towed our first caravan too. Dad always let me have a turn driving and on one holiday while going south through Wigan-Warrington I was losing control of the steering, being accused of bad driving, lost my temper, stopped the car and demanded he get out. We found a front tyre punctured. The traffic around us was surprisingly tolerant.

I remembered when Dad came home from serving in the RAF during WW2, he rebored the engine of the car. Although he was a professional journalist, he'd been trained as a mechanic while serving and worked on aeroplane engines. Both my brother and I thought (and hoped) that Jo-anne would fly when he completed this... Iain and I got to 'help' a bit, and I sliced a finger taking off a piston ring.

I can find that scar still!
Avril Wilkinson's family had a Morris 8 too and we used to join together for picnics. Theirs was the green version, like Hugh's, with reg. YJ2688. The funny double-take looks we got going along together amused us all. The photo was taken by Avril at Monifieth beach.

Sadly she and I are the only survivors of our respective families.

A Temporary Situation
Hugh McGrory
I don't usually bring this up in conversation, but I spent some time in a mental hospital in my late teens – only a few months – and I was actually more ill when I left the institution than when I entered it... However, I recovered well and went on to university. I look back on my time in the hospital as a brief but eye-opening experience.

I wasn't there because I had psychiatric problems – not schizophrenic, not depressed, not manic depressive, and I didn't have an eating disorder (although I know that some people think that the Scots diet actually is an eating disorder...)

I wasn't particularly anxious or subject to panic attacks, no substance abuse (though I admit, there was some drink taken, on occasion...)

I was not mentally ill. That's my position on the matter, and I'm sticking to it no matter what any of you, who know me, may think. In point of fact, money was the reason for my being there – I needed some! I wanted to contribute to my parents' household as they supported me heading to university later that year.

That's why I became a ward orderly in a mental hospital. This was in the summer of 1955, the few months between leaving school and entering university – it was my cousin Frank, who'd just completed his first year in Medicine, at Queen's College, who told me that he'd got a job at the hospital and that they were still hiring. Like most Dundonians, I knew almost nothing of this institution known to most of us as Westgreen.
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It had its origins back in 1820, in Stobswell – actually at the junction of Albert and Cardean Streets – when the Dundee Lunatic Asylum was established as part of the Dundee Infirmary.

In 1875, Queen Victoria granted a Royal Charter and the asylum became the Dundee Royal Asylum for Lunatics. When opened, the hospital site was in the countryside, outside of Dundee, but the city was growing rapidly and the Stobswell area was becoming built-up. The Board of Governors wanted to find a site further from "the cold, damp air of the mouth of the River Tay" and purchased land at Westgreen Farm, considered a "pleasant and healthy site", between Liff and Camperdown. The new hospital opened at the site in 1882 and was known as the Dundee Royal Lunatic Asylum.

Westgreen when it opened. The men's wing was to the left and the women's to the right.
And never the twain shall meet – I don't remember ever seeing one of the female patients.
Operations were transferred to the National Health Service in 1948, and in 1959 the Asylum, along with Gowrie House, and the psychiatric wards at Mary- field Hospital were amalgamated to form the Dundee Royal Mental Hospital. In 1963 the name was changed again to the Royal Dundee Liff Hospital and it finally closed for good in December 2001.The property was sold and converted into a residential development known as West Green Park.
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Over the years from the opening of the Dundee Lunatic Asylum at the beginning of the 19th century to when I got my job there, the care and treatment of the mentally disturbed in the UK changed drastically. In the beginning, asylums were really prisons, with many inmates chained in crowded cells. Sometime mittens were used to prevent the inmates from scratching or attempting to induce vomiting, and strait jackets were used to hold their arms against their chest.

This began to change around the mid 18th century with mental illness being recognised as a disease, and various types of treatment being tried and conditions becoming somewhat more humane.

Some of the treatments seem quite barbaric today - arsenic, various tonics of dubious content, blood-letting, leeches, dunking a patient's head in a tub of cold water, removal of teeth and large intestines, induction of fevers, sleep therapy, hypothermia.

During the period before and after the Second World War, several treatments were in vogue:

Lobotomy

This barbaric operation was based on the idea that much mental illness came from the frontal lobes of the brain, and that by sticking a knife or needle into the brain and separating much of the frontal lobes from the
rest of the brain patients would improve.

This is the procedure that ruined the life of John F Kennedy's sister, Rose Marie (referred to as Rosemary). The story is a tragic one. If you're interested you can read about it here. If you have a strong stomach you may see one terrible method of carrying out this procedure here.

I don't know if lobotomies were carried out at Westgreen while I was there, I doubt it – but the first ever lobotomy carried out in Britain was at Maryfield Hospital, Dundee, in 1946, and the procedure
was carried out in Britain for a further 30 years. The successor procedures are used very sparingly today, and only for some very specific, individual problems, like depression, OCD or chronic pain that have proven intractable.

There are only two centres for such psychosurgery in the UK, one in Wales and the other at Ninewells Hospital, Dundee. See more information here if you're interested.

Insulin shock therapy

Also known as insulin coma therapy (ICT) was a form of treatment in which patients were repeatedly injected with large doses of insulin in order to produce daily comas over several weeks. It was introduced in 1927 by Austrian-American psychiatrist Manfred Sakel and used extensively in the 1940s and 1950s, mainly for schizophrenia, before falling out of favour and being replaced by neuroleptic drugs in the 1960s.

I know from personal experience that this treatment was in use while I was there. One day I was told to assist one of the nurses with a patient in one of the single hospital rooms. The man seemed sound asleep, and when I asked the nurse he said that he was in an insulin coma.

He had defecated in the bed and we had to clean him up. That is to say, the nurse and I stripped the bed, then he attended to the patient while I took the bedclothes to the sluice to clean the shit off before sending the bed clothes to the laundry. (I learned through such experiences something that I suspect all mothers know – use cold water, for that task not hot...)

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

Also known as electroshock therapy, and often referred to as shock treatment, is a procedure in which seizures are electrically induced in patients to provide relief from mental disorders. It was first conducted in 1938 and is the only currently used form of shock therapy in psychiatry.

ECT is often used with informed consent as a last line of intervention for major depressive disorder, mania, and catatonia. A round of ECT is said to be effective for about 50% of people with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder, whether it is unipolar or bipolar. Debbie Reynolds daughter, Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), told Oprah a few years ago that she had regular (every six weeks) ECT sessions, and found them very helpful.

Not long after I began work at the hospital I was told to report to a room where there was a patient on a gurney with a doctor, a nurse and another orderly. The patient had a rubber mouthpiece inserted in his mouth then electrodes like small earphones were placed on his temples. I and the other orderly were told to stand on either side of the patient and hold down an arm and a leg.

The doctor pressed the button and the patient went rigid, lifting his body up from the bed. He seemed to stop breathing for 10 or 15 seconds then the rigidity began to subside while at the same time he went into convulsions – vigorous spasms that slowly subsided. When they stopped, the patient seemed to fall into a natural sleep.

The reason we were holding his limbs was to prevent any damage – apparently during one of their first uses of the procedure at the hospital, the patient broke an arm. I know that also, in the early days, Westgreen was reprimanded by the Hospital Board for carrying out ECT procedures in open wards. If you're interested, you can see the modern method here – it uses anesthesia, a muscle relaxant and oxygen, none of which were used in 1955.
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As a new, temporary staff member I was allocated to Ward B, a hospital ward, as opposed to a Day Ward. There was more scut work in the hospital ward and they could also supervise us more closely – so not unreasonable. While the day-to-day experiences of more than sixty years ago, have faded from my memory, a few snapshots of people and situations remain:
    1. Sitting on the edge of a comatose patient's bed speaking to an old fellow in the next bed – there was only about eighteen inches between the beds – when I hear the nurse-in-charge tell me, brusquely, to get out of the way while he and another nurse checked on the patient on whose bed I was sitting. They then said that the man was dead – I hadn't noticed!

    2. A family consisting of a father and two sons, with a female member, either the mother or a daughter, in the women's side, all long-term patients. The father was admitted to the hospital ward soon after I started work there with cancer in his left lower jaw bone. To begin with it looked like a large ulcer on his cheek, but it progressed very quickly. (I understand that cancer in this location is difficult to diagnose, and so the poor man must have been late-stage before anyone realised it.)

    Over a couple of months, the cancer opened a hole in his cheek and ate through the bone. When he asked for water, we had to gently turn his head to the right otherwise it just ran out through the hole.

    It was so sad to see his two sons come to the window of the ward and try to catch a glimpse of him. He died while I was still working there.

    3. One visiting day, meeting one of the teachers from my primary school who was visiting her brother – a short-term patient. I'm not sure, but I think he was suffering from some kind of depression. (While I was there, I can't remember ever exchanging words with a doctor, and the nurses very seldom told us anything about the patients. The little I did learn came from the permanent orderlies.)

    4. The patient who was in a bed with railings around it –like a large version of a cot for a new baby. This fellow was provided with a constant supply of old newspapers and spent his days tearing them into smaller and smaller strips. He wore only a gown which was made of what looked like canvas.

    5. A catatonic patient who lay all day in the same position – on his back with his hands by his sides. If you were close, to him or spoke to him his eyes would respond to the stimulus but nothing else.

    6. The hospital ward got quite a few patients who were suffering from what was called, in those days, senile dementia, a term that's not used today. I remember a nice old fellow who came to us with huge bed sores – some of them as big as the palm of my hand. They were treated with gentian violet, and so he had huge purple patches on his back and the backs of his legs.

    He still had a good sense of humour, and we would chat together. From time-to-time I would tell him, jokingly, that if he didn't behave himself we'd send him to Westgreen, and he'd say "Nah, laddie that's one thing that'll never happen to me.– He died a few weeks later.

    7. There were some long-term patients who functioned at a high level and were given positions of minor trust – if it had been a prison they would've been 'trusties'. As I left one day, I saw one of them, 'Davy' cutting the grass, but he was running back and forward with the hand mower, at full speed.

    The next day I was told that he'd made a break for freedom. I asked if they thought it would take a long time to catch him. They said "Oh we caught him – we found him after about half an hour, a mile down the road waiting for the next bus."

    8. One day about two hours before my shift ended, I was given the job of keeping 'Wullie' interested. He was going into a manic phase and was known to become obstreperous to a greater or lesser degree. The staff had arranged some other beds around Wullie's in one of the bow windows so as to hem him in and I was told to sit on the ward side of Wullie's bed and try to keep him calm. He said to me "So they gave you the job of keeping me busy did they?"

    What I would've done if he'd become violent I don't know – but he didn't. We chatted for the rest of my shift with no issues.

    Next day when I reported for duty to the ward, I saw that one of the bay windows (see the photo) had been smashed and was covered with plywood. They told me that Wullie had decided to make a break for it and had thrown a chair at the window. I asked if he'd escaped and they said that they'd caught him before he got through, and he was now sedated in a side ward.

West Green Park homes today, showing the former Ward B – Wullie's bow window on the left.

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When I said that I was sicker when I left than when I went in, I was being quite literal. A couple of weeks before my planned last day, I was tasked with helping one of the senior orderlies to make beds. I remember he got quite annoyed with me because I wasn't working hard or fast enough. I told him that I wasn't feeling well and he wasn't buying it. I got through the shift then headed for home where my mother took one look at me then put me to bed and called our doctor's office for a home visit.

Next day we got the verdict – at eighteen years old I had chicken pox! I remember being very embarrassed at having this childhood disease. I was supposed to be taking my girl-friend at the time, to see a film that night. When I called to say I wouldn't make it she wasn't there and her mother kept asking what was wrong with me till I finally told her – then she started to laugh – thought it was hilarious – I was black affronted!

(A few weeks later, I had to visit the home of the senior orderly. He lived not too far from me in Lochee, and kindly agreed to bring home my final pay packet since I didn't have time to go back to work after I recovered.

To his credit, he said "I owe you an apology. I was pretty rough on you – I thought you were malingering. When I learned that you really were sick I was embarrassed that I'd treated you that way." I thought that it was big of him to apologise.)

Looking back later on my experience at Westgreen I guess I had two 'takeaways':

1. What a lottery life is, and how lucky I, my family and friends were to have been born 'mens sana in corpore sano' whilst those poor patients, almost all through no fault of their own, had such tragic lives.

2. How adaptable I, and by extrapolation humans, are. We seem to be able to adjust to new situations very quickly.

On my first day at the hospital, in my new tan-coloured shop coat with the two master keys which opened all the doors in my pocket, I remember being very nervous, and when allocated to one of the day wards, I tried to stand with my back to a wall. I'm sure my air of unease was apparent to staff and patients alike and probably explained why one of the young, mid-twenty, patients decided to show me who was boss. (Later, he was one of the sons who used to visit their father at the window of the hospital ward).

He began to shove me around, and while I was trying to decide how to deal with this (what to do – run, hit him, call for help...) a couple of the regular orderlies appeared, grabbed him, shoved him into a side room and punched him a couple of times in the abdomen. He never bothered me after that. (I suspect the two orderlies had been told to keep a close eye on the students for the first few days.) But in a few days, I had acclimatised – the place became simply my normal work environment, no longer scary.

One final memory that has stuck in my mind after all these years – on one of my last days there, I was on the late shift, it was near sunset, and many of the non-hospital patients were taking the air in the courtyard on the south side. I was standing at the stone balustrade looking out over the fields, one of which, in the middle distance had a small herd of cattle.

One of the long-term patients, about six inches shorter than me, Wee Davy, born mentally deficient, now middle-aged, came over and stood beside me quietly, and we surveyed the view in companionable silence. Finally he turned to look up at me – he had no teeth and a squinchy wee face – and he said in a voice of wonder "Coos, b'fuck!–

I said "Right enough, Davy", and we went back to our mode of silent, comfortable contemplation and watched the sun go down.

I'm sure that, as the self-centred teenager that I was, it never occurred to me at the time, to think that, in a few weeks, I'd be off to University, while Wee Davy would still be there – for the rest of his life.

D' Ye Mind Comin' Hame
fur Denner?

Bill Kidd

As I laid aside my knife and fork alongside the remains of our Saumon en Croute and took another sip of an excellent Premier Cru Chablis I reflected on how much our eating habits had changed over the course of our lifetime. Yes, I had been dreaming but as I awakened, the memories of how we shopped, prepared and consumed our food came flooding back.

During the war and its immediate aftermath meat and groceries were rationed. Everyone had a ration book, straw coloured for adults, blue for children under fourteen (I think) and green for under-fives. Each individual had to register with a butcher and a grocer, as the price of rationed items was regulated the quantity of the ration was expressed in monetary terms.

Wartime weekly ration for an adult.

Some non-rationed items such as offal and sausages could be sold to registered and particularly, favoured customers. Eating out to conserve one's rations was curtailed by a five shilling (25 pence) limit on the price of a meal. It always seemed strange to me that bread was not rationed until a year or so after the war ended. It was only when food rationing finally ended in 1954 that our eating habits began to change.

The Scottish tradition was for three substantial meals per day. A cooked breakfast with bacon and eggs; dinner (lunch) around midday, this was usually the main meal of the day consisting of soup, meat and potatoes rounded off with some form of dessert; the final meal, taken at the end of the working day was high tea consisting of a single cooked dish, perhaps fish or macaroni followed by bread and jam tea-breads and cake. Before retiring for the night a light supper, perhaps cocoa and biscuits for children or welsh rarebit and tea for adults. Although this pattern of meals was the ideal it could not be followed by every household, perhaps for financial or work related reasons. Maintaining such a pattern of meals was predicated on two major factors that only barely exist in our current society, mother stayed at home all day and father worked close enough to come home for dinner each day. During the war years in many homes the traditional pattern of meals could only be maintained at weekends.

I retain a clear memory of the shops that we were registered with. The butcher, whose premises sported a sawdust covered floor with large carcasses hanging on hooks fitted to the wall on the customers' side of the shop. On the counter there could be a tray of potted hough, some white or black puddings or even sausages. Behind the counter was the butcher's block on which a series of bits of mutton, beef or pork was carefully cut in accordance with the ration allowed. No one seemed to mind very much if we brushed against one of the hanging carcasses or even brought our dog into the shop. Hygiene was not very high on the list of priorities during these years.

The grocer's shop was very different, here there was a great deal of bustling about by the shop assistants as they ran about filling brown bags with sugar or lentils or any one of the myriad of dry goods dotted around the store. The great skill of using wooden paddles to remove a sliver of butter from the big lump that lay on a marble slab and then pat it into an attractive shape before wrapping it in greaseproof paper. The cheese was cut using a wire and similarly wrapped. All of these items were carefully weighed to ensure that you were buying the correct ration. A few tins, perhaps of cold meat, salmon or fruit were dispensed and the relevant points cut out of the ration books. If the family had a "book" which was paid monthly the shopping might be delivered by a message boy on a bike otherwise it was everything into the shopping bag, pay at the cash desk and carry everything home.

Even today we Scots are not known as a race of vegetable lovers! Our local greengrocer sold potatoes, carrot, turnip, onions and cabbage pretty well the whole year round. In summer he added lettuce, radishes, spring onions and sometimes tomatoes to his repertoire. He also sold in season eating apples, cooking apples (which he occasionally disguised as toffee apples), plums, gooseberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackcurrants, most of these were used for jam making rather than to grace the table.

In the City Centre the posh greengrocer (Dryden's?) displayed all sorts of exotica such as capsicum (peppers) and zucchini (courgettes) that the Italians were rumoured to eat, mushrooms (that we were warned against in case they were poisoned), asparagus, cucumber, green beans and several other items that we could not then put a name to. Vegetables were incorporated along with ham bones into soup or were simply boiled to a taste-free state, served and eaten without ceremony or pleasure.

Today, things are very different; we enjoy a vast range of foods imported from all four corners of the Earth. We now accept cuisines from all over the world and our towns and cities are served by restaurants that reflect this. Most of our food is now purchased ready packaged which enables us to serve ourselves in supermarkets.

Supermarkets in even the smallest towns have an all-year-round range of fruit and vegetables that would put even Dryden's to shame, and sell Indian and Chinese foods as a norm. How we travelled from the limited post-war bill of fare is a miracle of current marketing and economic progress that is not unconnected to the courage needed to try something new.

I wonder who the first person to eat an oyster was, and did he or she get a medal?

First Love
Hugh McGrory
They say you never forget your first love, and I think that's probably true for most people. I hope this doesn't embarrass anyone, but my brother Mike and I had the same first love. Those of you who know that my brother is seven years younger than me are probably wondering how that could happen. Was he 16 and I was 23 – or was I 16 and he was 9? Well neither actually – though she was quite a bit older than him. You see – oh wait a minute – you're thinking it's a girl I'm talking about! No, no, no – our first car...

I worked in London after university for a couple of years and didn't find the need for a car, but I then returned to Dundee and began thinking of saving up for one. This was 1961, and you may remember some of the cars that were popular then (unfortunately all outside my price range):

Austin Healey Sprite Ford Anglia Ford Consul Classic
Jaguar E-type Morris Mini Morris Minor 1000

Then one day, my boss mentioned that he was selling his old vehicle. The car was the same age as me – a 1937 Morris 8, 2-door, 4-seater saloon. I grabbed it – can't remember what I paid for it – 40 or 50 quid maybe. While she didn't have the post-war look, with her running boards and semaphore turning signals, she had been well looked after and ran well. I could throw my field hockey kit onto the back seat or squeeze in some teammates for away games – easy to repair. My first car, 918 cc, 24 HP, and top speed 60 mph with a following wind – green and black, just like the one in the photo – and I loved her.

In the meantime I got married and my wife became pregnant with our first child. We lived in a flat in a large house at the bottom of Ellieslea Road a stone's throw from the Yacht Club where so many of us have enjoyed group lunches over the years. One Saturday we were heading up East Kingsway – the plan being to drop my wife off at her parent's place in Lochee, then back along the Kingsway to Forfar road for the afternoon hockey game.

As we climbed the hill, the engine, which had always been a little smoky, began to belch out black fumes, I mean really huge clouds of it. We obviously had a blown engine, but those simple little four-stroke engines were tough, and she was still running, albeit rather roughly. There wasn't a good place to stop so we continued for a half mile or so. At that point time was of the essence. I saw a bus stop coming up with some people waiting, and getting great amusement from this old banger blowing large plumes of smoke. They didn't laugh so much when I pulled past them and stopped, enveloping them in the cloud – and keeping the engine running.

I dropped my heavily-pregnant wife there to get a bus along Clepington Road to Lochee – a not-very-pleased-wife I remember, understandably – then limped along to the sports ground about a mile away in time for the match. I got the car towed to a garage and they told me later that one of the pistons had split in two. When they pulled the engine block, the piston fell off the connecting rod and landed on the ground in two pieces. Fortunately, it had stayed in place, presumably the piston rings had kept it together, and it hadn't destroyed the cylinder.

Once the new baby, our first girl, arrived the two-door wasn't the most convenient, and I decided to buy the little Morris mini van that I've written about before. (The van was really convenient for throwing the baby in her baby basket in the back, plus the pram, the bags with nappies and dresses and baby powder and... This was just before seat-belt legislation came in, and we never thought about how dangerous it was!)

When my boss heard that I was about to sell the car he asked if he could buy it back. I would have been happy to agree, but had to tell him that I'd promised it to my wee brother – who says he paid me £25 for it. It was his first too, and he says he loved her as much as I did. He remembered the registration as EJO 108 (Oxford).

Mike remembers driving it up to Killin, where we were living, for a visit, and while driving through rain having to reach out of the side window and flick the wiper which kept getting stuck.

He also remembers an occasion when he was driving the car full of fellow drunken revellers down a hill somewhere out near Kellas or Tealing and had to stand up to apply the brake hard enough to manage to stop just before the field at the T junction end of the road) thank heaven for the hydraulic 8-inch drum brakes front and back).

His wife remembers a time when the car was making a strange noise, so she was sent into the back with the seat removed armed with a long screwdriver to hold against the differential to see if that was where the noise was coming from.

Ah, good times...

Now, if you'll indulge us, my wee brother and I are going to take a walk down memory lane with these photos of a car, exactly like ours was, except with blue and black trim instead of our green and black. Those of you who remember the days when you could lift the bonnet/hood, recognise all the components and do many needed repairs yourself may wish to join us...





A Wonderful Machine
Gordon Findlay
Can you remember that feeling when you had bashed holes in both the toecaps of your shoes? When you could feel the stone pavements of Dundee through your feet? When you stood in a puddle and you could feel the water oozing between your toes? In other words: when you absolutely HAD to get a pair of new shoes?

The tedium of being dragged to the shoe store by your parents was sometimes offset by the thrill of standing on an amazing machine, looking down, and seeing the clear outline of all the bones in your feet, encased in a pair of new shoes.

It was the Pedoscope, and I remember it stood against the inside wall at Alex. Potter & Son, where I and my brothers would be taken to be freshly shod. I'm pretty sure at that time, Potter's shoe store was in the Murraygate, and I have two distinct memories of the place: the comforting smell of fresh leather; and the thrill of standing in that fluoroscope in a brand-new pair of shoes.

I must admit I rather enjoyed the whole predictable process. Being seated by a sales person. Taking off an old shoe and being thankful my mother had had the foresight to change me into good (unholed) socks. Then a series of boxes piling up, each with a shiny new pair of shoes curled up inside. Selection being made (always a pair of stout black brogues) and the pleasure of feeling your stockinged feet slipping into firm new leather. And then – oh joy! – being led over to the magic machine to see the blueish picture of my feet encased in new shoes.

It's incredible to think that back in the late 1940s and '50s shoe stores all around the U.K. and elsewhere in
the world, used low-density X-rays to show feet in new shoes. The Pedoscope itself was a simple box affair around 4 feet tall, with a slot where you put your feet. You leaned down and put your eyes to the viewing scope – and there were all the bones of your feet, showing clearly, as well as the outline of the shoes they were in, plus the stitching around the edges.

There was a viewing port in the side of the machine as well, where the sales-person could look in to make sure that the shoes were a good fit. And, of course, for the fussy buyer, this process could stretch over several pairs of shoes, with unprotesting feet being subjected to those harmful X-rays several times over. But in those days that machine was state-of-the-art. I mean, who was going to
argue that the shoes 'felt a wee bit tight' when the Pedoscope showed everything fitting in perfectly, with lots of room all round?

My feet apparently survived their occasional dose of X-rays, but I wonder if anyone else has memories of looking at their feet in that shoe store's magic machine?
____________________
Note:
Advert in the Dundee Courier, 3 Sept. 1954:

"SCHOOL FOOTWEAR - Shoes by CLARK and STARTRITE expertly fitted with the aid of Pedoscope X-ray.
Junior Dept., Second Floor,
POTTERS, MURRAYGATE, DUNDEE."

The shoe fitting fluoroscope was first shown at a shoe retailers convention in Boston in 1920, and became a common fixture in shoe stores during the 1930s, '40s and '50s. In the UK, the Pedoscope Company of St. Albans was the largest manufacturer. In the early 1950s, estimates placed the number of operating units in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada at 10,000, 3,000 and 1,000 respectively.

By the early 1950s, a number of professional organizations had issued warnings about the continued use of shoe-fitting fluoroscopes, A few years later various US States began to ban their use. The machines continued to be used in Canada and the UK to a limited extent, at least until 1970.

Over the years of use, many shoe salespersons put their hands into the x-ray beam to squeeze the shoe during the fitting. As a result, one saleswoman who had operated a shoe fitting fluoroscope 10 to 20 times each day over a ten year period developed dermatitis of the hands.

Apparently there was one reported case of a more serious injury linked to the operation of these machines - a shoe model who received such a serious radiation burn over time that eventually her leg had to be amputated.
____________________
PS from the Editor
I remember, very well, having the same experiences Gordon had with the Pedoscope, though it was in the large DECS (Dundee Eastern Cooperative Society) store in Peter St. (Actually I never heard that store called anything but the 'Sosh' (local corruption of 'Association'), and I always thought of Peter St. as a 'pend' not a street...)
Soarin'
Hugh McGrory
About 10 years ago, we decided to spend Christmas in Florida taking grandkids to Disneyworld – with three generations of family and in-laws there was about a dozen of us. The weather was quite warm – in fact on Christmas Day it got up to 26 C or almost 80 F mid-afternoon.

I have always preferred Epcot to The Magic Kingdom, and made sure that we allocated one day for a visit. Of course when we got there we all had a look at the list of exhibits/attractions and the site plan to figure out who wanted to see what. We agreed on where we'd all meet for lunch, then split up into groups. My wife, Sheila and I wandered around for an hour or three before heading for the restaurant.

At lunch, everyone recounted where they had been and what they had seen, and the consensus was that the 'must see' was Soarin' – this seems to be generally agreed by all who visit the park. Soarin' is a ride which simulates a flight in a hang glider. Now I've never been keen on amusement park rides, roundabouts, roller coasters and the like – it doesn't take much to give me a queasy stomach, so I wasn't too sure about this. I was told that I was being silly, and that we had to see this – "definitely the best of all the attractions in Epcot".
    For those of you who haven't experienced such a ride (there are installations also at Disneyland in California, in Shanghai, and in Tokyo), I'll try to set the scene – conceptually rather than in detail:

    There is an IMAX 80 ft., concave, 180-degree dome screen which shows movie scenes, shot from helicopters, of magnificent locations from around the world – the Pyramids, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China etc. So imagine that you're sitting in this cinema which has three rows of seats, one behind the other, each row being broken up into three sections each of 10 seats – so 90 people in all. The seats in each section of ten are joined together along the row, and have high backs attached to a roof like an airplane wing which juts out about four feet overhead.

    The lights dim, and the first row of seats glides forward and upwards (everyone is strapped in by seat belt) – the second row moves out and up behind the first, though not as high, then the third row does the same.

    The reason the rows move forward is so that each person is now surrounded visually by the screen to
    create an 'immersive experience'. The reason they move up is to provide a clear line of sight for the rows behind – if people look up they can see the dangling feet of those above them.

    This brilliantly simple arrangement was conceived by Mark Sumner, a mechanical engineer, or Imagineer as they call them in the world of Disney. You can see how this design came about here.

    (If you'd like to experience this ride – from queuing up to the final credits, see it here.)
But back to the story. Sheila wanted to go Soarin', and persuaded me not to wimp out, so we set off through
the heat from the SE corner of Epcot around the large lake to the NW corner to find the attraction. When we got there, the lineup was huge, and the signs told us that the wait would be 60 to 70 mins (the ride lasts a little under 5 mins). We looked at each other and said "I don't think so!"

We decided to head back to find some of the family and see what they were up to. When we did, and told our tale of woe, they said "Did you book for later?" We said "Book?"

(I must say that The Walt Disney Company has honed its crowd handling over the years, and is
pretty good at it. It turned out that they have what they refer to as Fastpass. At the busiest attractions, like Space Mountain, Expedition Everest and Soarin' you can insert your ground admission ticket into a machine and make a booking for a later time.)

So we traipsed back to Soarin' and duly got two bookings for about three hours later. At the appointed time, we showed up at the attraction for the third time that day, and as we approached, we could see that, while the line was smaller, it was still substantial. Signs directed us to the Fastpass line, and as we walked by I'm sure I could feel the stink eyes from the people lined up – though that may have been my imagination...

When we got to the entrance, we were admitted only to see another substantial lineup, but again we got the royal treatment and joined a small line of perhaps twenty or thirty. The show was just about to begin and the young attendants were squeezing in the last few by saying things like "Do we have a single? Please come forward." A minute or so after we joined the back of the queue they asked for a twosome, no one else was interested so we were in. They showed us to our row, and we in settled beside the eight people who were already seated in that row.

We assumed we'd be "in the air" in minutes after they seated us in our row, but no... We sat for a while and
studied the set-up which was indeed impressive. Then a few of the young attendants (university and college students) suddenly appeared before us and said that they were going to lead us in a singsong! Can't remember what the tunes were, but the kids weren't very good singers, and we, the crowd, were rubbish, so it was excruciatingly embarrassing for everyone for about five minutes.

We assumed that the machinery had broken down, and they were stalling while repairs were made... WRONG! The next announcement was something like "We have to evacuate the building. Will
everyone please move to the sides of the theatre where staff will guide you to the emergency exits."

There was no panic, but everyone walked quickly and before we knew it we were in a courtyard at the back of the building and were directed back to the main concourse. We learned later that it was a bomb threat, presumably a false alarm. Each of Disney's theme parks apparently has their own bomb squads. They're kept busy every day checking out backpacks etc. when people set them down then move away.

Well that was several hours of our lives that we never got back. So if any of you have actually experienced the ride maybe you could tell us what it was like...

My Gran and Grandfather
Jim Campbell
My memory box was stirred by Hugh's account of his Gran's 'but n' ben' residence in Clepington Street. I have memories of my own paternal Gran living in similar accommodation at the bottom of a tenement in Crescent Street. Only, as I remember it was really a single room which had a 'bedroom' comprised of a wooden partition.
Tenements at the bottom of Crescent Street (on the left) where it meets Princes Street.
My Grandfather was a full-time soldier in the Black Watch serving in both the Boer War and the Great War. I understand that he was hospitalised for some reason after his service and that, while there, a fight broke out between two patients. Grandad attempted to separate the combatants and suffered an embolism as a result, and died. Apparently his widow was granted a pension of 6d (sixpence) per week to bring up her family consisting of my father, his three brothers and a sister.

4th (Dundee) Battalion Black Watch after Battle of Neuve Chapelle, March 1915.
Of his brothers, two went overseas – one, Malcolm, to Canada and the other, Finlay to Western Australia.
(I am guessing that the YMCA ('British Boys for British Farms') had some involvement). The youngest, John, became a boy-entrant in the RAF and sister Betty joined the Navy as a Wren.

One of my main memories of these days is of an occasion when, as a result of the Second World War the two migrants found themselves reunited in that Crescent Street 'hoose'.

My Canadian uncle had gone to the (outdoors, of course) toilet and left his holstered revolver on the back of a chair. Somehow yours truly managed to
remove the revolver (probably the standard issue Enfield No. 2 Service Revolver shown here) from its holster, but it was too heavy for me and I dropped it on the floor with a clatter.

Can you imagine the panic that resulted?!
____________________

Notes:

1. The YMCA's 'British Boys for British Farms' programme was a forerunner to what would become Farm Institutes and Agricultural Colleges. Writing in the Derby Telegraph in 2014, Jane Goddard wrote how the BBBF "was seen as a means of introducing 'townies' to the way of life in the countryside, help provide employment both before, during and after the Second World War and boost the country's agricultural production."

With the support of the National Farmers Union, the War Agricultural Committee, and the Ministries
of Agriculture and Labour, the YMCA helped set up 14 centres across the country. Between its inception in 1932 and the scheme ending in 1968, more than 20,000 boys between the ages of 14 and 16 took part.

The boys were provided with hostel accommodation and given work and training on the land for up to 12 weeks, before moving onto farms, where they were monitored by a YMCA Field Officer for a further year.

The BBBF scheme was highly thought of in agricultural circles, promoted by schools, colleges, employment agencies and social welfare departments. In 2014, an article in Farmer's Weekly reflected on the success of the BBBF movement. Writer, Nick Fone, explained how the boys had been given basic training in all aspects of farming. Many were then placed in Commonwealth food-producing nations such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. These were nations which had lost millions of young men in the First World War and been left with a critical shortage of manpower. While some young men struggled to adapt to working on the land, –most settled, set up new lives and a good number went on to farm in their own right.'
____________________

2. The Battle of Loos, September 1915, had 45 Scottish Batallions taking part. Not since Culloden had so many Scottish soldiers been in the field at the same time. Sadly it was a tragic defeat for the Britsh. More than 60,000 British troops were killed or wounded, nearly twice the number of German casualties.

The Germans called it 'Field of Corpses,' with one regimental diary recording, "Never had the machine gunners such straightforward work to do, nor done it so effectively. They traversed to and fro along the enemy's ranks unceasingly."

When Dundee's Own, the 4th Battalion, arrived in France in February 1915 the strength was 900. By the time the order came to go 'over the top' at Loos its numbers had already fallen to just 423 fighting men.

Exposed as soon as they mounted the parapet, the beleaguered 4th suffered horrific losses. Out of 20 officers 19 were killed or wounded and 230 of the 420 men who took part in the attack were killed or wounded. They had advanced too far too fast and were an easy target for machine gunners.

The losses had a profound effect on the city. Hardly a household was unaffected by the loss, not a family left untouched by the men's sacrifice. Dundee's Own the fathers, sons, friends and workmates in the 4th" was so reduced by Loos that it had to be amalgamated with the 5th.

Today, the Loos Memorial and Cemetery commemorates all the lost from the battle, including 20,000 men with no known grave.

Each year in Dundee on September 25 the beacon at the top of the city's war memorial on The Law shines to remember the battalion's heroic dead.

Meh Gran 3
Hugh McGrory
Sometime in the late '50s, our Gran had a close call – she was very nearly killed by a city double-decker bus.
The old photo, taken in the early years of the century, shows Lochee High Street looking north – it hadn't changed very much 50 years later. You can see, in the distance, a church spire with clock on the right-hand side of the road, and it was in front of that church that the incident occurred. Gran had walked south down Bright Street (see the street plan) past the school and church until she reached the second church (the one with the spire), then prepared to cross to the west side of the High Street.

Cars were usually parked on both sides of the street, so she would no doubt have stepped out onto the road and stood at the corner of the end-most parked car to wait for a gap in the traffic.

The bus meanwhile was coming from the north-west and making the right-hand turn to go south on High Street. The buses usually came round that corner quickly, 'fairly wheeched roond' as people described it. The street plan shows the path of the bus in red, and the blue cross indicates where Gran and the bus met.

To jump to the end of the story the bus driver was charged with, and found guilty of dangerous driving. Gran was one of the witnesses called to court – in fact the star witness... The local paper, the Dundee Telegraph (known as 'The Tully'), reported that Mrs
The horse and cart in the right foreground looks exactly how my Uncle Jock looked delivering jute bales from the docks.The bag hanging down at the rear between the wheels is probably a canvas nose bag for giving the horse a feed during the day.    
Ryan had told the magistrate that the bus had 'skriffed' her coat, and had actually left a smear of dirt behind.

It was that close – had Grannie been just an inch or two further out, she would have been hit by a vehicle weighing 200 times more than she did and travelling at about 40 mph.

D'ye Mind Gettin' the Courier and the Tele' Delivered?
Bill Kidd

Some weeks ago I produced an anecdote reminiscing about the smells that wafted around various parts of Dundee. Some days later I got a very nice message from Gordon Findlay whose earlier anecdote had inspired me to put pen to paper. One of the things he said was that I should have included the smell of the D C Thomson newspapers being printed. Alas, a few days later I heard of his passing, and in reflecting on what he had suggested, the ubiquity of D C Thomson products in Dundee life during our early years sprung to mind. So, if the Anecdote Committee pleases, here is the result of Gordon's suggestion!

One of my earliest recollections was looking for the "Billy and Bunny" cartoon that appeared in the Courier
each day and of pestering my mother until she read to me the rhyming story printed below the picture. Like many Dundee homes we had the Courier delivered every morning and the Evening Telegraph every teatime except Saturday when the Tele was swapped for The Sporting Post. The reason for this was because the Post had the football results and it usually arrived before BBC Scotland got round to broadcasting them! When my father had finished checking that he had not won £75,000 on the pools I got stuck into the only other thing of interest in the publication, Dixon Hawke
the private detective who clearly had a contract with the Metropolitan Police to solve a baffling murder case every week.
There were other daily newspapers of course but only the Courier and the Tele could boast that it had Dundee in their title and they reigned supreme in the city with a circulation that would make current newspaper proprietors green with envy.

The Courier's full title was Dundee Courier and Advertiser and it fulfilled its advertising role by devoting its front page to advertisements for jobs such as Tenter; Potato Roguer; Armature Winder; Clerkess and Lorry Second Man – sorry ladies but that's what it said! The odd bits and pieces so necessary in the 1940s could be found in the miscellaneous sales columns. Items such as musical instruments; Tea sets; Bicycles (gents and ladies) and all sorts of domestic appliances marked as "unwanted gift" could be yours by applying to the box number under which the item was displayed.

The daily newspapers in the D C Thomson stable were complemented by several weekly offerings – the best known of these was the Sunday Post home of the "Broons" and "Oor Wullie" not to forget the second team
of "Nero and Zero" and "Nosey Parker". What other newspaper could have a columnist who wrote under the pseudonym of Francis Gay?

The Sunday Post was at one time the world's most read newspaper within its circulation area, being read by about 90% of the potential readership and this was confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records.

The Weekly News and The People's Journal were the other weekly offerings popular in Dundee. The Journal, although it carried little actual news, was the nearest thing that Dundee had to a "local" newspaper. It served up a diet of Dundee themed features, concentrating on local worthies, events and the City's history.

It usually carried a large photograph of a Dundee scene. Most importantly it featured a pen and ink illustrated story, my favourite was "Black Bob", the sheep dog that rather suspiciously mirrored the adventures of Lassie!

The Weekly News was a Scottish rather than a Dundee paper. Nevertheless it was fun to read, I particularly enjoyed the "Fun an' Games with Andy James" football stories about people with inventive names.

I still smile when I think of Alden Dunn, the aptly named centre half, Willie Signim, the club manager, the winger Wan Fittit, and the goalie, Dinny Drapitt.

Perhaps it was as a result of local news being covered by the Courier and Tele that the Dundee edition of the People's Journal ceased publication in January 1986. It is the only one of the four Thomson weekly newspaper publications circulated in Dundee not to survive to the present day. (The Journal was replaced by The Dundee Extra, a free weekly newspaper).

Of course the newspapers dropping in our letter box each day were not the only manifestations of the ubiquity of D C Thomson publications in mid 20th Century Dundee. There were the boy's adventure comics the Rover,
Wizard, Adventure and Hotspur, each having a garish cover and four narrative stories of derring do on the sports field, battlefield or boarding school. They also had advertisements for "stamp approvals", model aircraft kits and magic things like "seebackascopes".

In the late 50s girls were also catered for with the arrival of Bunty, Judy and Misty but being a boy I was unaware and had had little interest in what girls were reading.

I do believe that before then a non-D C Thomson publication known as Girls Crystal made an occasional
appearance in the house but it was beneath my dignity to look at it!

There were of course other weekly publications on offer from Thomson's for female Dundonians. The People's Friend, aimed at the more mature ladies, offered a mixture of romance, home-making, good and uplifting advice. Having recently read a Friend in the doctor's waiting room I can confirm that it has changed little over the years.

For the younger housewife there was Woman's Weekly, seemingly a less uplifting and more advice-
oriented version of the People's Friend. For the younger and more romantic ladies there were Secrets, Red Letter and Red Star Weekly.
These publications were similar in appearance to the boy's adventure comics but I am told that they provided less violent and more romantic fare!

For children of all ages the Dandy and Beano were a source of regular entertainment. "Korky the Cat" and "Big Eggo" provided the cover stories for many a year and inside, a host of memorable characters comes to mind, too many for today's anecdote but they just might provide the basis for a future trip down memory lane...

Meh Gran 2
Hugh McGrory
Another memory of my Gran:

It would be too strong to say that our Grannie had an addiction – maybe "a guilty pleasure" is a better description. It was never mentioned, but, as a kid, I remember from time to time that Gran would take a hankie from her sleeve, or the pocket of her 'peenie', to blow her nose, and thinking to myself how 'clorty' it was and wondering why she didn't get a clean one...

It wasn't something I thought much about, just one of life's little mysteries, until one day in the early '60s I dropped in to see her. She was quite old by this time, and close to being 'aff the legs' and she asked if I would go down to the local newsagent/tobacconist and get a tin of something, the name of which she wrote down for me. When I got it I realised that it was snuff. I never saw her actually take a pinch, since she must always have done it in private, but it certainly made sense of the dirty hankie for me.

In talking to meh wee brither about this, he told me that when he was a bairn, Gran used to give him amd his buddies a surreptitious sweet treat every so often – he recalls her slipping him a handful of raisins one day, but when he came to eat them they were snuff-infused. Fortunately he never became addicted – at least not to snuff, though he does like his raisins...

I was surprised to learn that snuff is still widely used today.

Note:
Is snuff harmful? Apparently so. Although it doesn't seem to cause lung cancer, it is highly addictive, and can negatively impact the body. Like other forms of tobacco, snuff contains cancer-causing chemicals, and it seems that it can increase the risk of several types of cancer, including, nose and sinus, oral, esophogeal and pancreatic.

Apparently it also raises the risk of other conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack and stroke, and increases the chances of premature birth and stillbirth. Moist or 'dipping' snuff can also yellow teeth, sour breath, and lead to tooth decay, gum infections, and in some cases lost teeth. Problems may even develop deep inside the jaw resulting in bone loss and possible face disfigurement.

Thankfully none of this seems to have happened to my Gran as far as I know. She died in 1963 aged 82.

A Cub Scout
Gordon Findlay
Like most good parents, our mother and father enrolled us in The Boy Scouts. I can remember being a Cub Scout, sitting in that little circle in St. David's Church at the foot of Stobswell and chanting "Dyb dyb dyb. We'll dob dob dob"

Learning at home how to make a bed, boil water and make a pot of tea, sweep a floor properly, wash and dry a stack of dishes and cutlery – all to win that coveted 'Housemaker' badge on our jersey. Later on, mastering the art of putting up a tent, making an outdoor fire (with protective rocks around it); drying wet clothes, making a walking pole – all to earn the 'Outdoor' badge. Then the swimming badge, the first aid badge, and so on.

The highlight of my Cub Scout career was a day trip to Balmerino – a lovely hillside spot on the other side of Dundee across the River Tay, full of hiking trails and covered in wild raspberry bushes which, during July and August, would be laden with tiny sweet raspberries. Nothing better than diving into those bushes on a warm summer day, picking and eating, picking and eating, and to heck with the stains on your fingers and your face.

(On our living room wall above the fireplace, we have an original James Reville water colour showing those very hills of Balmerino on the banks of the Tay. And we have another Reville downstairs – of a small burn somewhere in Angus. My mother was a great admirer of Reville and his painting prowess.)

Two watercolours by James Reville, 1904-2000.

This trip, with our Akela (a good friend of our mother) was highlighted by a crossing of the Tay in the ferry boat called 'The Fifie', from Dundee to Wormit – about a mile from the hills of Balmerino. This was before the days of the Dundee roadbridge. We marched from Wormit to Balmerino, which, apart from the 800-year-old ruins of Balmerino Abbey, was basically five houses and a post office, then off into the small forest on the hills above.

The Hill behind Balmerino Bay.

What followed was a day of outdoor sports, running, jumping, tree climbing and wrestling until the second highlight at the end of the afternoon: an outdoor cookout fire with potatoes roasted in the red embers, split open and eaten with the fingers while still hot and steaming. And all washed down with lemonade or hot tea for the leaders.

Good memories.
Meh Gran
Hugh McGrory
So many of these stories spark memories for me. Muriel's recent question "What did Grannie Look Like?" made me think of my Gran. The picture that springs to my mind is of her, not long before she died, hunkered down in front of a coal fire, her legs wide open to the hearth, showing off the legs of her bloomers, her stockings held up by elastic, and toasting her corned beef legs.(1)

Lizzie Lawson, was born in 1881 in Dundee, in Thom Place. (Anyone know where that was? If you do, please let me know.). At the age of 19 she married Thomas Maxwell from Tayport who was 20 years old. Five years later, they lived in Glasgow, in Cathcart less than a mile from Hampden, Scotland's National Football Stadium. Sadly, Thomas died there at the age of 25, from acute appendicitis – Gran was pregnant with her third child and she returned to Dundee. Four years later Lizzie married my grandfather, Frank Ryan. She had six more children, though two were girl twins who died at birth in 1912. Frank and Lizzie were married for 38 years until his death in 1947.

Lizzie & Frank Ryan right, with Kate (holding me as a baby, so 1937) and Great Uncle Jock Ryan(You met Jock & Kate in a previous story – he was a carter (horse and cart) and she smoked a clay pipe.)
My Gran was a pleasant woman and she "wisna scared o' hard work" as they used to say. She was a 'biscuit packer' when she first got married, then ten years later the census described her as a 'confectioner'. When I remember her, she was an office cleaner. She used to get up at 5:00 in the morning and walk from the foot of Arklay Street to Courthouse Square where she worked as a cleaner in Telephone House from 6:00 to 9:00, got the tram home, then later in the day went back again from 4:30 to 6:00 pm.

My Gran and Grandad, when he died in 1947, were living in a 'but and ben' in a tenement at the foot of Clepington St., right next to the The Airlie Arms pub (in fact it's now part of the pub and used as a storeroom – see the photo).
To walk from there to where my Mum and I lived in Fairbairn St. (my Dad was away in the army for most of the war) took less than two minutes. My Gran and my Mum spent a lot of time together, and I was essentially brought up by the pair of them, Grannie doing a lot of babysititing when my Mum was working.

My memory is populated by little vignettes of my Grannie – here's a couple:
  • The but and ben had a bed nook in the living room where my grandparents slept. Sometimes when I was young, and when Grandad wasn't there (not sure why, perhaps he was in hospital?), I would sleep over at my Grans' house and share her bed – I think it was just for company for her.

    One time she had discovered, earlier in the day, that they had bed bugs, and she'd bought some kind of powder to get rid of them. I remember getting ready for bed, and her saying that we first had to spread this powder.

    I insisted that I could do it, and she gave me the box which looked just like a pepper pot with holes in the top. She pulled back the sheets, and showed me how to spread the powder – then she made a mistake – she left the room, probably to go to the toilet. When she came back she realised that I had finished the job – and had also finished the whole box... I probably applied enough to kill all the bed bugs in the whole street.

    Gran said something like "Oh, help m' goad, laddie", then spread the top sheet over and said we'd sleep on top of it under the blanket.

    In my own defence, neither of us seemed to suffer any ill effects – and neither of us got bitten that night or any other...

  • My wee brother, Mike, is seven years younger than I, and I remember one time when he was only a few months old, Gran was babysitting us, and he was crying incessantly – I mean continuously. I'm sure that Gran, with all her experience of bringing up children, must have tried every trick in her book, but to no avail. She finally decided that she had to get medical help for the bairn, bundled us up and headed out carrying him, with me behind, no doubt dragging my arse and whining all the way because she was walking so quickly. We went by Alexander St. (now no more), Hilltown, Constitution St, and Dudhope street to DRI (Dundee Royal Infirmary, also no more).

    Mike cried all the way there, and in the waiting room, and when being examined... Eventually the doctor said that there was no obvious reason for the crying and sent us home. So our little caravan headed back along Constitution street, the bairn crying every step of the way. My diagnosis was that he was just a girny-faced wee git, but in fairness to the kid it was probably gripe – gas pains or acid reflux perhaps.

    When Gran told the story in later years she would say "Abody we passed looked at us winderin whut eh wis daen t' the bairn "–" eh was black-affronted!"(2).
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(1) Corned beef legs:
When I was growing up, most houses in Britain were heated by burning coal in open hearths – quite inefficient, since a lot of the heat disappeared up the chimney. Very few houses had central heating, so the living room was often the only warm room in the home in winter. With no TV set, furniture would be organised around the fireplace, as the centerpiece of the room, and, in the evening, the family would gather round to read or listen to the radio.

Older people, of course, suffered more from the cold, and would often sit very close to the fire. Particularly in women (skirts v trousers), the exposure of their legs to the heat would cause changes to the skin, usually a mild and transient red rash resembling lacework or a fishing net. Prolonged and repeated exposure caused a marked redness and colouring of the skin, and somerimes underlying tissue started to thin. Sufferers might complain of mild itchiness and a burning sensation, and sometimes sores developed. Today, reports of this condition caused by hot water bottles and laptop computers still occur.

Medically the term 'Erythema ab igne,' or 'Toasted skin syndrome' is used, but the common term for it, in Dundee at any rate, is 'corned beef legs'.

Canned Corned Beef Corned Beef Legs
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(2) Black Affronted:
This Scottish phrase is believed to come from heraldry. When animals (lions, eagles etc) are portrayed on
coats of arms, the direction in which they are looking is distinguished in the official description: if facing to the viewer's left, as in the Scottish Lion Rampant, near right, it's referred to as 'dexter' ( as opposed to 'sinister').

Compare the lion on the far right from the Crest of the Scottish version of the Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom. The face and body are both facing towards the viewer and this is referred to in heraldry as 'affronté'.

A knight errant, if up to no good (and perhaps ashamed of his behaviour) would not want to be identified, so he would cover the crest on his shield with a black cloth – black affronté – hence the Scottish phrase meaning 'embarrassed'.

Scrumpers Unite!
Anne FitzWalter Golden
Loved the scrumping article by Gordon Finlay. It reminded me of our Denholm(1) days about the age of 4 up to 10 years when we were always out scrumping in the long gardens, plums, pears, apples, gooseberries, peas, broad beans...whatever! and usually they were less than ripe. We must have had cast iron stomachs. Maybe it was the wartime rations that left us hungry.

We knew where to get hazelnuts in season and all the wild fruits, strawberries and raspberries, with the yellow ones a particular favourite. We would pull a neep out of the field and smash the root on a sharp stone in the dyke then knaw our way through it. We were also daring enough to creep in to the henhouse at the farm and enjoy a raw egg.

But guess what...just like Gordon and his pals we were nearly always caught. Later in life when our thinking kicked in we reckon that we were easy to identify, being twins BUT we always had an alibi which was that it wasn't me it was Christine or vice versa! This did not work, of course, when we were out together...the terrors of the village!

Post war in Dundee, Jannette Nicoll and I used to go for long walks at weekends. A favourite was out round the Dighty burn and up the hill behind Balmydown Farm(2).


I taught Jannette how to deal with a neep one day only to get home and find that father had been watching us through his binoculars. As he worked in the Approved Schools service based at Balgowan School his threats put paid to any more Dundee scrumping....except the pea field out of town end of Frederick Street!

What fun and what freedom we had as youngsters... too bad today's lot are tied to their technology.

Viva the countryside and Scrumpers unite!

The ruffians, age 13, Jannette on the right..        

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(1) Denholm is a village, population today around 600, located between Jedburgh and Hawick in the Scottish Borders region. It lies in the valley of the River Teviot, about halfway between the towns of Hawick and Jedburgh.


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(2) The photo, looking west, shows 'our' hill, behind 'Balmydoon' – the roof of the farm can be seen in the bottom left corner just to the right of the tree:



Sweet Memories
Hugh McGrory
Gordon Findlay's story about sweeties got me thinking. I was aware that Scotland is at, or near the top of the list of nations for things like consumption of confectionery, sweets/candies, chocolate, cakes, soft drinks loaded with sugar, and the like; for childhood and adult obesity; for bad teeth and for heart disease.

To digress for a moment, I remember some thirty years or so ago, flicking TV channels at home in Canada and coming across a show about those countries with the worst record for heart disease and the two countries featured were Finland and Scotland. They were talking about diet, and had a person-in-the-street interview from Mid Craigie (a Dundee suburb) where this woman was quizzed on her eating habits – she answered in our broad Dundee vernacular – not a problem for the North American audience since they supplied subtitles...

Gord's anecdote made me wonder why Scotland has such a sweet tooth. It seems that it stems from the colonial outreach of the British Empire in the 17th century, the colonisation of the Americas and in particular of the West Indies. The combination of sugar cane, the slave trade and the establishment of the 'Triangular Trade' system (textiles, manufactured goods and rum from Britain to West Africa, slaves to the Americas, and sugar, cotton and tobacco to Europe) led to ships laden with raw cane sugar coming into Glasgow.

This raw sugar was granulated using a process developed in Scotland, and much of it ended up in the refineries in and around Glasgow. By the late 19th century, there were 16 sugar refineries around the city, and Greenock was know as 'Sugaropolis' (it was here that Abram Lyle, later of Tate and Lyle, invented Golden Syrup, as a way of using up surplus sugar). Cheap sugar became so readily available locally that a cottage industry of candy-making emerged. Women known as 'Sweetie Wives' bought it in bulk, boiled it into home-made sweets, and then sold them in local markets.

I was two years old when WW2 began, while Gordon was eight, so he remembered the wartime period better than I – my memory is rather patchy about the 1939-45 period.

Rationing in Britain began 8 January 1940 just a few months after war broke out. In particular, sweet and chocolate rationing started on 26 July 1942, and didn't finish until 5 February 1953. The amount of sugar, and therefore sweets, which was allowed, fluctuated during the war, ranging from 16oz a month down to 8oz (227g) a month. Amongst the popular sweets you could get in your local sweet shop were lemon sherbets, flying saucers, barley sugar twists, liquorice, jelly babies, Fry's chocolate creams, pear drops and cola cubes.

The government began the process of de-rationing in 1948, but it was phased in, and it wasn't until 1954 that rationing ended completely. On the day of derationing of sweets and chocolate in 1953, toffee apples, sticks of nougat and liquorice strips were apparently the best sellers. Some companies even gave out free sweets to children at lunch time to mark the occasion. As a consequence of the end of rationing, spending on sweets grew by –100 million in the first year. (Brits now spend in excess of –5.5 billion annually on confectionery).

Gordon shared memories of his preferred sweeties with us and got me thinking about my favourites. I scribbled out a list and found that it only overlapped his once.

So, in no particular order, here's my list from those days (well OK, still today, when my wife allows it – or isn't around...)

(Obviously not to scale. Hover your cursor over the photos).


Ah, sweet memories! How does your list compare?

Candies and Ice Cream
Gordon Findlay
What is that famous mantra about real estate value? Location, location, location. And that was certainly true about two of the iconic retail stores that were close to Morgan Academy, the public school we attended. One
was Dolly Souter's, a long-established sweetie (candy) store. The other was Hector Gibb's dairy and ice cream parlour.

Both were on Forfar Road. Dolly Souter's store was right at the southwest corner of Janefield Place, while Hector Gibb's dairy was about 100 yards north – right opposite the northwest entrance into the school at the time. With a steady stream of pupils passing by their doors from early morning until late afternoon, the location of these two stores could hardly have been better.

Dolly Souter's wasn't a large store, quite tiny in fact, but it was a storehouse of sweet treasures in a riot of colours. Its one large show window looked out on to Janefield Place, and it was always crammed with all
those delights which appealed to school children. Jelly babies, all-day suckers, pear drops, humbugs, Mars bars, sherbet fountain, Brighton rock, liquorice allsorts, Rolos, striped boilings, Pontefract cakes, and my all-time favourite, chocolate coconut snowballs.

Once you went inside the store you were surrounded by jars and bottles of sweeties, each offering looking more toothsome than the next. The heady, sweet, tantalizing aroma was almost too much to bear. And deciding what to buy was always an agonizing decision for me. Funds were limited and whatever you chose had to last an entire day: a lifetime for any youngster with a sweet tooth.

For Hector Gibb, ice cream was an offshoot to his main business of running a dairy and supplying most of Maryfield with milk and cream and fresh eggs, an activity which began before dawn every day.

My older brother became one of Hector's delivery boys and I briefly decided to make some extra pocket money by joining him on the route. But I quickly realized that rising at 5.00 a.m. and getting down to Gibb's dairy to make deliveries around the neighbourhood while it was still dark was not for me!

As soon as the weather turned warm enough, Mr. Gibb began to churn some of his milk products into ice cream. He opened up a part of his dairy as an ice cream parlour and even on cool mornings business was brisk.

Cones and sliders were the favourite offering, and of course for the big spenders there was always a 'Lochee' which as I recall, was a slider with a thin chocolate bar or a wedge of marshmallow stuck in the middle. There may have been other 'specials' but I've forgotten their names.
Perhaps someone out there, of my vintage, can jog my memory.

Apparently, Hec was quite a character, and had a reputation as a bit of a 'fly-man'. The rumour was that he was not above skimming off some of the cream from his dairy products to supply his profitable ice cream parlour. It was said that, every so often, when the local dairy authorities checked his milk products, they'd find that they were somewhat light in their fat content.

Mr. Gibb would then profess surprise and innocence and would readily pay the fine for this transgression, apparently comforted by the knowledge that the profit made was greater than the penalty...

Hilda
Hugh McGrory
In Canada 'Cottage Country' refers to areas of lakes and forests around cities where cottages and summer homes abound. Across the country the specific areas referred to depend on the Province and the major population area – in the Toronto area the term usually refers to the Muskoka, Kawartha Lakes, or Haliburton areas.

The term 'cottage country traffic' refers to the exodus from the city on Friday afternoons, and return on Sunday evenings, of thousands of 'city folk' making the two to three hour trip so they can spend the weekend communing with nature.

This sometimes creates long delays on highways, and 'non-cottagers' know to stay away from specific highways on Friday afternoon and evening, and Sunday evening in summer.

Cottage Country, of course, has year-round rural inhabitants, and they tend to have a love/hate relationship with the cottagers – they sacrifice their peace for the income they can make over the summer months...

My brother-in-law, my wife's brother, and his family have a lakeside cottage, in The Peterborough-Kawartha area near the town of Havelock, and we visit from time to time. Havelock is a village of around 1,100 people. Its roots go back to 1823, and the original settlers made their living through fishing, logging and farming. The main industrial activity now centres on two large quarries. The first produces nepheline syenite (major use is for ceramics such as toilet bowls and sinks). The second produces crushed basalt commonly used as an aggregate in construction projects.

The village has one more claim to fame – The Havelock Country Jamboree, an annual four-day country music camping festival, the largest in Canada. This is quite an affair – it runs Thursday through Sunday on the third weekend in August every year and 2017 is the 28th year. There are twin stages, each measuring 60' wide by 40' deep and the site encompasses 500 acres with room for hundreds of RVs from all over the country.

The show features over 25 entertainers each year, and even I, not a CW music fan, recognise many of the perfomers from past years – Reba McEntire, Wynonna Judd, Kris Kristofferson, Glen Campbell, Travis Tritt, Kenny Rogers, Stompin' Tom Connors, Billy Ray Cyrus, LeAnn Rimes, Tanya Tucker and Loretta Lynn.

We last visited my brother-in-laws cottage in August, and as we were leaving to head home he said, "As you're heading out of the village, just before the Jamboree grounds, you'll see a field of cows on your left, pull over and take a look at the herd."

I said, 'Why – I may not be country born, but I have seen cows before..."

He smiled and said, "Just do it..."

As we got close to the site, we saw the cattle and several cars parked by the side of the road with people standing looking into the field. It was quite a large meadow and the cows were on the far side, so at first we couldn't see anything remarkable, until – well I took this photo:


It's not very good – I was using my phone and the animals were quite far away – but you can see that the animal third from the right is a funny looking cow. It is in fact a moose – a Canadian moose, not a Scottish moose. I'm sure you all know how to tell the difference – the Canadian is the one with horns – for clarification, below, Scottish moose on the left, Canadian on the right.

However, the Canadian moose above is a male, and the one we saw was a female. She was named locally as Hilda, and had her story told in newspapers and on the web. A professional photograph of Hilda is shown below:

Apparently, although not common, this co-mingling does happen from time to time, despite the fact that moose are solitary animals and do not herd as, for example, reindeer do. Two possible reasons for this 'getting together with cattle' behaviour are; the animal is attracted by the good pasture, or, if a young male, it may be for mating reasons and he couldn't find a cow moose.

An example from the Bella Coola valley in British Columbia:



What did Grannie Look Like?
Muriel Allan Kidd
Photographs play an important part in our lives. We can see images of ourselves and our loved ones at any time we choose. We can even send them across the world at the press of a button.

The availability of photographic images has never been so great, we just take them for granted and snap
away at anything and everything that takes our fancy. It's difficult to realise that photographic images as we know them only came into being in the mid 19th century(1) but it wasn't until 1889 that the first film camera came into use. And not until the introduction of the Kodak Brownie box camera (not biscuit) in 1900 did photography become available to non-specialist photographers.

Within a few years most families had access to a camera of some kind and they quickly became as important as sandwiches on family picnics. Only very few enthusiasts could convert the image taken by their camera into actual photographs that could be passed around admiring friends and family. The typical camera took eight photographs on a film. After the eighth picture had been taken the film was handed in to the local chemist shop for
developing and printing with the finished 'snaps' being collected a couple of days later amidst great excitement to see if they had 'come out'.

Our family, like most others, had a collection of images going back to the time of World War 1 – that's how I became familiar with great-grandparents, uncles lost in the war and my young and to my eyes, oddly-dressed parents. Little did I realise then that when I pressed the shutter of my Box Brownie that I was contributing to our family history!

I'm afraid the once ubiquitous industry producing photographic prints has virtually disappeared. Cameras became more sophisticated, colour films and the availability of cheap flash meant that photographs could be taken at any time. Now even most of these have gone to be replaced by digital cameras and telephones.

Photos are now shared by email, posted on Facebook or just by passing around the mobile telephone. Nowadays most people don't get hard copy of their photos – perhaps we should start to think about the future and how our grandchildren will be able to see our funny clothes and odd looking cars.

It certainly won't be by passing around the 'phone that the photos are lurking in now – and your descendants will be asking "What did Grannie look like?"

(1) If you're interested, you can see the first-ever photograph here, and further details on the 'why, what and how' here.

The Tortoise and the Hares
Hugh McGrory
Gordon Findlay's story about cycling to Edzell reminded me of my one and only experience of youth hostelling(1) by bike – though I have to admit that my memory is a bit hazy after all this time.

I would have been a bit older than Gordon was when he made his epic journey – I think I was around 14 – so it was probably 1951. I believe it was a long weekend, and two classmates (I'll refer to them as Tom and Dick to protect the innocent) mentioned that they were going to cycle to Killin and stay over at the local Youth Hostel.

I asked if I could go along with them, and they agreed. I lived on my bike in those days, back and forward to school every day and around town, but had never done any longer distance cycling. My bike was an upright, while theirs had drop handlebars, like Gordon's, great for streamlining when going downhill.


From Dundee, we cycled through Perth, of course, but I can't remember if we made it a circular trip; perhaps out via the A85 through Crieff and the north bank of Loch Earn (about 67 miles one way), and back via the north bank of Loch Tay, Aberfeldy, and the A9 (about 10 miles longer).

In any event, we made it to the hostel in Killin. I really don't remember much about that weekend – I recall the dormitory with upper and lower bunk beds and I seem to remember porridge for breakfast but that's about it.

1951Killin Youth Hostel2011
The trip home I do remember, though – principally because it poured most of the way back, and there was a strong east wind. Now, as you know, Gore Tex jackets and pants will repel the rain but allow your body to breathe – a wonder material – pity it wasn't invented until around 1970!

I was wearing a rain cape, probably bought as army surplus from the Army and Navy store. It was called a cape, but with the strong headwind and my upright bike, it was actually a sail and it did it's best to slow me down to a crawl.

We struggled on for hour after hour and on the last stretch along the Perth Road, Dick pulled away and disappeared into the distance. I remember almost dying on the rise from Inchture to beyond Longforgan. Somewhere along that stretch, Tom remembered that he had a music lesson that evening, and that "his mother would kill him if he missed it". So he took off too and left me to it.

I struggled on – push one foot down – now the other – now the first one again– Finally I made it home where my poor mother was waiting anxiously – she said I looked like a "drookit rat", before feeding me and sending me off to bed. Like Gordon before me, I'm sure I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

Next morning, stiff, but none the worse for the wear, I cycled to school as usual, prepared for a ribbing from my two friends for being such a wimp – but it didn't happen! Not because they were being kind – neither of them actually made it to school that day!

It seems that 'Tom' and 'Dick' needed a day off to recover from their ordeal, but 'Harried' didn't...

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Killin Youth Hostel was opened in a former doctor's house, Tighndhuin, in 1942, and ran without disruption until early in 2008, amassing some 320,000 overnight stays.

Tighndhuin was demolished in 2011 in favour of a development of 14 new homes on the site.
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(1) Established in 1931, SYHA Hostelling Scotland is a self-funding charity operating a network of over 60 exceptional youth and affiliate hostels for the benefit of all those wishing to learn and experience what Scotland has to offer. Their unique sites provide affordable, comfortable, safe and quality-assured accommodation with a warm friendly welcome, local knowledge, activities and services for guests travelling around Scotland. It is a not-for-profit organisation, and all income generated from activities and services is invested back into the hostelling network.

My Raleigh
Gordon Findlay
When I was growing up we lived on the south side of Shamrock Street, on the corner of Mains Loan, just


a few hundred yards from Morgan. This was in the Maryfield area of Dundee, one of the older, more settled
parts of the city. I suppose you could call it a 'tony' area; large stone homes with nice gardens, the homes of business people, school teachers and the like.

Like many homes in those days, ours was enclosed on all sides with a stone wall and when I was quite small I thought it was like living in a small castle, secure and safe. Our garden was unique in one sense – it contained one of the very few 'monkey puzzle' trees in Dundee – like this one in Fintry.

The tree is actually an Araucaria araucana, a native species common in Chile and Ecuador; it has long, upswept branches with spear-like spiny dark green leaves and it's an evergreen. Ours grew to some 60 feet and dominated the garden. People passing on Mains Loan could see it towering above our stone fence . . . a South American interloper living graciously in a Scottish garden.

Our area had a number of kids in our age bracket: Colin Barclay (son of a successful bakery shop owner); Bruce Davidson (son of a jute company manager); Norman Anderson (son of a widowed mother); David Spankie (son of a jute wholesaler); Ian Knowles (son of a teacher). We roamed pretty freely through our little street kingdom . . Clepington Road, Argyll Street, Madeira Street, Shamrock Street and Mains Loan . . . either on foot or on our bikes most of which were hand-me-downs from older brothers.

Mine certainly was, a Raleigh which was passed down from Morris to David, to me; when new, it would have looked like the one in the photo – but by the time it got to me it bore the scars of its hard life on the streets. It had bent handlebars, a missing mudguard, non-existent brakes, rusty rims, and a Sturmey-Archer gear system that was down to one operating gear. But as a kid you accepted those things: a bike was freedom and mobility and as long as it went forward when you pedalled it, all was well.

I had one huge advantage: my brother Dave was a natural mechanic, a tinkerer, a fixer. It was he I turned to for puncture repairs, loose pedals and cranky gears. When the chain on my battered Raleigh broke one day – snapped in half and flailed uselessly on to the ground in a snarled, oily mess – it was David who uncomplainingly took it from my hands and painstakingly extracted the broken link, somehow found a new one and carefully secured it in place then rejoined the chain. I was in awe of his ability.

It was on this bike that I and my brothers undertook the longest and most taxing bicycle journey I had undertaken. A little background first. Our parents had a favourite summer holiday spot: the little village of Edzell around 32 miles northeast of Dundee and right beside the North Esk River. The village was known as the 'jewel in the crown of Angus' (Angus being the county where Dundee is located).

The village had one hotel – The Central, owned by the Japp family and known locally as Japp's. It was well known for its old-fashioned country hospitality – the rooms were comfy and the food was good. Our parents loved it. When we were there, we could roam the woods and hills and wander down to the river, crossed by a wooden suspension bridge which swayed deliciously as you walked across it.

On this special occasion, Morris and David decided that we kids would cycle to Edzell while our parents drove. I would be around 10 or 11 at the time and there was some concern that I could manage 32 miles in one day to get there, but I was anxious to prove that I could, so it was agreed. On the big day my mother made a large bag of sandwiches and added bottles of Barrie's lemonade (my favourite was their 'Big Orange' flavour), all of which was carried by Morris and David, and off we set. I can't remember much of that cycle trip except that it was a warm Saturday, we all got thirsty early on, and for me exhaustion set in around the 25-mile mark.

The last six or seven miles were hard because there was one long uphill stretch on the outskirts of Edzell, but finally – finally! – the famous 'Dalhousie Arch' that graced the entry into the village hove in sight, and we coasted up to Japp's Hotel to the welcome of our parents.
My mother told me much later that I ate a monster supper, almost dozed off at the end of it, then was packed into bed around 7.00 p.m. where I apparently slept like a log until 9.00 or so the next morning.

The Dennie
Hugh McGrory
I attended Dens Road Primary School in Dundee from 1942 to 1949.


The school opened in January 1911, and in 2010 created a blog, preparatory to celebrating its centenary (we sure didn't have a blog when I was there...). I was impressed by their initiative to the extent that I contributed a few memories. I thought you might be interested too:

"I was very impressed to see this Dens Road students' blog celebrating the school Centennial. I spent seven happy years at Dens Road from 1942 to 1949 and am still grateful for some fine teachers who gave me a solid grounding in the three 'Rs' and a love of learning that has served me well over the years. I particularly remember Miss Laing and Miss Macpherson, two fine teachers.

I noted, in the blog, the comment '11th January 1911 – Miss Jane A. Tosh entered upon her duties as an assistant teacher in the Junior Division.' Miss Tosh must have enjoyed teaching at Dens Road, since I was in her class in '44/'45.

Some Dens Road memories:

– My wee brother Mike entered Dens Road the year after I left, and caused quite a stushie by disappearing on his first day. Not quite grasping the concept of mid-morning playtime, he had simply taken off and walked home.

No harm was done since we lived at #2 Fairbairn St about 300 yards from the school. Our mum quickly got over the surprise of seeing him and walked him back to class.

– The headmaster in those days was Mr Allan, a rather distant but kindly man. He once took me and a couple of my schoolmates to Murrayfield in his car to see a Scotland v England rugby match.

He also gave me the belt for climbing over the railing and swinging on the branch of the tree in the garden opposite the Dens Road entrance to the school from the boys' playground (the one with the red leaves in the photo). That branch had been polished smooth by the hands of generations of kids – but I was the dumb one who got caught by the Jannie...

– One final memory.

My time at Dens Road was during and after the Second World War, and the boys' playground had a number
of brick and concrete air-raid shelters (which I remember as cutting down on our playtime football space), similar to the one under construction in the photo. In 1945 I guess, it was clear that they weren't needed anymore, and a group of workmen came in to tear them down.

As you might imagine, this was a big attraction at playtime, and we kids would stand around and watch the destruction. One of the workmen – he must have been a real old crab – told us to buzz off, and when we didn't
move fast enough for his liking, he decided that he would hurry us along by bowling a half brick along the ground.

My buddies were smart or agile enough to get out of the way – but not me! It hit me in the shin, hard enough to make me bleed not to mention cry... My response of course, was to go get my mother (since she was just at the other end of the street and my dad was in away in the army).

I remember her being furious, and after cleaning up my minor wound she dragged me back up to school with steam coming out of her ears, had me point out which workie had done it, then gave him a major earful.

I don't think she actually hit him, but I think that he thought she was going to...

I left Dens Road with mixed emotions to go on to six years at Morgan Academy (actually to Clepington Road School for a few months first, since we were a February intake), but I soon settled, thanks largely to the excellent grounding I had received at Dens Road.

My best wishes to the school for the next hundred years of serving Dundee children."

The Pictures
Bill and Muriel Allan Kidd

D' Ye Mind Ga'en t' the Pictures?

Those of us born between the mid 1930s and the early 1940s spent our childhood and near adult years during Dundee's great cinema boom! The cinemas were distributed in the heart of the City Centre then spread along the tram routes that formed Dundee's arteries. The cinema was the main source of entertainment available to us during those pre-television years of war and austerity and a visit to the "pictures" at least once a week was commonplace.

During the working week the choice of venue was usually determined by where you lived. In the East end of town there was a cluster of cinemas close to the Albert Street tram line but the Victoria/Dens Road line was less plentifully supplied unless you were prepared to climb the Hilltown. The West end enjoyed a similar and possibly more generous scattering of cinemas based on the Perth Road, Blackness Road and Lochee tramlines.

On Saturdays the populace of Dundee, East and West descended on the City Centre to the five bigger and
more expensive venues where they could see the latest offerings of Hollywood and Ealing, weeks and sometime months before they appeared in the local cinemas. The choice of which film to see was a matter of careful judgement. A "good" film would most likely have a long queue seeking admission while a short queue possibly meant that the film was a dud. The deciding factor was often the weather, if it was raining it could be worth taking the risk and join the shorter queue. As a result of following this logic we can claim to have seen some unexpected gems among a whole lot of duds! On Sundays, all of Dundee's cinema screens remained blank because the council would not grant the necessary licence.

During the boom time most local cinemas opened around 6.30pm and had a programme consisting of a newsreel, a cartoon or short, often cowboys or comedy, followed by the main feature. This programme was shown twice without a break, with people joining the audience at any point in the show.One of the great skills that had to be acquired at an early age was the ability to come into the cinema half-way through some drama, watch it to the end, see the supporting films and adverts then watch the beginning of the feature film through to the point that you "came in", then leave. If you sat through the feature to the end a second time it was at the risk of an usherette flashing her torch in your face. Don't
know how, but it seemed that the usherettes knew when everyone in that cinema had arrived!

The inserts show the choice of cinemas/films available to us one week in September 1953 – actually there were more than that, since The Queens, and the two Broughty Ferry Cinemas, The Reres and The Regal, are missing.

Normally, the City Centre cinemas opened around 1.00pm for three continuous performances. During the
week when it was not very busy the informal rules about sitting through the programme twice, or even three times were relaxed. However, if it was a very popular new release you were expected to leave at the appropriate point. When a really BIG film came to town all the rules changed, no more continuous programme but three separate performances, with the cinema being cleared after every showing regardless of when you arrived! This was a source of friction between the cinema management and the disgruntled patron who had not realised it was not a continuous showing.

Some of the local cinemas had special showings for children. These were known as Children's Cinema Clubs and they took place on Saturday forenoons usually commencing around 10.30am. The programme always had a cartoon, a comedy short, a cowboy or adventure short, an educational short (mainly by the Film Board of Canada) and the serial. This, along with community singing, was crammed into about two hours. When the showing ended passers-by could easily tell the subject of the serial by observing boys with trench coats as cloaks waving imaginary swords; or cowboys riding imaginary horses and firing imaginary revolvers; bows and
arrows, space pistols and crewing galleons all got similar treatment on the way home.

In 1953 television came to Scotland and within a couple of years the cinema bubble was burst. Gradually the local cinemas became bingo halls or carpet depots. The City Centre cinemas struggled on with innovations such as Cinemasope, VistaVision or ToddAO but television and bingo gradually prevailed and those buildings still standing are a sad reminder of the time when a night out at the pictures, in one of its thirty or so cinemas, was Dundee's favourite activity, it was certainly one of ours anyway!

Ferry, cross the ...
No. Not the River Tay!

Hugh McGrory

I promise this will be my last Ferry tale...

It was a pleasant surprise to my family, when we arrived in Toronto in the mid-sixties, to find that we had a substitute for our beloved Tay Ferries in the Toronto Island Ferry Service.

Torontonians are lucky in that they have a large island, actually a group of 15 islands inter-connected by


pathways and bridges just off-shore in Lake Ontario, and usually referred to as Toronto Island.

Vistors to the Island can walk, run or cycle, walk their dog, visit the 200 year old lighthouse or the trout pond or have a coffee or beer at one of the restaurants. There are lockers at several busy locations, a pier, a boardwalk, formal gardens, playgrounds, artists retreat and even a public grade school. Altogether a wonderful spot to escape the summer heat of the city.

There are beautiful swimming beaches (including a nude beach on Hanlan's Point), sports facilities, bike, canoe and kayak rentals, a boating marina, large grassy fields for picnics, a theatre, nature paths, EMS and fire station, an amusement park and a charming 150 year-old community of 600 people living year-round in cottage-like homes.

Children love to vist Centreville as the amusement park is known, to ride the Antique Carousel, the Log Flume, Tea Cups, Ferris Wheel, Antique Cars, the SkyRide and more... they can also visit Far Enough Farm to interact with pigs, horses, mini ponies, sheep and over 40 different species of animals and birds in the year-round family-friendly petting farm.

But back to the ferries... there are actually three, all running at the same time. They all leave from the terminal at Queen's Quay on the Toronto waterfront, but head to three different spots on the Island: Hanlan's Point in the west, for people who want to spend time on a beach; Centre Island, most popular with families in the summer and


Ward's Island for residents who are lucky enough to live there.


The ride across takes around 13 minutes, and ferries leave every half hour from 6:30 am to 11:30 pm. It's approximately 5 kms from Ward's Island to Hanlan's Point so you can take the eastern or western ferry over, take a three mile stroll and return on the opposite ferry. And the views of the Toronto skyline from the ferry and the island are spectacular.

Toronto Waterfront from The Island.

So we ex-Dundonians are still able to enjoy the ferry experience – only drawback is that the trip is too short
– roughly half the time of the old Tay ferries. But if you thnk that's too fast....

There is actually a fourth ferry servicing the Toronto Island – specifically for the Island Airport. The ferry service runs from about 5:00 in the morning to midnight – the trip takes 90 secs to cover the 121 metre (400 feet) distance...

Vehicular use of the ferry is for the many necessary airport services. Air passengers can park on the Toronto side and take the ferry, or use the recently completed pedes-
trian tunnel (a six minute walk). Of couse, ex-Dundonians of a certain age wait for the ferry...

Only a 90 second ferry ride – but still....

D.B. Stewart 2
Gordon Findlay

As I related in an earlier Anecdote, D.B. Stewart was not only a familiar teacher at Morgan, he was also a nearby neighbor on Shamrock Street in Dundee where he occupied – as a lifelong bachelor – a neat bungalow just 50 yards from our own home.

My encounters with Cheesie usually took the form of being trapped into walking back home with him ... something I tried hard to avoid since to be seen walking and chatting to a teacher was like fraternizing with the enemy. But since my father and Cheesie were friendly (and were each keen movie camera buffs) I had to make the best of these occasional homeward walks together.

But my feelings about Cheesie the teacher underwent a sea change one late spring afternoon when I was again 'trapped' into walking back home along Shamrock Street with D.B. When we reached Cheesie's neat little home, he stopped and said: "Gordon, your father told me you have cousins in South Africa." I nodded (they lived in Johannesburg and regularly sent us each year a dazzling fold-out photo-postcard showing the sights of South Africa). Cheesie smiled and added: "I want to show you something." He unlocked his front door and beckoned me in.

I had never been inside his home and had never expected to be, so I was unsure of what Cheesie wanted to show me. But as soon as I had taken two steps inside his home, I was completely and utterly transfixed. It seemed that every wall, every table and every corner was filled with the artifacts of his travels around the world, with the majority of the pieces from various parts of Africa.

There were spears of every size and colour plus native clubs called knobkerries. Beside them was a display of hunting shields of stretched skin painted in bright reds and yellows. Above one doorway there was a 5-foot long blowpipe complete with a couple of fluffy darts neatly attached to it.

"The natives use these blowpipes for hunting, Gordon," Cheesie explained. "They dip the point of the dart into a poison. Once they hit a monkey or a bird with a dart it is paralyzed almost at once."

Down another wall stretched a collection of native robes and blankets, some with intricate stitching and laced with bright beads. In another corner, neatly arranged on a stand was a collection of native footwear made from animal skins. There were strings of native jewellery, nose rings, pendants and bracelets mostly of bone but some of brass and silver.

One entire wall was covered with African knives in every conceivable shape from short stabbing knives to elaborate ceremonial blades with intricate handles. In pride of place hung an impressive Zulu war axe with a large half-moon blade.

It was a stunning display – a small museum of natural history in the three small rooms of his house. Cheesie led me through it, pausing to touch a favourite object here and there, and giving me a short account of where each came from and the colourful history of the natives who had created it.

I remember he lifted down one beautifully-
fashioned object from the wall. "This is called an assegai, Gordon," he mumbled quietly, holding up the sharply-tipped spear. "They used them for hunting animals – or their enemies in time of war."

Even more impressive, under each object or beside it was a small sign bearing Cheesies neat handwriting, describing it briefly, and telling of its origins in Africa. It was obvious that during his holidays Cheesie had travelled extensively throughout Africa and had made a point of adding to what was an impressive collection. In his own quiet way, D.B. Stewart had covered thousands of miles across a continent that obviously fascinated him and had faithfully recorded the local artifacts and weapons he acquired along the way.

I was absolutely gob-smacked with it all, and before I realized it an hour had passed, and Cheesie was patiently explaining the significance of the intricate carvings on the sides of a set of large wooden mixing bowls. He veered off a few times to tell me of some particular tribes unusual habits. "Now then, with regard to that tribe, you might be interested to know that ..." and off he'd go with a titbit of knowledge he'd learned on his travels.

Of course when I went home I couldn't wait to tell my parents and my brothers of what I'd just seen and heard. For me it was all part of the growing-up process – catching a glimpse of the person behind the image they present to the world. In Cheesie's case, that glimpse helped me see the deeper layers of a quiet and brilliant mind who sought that knowledge in his own special way.

The Fifies 4
Voith Schneider

Hugh McGrory

So what the heck is a Voith Schneider, many of you are wondering (or maybe not, but I'm going to tell you anyway) (and by the way, Voith is pronounced Foyt in German). Here's a question for those of you who have seen the Tay Ferries 'Craig' motor vessels in action. Do you remember how they would come in to the pier bow first, and, after taking on new passengers, reverse out again? Then, before setting out on the crossing, they would turn around, almost in their own length. Did you ever wonder how they could do that? – it certainly never occurred to me at the time, but it really is quite unusual. Well that's where the Voith Schneider propulsion system comes in.

In 1825 a young man named Johann Matthäus Voith took over his father's locksmith business in Heidenheim in Southern Gemany. The firm employed five master locksmiths, skilled in precision metalwork, and they branched out to specialise in the repair of water wheels and paper mills. As early as 1830 the company constructed a wood grinder for paper making. In doing so, the foundation was laid for what was to become the large, international engineering group, Voith.

In 1922, Voith built, for the first time ever, a Kaplan turbine, a huge propeller that was rated at 1,100 HP, and also began to design and build gear drives. In 1927, the engineer Ernst Schneider and Voith at its location in St. Pölten, west of Vienna in Northern Austria, registered a patent for the Voith Schneider Propeller, which was built in the previous year on the basis of plans by the Viennese engineer. Its special feature – the ship propulsion system, which also assumes the steering, and allows a previously unreached degree of maneuverability for ships. This is the propulsion system that was bult into the MVs Abercraig and Scotscraig and that gave them their unusual agility.

Kaplan TurbineVoight Schneider Propellers

The illustrations below show the difference between the Voith Schneider and the standard marine propellor.
The traditional approach is a propeller for propulsion and a rudder for steering. The Voith Schneider propeller system combines propulsion and steering in one unit. Also known as a cycloidal drive, it can move the ship in any direction through 360 degrees. It's particularly suitable for work boats such as tugs and ferries.

The functionaliy of the Voith system worked well in providing the Abercraig (1939 ) and the Scotscraig (1951 ) great maneuverability, but the system was relatively new, especially for the Abercraig, and this caused some spare part and reliability problems. With the with- drawal of the Sir William High in 1951
the remaining steam paddler the B L Nairn, which was very reliable, was called into service quite often right up to the end of the ferry service in 1966.

In the past fifty years, the Voith Schneider Propulsion System has come a long way and is used throughout the world for ferries, tugboats (The Water Tractor), oil rig tenders and fire-fighting boats. See this video if you're interested.
Two Voith Schneider-Powered Ferries Doing Synchronised Pirouettes mid-Bosphorus, Turkey.

Things Ain't What They Used to Be
Bill Kidd

Far be it from me, a Harris FP, to question Gordon Findlay's judgement of what constitutes the truly memorable dishes of our childhood and adolescence! While I can relate to all of his choices there is one
glaring omission. I still miss, Barrie's American Cream Soda. I can still recall that sweet, subtly perfumed taste, the perfect accompaniment to a white pudding supper or, in times of pecuniary embarrassment, chip shop fritters!

Even after the sixty years since I left Dundee the memory still stimulates my salivary glands.

I know that one can still buy ersatz American Cream Soda but those currently on the market are merely a fizzy, inadequate copy of the real thing, totally incapable of cutting through the grease of a Dundee white pudding supper. Alas, I suspect my dream of finding a modern equivalent is just a dream and as unlikely as finding one of the four inch diameter Wagon Wheels biscuit of my youth.

Not only did Gordon's article set me thinking about our Dundee food heritage but it stimulated some thoughts about evocative Dundee smells! How many of us can recall the smell of hot chocolate that wafted through the centre of the City from Keiller's factory. How many of you deliberately walked down Castle Street to catch the scent of roasting coffee from Braithwaites and further down, the appetising smell of baking pies and bridies?

Less salubrious was the rather greasy odour of frying fat and vinegar that prevailed across the Mid Kirk
Style market located behind the City Churches. There, for a few pence, you could buy a buster consisting of hot peas and vinegar with chips that had been cooked over a brazier. I never could bring myself to try this delicacy having already observed an elderly lady serve
the chips by hand after first making sure that her hands were clean by licking them! Whar wus yer Health and Safety in the 1940s?

The more perceptive among you will realise that I have failed to mention the real smell of Dundee. I don't mean the gasworks at Peep o' Day Lane or the foundry smells that emanated from the Blackness Foundry but the all pervading smell of jute. You could smell it at the docks where bales of the stuff were unloaded on an


almost daily basis. You could smell it within half a mile of a jute mill, which effectively meant anywhere along the main roads of the City. You could smell it on the trams and buses that carried the mill workers home, at times you could even smell it in the cinema!

Anyone who cannot clearly remember the real smell of Dundee can easily rectify this by picking up a new jute Bag for Life from the nearest Tesco. Just put your head in it, then take a deep breath to be instantly transported back to the Dundee of your childhood.

But remember, I attended Harris Academy.......!

D.B. Stewart
Gordon Findlay
D.B. Stewart – 'Cheesie' to all of us – was a long-time fixture on the teaching staff at Morgan. In my day I
believe he was Head of the English Department, but I think he also taught History.

Cheesie was a soft-spoken, gentle man and a lifelong bachelor. He taught English with the air of a charming old uncle so obviously in love with his subject he would lead the class cheerfully down through the thickets of language to expound on some rich and fruitful passage which had caught his fancy.

And always – always – these charming voyages through the language of Chaucer, Swift or Bacon would be prefaced by his favourite catchphrase, 'With regard to...'; and he'd be off, leading a class
through lines of English prose to the sheer beauty of a polished phrase which Cheesie would then recite with the half-dreamy smile of a true believer.

His use of 'With regard to' became Cheesie's personal hallmark, and the catchphrase was sprinkled liberally through each and every one of his classes. So much so that one enterprising group of Fifth Formers set out to chart his use of the phrase throughout one full term, to see just how many times Cheesie would use it during a single class.

As I recall, those dedicated students' heads would bob up the instant 'with regard to' rolled out, and a quick mark would be made in a special notebook. They then compared notes at the end of class to see if their numbers matched. If my memory serves me correctly, Cheesie set his all-time record for the phrase one warm day in May when he managed to mumble it out 27 times in 45 minutes.

For me personally, Cheesie was more than just a teacher: he was also a neighbor, living in a neat bungalow just four houses away from our own home on Shamrock Street in Maryfield. Although I tried hard to avoid it, I would occasionally be on my way home when I would hear a soft voice behind me: "Hello, Gordon. Shall we walk home together?"; and we would walk slowly together back along Shamrock Street. He would ask after my mother and father, and brothers, then inquire gently as to how I was doing at school.

I should have realized what a privilege it was, to have an exclusive conversation with Cheesie, one of Morgan's senior teachers. But at that time in your young life your mind and your personality are still forming, and you give far too much attention to the views of your peer group. So, to be seen walking home, chatting with a teacher was – in schoolboy eyes – seen as sucking up, of toadying with the enemy . . . it was virtually an act of treason. So I tried to avoid these meetings at all costs.

My father was a keen amateur movie-maker, and he shared tips and hints on home movie-making with Cheesie. I can remember my father telling us that Cheesie had just bought himself the latest Kodak 'Brownie' 9 mm movie camera.

Cheesie was to make full use of his Kodak 'Brownie'. He filmed events at the annual Sports Day. He took it to Morgan's forestry camp, getting all the activity and the high jinks recorded on film. Cheesie shot bits of rugby games, field hockey games and cricket. He occasionally roamed the school playground, quietly recording groups of students strolling around or draped over the stone balustrade that separated the upper grounds from the front lawn. (I know that, because I appear in just such a scene on the video disc made from Cheesie's large collection of footage).

Yours truly (4th from the left) at 'The Balustrade' c. 1947.

Here was a man who loved the teacher role, who loved the subjects he taught, and who also loved the institution of which he was a part – so much so that he made it his business to record as much of it as he could on film. Which is why former pupils such as I – thanks to the 'Cheesie Tapes' (available on DVD from the Morgan FP Association) – are able today to go back in time and see ourselves at that special age.

Me again c. 1952/53 at Forfar Road after the annual PP v FP rugby game.

All thanks to the one and only: Cheesie.

The Fifies 3
The Motor Vessels
Hugh McGrory
There's no doubt that, when considering the lives of the 'Four Ferries' after they left the Tay estuary, the most interesting story, by far, is:

The Scotscraig

The MV Scotscraig was built in the Caledon Yard in Dundee, launched 1951. In Malta, like the Abercraig, it was used for various tasks around the island from collecting the onion harvest to having its car deck outfitted with strung lanterns, tables, chairs and umbrellas to take friends of the owners on a cruise to the adjoining island of Comino.

It would probably have met its demise in the same manner as the Abercraig if fate hadn't intervened in the form of Robert Altman who, in 1980, decided to make the movie 'Popeye' on location in Malta. It starred Robin Williams (in his first major movie role) as Popeye and Shelley Duval as Olive Oyl. Altman had a whole, wacky village created at Anchor Bay on Malta. (This was retained as a tourist attraction and still operates today.)

Many of you probably saw this movie, and may remember the opening scene when Popeye arrives in Sweethaven for the first time, rowing through the harbour to the jetty. The photo shows a clip from this scene – recognise the superstructure in the background? The Scotscraig itself was used as a filming platform for many of the water scenes, and also provided showers and toilet facilities for the movie crew.


When it came to shoot the opening sequence (it must have been towards the end of filming of the movie), the Scotscraig was sunk until the water level was roughly halfway between the car deck and the upper level. This enables Popeye to row right over the car deck. See the scene here.

You can just see the vague outline of the boat under the water, and note the Scotscraig flagpole sticking up to the right of the rowboat and the in-character buoy warning the workboats to stay clear of the lifeboat davits on the Scotscraig's prow.

Some of you may remember another scene in the movie, where Popeye sings "I Yam what I Yam" in the casino/brothel (what Popeye refers to as "–"a house of ill re-pukes"). The photo shows a clip from this scene – recognise the poles, the bench seat, the row of windows? This is, of course, the passenger saloon on the Scotscraig's upper deck – seen in the photo above. See the scene here.


Any possibility that our ferry might have a big career in the movies was dashed, unfortunately, by subsequent events. The Maltese authorities decided to construct a protective breakwater across the mouth of the bay, and the Scotscraig was refloated and drafted into service – it finally had its superstructure removed, was up sunk up to deck level, and used as a construction platform.



On completion of the work, the boat was taken under tow to be moved to another location (presumably to a breaker's yard), a tow rope snapped, the ferry tilted and sank. The good news is that This one remaining of our four beloved ferries may still be visited – about two miles south west of Anchor Bay – the bad news is that you have to be able to scuba dive to a depth of 21 metres to do so.

The wreck is a popular diving site, and below are some underwater photos:


As can be seen the Scotscraig is relatively intact, and scuba divers who make the dive often see moray and conger eels, groupers, octopi, and the occasional stingray. The video here shows a dive (the commentary begins in Maltese but switches to English at about the 2 minute mark) and the divemaster shows a reasonably good knowledge of the history of the ferry.

It's rather pleasant to think that one of the four ferries that many of us grew up with is still known and providing a service to people – but I think most of us will prefer to remember the MV Scotscraig the way she looked on the last day of service, 18 August, 1966...

Scotscraig Dressed for Last Day of Service Last Crossing – Recognise Anyone?

Gi'in' the Belt
Marion Mackay Clubb



My twin Isobel and I were in the playground at lunchtime when Joan Kilpatrick came along to join us. She had a balloon with her. It was turquoise and had cost seven pence. She had only blown it up once, so it was smooth and unwrinkled.

We crowded round. It was something new to us in 1947 when luxuries were scarce. She blew it up quite tight, then made to blow it up again! "Don't Joan, you'll burst it" we said – and burst it she did!

"Not to worry"; she said, "look", and she took the ruined balloon and tore it into bits. One portion she stuck over her middle finger, sucked it off, twisted it and 'voila', a tiny cherry. She handed out the four remaining bits and we all had a go.

Then the bell went, we lined up, climbed the steps into the school building along the corridor and into the classroom, second on the left.

It was a dull day not made any brighter as Miss Chalmers announced we would be having an extra Arithmetic lesson. She spoke as if this was a treat, but no one cheered. She was a good teacher in that she managed to get most of the class through the 'qualifying exam– that gave entrance to the senior secondary education.

Forty-six pupils in our class of girls. With Miss on the far side of the room explaining a problem to a classmate, I took out my scrap of balloon and, following earlier
instructions 'sooked' it off my finger, twisting it into a tidy little cherry. I gave it a tiny turn more and that was not a good idea as it exploded!

Not only did I get the fright of my life so did everyone else! All eyes were on my guilty red face. Miss Chalmers , commanded me out to the front, The tirade began and went on, eventually ending with the directive "Go straight to the Rector".

I was shocked. If you went to the Rector he belted you and he was an expert. "Please don't send me to Mr Robertson" I whimpered.

"Go", she said, and snivelling, I reluctantly went along the corridor to the Rector's
room. I stood trembling – a be-gowned Peter Robertson opened the door to my knock. He looked down and said, "And what has a Mackay been doing that brings you here?"

"Miss Chalmers sent me."

"What were you doing?"

In between sobs, I told him of my misadventure with a cherry balloon during an arithmetic lesson. I had the remnants of the ill-fated balloon in my hand, as a visual aid.

He then asked "Are you sorry for what you have done?"

"Yes, oh yes".

"Will you ever do it again?"

"No, no, never", I said, wondering was I to be belted outside or inside his room.

"Then go back to Miss Chalmers, tell her you are very sorry to have disturbed her class and tell her you will never ever do it again."

I looked up in amazement. I was being dismissed!

"Off you go" he said. Was it my imagination, or was he smiling? I sped along to the classroom.

"Well?" Said Miss Chalmers.

"I am very sorry I disturbed your Arithmetic lesson, I will never do that again", I rattled off.

Miss Chalmers turned to the class, "She didn't go to the headmaster but I'll go and tell him!" With that she marched out off the room and along to the Rector's study.

As soon as she was out I was asked, "Did you go?"

"Yes" I said "I went all right."

Back came Miss Chalmers with a face like thunder, "Go to your seat Marion. Isobel, you are to tell your parents about your sister's outrageous behaviour". How Miss Chalmers expected one twin to clype on another I don't know!

We went on with our arithmetic problems, but the dull afternoon had definitely brightened ...

The Fifies 2
The Motor Vessels
Hugh McGrory

Last time I spoke of the fate of the Tay Ferry paddle steamers – today it's the MV Abercraig (Aber refers to the mouth of a river, craig refers to sea-rocks, cliffs – c.f. crag.)

AbercraigScotscraig
Tell them apart? Abercraig's upper deck windshield has 2 large windows either side, the Scotscraig 5.

Both boats sat in Victoria dock for more than a year, then in 1968, along with a huge stock of spares, they were sold to a Portsmouth company for £15,000, then sold on to Salvatore Bezzina of Malta .

As you know, Malta is a tiny island in the Mediterranean (see the map) south of Sicily, East of Tunisia and north of Libya. The Maltese are a seafaring nation and Malta is one of the larger 'flag-of-convenience'


nations. There are many boats around the coast of the Maltese Islands, amongst these local freighters of various shapes and sizes. The photograph below is an example, a boat called the DePoala – ugly, but a practical vehicle carrier – basically just a rectangular box ...

De Poala

The Abercraig

A steel motor vessel with fore and aft screws the Abercraig was built by Fleming & Ferguson, Paisley, and launched in 1939. After retirement from the Tay, and arrival in Malta in 1969, she was used for general local services for many years going through a conversion in 1986.

Take another look at the DePoala above, does it remind you of anything? Perhaps the paired photos below will prove to be a better aide memoire... Look at the Abercraig. Imagine chopping off the bow, removing the funnel and wheelhouse, chopping off the superstructure to just abaft the rear ramp, then replacing the wheelhouse.

The Maltese De Poala is our Abercraig after conversion in Malta. Sic transit gloria mundi...

AbercraigDe Poala

The vessel was finally taken out of service, and was often seen by Dundonian tourists lying in Marsa Harbour. Indeed, in 1994 a public meeting was held in Dundee to try to raise funds to bring the Abercraig home, but nothing came of this. and the boat was scrapped in 1995, because the owner was under pressure to clean up his part of the harbour.

The Scotscraig story is the most involved of the four – next time I'll tell you how she fared after leaving Dundee for Malta.

The Golden Eagle
Gordon Findlay

Growing up in Dundee, I was familiar with the city's claim to industrial fame: the three 'Js' – jute, jam and journalism. The Eagle Jute Mill (and several others like Caldrum Works, Halley's and Camperdown) were a familiar part of the city. Janet Keiller had reportedly invented marmalade in 1797 and Keiller's jams and marmalade were produced at one site near our home in Maryfield.

And then, of course, there was D.C. Thomson, the largest independent publisher in the U.K. and a longtime fixture in the city with a large downtown plant and offices at Meadowside.
Working as a journalist had always been in my sights, and after saying goodbye to Morgan in '49 with my treasured 'Highers' I applied to and was accepted as a junior sub-editor at D.C.'s.

The company was fiercely independent. In union-strong Scotland that might have seemed a difficult path for a publisher, many of whose employees were hourly-rated pressroom workers. But D.C.'s owners were very canny. They matched the union rate for these workers to the very penny, installed modern equipment and offered them good working conditions, free of the petty rules and regulations which afflicted their unionized brethren. D.C. Thomson's was a sought-after place to work ...

As a junior reporter I, of course, worked in the offices stacked above the ground floor printing presses. By today's standards, the offices we worked in were laughably cramped and ancient. The desks and the chairs were all wooden, and most of them had seen better days. The old-fashioned incandescent lighting made things murky on winter's days. You needed a senior reporter's OK to make a long-distance phone call. You sharpened pencils down to the nub. Plus, of course, you wrote on BOTH sides of sheets of paper. And I loved every second of it ...

The highlight of the week was, of course, Friday. Pay day. Golden Eagle Day. My own kids have collapsed in fits of giggles when I have told them how we were paid. Here's what happened ...

Some time around four o'clock on a Friday afternoon a low whisper would flit around the newsroom. "The Golden Eagle's on his way!" Most people would quietly take a fast look through the glass wall to see if they could catch a sighting. Then, magically, he would appear, the Golden Eagle in person. And back then, at D.C. Thomson, we had a paymaster who was really golden in his own way ...

He was a youngish man, in his late 30s, and I've long forgotten his name, but he was graced with a full head of curly red hair. He was officially D.C. Thomson's Assistant Cashier at Meadowside, but his mop of unruly red locks was unmistakable – and on a sunny day with the light behind him, he became positively incandescent...

He would appear every Friday afternoon like some golden Greek god, on one floor after the other in our building, balancing a large wooden tray in his hands. On this tray were racks and racks of small paper envelopes. On each envelope, written in careful longhand, appeared your name and most important of all – the pounds shillings and pence to which you were entitled. .

The 'Golden Eagle' would stop at your desk and would demonstrate his perfect memory for every face – new and old – in the building by sounding your first name. As you nodded, he would then hand over your envelope with a quick smile, before he looped away to his next happy client.

Like most everyone else, I tore open my envelope and slipped the notes and coins into my hand to fully relish the look and feel of them, and the power they gave me. I could take my girlfriend to the pictures. Buy a pint with the lads. Put petrol in my bike. I was rich again, at least for a wee while.

I know D.C.'s payroll system was slow, labour-intensive and old-fashioned. But at the time it seemed completely sensible in that steady, reliable and common sense Scottish way. And the joyful flight of Meadowside's 'Golden Eagle' was a ritual I've never forgotten.

PS from Editor

Gordon's description of the Eagle with the sunlight behind him, reminded me of something – I tracked it down to a painting of Gordon Lightfoot by Ken Danby, the well-known Canadian painter renowned for creating highly realistic paintings – see it here.

The Fifies 1
The Paddle Steamers

Hugh McGrory

If you grew up in the Dundee area in the 1940s/50s/60s you'll remember the four ferries – two, the MVs (Motor Vessels) Abercraig and Scotscraig in regular use, and the two older PSs (Paddle Steamers) Sir William High and BL Nairn, which saw only occasional use, when either the Abercraig or Scotscraig were pulled from daily service for maintenance or repairs.

I had only a vague idea of the life history of these four well-loved ferries, which came to an end in 1966 when the new road bridge made the ferry service obsolete. At that time the craft were moored in Victoria Dock and advertised for sale.

I decided to a bit of research to see what actually happened to each of the four:

The Paddle Steamers

BL NairnSir William High

The BL Nairn

Built in the Caledon shipyard in Dundee, the very last paddle steamer to be built there, the BL Nairn was launched in 1929, and, like its older sister the William High, was a side-paddle steamer with independent paddle wheels (making it easier to steer than coupled wheels). The engines were made by the Lilybank Foundry Works, Dundee. After trial runs in the Tay, it was certified for 780 passengers in winter and 1107 in summer.

It had a reputation as being "The most hard-worked and most reliable vessel ever built for passage on the Tay ferry route" – but it didn't have a perfect record... One evening in 1934 it got stuck in the mud for nearly three hours at Craig Pier. The steamer arrived from Newport at 7:45 pm, landed and embarked passengers, and lay at the pier until she was due to sail again. However, the Captain misjudged the tide, and when the engines were started the boat couldn't move, the bow being stuck fast.

The passengers had to come ashore again by the gangway. Some crossed the Tay by train, others waited – being the later part of the evening there was only one boat on the run. Fortunately, the Sir William High, was lying in deeper water at the west side of the pier with steam up. The boat was quickly manned and resumed the service about nine o'clock.

Only one run – the 8.15 was missed, the Sir William High making two crossings to and from the Fife side. The B. L. Nairn was refloated on the rising tide at 11.15, just as the Sir William High arrived at the pier to tie up for the night.

The BL Nairn was named after Boswell Nairn who was a local ship-owner, in a small way, between 1886 and 1908 when his company became shipping agents. Later it amalgamated with The Den Line, which had been established by Captain David Barrie when he left the sea. The new company was named Barrie and Nairn – it still provides freight forwarding services in Dundee.

While the two MVs were the work horses through the '50s and '60s, the Nairn was quite often called into service.

The BL Nairn was acquired by Hughes Bolckow Shipbreaking Company and broken up in their yard at Blyth, Northumberland in 1967/68.

Sir William High

The William High (named after a Lord Provost of Dundee) was launched from the Caledon yard in 1924, with a certificate to carry up to 1,100 persons.

It was re-named the 'Sir William High' in 1929. In 1948 it managed to become stranded on Fowler Rock off Dundee harbor, on a falling tide and in fog. It was refloated in damaged condition, repaired for £8,000 and fitted with Radar for a further £3,500.

It was laid up in 1951 (replaced by MV Scotscraig) and the following year it was sold to the Ojukwo Transport Co., Ltd, Nigeria for £15,000. It left Dundee under tow by the Panamanian-flagged Steamer "Santelena" – rather ignominiously towed stern first, unmanned, with a deck cargo of two small tugs.

After stops in Dakar and Abidjan to discharge tugs, it arrived in Lagos late December 1952. The Dundee Registry was cancelled and it was renamed the "Ojukwo" with a Lagos registration.

It was fitted for river service on the Niger, and proceeded under its own power some 400 miles up-river to Onitsha to provide a general cargo service. Regretfully this didn't work out since the side-loading feature proved unsuitable.

I got to thinking about why the boat, apparently, wasn't fit for purpose. The photo to the right may provide a clue. This shows a stretch of waterfont in Onitsha in 1950. If the Sir William had been a bow or stern loader, it would have taken up the width of perhaps three of the boats shown – as a side-loader, it would probably have displaced five times as many local boats. I wonder if that was the issue...

Our old Tay ferry was returned to Lagos and laid up. Presumably it was eventually sold for scrap.

Ironically, the towship, the Santelena (originally The Allara), returned to Scotland after delivering the Sir William High and was itself scrapped in 1954 at Charlestown, Fife.

Santelena/Allara

Next time I'll tell you how our two 'Craig' ferries fared after they left the Tay.

Flying
Murray Hackney

Hugh's flying tales gave me an instant nostalgia hit.

In 1951 a few Morgan pals joined the Air Training Corps instead of school cadets, and we were taught to get haircuts, press trousers, and say yes sir! All useful in later life...lots of flights were on offer in those days, from Tiger Moths to Ansons and even the famous Lancaster.

Ronnie Duncan and I did a gliding course at Grangemouth. Heady stuff for 15 year olds – we were flung into the air on the end of a long cable with a whacking great engine at the other end, and eventually flew solo. We were given a certificate and a badge, which I have to this day.

One memorable trip I had was in a Hastings from Lyneham to Gibraltar (6 very noisy hours). Just before I went deaf I found that the Station Commander's Vauxhall Velox on board was unlocked, so I spent most of the time in peace and quiet. So I suppose I can claim to have flown to Gib. in a car!

As a Sergeant cadet In 1953 I won a Flying Scholarship at Scone, using Tiger Moths (this is the actual one I soloed in, G-AHUV). It's 80 years old and still flying in Scotland. At the end I found myself in the unusual position of being a 17 year old schoolboy with a Private Pilot's Licence but no driving licence! Naturally I couldn't afford –2.50 an hour, so no flying for a while...

By this time I was determined to be an RAF pilot, but first an engineering degree seemed a good idea, so I signed up with St. Andrews University Air Squadron which flew Chipmunks from Crail. Heaven! A flying club but with pay (a little)! We were taught aerobatics, formation and navigation. We thought we were the bee's knees – uniform with the White Officer Cadet shoulder flash, and full RAF gear – flying suit, boots, parachute, Mae West, helmet goggles, oxygen mask and the ultimate poser's white cape leather gloves! Having flown before I was able to solo quickly. No airways, few regulations and we flew pretty well where we liked. Not today, many more rules and less fun.

This is one of the St. AUAS Chipmunks (beautiful aircraft) at Leuchars.

Maybe I spent too much time flying, but Meg Leitch's forecast came true, I failed maths in a big way and was asked to leave! Plan A was put into action and off I went to RAF selection tests. I had done it all before, so it should be easy. Well it wasn't. "No thank you, your eyesight is not good enough."
At this point I realised there was no plan B, and H M govt. invited me to do National Service, or else! After a year training I was posted to Malta as an Airborne Radar Technician for the second year. Sounded ok but it was the radar that was airborne, not me! I had a few test flights to check intermittent faults in Meteors and Shackletons, but not many. Despite everything, I enjoyed my stint before returning to real life.

In 1970 I was hit with the bug again and joined the Angus Gliding Club, and became an instructor for some years. The Company I worked for had a club for Rallye aircraft enthusiasts so I renewed my licence in 1973 after being required to do 10 hours, cross country and all the written exams.

Also for a few years I was in a syndicate which owned a Scheibe Falke (semi aerobatic) motor glider, and had a lot of fun with that. To this day I detest flying in airliners, but like small planes which can be turned upside down!

I managed to fly on and off until 2005, when I failed the annual medical, and now design, build and fly only radio controlled model aircraft (which is much more difficult)!

Ferry, cross the ...
No. Not the Mersey!

Hugh McGrory
Ian Gordon who has written several entertaining stories for our collection suggested that 'The Fifies' would be a good topic – which got me reminiscing – I hope this little story will bring back happy memories for many of you.

My Dad's brother, my Uncle Barney, died too young, just 42, in 1945. His widow, my mother's sister, my Auntie Ev, continued to live in Lower Methil, Fife, for a few years (before they moved to Dundee) with her children, my cousins Mike and Frank.

The sister's were quite close, and so in summer, in the late '40s, the two families would take a holiday together for a week or two, either at their house or ours.

Methil was a foreign country to me. The Methil folk spoke quickly, in an accent that I sometimes had trouble understanding, and used words, from time to time, that I didn't know. But I loved being there – and our trip was exciting, an adventure.

A wee bit of geography first, for those of you 'wha're no from aroond here'... we're talking about the East of Scotland. If you refer to the map, Dundee is on the north shore of the River Tay, Edinburgh is further south, on the south shore of the River Forth. Fife County is the land mass between the Tay and the Forth, as shown in the map, and Methil is on the north shore of the Forth, just east of Buckhaven. (The red line is not significant – it shows the Fife Coastal Path.)

We would take a bus 'doon the toon' then walk along Dock Street and down South Union street past the lineup of vehicles waiting to board one of the vehicular ferries (known locally as the 'Fifies') that crossed the River Tay to Newport-on-Tay, Fife, then take another bus to complete our journey. I loved the ferries – hated the buses. My problem was that I was very prone to travel sickness when on a bus or a car (tramcars and trains were fine...).

One of our parents would buy tickets at the old Booking Office (at some point, this old building was demolished and rebuilt, and the entrance moved to the other side of the building). We'd then walk through the gates onto the pier itself. It had a sloping boat ramp surfaced in what we referred to as cassies, actually granite setts – like dressed cobblestones (the word cassie comes from causeway...).

The river is tidal at Dundee, so depending on whether the tide was in or out, the waterline might be quite close or further down the slope. We kids would edge closer to the water (until our parents spotted us), and sometimes, when the boat arrived the bow wave would sweep up the ramp – anyone not paying attention could end up with wet feet.

We'd have to wait until the vehicles and passengers had disembarked, then we could traipse on and our parents would try to get a good seat (with a view, but sheltered from the wind).

We kids would have lots to see of interest – how the deckhands handled the hawsers, how they lowered and raised the access ramp, how they organised the vehicles as they boarded, squeezing them together to get the maximum load – and, if you stood by the door to the engine room, which was often left open, the smell of hot oil and the sight of massive crankshafts going back and forward was mesmerising.

The crossing took approximately 20 minutes, with 10 minutes allowed for boarding/disembarking. This regular service on the hour and the half-hour required two ferries to be on duty and a feature of the crossing was seeing the 'other' ferry passing in mid-river. Since the Tay is tidal at Dundee, the route varied somewhat depending on the tide level. At high tide, the ferry could plow straight across in about ten minutes, but at low tides, the many sandbanks in the river required a more varied path. (The ferry service ended in 1966 with the completion of a road bridge – during the last two years of the service, the road bridge construction lay across the ferry route, so for the last two years the sailings were tidal).

When we reached Newport Pier, the passengers would all rush off onto Boat Road before the vehicles disembarked, some to walk home, or to their parked cars, some to seek refreshments at the Brig O'Tay Restaurant (F. McGrory, proprietor – no relation) others to traipse up the hill to Windmill Park,
for a picnic and to let the kids run around and play on the slides and roundabouts, (the old photo shows the view from Windmill Park, which some of you will remember, high above Newport, to the Tay Rail Bridge).

Many, like us, would head for the bus stops to catch a bus to somewhere in Fife. The buses were usually double-deckers, local, not express, and seemed to stop at every little village and every second farm-road end. I
would usually last until the village of Kennoway – on a good day I might make it another couple of miles to Windygates – then I–d have to get off the bus, throw up in the gutter, then stagger back on and sit, comatose, until we arrived in Methil.

I know that some of you good people reading this are feeling sorry for the wee lad who had to endure this epic cross-country journey to this foreign land – and it's appreciated – but I probably should state, for those of you that don't know, the distance door-to-door as the crow flies is about 20 miles, by road, 30...

The River Tay is a mighty waterway – 180 miles long, 7th longest in the UK, longest in Scotland, and 1st in the UK in terms of volume of water discharged. There have been regular ferry crossings from the Dundee area to Fife for centuries. From the early 1800s a passenger and vehicle ferry service operated across the River Tay between Craig Pier, Dundee and Newport-on-Tay.

I used to love the ferry ride, the views up and down-river, of Dundee and the Fife coastline, the distinctive sound and rhythmic vibration of the engines in the background – and the refreshing sea-air – just what I needed on the return trip to get rid of my travel sickness...

PS
Writing this got me wondering what happened to the four ferries that were so well loved by Dundonians. I had heard vague stories about Africa and the Mediterranean, and decided to do some research to see if I could come up with the real stories. I'll share the fruits of my labour with you next time.
Scrumping
Gordon Findlay

The idea was floated by the smallest member of my group of pals, Colin Barclay. Colin was definitely on the short side, even at 10 years old. The rest of our 'gang' were all at least a head taller than wee Colin who made up for his vertical shortage by having just about the reddest hair in Dundee.

No doubt about it: Colin was our Mafia don despite his shortness – or maybe because of it. His fiery nature matched his hair: he was a terrier on the fitba' pitch, he would take on anyone of any size, and always had a fast answer ready in his mouth. We didn't call him a wee nyaff – but many others did ...

But on this October day, Colin had apples on his mind. In particular, the apple tree that belonged to Mr. Mathieson on Shamrock Street, where we all lived.

It seemed that Colin's mother had been talking to Mrs. Mathieson and in the conversation, the good lady had mentioned that their apple tree was about to produce a bumper crop. "The tree is just full of them this year. Donald (her husband) is fair excited about it."

And now Colin gathered our wee gang together to hear his latest plan – a raid on Mr. Mathieson's apple tree while the fruit was ready and ripe.

We were all expected home about half-an-hour after the street lights came on at night. That would be lots of time, Colin said, for us to get to the prize tree. We'd gather in Brucie Davidson's back garden (he was one of our gang) and from there we'd squeeze through one privet hedge, then up on to the wooden fence that ran down one side of Mr. Mathieson's garden.

The apple tree grew close to this fence. We'd be able to reach out and help ourselves to the fruit, fill our pockets, and go back the same way. "We'll be eating apples for a week!" Colin said rubbing his hands. Elated by the prospect of excitement, danger and free apples, we were all for it.

The night came and at first all went well. We eased through Mr. Davidson's hedge, scooted across the next garden, then one by one, got ourselves up on to Mr. Mathieson's big solid wooden fence.

This was going to be a cakewalk ... There was an air of bravado as we pulled ourselves along the top of the fence towards the laden apple tree, seeing the lights on in the house behind their curtains, knowing we were about to pinch a pile of their juicy apples.

We reached the tree and it was easy. The fruit was hanging thick. We reached over and filled our pockets , two in each. (Why didn't we bring a wee bag? Good question.) Then Norrie Anderson (another one of our wee gang) got greedy.

He swung out from the fence to try to get one last, huge apple. And lost his balance. The next thing we saw and heard was Norrie falling on to a little metal chair sitting under the tree. It broke his fall but he hit its edge, yelled in pain, and the chair went crashing onto the metal table beside it. And on the table were a selection of flowers in metal pots.

The crash and clatter and Norrie's scream would have wakened the whole street. The side door burst open, spilling light on to the garden, the fence, Norrie – and us, cowering on the fence. Mr. Mathieson himself came walking out. The jig was up.

And here was where I learned a great lesson in compassion and good humour. Mr. Mathieson surveyed Norrie, nursing a bleeding knee and a sore arm. And the
rest of us, now down off the fence, cowed and nervous, our pockets bulging with his apples. He carried it off beautifully.

"Well, lads," he said, "I see you've been pickin' meh apples for me."

His wife quickly cleaned off Norrie's knee and Mr. Mathieson told us to put all the apples on the table.

"Now", he said, leaning in toward us. "I've seen you all on the street. I know who you are, and I know your folks. I'll be round to have a wee talk to them."

With that ominous threat hanging over our heads, we gloomed away back home without a word spoken. Our parents were going to kill us. The horror! The shame! Our lives were over.

But you know what? Mr. Mathieson never did. Bless his heart: that decent man never said a word to any of our parents. And we never went near his place again.

The Great Shamrock Street Apple Robbery passed quietly into history.

Mr. Cool – 2
Hugh McGrory

It's the early '60s. The stage is in darkness. A spotlight comes on focused on the side curtain, stage right. A lantern appears attached to a staff – then a foot followed by a head, looking around.

There's a pause then part of a human torso and a second leg – then a third leg – and, amid gales of laughter, Peter Cook hippity-hops onto the stage to perform a hilarious three-legged man act. (Rolf Harris made this famous some years later with his Jake the Peg act.)

If you haven't seen the three-legged man shtick before here's an example from a street magician.

There's an American magician named Rudy Coby who does a variation – The Four-Legged Man.

However, all of the above is background to introduce the fact that I have actually done... a five-legged shtick.

This happened in the early '70s. At the time I was managing the computer department for a firm of Canadian consulting engineers. I tried to cultivate an informal atmosphere in the department – we were, after all, oddbodies, trying to bring the world of computing into a conservative engineering company.

We worked weird hours – sometimes into the wee sma' oors on things that no one else in the firm really understood (sometimes we didn't either – hence the long hours), and I was reading 'the book' one day ahead of the rest...

On this particular occasion I had something I wanted to say to them all – some type of group behaviour, high-jinks, that they had fallen into and that I wanted to nip in the bud; so I wanted to project a friendly, but firm, mien – a certain gravitas to get the message over...

I asked them – there were about 6 or 7 in the department at that time – to gather in the programmers' area. I walked into the room and noticed a chair just inside the door which surprised me – not the chair itself, but the fact that it was empty – usually it held a pile of computer paper – from a few inches to a couple of feet deep – the continuous, fan-fold, 15"x 11" paper from computer print-outs.

To digress for a moment. When I joined the firm, in 1966, there was no computer (the story is too long to go into here, but I was tasked with bringing in a computer and creating a department). I scrounged around
the firm to pick up some furniture, desks, chairs etc., and discovered a store room with some pieces gathering dust from way back in the firm's history (founded in the 1910s).

The chair was one of those, probably 60 years old, perhaps a lot more, with cane webbing in a round seat – rather like the one in the photograph.

The staff were standing around in the room in a rough semi circle, and when I saw
the chair, it seemed like a good idea, for some reason that escapes me, to grab it, turn the back away from me, put my right foot on the seat and lean my weight on my knee. So far so good...

As I began to speak, though, the long-serving cane reached the end of its life – my foot went through the seat (I was wearing my usual oxfords) but stuck against the rim halfway through with my heel jammed and my toes pointing, rather painfully, up into the air.

Not a major problem – yet – but since I was leaning forward at the time, the sudden downward movement of my foot threw me off balance and my weight, moving forward, began to tip the chair. To counter this, I very quickly swung my left leg forward and to the right.

While this was a good idea, I was a little too enthusiastic about it, and caused a rotational movement which forced my right leg, chair attached, into the air. For one adrenalin-filled moment, I was a five-legged man gyrating in some kind of wild polka...

My back was now to the assembled crew, and I felt myself falling back towards them, about to land on my ass. Fortunately, two of my guys grabbed me, an arm each. At first I thought I was going to take them down with me, but they held on and steadied me enough that I was finally able to stand on my own five feet.

While they held onto me, I tried to pull my foot out – no go. They tried to pull it out – no go. I tried to push it through, almost breaking my toes – no go.

Finally, one of them said "OK, sit on the floor". I did. He then sat facing me, his two legs facing my five. He grasped the legs of the chair, put the sole of his foot against my sole and pushed – and my foot popped out, shoe attached.

The chair looked rather like the photo (but it continued to hold printouts for us for many years); the toe of my right shoe stuck up at about a 25 degree angle (took a bit of work later to get it back into reasonable shape).

In any event, I managed to achieve the initial purpose of my meeting, and get my message across – they weren't likely to forget that meeting in a hurry! But gravitas?... not so much!

PS

I believe that Peter Cook performance I saw in the early '60s was on TV, not in a theatre, though I've never been able to find confirmation anywhere (including Google searches).

If any reader remembers seeing it, please let me know to confirm for me that I'm not making it up – it's bugging me...

What's in a Name?
Anne FitzWalter Golden
I have always, as long as I remember, been fascinated by words and their meaning, such as how a town or street or house got its name, what a particular name meant and so on. From an early age if we did not know the meaning of a word father made us look it up in the dictionary, complete with its origin.

As a teenager, although I was a duffer at Latin....with Miss Eadie and Ma Ramsay...and did not enjoy all those Roman wars etc, it is such a brilliant language for our understanding that I wish I had paid more attention. It was such a help too for French and that I did enjoy, especially with Ma MacDonald.

I should point out at this stage that I am an enthusiastic family historian. Thus another of my wishes is that I had paid more attention to Miss Stewart, alias Kipper Feet, as I had to attend adult education class for many years in my retirement in order to put my family history in to context...not that she taught any English history!

So what about us FitzWalters! It is little wonder that I investigated this name and then became hooked on family history. Identical twins Anne and Christine FitzWalter joined Morgan Academy in 1948 from Downfield Primary. We had moved to Dundee in 1946, at the end of the war from the Scottish Borders. Now I can tell you, if you did not already know, that we are....descended from...bastards!

Fitz is of Norman origin and was the designation for bastards of the royal Dukes (Kings) of Normandy. One of our ancestors is described as Walter FitzWalter, dapifer regis (Steward of the King's Household).

Walter meant leader of a great army. I have traced the FitzWalters back through Norman Kings to the Vikings, to Rollo who conquered Normandy, then back through the Vikings and Norse legends to the Kings of Knevland 165AD. Then forward to us.

Our FitzWalter ancestry originates from the bastard Uncle and guardian of William the Conqueror, whose son fought in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings, alongside his cousin William, also a bastard (not much hope for us!). The FitzWalters have been fighting ever since .. Christine and I argue all the time!

They were always royal supporters and close to the Court at least up to the end of the Tudors. They have changed sides from time to time! Once they were supporters and battle commander for Maud, daughter of Henry 1st to whom they had pledged allegiance when she fought her cousin Stephen for the crown. She secured it for her son Henry 2nd.

Henry 1st's favourite bastard, of about 20 plus, and only surviving son after his son William was drowned in the White Ship disaster when returning from France, was Richard of Gloucester who he fathered with Nesta, the Princess daughter of Llewelyn of Wales who just happened to be married to Gerald FitzWalter, the Keeper of Windsor Castle.

The most famous or infamous FitzWalter was Robert, 1st Baron FitzWalter who led the Barons' revolt against King John, forcing the signing of Magna Carta in 1216. I got two articles published on that! and of course I lived quite
close to Runnymede in 2016 at the 800th anniversary.


Another FitzWalter changed sides and was beheaded by Henry 7th for supporting the usurper Perkin Warbeck's claim to the crown. However his son showed such prowess at jousting that Henry 8th brought him back to court and blessed his marriage to his cousin Elizabeth Stafford. Henry then sent FitzWalter to fight in the wars with France and promptly took Elizabeth as his mistress. To keep FitzWalter on side he allowed him to carry the salt (above the salt and all that!) at the baptism of Henry's only son Edward, the poorly child-King who succeeded him to the crown. He also created him Viscount in 1527 so FitzWalters were both Lords of Essex and Earls of Sussex, titles they held until the titles went into abeyance in 1756 with the death of Earl Benjamin FitzWalter, who died without heir.

I could tell you many interesting stories throughout the centuries.. e.g. if you are ever in Canterbury cathedral you will find the tomb of Hubert Walter, Archbishop of Canterbury 1198-1204. He dropped the Fitz...not good to be an archbishop and a bastard!!!

The title was in abeyance until 1924 as it was thought than another possible claimant had not come forward. My grandfather got interested but did not pursue a claim. The earldom was discontinued but the barony was then awarded to a descendant through marriage to a sister of the 1756 Earl FitzWalter.

The current Lord FitzWalter is Julian of Goodestone Park near Canterbury. I had been in correspondence
with his late father and Christine and I went to Goodestone Park to meet him, but unfortunately he had been called away that day to London. My daughter and family did manage to meet him and his wife, Margaret nee Deedes, sister of the late Bill Deedes. You may remember that he accompanied Princess Diana to minefields. I also heard that Princess Diana had stood up Julian's brother George when she got engaged to Prince Charles, as she was supposed to be going to the ballet with him that evening....a decoy perhaps.

Lord Julian FitzWalter, a direct descendant to Baron Robert De FitzWalter, generously contributed to the conservation fund to enable the Magna Carta Baron's display at the The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, Canterbury's cultural hub. Post conservation, The Beaney welcomed him to visit his namesakes sculpture in the exhibition room.

Few can claim such prolific lineage, tracing their family history back from the time of the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. This continued throughout the Tudor period where the Fitzwalters were leading courtiers and politicians, later becoming the Earls of Sussex.

That's a little look into our ancestry and our very rare FitzWalter name. I should tell you that we, our parents and grandfather were the only FitzWalters in the Scottish records 1535 until the 1960 s when a father and son turn up in Glasgow. They were from a branch of FitzWalters who settled in Devon – I am in contact with them and I believe they have now returned south. ( I now live in Devon, Christine in Inverness...keeping easyJet in business!!!). No FitzWalter has ever died in Scotland.....question is, should I now return?

I conclude by telling you that we are mostly English! We were born in Scotland because our grandfather Wilfred FitzWalter MBE, of the Army Service Corps, who was decorated both in the Boer War and Great War was posted to the Scottish Borders in 1903 to open up Stobs Army Training Camp, known as the Aldershot of the North. He married there in 1907... Stobs Castle, where the officers were billeted, given as his place of residence.... our father was born in 1908 in Hawick.

After various army postings and the Great War they were in Ash Vale near Aldershot when his mother died. Our father was sent back to Scotland to be brought up by his Scottish Granny......and the rest is history.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this little dip into our family history and that it may make you think of the meaning of your family name and your history.

Miss Appledaisy
Hugh McGrory

I'm pretty sure that, if asked, most of you could still name the teacher(s) who had the most impact on your life.

I suspect that many of these would be primary school teachers. For me, despite having many excellent secondary school teachers at Morgan Academy, and a few at university, the two I remember most are Miss Laing and Miss Macpherson, my early primary teachers at Dens Road School.

In the late 70's I tracked down Miss Laing's whereabouts – she was retired and living in a small house in Victoria Street, Broughty Ferry. I sent her a summary article about a teacher, Miss Appledaisy, and thanked her for efforts to educate the wee me.

A little background – I spent 10 years managing college teachers (or as the saying goes, herding cats...) as a Department Chair and Associate Dean. It was an 'interesting' time, with much management/faculty interaction (think strike) regarding workload, class size, salary levels...

One argument put forward by the faculty union regarding remuneration was that teachers' salary scales should increase from early education through secondary, college, and university.

I argued the exact opposite – that kindergarten/early-primary teachers should receive the highest salaries – they have the most difficult job (herding kittens?) and have the most impact on pupils' futures. This was a perception on my part, not based on objective fact. (I believe that, sadly, post-primary teachers are often asked to manage the stable after the horse has gone – too late to have a major effect on their students.)

Then I read about Miss Appledaisy – I've told her story often since then, describing her as a Primary 1 teacher in the Catholic School System in Montreal, Quebec. In doing some further research for this story I realised that she actually spent her working life teaching in a Protestant school, the Royal Arthur School, in one of the poorest districts of Montreal.

Her name was Iole Appugliese, (pronounced Yolly Appul Yazy). The Grade 1 kids couldn't handle this, hence 'Miss Appledaisy'. She taught the youngest children at Royal Arthur for 34 years.

She was just five feet one inch tall, but she didn't have discipline problems – her pupils responded positively to her obvious affection and interest in them as individuals. She had a major objective for her Grade 1s – that they leave her class knowing how to read – and she spent after-class hours with those who needed extra help. Many of the children at Royal Arthur lived in poverty, and she was known to share her lunch with students, from time to time, when she saw the need.

Miss Appledaisy retired in 1971 at the age of 58 when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She could still address former students by name after 30 or 40 years. She died in 1973.

Eigil Pedersen was a pupil at Royal Arthur – he was not one of Miss Appledaisy's students. He later taught at the school for five years and eventually became a Professor of Education, and VP Academic, at McGill University in Montreal.

One of the early areas of research that Dr. Pedersen undertook with two colleagues was the exploration of the impact of early teaching on the achievement of pupils in later classes and in life after school. The methodology was to use records of Grade 1 students at Royal Arthur together with interviews of some of these students as adults.

At the school, Primary 1 students were allocated to one of three teachers with no attempt to stream into ability groups. It was found that students of Miss Appledaisy performed better in later primary school years than those in the other two classes – they showed greater effort, leadership and initiative.

It was concluded that a major reason for this was that Miss Appledaisy gave them a greater sense of self-worth and self-confidence because they could read better than the students of the other two teachers.

In each of the following six Grades their average general standing as a group was higher than for the other two Primary 1 classes, and these findings were statistically significant.

To assess whether this effect carried through into later life, the researchers conducted interviews with former students who had been in those classes. They measured adult status by assessing information such as length of schooling, occupational status, annual income, type and condition of housing, personal appearance, and interactions with the legal system...

They grouped the former students into three status levels, high, medium, low. The statistically significant results showed that Miss Appledaisy's pupils performed better – 2/3rds of her pupils were in the top group and the rest were in the middle group – not one was in the lowest group, which was populated by adults who had been taught by the other two teachers.

Miss Appledaisy's pupils were much more successful and prosperous than the others. Another interesting insight emerged from the interviews – all of Miss A's pupils remembered correctly that she had taught them – some of those who had not been in her class remembered, incorrectly, that they too had beeen in her class...

Dr. Pedersen was able to share these findings with Miss Appugliese before her death, telling her that the positive contributions she had made to her pupils so long before could still be measured objectively, thirty years later.

"This", he said, "was a teacher!"

Miss Laing responded warmly to my letter. She said that she had shared it with her friend Miss Macpherson and "in discussing it we even used the sentimental expression" 'a glow in the heart'...

She said, "The article was very interesting. I tried to be a good teacher, and have always thought that the influence might be very great but doubted that it could be measured or appreciated."

I was surprised that she still remembered me after some 35 years and more than a thousand students. She said "I remember a wee Hugh McGrory, –slim, tidy (a compliment to my mother), pleasant-mannered, dark-eyed, one hand in pocket, a roguish smile, scoring high marks in exams. It's so nice to remember."

About a year later I was in Dundee. Miss Laing, was now living in a pleasant little caretaker's cottage at the Taychreggan Hotel (I believe she was related in some way to the owner at that time), and I arranged to visit her.

When I arrived, she had a pleasant surprise for me – her friend Miss Macpherson was there too., and we had a very pleasant couple of hours together over tea and cake.

Miss Laing said that she remembered asking our class on one occasion to tell her what we wanted to be when we grew up. She still remembered my response... "I want to be an Architect." Apparently, though, I didn't say '(Noah's) Ark-itect, I said (The Golden) Arch-itect. Ironic that I ended up as an engineer – in many ways the opposite of an architect – influenced, no doubt, by those two fine teachers who set me on the right path...

PS
Many of you, I know, were teachers – if you want to read more about Miss Appledaisy here is a place to start. This 'Letter to The Editor' by Eigil Pedersen will also be of interest.

It Began in Caird Park
Jim Campbell
Dundee's Caird Park figured large in my very early memories. On one occasion walking in the vicinity with
my mum and sister and some friends (next door neighbours?) we were challenged by some soldiers who seemed to be guarding the approaches to Den o' Mains!
Luckily one of our party had a bag of sweeties (I seem to remember she worked at Keiller's) which, shared out, seemed to act as some sort of pass! Looking back I think that the said soldiers were evacuees from Dunkirk...

One of my uncles, not old enough at that stage to be conscripted, was an aeromodeller. I remember going with my Dad to watch him and his mates fly their creations at Caird Park. They used elastic to power the propellors.
The wings were tissue covered & attached by elastic bands.

I was impressed by the use of hand drills to wind up the multiple strands – some seemed too thick to fit within the flimsy tissue-paper covered body.

(To see a modern rubber-band model being powered up and flown under radio-control click here.)

On one momentous occasion my Dad and I were walking through Caird Park when we were 'attacked' by a group of Spitfire aircraft. They were so low and close to us that my Dad had to grab his hat to avoid it being blown off his head! (Many years later I read a war memoir by a Sergeant Pilot Smith who had trained at RAF Tealing. He and his colleagues were being trained there to become part of the Second Tactical Air Force for operations following the D-Day landings.)

I think that those Spitfires my ambition to become a pilot. As soon as I was old enough I joined the 1232 squadron of the Air Training Corps at Craigiebarns. I don't remember being a particularly good cadet or whether I got reasonable marks for studying Meteorology, Aircraft Recognition etc. But I did qualify for Gliding Training at RAF Grangemouth.

We would travel to Grangemouth in a RAF vehicle driven by Flight Lieutenant Silk who was the local RAF
Recruiting Officer. He drove us on a Friday evening in a 'Standard Vanguard' truck (half-tonner?).

On one particular occasion I was detailed to occupy the rear tray under the canvas canopy.

The gliders – tandem 'Slingsbys' and side-by-side 'Sedberghs' were launched by means of a truck-
mounted winch via a 1,000ft or so cable. I was pretty sure I would be allowed to fly 'solo' that weekend.

On Saturday morning I awoke with a splitting headache. It was so bad I could hardly bear to put one foot in front of another. I certainly was not 'fit to fly'...
That put an end to my hopes and ambitions of becoming a pilot. I submitted to all sorts of tests and physical examinations but no reason could be found. I was formally declared unfit to fly. Still had to do my National Service, of course, but not even allowed to go abroad and therefore ineligible for officer status...

Many, many, years later, in another country, I self-diagnosed the cause. Carbon-monoxide poisoning from sitting in the back of that wretched truck!

Even more years later in that other country – this is my aeroplane!


My Friend Joe - 3
Hugh McGrory

In 1986, one of Joe's daughters was graduating from a university in California, and he flew out for the occasion. After the ceremony, on Saturday, December 20th 1986, they set off to fly back to the east coast. The first leg of their journey was from Long Beach Airport, California, to Garden City Airport, Kansas.

At 17,500 feet, they ran into cloud and freezing temperatures and the engine failed. Joe was unable to restart it and had to make a forced landing descent. The plane hit the ground at an elevation of 6100 ft.

Presumably through a combination of skill and luck, the plane, though suffering substanial damage, was not completely destroyed on landing. It came down quite close to a highway near Flagstaff, Arizona – they could, apparently, see the headlights on a nearby road as they came down (possibly the old, fabled Route 66).

Joe's daughter was not badly injured, and she survived – because of the location, help arrived relatively quickly. Despite this, my friend Joe died at the site.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent U.S. Government investigative agency responsible for civil transportation accident investigation. The NTSB report stated that the air induction system was totally blocked by ice, and that Joe had not followed proper procedure in that he failed to switch to the secondary induction port.

From a mutual friend I heard that the cause of death was a throat injury from impact with the yoke. Apparently, Joe's seat belt was found to be open – it's not clear why – perhaps he was trying to reach for something?

I really want to believe that Joe was conscious immediately after the crash – long enough to know that his daughter was not badly hurt...

He was 59 when he died...
Favourite Foods
Gordon Findlay

Have you ever caught a scent of something in the air, a whiff of some delightful aroma which, for a second, transports you back to the time when you sat with brothers or sisters or parents – or all of them – and ate that irresistible dish?
For me, it's stovies. It may have had another name in different parts of Scotland but in Dundee they were stovies. A pot of chopped potatoes with lots of onion and some beef or sausages thrown in, all simmering gently on the stove. I can still remember walking along Shamrock Street and starting to salivate as I walked towards our back door with the warm and inviting smell of stovies coming from our kitchen window.

Mind you, I'd have a hard time choosing between a plateful of stovies and that other staple of the Scottish menu – tatties and mince. When it was ladled on to your plate beside a steaming white mound of mashed tatties (a large dollop of butter melting gently down the side) you had a tummy-filler that could match any other dish, anywhere.

When I left to come to Canada my mother handed me a small envelope. Inside there was a small sheaf of pound notes, a couple of addresses of Dundonians living in the Toronto area – plus her original recipe for mince written out in longhand. I'm happy to say it's in our recipe box to this day and still produces mince that is dark, rich and delicious.

For some reason when I think of stovies or mince I also think of Irn-Bru ' that lemonade with the distinctive taste, and colour. Nobody else in our family liked the stuff, but every so often my father would come home, give me a conspiratorial grin, and show me the bottle of Barr's Irn-Bru he had brought home for me. Even a day after it had been opened and the fizz had long disappeared I still loved the rusty-coloured stuff.

But let's get back to those hot comfort foods – and what could compare to a hot mealy pudden' wi' chips? That was the perfect capper to a night at the pictures. We'd duck out of the cold air and into the fish and chipper where the air was always heavy with the grease and smoke of frying chips. But once outside again, you could feel your hands grow warm around your poke of hot greasy chips (slathered with vinegar and salt, of course!). And there, stuck right in the middle was a princely feast in itself: a mealy pudden encased in its shell of crusty golden batter.

That combination took away the nippy air of many winter nights as we walked our way home re-living the action scenes from the latest Western epic we had just seen.

I was later to be lured away from white to black puddens – there was something rich and solid in them that appealed to my taste buds. (I was later to learn that a prime ingredient in black puddens – and something that gave them their distinctive flavor – was pig's blood, of which there was doubtless a surplus in the slaughterhouse).

As I grew into a fully-fledged teenager I developed a taste for those other prime products of Scottish gastronomy, the Scotch pie and the bridie, the latter supposedly invented by Forfar baker in the 1850s.

There was something very simple but delicious in siting down to the table and seeing in front of you a hot Scotch pie with a pile of baked beans smothered over its top. They probably had too much saturated fat and way too much salt in them, but they were simply great eating. I seem to recall that Wallace's Bakery made some of Dundee's best.

About a month ago, my wife and I decided to visit a new bakery which opened up near us. No sooner had we walked in the door and sniffed the warm, yeasty air than I was whisked back to Dundee. Early morning – ready for breakfast – hungry as a horse – and suddenly my father was carrying in a plateful of morning rolls (baps) just delivered and still warm from the oven.

The sheer joy of tearing one open, slapping on some butter, then a nice wee spoonful of raspberry jam, and – into the mouth. Sheer heaven!
My Friend Joe - 2
Hugh McGrory

Joe and I were both in Florida attending another of our regular meeetings – he had flown down, and one afternoon he asked if I'd like to take a flight to see Florida from the air, and of course I did. We first flew over Disney World – he tilted the plane so that the right wingtip was pointing at the ground, and circled above The Magic Kingdom.

Sitting in the cockpit felt rather like sitting in a VW bug – although the leg room in the Mooney was fine, Joe and I were almost touching shoulders, and my right shoulder was almost touching the only door.


Despite the fact that I was well strapped in, as we circled, my heart was in my mouth – I was looking straight down, and had visions of the door opening and me falling out, landing on Mickey Mouse and killing him in front of hundreds of kids...

The other thing that struck me was that Disney World seemed to have been cut out of the Everglades (in fact, my geography was more than a bit off, since the northern edge of the Everglades was more than a 100 miles south on the southern edge of Lake Okeechobee).

As I remember it, it looked something like the photograph to the right (a tight grouping of buildings surrounded by wild country), but when I looked at it recently on Google Earth, the whole area around seems to be very urbanised – of course it has been over 40 years...

We then continued eastwards, and Joe contacted air traffic control at the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral and asked for permission to fly over and along the runway that the Space Shuttles used to land.

Permission was given, and we flew south to north very low along the glide path of the Shuttles, and leveled out at about 200 feet perhaps. Shuttles usually landed south to north (designated as runway 33) – the photo
shows a north to south approach (same runway – designated 15). I know that as we approached the runway, we passed the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on our right and we were looking up to see its roof – over 500 feet high. You can see this huge building in the top left corner.

The VAB is where the Shuttles and the Saturn rockets were assembled – it's one of the largest buildings in the world by volume, the largest single-story building in the world, and is the tallest building in the United States outside of urban areas.

If you'd like to experience, vicariously, our flyby, this video comes close (you should skip the portion between minutes 1:00 and 3:00) – we came from the other direction, and we flew right up the middle of the runway to simulate the glide path of the Shuttles. (You did know that they were gliders on the way down, no engine power – which means they had to get it right first time, because there was no 'go-round'.) If you'd like to see what it was like for the Shuttle pilots during a real landing on runway 33, this video is the real thing.

That flight with Joe, was a great experience that I've never forgotten.

Playing in the Street
Norrie Henderson

I enjoyed the recent Cardross Street anecdote from Dave Lowden and Jim Howie!

I don't have any memories of the incident they describe (after all, I was one of the Barnes Avenue mafia which, though a short walk away, was literally on the other/wrong side of the tracks due to the old coal-carrying rail line which ran parallel to the Cleppy (i.e Clepington Road.))

The story of child-unfriendly residents did, however, stir a memory of a sortie into Cardross Street by a group of us at Hallowe'en sometime in the late 40s.

Our local scouts mentioned a certain local lady who apparently lived alone and was felt to be disapproving of children. After some discussion, we decided to see how she would react to our solicitations . So we rang the bell and waited; when the lady appeared we asked ( as politely as kids could manage) if she 'needed ony guisers.'

She seemed rather surprised but not displeased. I can't remember any details of our 'performances' or even whether we actually went inside but I do remember she gave us our best cash reward of the evening!

I don't remember who else was in the group but perhaps there are others who do recall this.

Playing in the street was familiar to most of our generation. I'm reminded of a delightful Glasgow poem by Edward Boyd:

In Barnes Avenue, however, we had the good fortune to live adjacent to the sports field at Graham Street which could be easily entered at any time by scaling the fence between it and the gardens behind houses on the south side of the street.

As counterpoint to the Glasgow street shown above, I thought I'd include a couple of my own pics from Dundee. These were taken in April 1963 in a street near the west Port and long demolished to make way for university expansion.


My Friend Joe - 1
Hugh McGrory

I was chairing a meeting sometime in the '70s in Washington DC, and I had two friends and colleagues sitting either side of me, Joe and Vinnie. We were all there because of our professional interests in computers and engineering.

I had to introduce them to the audience and began by saying "These two guys sitting beside me have 20 children between them, ten each" (not often you can say that...). There were a few gasps from the audience and one or two "Wows".

"But don't worry", I said, "I had a little chat with them both before the meeting and explained what's been causing it..."

But to my story –

For about fifteen years, mostly through the '70s, Joe and I, together with many able professionals in engineering and computing, dedicated untold hours to an organisation dedicated to promoting the use of computers in engineering. Joe was an innovator who could get things done – and if he liked an objective that you were pursuing, he would work hard to help you make it happen. I'm truly glad that I had the opportunity to know him, professionally and personally.

He was a multi-talented individual, and one of his skills was flying. He had his own plane, a Mooney M20, one of a family of four-seater, piston-powered, propeller-driven, general aviation aircraft, with low wings and tricycle landing gear.

The M20 was manufactured by the Mooney Airplane Company of Kerrville, Texas – it was the 20th design from Al Mooney, and his most successful plane.

Joe had the M20K (like the one above) which was a medium-body and was marketed as the Mooney 231. It was produced between 1979 and 1998 and had a turbocharged six-cylinder engine.

After the meeting, Joe and I had to meet with some people from IBM in New York State – we wanted support for a proposed National Centre for Computing in Engineering in the United States (we were unsuccessful...). Joe flew us there and back.

I sat in the right hand seat, of course, and Joe and I both had headsets on so that we could talk easily to each other, and I could listen in to traffic between Joe (and other planes) as the pilots talked to various air traffic controllers.

The Convention on International Civil Aviation requires that all civil aircraft must be registered with a national aviation authority (NAA) using procedures set by each country. (Every country has a NAA whose functions include the registration of civil aircraft.) The NAA allocates a unique alphanumeric string to identify the aircraft, which also indicates the nationality (country of registration). So Joe's plane had a registration number like N1234A , and he used this each time he used the radio.

As we flew, I could hear the chatter from other pilots and air traffic controllers using these unique identifiers when giving or receiving information. Knowing very little about airplanes or flying, this was all very interesting to me. Then I heard a pilot seemingly breaking with protocol – a very English voice saying something like "JFK Tower, this is Concorde."

Joe said "Very few flights aren't required to use registration number identification (Air Force 1?) and Concorde is one of those..."

I flew several times with Joe, and I was impressed at how disciplined and yet how casual small plane flying could be. Disciplined in the way that the pilot follows regulations regarding filing of flight plans, pre-flight checks, communicating with flight control etc, but casual as in, "You hungry?" "Yes I am." "OK, there's a small airfield up ahead that serves a great all-day breakfast, let's drop in" – just like pulling off a highway into a service centre...

Stay tuned for a couple of further stories on Joe and his Mooney.

Hucky Duck
Gordon Findlay
I wonder if any ex-Morgan types out there remember playing 'Hucky Duck' in the schoolyard? Now that I suffer from a very creaky back, I wonder if some of those hard-driving games of Hucky Duck put a couple of dents in my discs. But it was too much fun at the time to worry about stuff like that.

My memory of the rules is a bit fuzzy, but first naturally, we chose sides, usually five or six on each team. You did 'rock, paper, scissors' to see who started, and the game began.

The team that lost the draw had its players crouch down level from the waist, holding on, one behind the other a bit like a rugby scrum, until they had formed one long line of boys presenting their backs.

Then, one by one, the opposing team ran towards them, jumping at the last moment to land as far up the line of backs as possible. They all did this – thump! thump! thump! And then came the last, savage part of the game.

This clump of boys on top then all humped up and down as hard as they could, chanting "Hucky duck! Hucky duck! One two three!" They did this three times. The idea was to make the line of suffering lads beneath them give way and collapse in a heap.

If the line held up (and it was tough when the opposing team had a couple of heavyweights to thump down on you) then you had survived. And now it was your turn to leap on to their backs and let loose the Hucky Duck chant as you humped up and down on their backs as hard as you could. See it live here –

There–s no doubt an orthopedic surgeon today would be appalled at this schoolyard game. But when you're 10 or 11
years old, full of energy and high spirits, it was marvelous fun.

PS
This game has been around for a long time. Take a look at this painting, Childrens' Games, by Pieter Breughel, The Elder, dated 1560. It shows more than 80 games that children played 450 years ago – can you spot the one of interest? If not, click on the painting.

The game has many names:
– 'Bok-bok', South Africa
– 'Booleroo', Australia
– 'Buck Buck', USA
– 'Bung the Bucket'
– 'Finger, Thumb and Rusty Bum', Sheffield
– 'Hi-Cock-a-Lorum' , Kent
– 'High Cockalorum', RAF Officers' Mess
– 'High Jimmy Knacker', East London
– 'Hucky Duck', Dundee
– 'Hunch Cuddy Hunch', Scotland
– 'Husky, Fusky, Finger or Thumb', Notts
– 'Jack Upon the Mopstick'
– 'Johnny on the Pony', USA
– 'Jump the Knacker 1-2-3', Watford
– 'Polly on the Mopstick', Birmingham
– 'Stagger Loney', Cardiff
– 'Strong Horses, Weak Donkeys', Monmouthshire
– 'Trust', Lancashire
– 'Wall-e-Acker','Warny Echo', NW London.

In parts of Scotland and in Newcastle it's 'Mount A Cuddy', and this has such variants as 'Montakitty, 'Mont-a-Kitty' in Middlesbrough, 'Multikitty' and 'Muntikitty'. Still played around the world, today by kids, and adults.

The Fife Coal Miners - 2
Granda McGrory

Hugh McGrory

My grandmothers gave birth a total of 26 times – 17 of these on my father's side. Of course, as was not uncommon around the beginning of the 20th century, quite a few of the babies died very young. (Around
1900, in Scotland, about 20% of all deaths recorded were infants less than one year old – 13% of babies died before reaching their first birthday – today in Scotland it's about 1.4%.) When I was a preschooler I had 8 uncles and 8 aunts, 10 having died before I was born.

The photograph on the right shows my Granda McGrory and his five sons (or 'The High Forehead Gang' as I've come to think of them...).

Back row from the left: Hugh (my Dad), Mick (aka Uncle Mick), and Wullie (whom you've met before, and who died at sea during the war), and front row: Barney (father of my cousins Mike (aka Big Mick), and Frank who was at Morgan a year ahead of me), Granda (aka Auld Mick), and James.

Granda, James, and Barney all worked in the Fife coal mines, my Dad was a bricklayer, and Mick was the local barber in Lower Methil, Fife, where this photo was taken around 1936/37.

The McGrorys first came to Scotland from Donegal around the time of the Irish Famine, settling first in Hamilton. They moved to the Methil area to work in the mines just before the outbreak of the First World War, living in Buckhaven, Denbeath, then Lower Methil.

All of the above is background to the story I want to tell you about Granda and Uncle Barney:

The Fife Mining Community

Fife miners had a long history of fighting for their rights. In 1870, by means of a stay-down strike, they were the first in Europe to win the eight-hour day. The Buckhaven and Methil miners, most of whom would have worked at either the Wellesley or the Michael, were particularly determined. So when the British miners were betrayed by the TUC and the General Strike ended, they were in the forefront of those who continued to defy the mine owners.

Note: Comments below in quotes, are taken from the recollections of John McArthur, a parish councillor from E. Wemyss, and one of the local miners' leaders. The word strike is used a lot, but technically it wasn't a strike, since the owner's had locked the gates to the collieries to keep them out. Excerpts below are from 'The Militant Miners', edited by Ian MacDougall, published by Polygon Books, 1981.

John McArthur:
"The strike in the Methil area was 100 per cent solid. Not one man was found wanting. Not a vehicle moved."

Note: The General Strike Committee set up a system of sub-conveners each responsible for departments – Transportation, with a strict system of permits without which no vehicle could pass through the picketed areas; Defence and Organisation of Pickets; a Youth Committee; Communications, which made use of the Leven Motor Cycle Club's volunteered services as couriers and despatch riders; Entertainment, to counteract boredom; Publicity and Propaganda, for speaking engagements and publications.

"On the other side were the police under the command of an Inspector Clark who was notorious in our area for brutality, and he had under him a Sergeant Park who was equally of this type. Almost every conceivable avenue that he could think of he was always threatening to use against the strikers, and particularly against the strike leaders."

Note: The authorities preferred to use policemen who were strangers, and they drafted in personnel from all over the country – some were rumored to be Black and Tans brought over from Ireland along with their vicious reputation.

"The whole system of control over transport by the union was most complete and effective. Even if an ambulance was needed to take a special case to Edinburgh Infirm- ary, or hospital locally, they had to apply for permits. Permits were not readily granted by the Transportation committee.

On one occasion a runner came down from Station Road, one of the main road junctions, to say that there had been an attempt to stop a beer lorry from getting through and the police had carried out a baton charge and three of our picket were arrested."

Note: At one of the pickets set up by the Buckhaven and Methil miners, a McEwans brewery lorry driver had decided that he wasn't going to be stopped from delivering his beer. He had prepared his lorry by creating a wire cage aound the cab and had already driven right through the pickets at Lochgelly, Bowhill and Dysart. When he got to Muiredge and the Wellesley Road, the pickets couldn't stop him, but several of the miners mounted the lorry and threw every one of the barrels into the gutter. Despite the fact that none of them had had a beer for some time, their discipline was such that none of the beer was drunk... The police couldn't stop the miners, but, as stated earlier, they
arrested three.

McArthur again:
"When I proceeded to the scene, men, women and children were running towards the area in hundreds, grasping whatever weapons they could get their hands on – some with fireside pokers, some with sticks, some with pickshafts, stones, or bottles. There was a building site adjoining and the police that were left were getting stoned and were running for their lives. One policeman cleared a six-foot wall round the slaughterhouse non-stop. He would have been suitable for the Olympics.

There was an immediate demand that we assault the police cells in order to get the three lads out. This raised an issue that was new to us but which we felt we would have to cope with. So it was arranged that we would have a meeting immediately at the big strike centre in the Co-operative Hall. The hall was packed to suffocation. Our meeting was taken charge of by Davie Proudfoot, who was convener of the Methil Central Strike Committee. He said, 'Well, we've now got to meet force with organised resistance. The picketing must be carried out, the strike must go on. We're in this strike for the purpose of winning it. We're not going to be diverted by police baton charges. That is a feature we'll just have to face and overcome.'

So we agreed to get some form of organisation. We in the strike leadership started off by saying, 'All right, every man look at his neighbour sitting beside him. If you can't volunteer or vouch for him let him be questioned to prove he is a genuine striker.'

Then we set about setting up a properly disciplined organisation. We asked everybody who had had army or navy experience to move to one side of the hall. Then we asked if anybody had been an officer. We did not run to the extent of having an officer. But we had two sergeant-majors and they were made corps commanders.

Everyone who had been an N.C.O. in the army was given charge of ten privates, and each private was given charge of ten men who had had no army experience. These ex-servicemen had complete control of this Workers' Defence Corps. There had been a lot of the youth committee and others in a loosely formed picket or Defence Corps before the baton charge, but its ranks swelled to about 750 or 800 afterwards.

We said, 'Well, you can arrange now the main points where picketing has to be done and decide how many men you require in order to make picketing continuous, with men held in reserve."' We organised cyclists who could act as couriers, and particularly valued were young lads who had motor-cycles.

At that stage the most fierce discussion took place; what were we going to do to get the three men out who had been arrested? There were immediate demands that we should march up to the police buildings and forcibly rescue these men."

Granda and Uncle Barney

This is where the McGrorys come in – one of the three men in the cells was my Uncle Barney.

McArthur again:
"I am not sure what would have been the outcome of that discussion but for the intervention of the father of Barney McGrory, one of the lads who had been arrested. The family was Irish Catholic and they were active militants in the labour movement. The father was old Mick McGrory.

He got up to say, 'Look, we're in a strike which is equivalent to a battle for our lives and our livelihood and all that we hold dear. You can't have a battle, unfortunately, without casualties. But if the battle is to continue then you must accept the casualties and carry on. My son happens to be one of the first casualties. I am very, very sorry that that is so, but he along with me would wish that we don't do anything that would prevent us from carrying out the strike. So we carry out the strike and they'll bear the consequences of having been arrested.'

That had a tremendous effect on the meeting and I think was mainly responsible for getting our policy accepted at that big meeting of men. So each man then went home, had a meal, and reported to the strike headquarters. I remember going back down to the headquarters when the first company were going to resume the picketing. As they came up with the sergeant-major in front, he saw me coming along and he shouts, "Eyes left" You could see the arms swinging. The arms were rigid because they were concealing pokers, hammers, and what have you.

The important thing is they went back to the scene where the baton charge took place. By that time there had been busloads of police drawn in from every area. But the picket took up its post and I remember watching them working. There were three roads converging on to this corner where the baton charge had taken place. The non-commissioned officer in charge of the picket put twenty men on each road, twenty men stopping the main traffic, with push-bikes running back and forward in advance, so that they could get timeous notice of any vehicle that was proceeding in that direction.

And then they had something like fifty men standing by in reserve in case they should be needed. In spite of the fact that there was a big contingent of police, they stopped every vehicle that came along and continued this activity. It was a marvelous display of organised, disciplined activity. They did their work without looking at the police. Everybody knew, including the police, that if anything untoward had happened they would have had a real struggle on their hands; and while there might have been some casualties amongst the strikers there equally would have been a number amongst the police.

I have heard it said that in some areas there was collaboration between the workers' pickets and the police in order to keep order. There was no such arrangement in the Methil-Buckhaven area! There the pickets went on duty armed with whatever they could secure: pickshafts, pokers, railway distance pieces, and anything that would be useful in a dust-up. They all also were under instructions to wear their pit boots – they also would be handy in a dust-up. A number of them even used the hard hat they had in the pit at the time, but this was not common. From the time that the Defence Corps became an organised body there was no more police interference with the pickets.

But that night the midnight or overnight arrests started. Proudfoot was arrested, and one or two others. These arrests were carried out at two o'clock in the morning. And that became the fashion. If you were going to be arrested, it happened when they thought everybody else was in bed. So that double precautions started to be taken, and those that were recognised as leaders had a protection squad allocated to them.

I remember an amusing development. The lads would approach you and say, 'Look, make sure you're not going to be arrested at night, make sure you're not sleeping in your own house.' Ordinary miners would come forward and give you a key to their house, and you had to put their name on it. I had a pocketful of keys for houses that I could go into without warning."

The photo below, taken at the railway station, shows the three miners who had been arrested – judging by the way they're dressed, they may be going to or coming from court – my Uncle Barney is on the left. You can see that they are unbowed. In my imagination they are saying to themselves 'You decreased our wages; you increased our hours; but we'll decide whether or not the beer lorries get through...'


The miners maintained resistance for a further six months after the TUC gave up. In late August, the
Nottinghamshire Miners Association broke ranks, and negotiated a deal with the local mine owners (the Notts miners were strikebreakers again in the 1984 strike).

In some mining areas, strikebreakers were ostracised in their communities for the rest of their lives, and some were still being referred to as scabs at the time of the 1984-85 'Maggie Thatcher' strike.

By the end of November, 1926, most miners had been starved – literally starved – back to work. However, many were black-balled my the mine owners, and remained unemployed for many years. Those that were employed were forced to accept longer hours, lower wages, and district wage agreements. The strikers felt as though they had achieved nothing.

So how did the miners and their families fare in the years following the strike? The following paragraphs were written by a journalist who visited unemployed miners in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, in 1933, seven years after the strike:

"With his wife and two children he lives in one-half of a house, which costs him seven shillings a week in rent. The house has not been repaired for fourteen years. Its windows do not shut tight, and it is damp. The lavatory is thirty yards away from the house, at the top of the adjacent yard. There is one water-tap for both families. This family's income is the father's unemployment benefit of 27 shillings and thruppence; after paying rent they have roughly a pound left to live on. Coal costs them half-a-crown a week.

This is their normal daily menu:
Breakfast – toast, margarine, tea.
Dinner – a few pennyworth of meat and potatoes, an onion, bread and tea.
Supper – same as breakfast.

Fresh milk is unknown in this family, who consume four tins of a cheap brand of skimmed condensed milk a week. It is not surprising that the eldest child was found to be suffering from malnutrition and was developing tubercular glands."

On the bright side, in case you're worried, it seems that the mineowners were able to maintain their standard of living very nicely thank you, despite the hard times.

The Dundee Vernacular
Ian Gordon

Gordon Findlay's article on the Dundee accent set me laughing and reminiscing about days gone by. It's been over 50 years now since I was in regular contact with the ever-so-familiar vernacular (the Dundee language is much more than an accent.) Every time I hear a word or two I get that comfortable feeling like I was back home in Dundee.

I've travelled a lot over the years and have experienced many accents–in languages such as Spanish, French, German, Afrikaans and Portuguese–spoken with different accents in the many different countries and individual cities–but none come close to bringing back lasting memories like these...

A few scenes from the Dundee I knew:

The Clothes-Drying Green

The wimen git left t' dae the washin an ir hingin' thir claes oot on the greenie
The bairns are in their feet an' nippin' at their peenies.

(Competition is keen on the quality of the wash and newcomers' claes are usually classified as no awfy clean.)

Enter a dark-skinned man carrying bunches of onions aroon his shidders.'Oh, look wha's here – it's Ingin Johnny. Jist in time– ehv only got a couple left fae last year. Gie's a dizzen big anes. Ah'll need tae gie them a good waash the night. That'll gie me a good greet!

THE FISH & CHIP SHOP

They don't look so great anymore, but in our day as teenagers, and even beyond, it was exciting (cool?) to finish off your Saturday night activities with fish and chips (a fish supper!) – accompanied by mushy peas.

In our day, Dundee had many fine fish and chip shops – remember The Deep Sea in its original location? Our favourite shop was always the one on Victoria Street, near the junction with Albert Street (couldn't find a photo). The shop was proudly owned and managed by Joe Delano, one of the many Italians who ran the Fish and Chip shops and Ice Cream parlors in Dundee. Joe and his wife Dora, who attended the customers while Joe fried the fish, were both remarkably bilingual in Italian and in the Dundee vernacular. I never heard them utter a word of English!

A bunch of six or eight of us would come in about 9.30 pm and order
to take back to the small sitting room. Maria would always find it difficult to control eight hungry teenagers, all struggling to get their meal first. "Jist a meenit, jist a meenit", Maria would cry out to the melee. Then Joe would come to his wife's rescue – "Whit's a goin' on? Look you, yer skelling yir peas a' ower mi bliddy coonter!

Joe's stentorian tones (I think he would have made a great opera singer in another life!) calmed everybody down. During the rest of the evening, when things got a bit noisy in the sitting room, we would hear Joe call out: "A'm hearin' yis. –Nither squeak 'n yer oot on yir bums."–"

I've been dreaming for years about fish and chips at Joe Delano's. I've dined in some very elegant places during my life–but I never dream about any of them.

Shakespeare in Dundee

It was a real jolt for some of us when we were introduced to Shakespeare–if my memory serves me right it was in our 1st year at Morgan. We were fast casting off the remnants of the vernacular and learning to speak proper. It took longer for some than others! Shakespeare was something else again!

Anyway, the Scottish syllabus of these days had us reading A Midsummer Night's Dream in our first year. The plot, if you have any memory of it, is one of the most unlikely and complicated of Shakespeare's works–so the verbiage coming out of the mouths of 12 year-old Dundee pupils was decidedly more vernacular than Shakespearean. However, the enthusiasm of Cheesie, our English Lit teacher, was such that he had us play the parts as we went along.

I think Hugh got the role of Puck, because he was always busy arranging things, but I would get sued for disclosing who played Bottom–even after 70 years! The role of Snug, the joiner, was given to Islay Robertson, that sweet guy with the permanent toothy smile. Now, the intricacies of the plot provided for Snug being transformed into a lion and announcing regally that he was king of the jungle, in strident Shakespearean tones.

Drama was at a peak in the classroom, as the lion came forth to deliver his only, but earthshattering, lines:

"And the lion doth roAAAr"

Islay's words resounded over the classroom, which by now had dissolved into an uproar of laughter. For all present, all of Pyramus and Thisbe's problems were forgotten, none of Shakespeare's grand words were relevant. Islay had relegated Shakespeare's words to second place and would forever make him the star in our eyes (and ears).

The vernacular may well withstand the test of time.
*
This is a big year for many of us – we are reaching our 80th birthday. My big day was Thursday the 13th of April. I sincerely hope that all of you octogenarians are blessed with good health and the support and love of your family. Happy Birthday!

Yours Aye, Ian.
The Fife Coal Miners – 1
Background

Hugh McGrory

I intended to post a story, set in 1926, about my Granda and one of his sons, my uncle, both coal miners.

However, as I began to write it, I realised how woefully ignorant I was about the period between the Great Wars, and only when I read some of the history did I better understand what it was like for my Dad, his parents and siblings in a mining community in Fife through the '20s and '30s. So at the risk of boring you all to tears, I'm going to lay out, first, the historical background to my Granda's story.

The Lock-out of the British Mineworkers, and the General Strike of 1926.

Coal was vital to the war effort in 1914-18. In the early years there were coal shortages and hoarding – coal production slowed and a coal famine was reported. Shortages at home were caused by transportation
difficulties, and by lack of labour availability, many miners having volunteered to serve in the forces (some for patriotic reasons, some because anything would be better than working in a coal mine). Also, France's industries had been hit hard by the invading German troops, and the country was importing coal from Britain to aid its armament production. This added to the shortages at home.

In February 1915 the Government decided that it had to take control of the mines, declared mining
a reserved occupation, and improved miner's wages and working conditions.

In 1918, British men returned from the war to find food scarce and prices rising so that their wages were being devalued (the coal industry employed 10% of all British working men). They saw a high demand for coal enriching the Government and the mine owners, while their own pay and conditions worsened.

At the time, working conditions were awful – there were few mines with showers for the workers, many of whom had no bathrooms or toilets in their houses. A miner was killed on average every five hours throughout the year and 20% of the workforce suffered injuries every year – around 500 were injured or maimed every day.

Can you imagine working a long day in a colliery, with coal dust in every pore, having no showers available at the mine and going home to a house that often had no inside toilet or bathroom and sometimes only an outside tap for water. The photos below show how a miner got rid of the coal dust (these photographs are actually from West Virginia in the 1940s, a miner name Milong Bond – but typical of many UK miners of the '20s and '30s).
When injuries were caused by work, most pit managers would sanction compensation, but when war veterans were injured, the managers often claimed the responsibility lay with the armed forces. The forces then counter-claimed that the injuries were the fault of the mine owners and thus the men who fought the Great War 'for civilisation and freedom' were left unable to work and unentitled to any support.

With the mines returned to private ownership, the mine owners wanted to maintain and increase profitability. This turned out to be difficult for a number of reasons:

•   The heavy use of coal during the First World War had depleted the rich, easy coal seams.

•   Since Britain exported less coal during the war, other countries filled the gap and Britain lost future overseas customers.

•   Coal production which had been falling since 1914 was at its lowest ebb in 1926. Output per man had fallen by 25% since before the war reflecting the fact that the more difficult seams now had to be mined.

•   As part of their reparations for the First World War, Germany had to export "free coal" to France and Italy.

•   Winston Churchill had reintroduced the gold standard in 1925 which made the British pound too strong for effective exporting. It also raised interest rates and hurt the profits of some businesses.

Mine owners turned again to their favourite strategy – reduce wages and increase the length of the working day – in order to maintain their profits, and they found it only too easy to reduce the wages of their workforce. They told the miners to accept a pay cut of 13% and an increase in hours from 7 to 8 hours per day. The miner's weekly pay had already gone down from £6.00 to £3.90 in the space of seven years.

The cartoon on the right – entitled "The Subsidised Mineowner–Poor Beggar!" was published by the Trade Union Unity Magazine in 1925.

The MFGB, the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, rejected the terms: "Not a penny off the pay, not a minute on the day."

At one point and to his credit, King George V tried to stabilise the situation and create balance by saying, "Try living on their wages before you judge them."

The owners announced that the miners would be locked out as of May 1st, 1926.

The General Council of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) called a General Strike to begin May 4th, 1926 in
an attempt to force the British Government to act to prevent wage reduction and worsening conditions for the 1.2 million locked-out coal miners.

Some 1.7 million workers were out – the locked out miners were supported by some half million workers who went on strike across the country, principally from the transport and heavy industries.

By May 4th over 4 million workers were out and Britain was virtually closed down, public transport ceased and people had
to walk to work – the working class was in charge. The Government enlisted middle class volunteers to maintain essential services. There was little violence.

Then, the TUC, which, without informing the miners' leaders, had been holding secret talks with the Government and the mine owners, after nine days, said that they would call off the strike if there was a guarantee that there would be no victimization of strikers. The Government stated that it had "no power to compel employers to take back every man who had been on strike."

The TUC folded and ended the strike anyway without a single concession made to the miners' case. (One theory for the TUC 'seizing defeat from the jaws of victory' is that they were persuaded that it was not a justifiable strike, but rather an attempt at a Communist takeover of the country. History has shown that this was nonsense.)

The miners, understandably, saw this as a huge betrayal, which left them worse off than before, and vowed to continue their defiance and fight on alone.

The Fife miners were amongst the most militant of Britain's colliery workers, and in a couple of weeks I'll tell you how they handled themselves and of the part played by my Granda and my Uncle Barney.

Morgan FP Rugby
Alistair Mackay
In 1959 I was invited to start training with Strathmore Rugby Club I accepted and thoroughly enjoyed travelling to Forfar three times per week to meet with all the players. I was delighted when I was selected as tight head prop for the first game of season and asked to lead the scrum.

The first game at Forfar was progressing well when the Captain playing at scrum half was injured and was not able to continue. When we returned to the changing rooms after the game the Captain was lying on a bench presumably waiting for the Doctor.

Returning to training on the following Tuesday we were informed that the injury was more serious than we thought, and that unfortunately his leg had been amputated. If medical treatment had been more readily available the outcome might have been more favourable. His rugby playing days were obviously over but he was a regular spectator at all Strathmore games thereafter.

A sad story but medical services are now always in attendance at all contact sports.

Later that season we had an away fixture against Morgan Academy and I must have played well because Ian Norrie the Morgan Captain asked me to play for Morgan which was my home club. I quickly accepted as the Morgan had a better fixture list than Strathmore and were recognised at that time to be a better club. This was before leagues so Rugby although highly competitive was purely social.

I was selected for their next game at tight head prop a position that I retained for the rest of my playing career. The backbone of the team included senior players Frank Stott, Bill Kydd, John Paul, Gus Sim and Ian Norrie. There were also my contemporaries, Dave Meechie, Sandy Duncan, Laurie Mitchell, Jim Ritch, Tom Burt, Alex Gouick, Ian Lindsay and Dave MacKenzie – they all made me very welcome enjoying regular social evenings at The Breadalbane Pub in Constitution Street and the dances at the Chalet Dance Hall in Broughty Ferry.

Training on Tuesdays and Thursdays was at Forfar Road ground or during winter in the school hall. The circuit training in the hall followed by 5-aside football was the favourite as it was warm and chance of a quick wash.

We had excellent fixtures but the memorable games were in Aberdeen against Aberdeenshire who had Ken Scotland, Gordonians , Aberdeenshire, and Aberdeen Grammar School. We would leave Dundee by charter bus at 11.30am in plenty time for a 2.30pm kick off. Playing 35 minutes each way with a short break at half time we were generally finished without the need for floodlights which all the Aberdeen clubs had available if necessary.

The facilities at all the Aberdeen clubs were excellent so after we all enjoyed a leisurely shower then a buffet with pies, sandwiches and biscuits with plenty of tea, coffee and orange juice. We all then socialised for the next hour and a half before the bus arrived to take us to the Douglas Hotel where we had several welcome pints of beer.

The next move was to the Diamond Street Palais. The bus was leaving at a pre-arranged location at sharp 11.00pm for our return journey to Dundee so we all had to leave the Palais in plenty time. On one occasion one of our party missed the bus but he did turn up for training on the Tuesday so all was well.

Winner to Wimp in 24 hrs.
Hugh McGrory

As Britain moved towards the Great Depression of the 1930's, the government was increasingly worried about the health of children from deprived areas in cities. This was the infamous era of the Glasgow rickets and other indicators of malnutrition.

In a very enlightened piece of legislation, the Camps Act of 1939 was passed. This set aside a sum of money (over £100m in today's terms) for the construction of around 25 Centres in England and Wales and a further 5 in Scotland. This was a Department of Health initiative and the intention was that young people from the cities would spend some weeks at these Centres, eating well and enjoying the fresh, uncontaminated country air.

Completion of the buildings in late 1939/early1940, coincided with the start of the Second World War. The centres were constructed using high quality Canadian cedar and had a capacity of around 250 young people, plus other accommodation for staff and teachers. The government retained the Centres to be used for evacuees and, in addition to large numbers of Scottish children, the Centres had substantial groups from the continent – notably from the Netherlands.

It wasn't until January of 1947 that the government was able to set up the organisations that were originally intended to operate the Centres. The Secretary of State for Scotland established the Scottish National Camps Association.

Currently the Scottish Outdoor Education Centres (SOEC), an Approved Voluntary Organisation and charity since 1987, has three outdoor education centres across Scotland and describes itself as the country's largest provider of residential outdoor education. The Centres are: Belmont (Meigle, Perthshire), Broomlee (West Linton, Edinburgh), and Dounans (Aberfoyle, Stirling).

*

Many of you will remember spending time, in the late 1940s, at Belmont Camp, in the beautiful, 100 acre estate around Belmont Castle in the valley of Strathmore.


I was there with many of my classmates from Dens Road School, probably one of the first groups in 1947. I can't remember much about the experience, but I enjoyed the two or three weeks we were there. I think our teachers tried to do some teaching from the curriculum in the mornings, though I think the usual rigour was somewhat missing. The afternoons were given over to healthy outdoor activities.

One day our teacher said that we were going to play Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Lacking pins, and indeed, something suitable for pinning to, she decided that we would use the blackboard.


It was like the one in the photo, free-standing and could be spun on its horizontal axis to allow both sides to be used. She drew the rough outline of a donkey, then she asked for a volunteer. The kid was blindfolded, given a piece of chalk, spun around a couple of times then pointed towards the board. He/she held the chalk in front of them, and when it touched the board made a small 'X'.

One by one my classmates did the same – some were fairly close to the right spot, some were way off.

Now in those days, I wasn't big on volunteering or being on public display, so I kept my head down – I thought after a few had tried we would move on to something else – but no way. The time came when everybody but me had taken a turn...

So I got my blindfold on and my piece of chalk, was spun around and pointed at the board. Being right-handed, I put the chalk in my other hand and held out my right in front of me. When I touched the board, I felt around the edge until I located the hinge, and having previously figured out that the spot I wanted was about three hand-widths to the left and two up, I measured this out and made my mark.

The blindfold was taken off, and I saw that my mark was almost right on the spot. The teacher said "Hugh wins" and the class began to cheer... At least that's what I thought, until I realised that they were saying things like "He's a cheating wee get...".

The teacher, to her credit, knew a teachable moment when she saw one. She said, "The rules were that you had to wear a blindfold and make your mark on the board wherever you chose – they didn't say anything about how you decide where to put it.

So I won the prize – I think it was an orange (it was just after the war after all). For the rest of the day I felt like a champ!

24 hours later.

The above must have happened close to the end of our sojourn, because the next day was Sports Day. One of my classmates, Bobby, said "You want to run in the three-legged race with me?" I said that I would.

As the time for the race drew near, my enthusiasm waned. I saw the crowd watching the events and I got stage fright – I choked – I wimped out... I told Bobby that I wasn't going to race. He tried to talk me into it, then got mad (rightly so) and said "Fine. Well I'm going to find someone else."

He looked around and saw, in the distance another classmate, and called out to him "Alan..."

To cut a long story short, Bobby and Alan won the race easily. Later, I hung around at the back of the crowd as they walked up to collect their prizes, pretending not to care but really standing on one leg trying to kick myself in the backside for being such a wimp... One of those oranges could've been mine!

From champ to chump in 24 hours!

PS: My thanks to Jim Howie for the reproductions from his postcard collection.
Cardross St Rounders
Dave Lowden
Jim Howie

Definitions :
Rounders: UK – a game similar to baseball; US – various, including scoundrels, rascals.

Cardross Street, Dundee, where we both lived, was a favourite place for children in the Clepington Road/Arklay Street area to gather and play. In the '40s, the street had a tenement block of 4 closes on the west



side overlooking allotments or "plots" across the road with a semi-circle in the middle. As private cars were few and far between, the circle provided an ideal playground for ball games etc.

Little did we (or our parents) realise that a game of rounders would lead to a visit from the police and a visit to court. The Evening Telegraph twice reported the case on the front page and followed up by publishing readers comments. This anecdote may jog a memory for some of your readers!"



We duly appeared in court again on the following Saturday:



Several of the Telegraph readers had their say:





Tales from Our Backyard 3
Angel Wings

Hugh McGrory

I don't believe in angels, but the phrase 'angel wings' seems benign – not always so, as I recently found out...

In an earlier story I wrote of a Canada Goose that had broken its wing. Some time later, one of my neighbours drew my attention to another Canada Goose, on his pond, that was suffering from a malady referred to as 'angel wing', also known as airplane wing, slipped wing, crooked wing, and drooped wing – see examples of Muscovy Ducks below:


Angel wing is a syndrome that affects aquatic birds primarily, often seen in geese and ducks. The last joint of the wing (the carpus or wrist joint) is twisted with the wing feathers pointing out laterally instead of lying against the body. Males develop it more frequently than females. It can affect both wings or only one. Strangely, if it's only one, it's almost always the left – a syndrome that's not, at present, understood.

I found I could understand it better by comparing a bird wing to the human arm – see drawing:

The condition is incurable unless caught very early, and seems to be caused by high-calorie diets, especially ones high in proteins and/or low in vitamin D, vitamin E, and manganese. It seems that this causes rapid growth, to the extent that the carpus joints are retarded in their development and can't support the weight of the flight feathers. The result is a wrist which is twisted outwards instead of lying against the birds back when folded, and unable to perform its usual function. In extreme cases, the stripped feathers can resemble straws protruding from the wings.

Many of us were probably taken to Swannie Ponds as children to feed the swans and ducks with bread, then took our kids there to do the same – a
practice that many ornithologists feel should be abandoned.

Angel wing can be drastically reduced by not feeding birds –people food,– including white bread, popcorn, or crackers. An acceptable alternative would be to substitute food such as seedless grapes cut in half, shredded kale, Swiss chard or romaine lettuce, and grains, including wheat, barley and oats. This could save many birds from this nasty disease.

Getting back to my neighbours bird, it looked very like the one in the photograph below. For several weeks, as I took my morning, before-breakfast, walk around the neighbourhood, I spotted the bird. Usually it was
at the side of the pond, sometimes in a flock of 15 or 20 others. Often they simply ignored me as I walked by, but sometimes, for whatever reason, they took off – not the bird with the damaged wing – it remained by the pond side.

Birds with this condition can't fly – this one tried from time to time and would get up a few feet above the ground for a few yards, but couldn't sustain the effort.

One particular morning the sun was just coming up, there was no wind, and the surface of the pond was like glass. The bird was all alone at the
water's edge, and it made me feel very sad.

Later that day I thought about it some more, and realised that, since the condition is congenital, the goose had never flown, so perhaps it was accepting of its condition. It grazes, and seems quite content. Of course it doesn't know either, that such birds typically don't live very long, dying from malnutrition or from the winter cold, or perhaps taken by a coyote or a red fox.

Then, one day, the goose just wasn't there. It was another beautiful morning, and the sunlit pond was shared by a Muskrat family, a mother with two youngsters swimming around busily, doing whatever muskrats do in the morning, and a Little Blue Heron, standing knee-deep in the water, absolutely still – it does this for minutes on end until a small fish, or frog gets too close when it stabs its beak forward and down, very quickly, and then enjoys breakfast.


I stopped to watch, and I could hear the words of Max Ehrmann "... whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."
The Cadet Corps
Gordon Findlay

Like many Morgan pupils 'way back in the 1940s, I was a keen member of the school's Army Cadet Corps. I enjoyed every aspect of it from marching and drilling to field craft and especially, weapons training.

My mother, who had lost three brothers in World War I, did not share my enthusiasm. "They're training the next generation of cannon fodder," she sighed to my father as I marched off in my uniform.

Within the Morgan detachment there was keen competition for 'stripes'. We all wanted to have something to show on that plain expanse of khaki stretching down our arms: to rise from lowly private to lance corporal, corporal, then – a fervent wish – the dizzying height of sergeant.

It was a thrill when a sergeant from the real Army was brought in to demonstrate the Lee-Enfield No.4 Mk I rifle. He walked us through the proper way to tuck the rifle into the shoulder, how to aim, how to adjust the range-sight, how to load and unload the magazine.

The sergeant also demonstrated how to attach the bayonet, and of course, the proper way to oil and clean the weapon after firing. We all got a chance to hold it and to look down the sights. It felt heavy – and it was, weighing in at a hefty 8.8 lbs.

Then came highlight of his visit (to me at least). This sergeant said: "I'm going to show you a wee trick. Ye may never have tae depend on it. Ah hope not. But in case ye're ever in a situation where ye have tae get yer shots aff as fast as ye can – here's how ye dae it...

He had us gather round the Lee Enfield. Then he put his middle finger around the trigger with his thumb and forefinger hooked around the bolt.

"Squeeze the trigger wi' yer middle finger. Then flick the bolt open and back wi' yer thumb and forefinger. Like this!" And, with an empty weapon, he quickly rattled off five imaginary shots using the technique, his hand a quick blur. We were totally impressed.

(You can see this in action in this video. The quick-fire technique begins at about the 4 minute mark).

The highlight of the cadet year was the summer camp, held near Carnoustie. We were housed in ancient wooden huts which leaked when it rained. Grimy and naked light bulbs hung overhead. Our beds were typical Army-issue metal frames strung with ancient chicken-wire. On top, a stained and lumpy mattress. The lavatories were primitive and filthy. The food was dull and badly cooked. And I loved every minute of it.

Near the end of the week we were marched down to the Barry Buddon Training Area rifle range, situated near the famous Carnoustie golf course. We were ushered into the butts – sunken trenches beside the targets. We were to be target spotters for a regular Army firing practice.

We stood looking up at the large paper targets which were mounted on a metal frame. This in turn was attached to a counterbalanced pulley system. You had to concentrate on the target because British .303 bullets didn't make a particularly large hole. And of course, you had to be alert to complete misses.

We'd hear the sudden crack of the .303 as it zipped over our heads and splashed into the butts or sand mounds beyond us. At the same instant a hole would suddenly appear in the target. Then it was time to raise the long spotter's pole. This pole had a large metal disc on the end; one side black the other white.

You moved the pole with the black disc showing and held it against the hole to show the shooter where his bullet had hit. If my memory serves me correctly a miss meant you flipped the pole over to show the white disc and waggled it from side to side.

Once firing stopped we wound the targets down, and with paper and glue, pasted over the bullet holes so the targets were clean and ready for the next session of shooting.

I'm certain that today's generation of Army cadets would be equipped (sensibly) with good ear protection, and probably helmets as well to avoid bashing heads on metal and concrete down in the butts. But back in the 1940s things were simpler – and, I suppose, a wee bit more dangerous.

Many years later, in 1974, now the father of two girls and two boys and a Canadian citizen, I brought our family back to Carnoustie on a warm and sunny July day. We walked around the same firing range and climbed down into the sunken butts where targets were marked.

Things didn't seem to have changed much at all; the whole area was just a lot rustier and in some spots the concrete was starting to crumble. We drifted through it, picking up the odd brass cartridge case now blackened with age. And I led them to the high sand mounds where we dug out a few mangled bullets from the sand.

Pure and simple nostalgia for me . . . transporting me back to my happy days as a keen young Army cadet.

The photos below show the modern Barry Buddon rifle ranges, targets in the lowered position.

What the...? #2
The Answer

Hugh McGrory

Do you remember MacGyver? I used to love that show (not the 2016 version which I don't like) the one that ran from 1985 for seven seasons. Richard Dean Anderson played a somewhat nerdy adventurer (first name Angus) who got himself and friends out of sticky situations by using everyday articles or materials to create unorthodox solutions.

I think most men have a touch of MacGyver in them – that's why we have drawers in our workshops with odd nails, fasteners, used switches, pieces of metal/plastic tubing, old pulleys etc. – because one of these days...

That series was popular enough that the word MacGyver is now in the Oxford Dictionaries (for the meaning, re-read the first paragraph above).

Well I needed to MacGyver myself through the front door, and in the story I was sitting on the front step, head in my hands, knowing that, to get inside the door, I first had to be inside the door to take the chain off...

Well I couldn't be both – on the other hand, though, I could be outside with my hands inside – That's why I scoured the garden to see if I could find a piece of wire – a coat hanger would've been ideal. I figured I could hook the wire onto the chain, stick my other hand through the letter box, then swing the wire until I caught it, close the door, then pull the wire to release the chain. Only problem – no wire...

Finally I came up with a modification of that approach, an idea that was born from the way my mother brought me up. She came from a decent working-class Scots/Irish family, and had been imbued with the ethic that said people judged a mother by the way her kids looked. The result was that she always made sure that my brother and I were dressed well before we left for school each morning – in clothes from stores like The 'Sosh', in Peter St., and Burtons, for shirts and pants; Marks and Sparks, for underwear and socks; and Birrell's for shoes.

As I sat on the step looking down I saw my shoes – the kind that my mother bought for me when I got my first pair of long
pants, and the kind that I've worn all of my working life (except when I was on construction sites) – Oxfords – like the photograph. It's hard to believe, without thinking about it, but the lace in such a shoe is about 40 inches long. Aha!

So:
– I took the lace out of one of my shoes;
– I unlocked the door and pushed it open as far as it would go – about three inches;
– I held the lace in my left hand and put that hand through the letter box;
– I put my other hand into the opening at the side, below the chain, then swung the lace back and forward until I caught it;
– Then the most difficult part – I tied the lace to the chain – not easy with one hand;
– I then closed the door and gently pulled on the lace.

The chain slipped off – nae bather at a'!

I opened the door, entered, closed the door, reattached the chain, and toddled off to bed.

PS
Door chains, of course, don't really provide much security – good peepholes are more useful since you can keep the door closed while deciding whether or not to open it.

I searched the Web for a photo to illustrate the type of door chain – came across this one and couldn't resist using it – It's supposedly an actual photograph of a hotel room door.

See how effective that one is here '

Health ' and Safety?
Murray Hackney

I was one of the boys who went all the way from the primary annexe to 6th year, so a fair chunk of my life was spent at The Morgan. Never a sporty type, I considered footie, rugby and cricket perfect ways to get hurt, so became clever at avoiding them. I notice now that most of my sporty friends have limps and various arthritic problems, which I seem to have avoided. Coincidence...?

Strangely though, I enjoyed physical training (PE) in the hall, (you remember Mr. Sorbie?) and could scoot up the 30 foot ropes no bother. Letting go up there would spoil your day if not kill you! Then there were the wall bars, beams, and other things designed to maim you.

I don't think I'm making this up, but I also seem to remember an occasional game of thugball. No rules, both teams just had to get the ball to the other end of the hall by whatever means. Any injuries resulting from that game drew nothing but ribald insults.

During a tour round the new school, I noticed the science labs had safety boxes for experiments. Who remembers Bill Dow's experiment to demonstrate metal expansion and contraction? He had a bar with a wing nut at one end and a hole at the other. A cast iron pin was dropped through the hole, and a solid frame held things together. While heating the bar with the Bunsen, he tightened the wing nut to take up the slack, then left it to cool while he got on with something else. A few minutes later, without warning, there was an almighty bang and bits of shrapnel flew around, usually just missing the nearest pupil... Can you imagine getting away with that now?

Of course we also brewed up all sorts of toxic gases without the benefit of extractor fans, and I'm sure some of us sniffed them up just to see what would happen. I discovered in a quiet moment that the science lab gas pressure was quite low, and I could easily blow down the pipe to purge out the gas. Bill Dow had a little trouble lighting his Bunsen! A hiccup at the wrong time might have made me an addict!

Despite the dangers, we all survived and today's school kids probably would too. Although today's H&S police would, for sure, take a dim view of all that...

What the...? – 2
The Break In.

Hugh McGrory

My thanks to those of you who sent in your answers to my previous "What the...?" story, the one about the clock. I thought I would try you with another teaser.

My first job after leaving university was in Westminster, London, and I lived in digs in Beckenham, Kent. My landlady had lost her RAF husband during WW2, had quite a large house to keep up, and three teenage kids to look after, so she rented four of her bedrooms.

One evening I returned rather late – in the wee sma' oors. I wasn't worried, since we all had our own key. I stuck mine in the lock and the door opened – a few inches – then stopped. The #$%^& chain was on!

This wasn't supposed to happen since we usually decided at breakfast who was going to be home last and the rest of us knew to leave the chain off. Some numpty had got it wrong and I was locked out.

I could have just banged on the door, but it didn't seem fair to waken the whole house. What to do...?

I could get one hand in the opening to about mid-forearm, but that, of course, made the chain tighten up – as you know, the door has to be closed, or very nearly so, in order to slide the chain off.

There was a letter box in the middle of the door – it let me get a hand in up to my wrist but that didn't seem to do much for me either.

I looked around to see if there was anything I could use as a tool to somehow, maybe, hook the chain, or something... Unfortunately I couldn't come up with anything. I sat on the front step, my head in my hands – there may have been some drink taken earlier in the evening – was there anything I could do?

Then I got an idea – I thought, "It's worth a shot", and gave it a go. It worked. I was able to open the door as I normally did, making almost no noise, walk in, close and lock the door again, and head for bed.

The next morning at breakfast I waxed indignant, we figured out who the idiot was and he apologised profusely.

I graciously forgave him, then one of the others said, "–"Wait a minute, how did you get in if the chain was on"?

I said, "You tell me..."

Well, can you?

Wur You Brocht Up in Dundee?
Ron Duncan

My wife and I got quite a chuckle out of Gordon Findlay's recent submission on the above subject. It reminded us of an item we received 10 or more years ago from our niece in Dundee. This poem seems to have been around since the '60s, but the author seems to be unknown.

For you Dundonians, if you haven't seen it before, or even if you have, I hope it brings back fond memories from your childhood.

Fae Dundee and Proud O' It!

See when Dundee fowk sit doon thegither, hiv ye noticed, in among a' ther blether,
That those magic words of yesteryear have slowly begun to disappear?
So, for tonight, let's reminisce on some Dundee words that's taen a twist.
It's a cupboard now, that once was a press, and a mirror was a lookin' gless,

A purn is now a cotton bobbin, and pilfering, we ca'd it dobbin.
A launderette was aye a steamy, and a coverall was jist a peeny.
Repairing yarn was a caird o' worsit, stys were things that 're now called corsets.
House slippers – mind when they were baffies, street orderlies are still but scaffies.

Slightly aff – we just said foosty, and weather-worn was bluddy roosty.
Half a penny was a maik or a hupnay, sixpence a tanner, and half that a thrupnay.
Under stress was just plain trachled, ill fittin' shoes – yer feet were bachled.
The Tansad's noo a baby buggy, and it's sparrow now that once was speuggie.

The pigeon tho' remains a doo, but the watery's changed – it's now a loo.
Breaking wind, we yased tae ruft, and a broken date pal, you were duffed.
For training shoes, oor word was sannies, and school caretakers were only jannies.
Tight-fisted now – we just said gruppy, and it's kilos now, no' half a luppy.

A paper bag was aye a poke, and nauseated meant you'd taen the boke.
Well-dressed, mind was awfy tricky, and a little drop was just a tickie.
Didn't cotton on means you didna twig, and a little sip was just a swig.
A metal fastener was a safety peen, conjunctivitis, scubby een.

Pimple, mind when it was a plook, swimming we aye gaed fur a dook.
Dirty feet were deemed as barkit, and coordy-custard's chicken-hearted.
False teeth were aye a set o' wallies, and pucks are whut we ca'ed prallies.
A piler's noo a four-wheeled cart, a scratch was nothing but a scart.

The lobby has now become the hall, a fitba' tube is now a ball.
An it bounces now, it disna stott. and "let me try" wiz "geize a shot".
Pen and pad, we yased a scailie, and half a mo' was jist a wee whiley.
A hangover – yer heid wiz nuppen, a baby diaper wiz a huppen.

A wall tae us was aye a dyke, and a mattress yased tae be a tyke.
At great speed was an awfy tek, redundancy, we got the seck.
It's take a look now, no hae a gander, take a walk was aye a dander.
Fowk now jibber, whaur we did haver, imagine "fly" instead of spaver.

Truancy – oor wurd was yited, soft in the head, we ca'd them dited.
A dog-end yased to be a doupie, Riverside Drive was aye the Coupie.
But I'm glad to say that in Dundee, a manhole cover is still a cundie.
There's many words I must hae missed, in fact I've still hundreds on meh list.

A Half-sliced Loaf
Hugh McGrory

Years ago, on my way home from work in Toronto, I used to call into a particular bakery – maybe once every week or two. It was one of those stores that sold mouth watering sweetstuffs – little cakes, large anniversary-type cakes, tarts, trifles, lots of different kinds of biscuits (cookies as they're called in N. America) – just desserts of all kinds...
Though tempted, I never once bought any of those – honest! The store was one of a small chain, the owner was local and it was staffed by several pleasant, middle-aged women. The reason for my visits was that they also baked bread every day, and had a machine to slice a loaf for you if you wished.

One day, there was a new server. I asked her for my usual order, "I'll have one of those loaves and would you please cut it in half and slice one half for me."

"What?" she asked, in a rather crabby voice, with a frown on her face.

I said, politely, "Just cut the loaf across the middle, put one half into the bag and then slice the other half and put it into the same bag."
She retorted "We're too busy for that."

I said "It's never been a problem before – it only takes a few extra seconds and the shop isn't that busy, is it?"

She said, "Do you want the bread sliced or not?"

"What I want now, is to speak to the manager."

"The manager's not here".

I said "OK, then I don't want the loaf", and I walked out – and picked up a loaf from another bakery on the way (so that management wouldn't be annoyed with me when I got home...).

I decided I would call the owner to see whether or not he wanted my business, but it was a week or ten days before I got to it. I explained the situation to him and asked if he was happy to have a customer treated in this way.

He said, "Would you mind telling me why you'd want half a loaf sliced."

I said "Well, when I get home, my wife and I have fondue for dinner, and we use the un-cut half – we then use the sliced half over the next day or two for toast or sandwiches."

He said, "Oh – that makes sense. I apologise for the way you were treated and I'll make sure that it doesn't happen to you again."

I thanked him, and a few days later I visited the same store. One of the long-term employees served me and I made my usual request. As she was attending to my order, one of her colleagues said to me "Oh, it was you wasn't it?"

"What was?"

"You complained about one of our staff."

"Yes, that was me", I said, "is she on tonight?"

"No", she said, "she got fired!"

"Oh. Well I certainly didn't ask for that. I just wanted her to serve me the way the rest of you ladies always do."

Thinking about it now, I still feel that she wasn't suited for the job, and the architect of her own misfortune – a case of 'just desserts...'

Tramcar Coolness
Gordon Findlay

As Dundonians of a certain age, who can forget those double-deck yellow and green tramcars that were a
fixture in our city for so many years?

Wooden seats, glass windows that slid down halfway, no heating – they rattled around Dundee streets swaying beneath their lifeline, that flexible pole which pulled in the electricity from the overhead lines and powered the tramcar along the metal tracks.

Although he had a little round pole-seat beside him, drivers mostly stood upright gripping the swing bar which acted as the throttle. Rising out of the floor beside his heel was a round metal disc. This was the driver's 'horn'. When he hammered down on this, a long metal shaft clanged repeatedly on the rail, warning cars and pedestrians out of the way. Under the foot of an expert it could set up quite a racket.

But to me, back then, the coolest part of tram travel was the unlawful descent. In other words – hopping off the tram while it was still under way. You had to pick the right conditions. Rain-slicked streets were a dangerous no-no. And slippery leather-soled shoes could be a problem.

There were, of course, notices posted at the exit reminding passengers to 'Please wait until the car stops before descending.' But most conductors were pretty laid back. The older ones had seen it all and mostly they just ignored us. To young bucks, that official notice just made our cool move more of a challenge. Here's how it was done.

You came down the stairs to the open exit and waited until your stop came into sight. Next, you moved down to the lowest step and hung on to the railing with one arm, feeling the wind rush past you. Then, at the first indication of the tram slowing down, you leapt out and away from the tram.

The secret was to lean backwards to help overcome the forward momentum as your feet hit the road. As they did, you did a frantic sprint-step with both legs for about ten yards until you could slow down to walking pace. And then there you were, walking past your stop as the rest of the passengers slowly climbed down in the proper way.

My pals and I did it all the time, but every so often things could go wrong. It happened once to a good buddy, Murray Lamond. Two of us had successfully completed our high-speed dismount, but as Murray leapt away from the tramcar his foot struck the ground precisely where a local dog had deposited its business. His foot shot out from under him and a second later he was tumbling head-over-heels in front of the Dundee worthies on the sidewalk. He rose, somewhat battered and bruised, his jacket torn, and smelling rather unpleasant. Then he also had to endure the hoots and jeers from the rest of us.

Of course, the ultimate was to perform this high-speed dismount with one hand casually stuck in your pocket, and with a fag in your mouth. This manoeuvre was only to be attempted under perfect conditions. But it was definitely supercool.

With thanks to The Dundee Museum of Transport – visit their website here.

Tales From Our Backyard – 2
The Deer

Hugh McGrory

At the far end of our backyard we have a small woodlot-covered rise which abuts the field of a neighbouring farm. The guy who built our house, and from whom we bought it, cut a gap through the wood so that he could install a garden shed at the back, hidden by the trees – actually a 40' insulated trailer which used to truck oranges from Florida – you can see one end of it at the foot of the large Scots pine in the photo.

White-tailed deer use the woodlot to travel round the back edge of our property – we rarely see them, since it takes them only a couple of seconds to cross the gap, though in the winter we often see their multiple tracks in the snow. (One thing I've never understood is how the deer, with their thin legs, manage to traverse the woods when they are deep with snow. The ground is covered by fallen trees, tree limbs, bushes, vines etc. – I find it quite a challenge when there's no snow on the ground – yet they never seem to break a leg...)

A few years ago, in the autumn, we had the whole mishpocha over for Sunday dinner, about a dozen of us. Most arrived mid-afternoon, and we decided to play various games of skill in family competitions. The last game we played was Bocce, in the middle of the backyard, and when we got called in for dinner, we left all the balls in place – the match to be continued...

In the middle of the meal, my oldest daughter glanced out of the window and said "WOW!" We all turned to look at the view you see in the photograph, and there were three deer, a doe and two fawns emerging from the woodlot and walking towards the house. This was very uncharacteristic behaviour – never seen before or since!

We all got up to the dining room windows to watch, wondering what they were up to, then realised that they had been attracted by the brightly-coloured Bocce balls. All three came right out to the middle of the backyard and inspected the balls up close – of course they knew immediately that they weren't apples – they walked back into the woods and went on their way.

The whole incident lasted little more than a minute, but none of us have ever forgotten the thrill of seeing those beautiful creatures up close...


(They looked very like this, but this is a stock photograph, not 'our' deers – by the time we'd finished oohing and aahing and decided to grab cameras/phones, the deer were gone.)

Evacuation
Gordon Findlay

Shortly after Great Britain declared war on Germany on September 3rd, 1939, urban mothers around the country had a decision to make. Do I send my children away from the city to safety, or do they stay home?

Plans had been drawn up by the government for the evacuation of children from cities around the country to rural areas. Enemy air raids were expected and major cities would be the obvious target.

From September 1st to 3rd more than 1,500,000 British children were moved from urban centres to country locations. It was recorded as the largest single migration of people within Great Britain in the history of the country.

On one particular day – September 1st – around 70,000 children and some parents, left Glasgow. From Dundee around 10,000 children headed for Kincardineshire, to be housed in small communities in that area.

Children evacuees leaving Dundee and arriving in St. Andrews.

Parents who decided to evacuate their children were allowed to make their own arrangements. Our mother had a longtime friend in Carnoustie: an older lady who was a widow and who lived in a small house not far from the sea. My mother got in touch with her, talked at length, and a deal was struck.

Next day, at lunch, our mother gave the news to me and my older brother David. We were going to have to leave home in Dundee and go to live with Mrs. Fraser 'for a little while.'

That was the bad news. But there was good news as well. It seems that before she had married, Mrs. Fraser had served an apprenticeship with a Dundee bakery. Following that, and before her marriage, she had gone into service in the kitchens of a local Earl at his estate in Forfarshire.

Our mother assured us that Mrs. Fraser was a lovely person, was looking forward to having us in her home, and would feed us well. David and I weren't too sure about all this, but the fateful day arrived, and all too soon we were being ushered into a tiny stone cottage by a grey-haired old lady who – to our young eyes anyway – looked to be around 100 years old. (I believe this was in Ireland St., shown as it looks today, in this photo.)

It says a lot for Mrs. Fraser's kindness and patience that she was willing to take two energetic young schoolboys, an 8 and a 10-year-old, into her quiet little home. I would guess she was around 65 years old at that time, so it was no small undertaking.

Mrs. Fraser and her late husband had never had children, but as we were to discover, she adored youngsters and took us in as if we were her very own. She had a warm and loving heart and hadn't lost any of her skills as a cook and a baker.

Rationing hadn't yet started to clamp its tight fingers around Scotland, and Mrs. Fraser took it as a personal challenge to fill up her two young refugees with good food.

She baked her own bread. She made morning rolls. Her home-made jams were delicious. Her savoury stews were a joy. I even loved her creamy morning porridge.

And her reputation in the neighbourhood for making the best fruit pies on the East coast was well earned. They were a joy to behold, crisscrossed with delicate strips of pastry and stuffed with local berries. They were an even greater pleasure to eat.

For me and my brother, evacuation was like a happy holiday. We'd scoot out of Mrs. Fraser's in the morning and spend hours on the beach, roaming the dunes and exploring the rocks by the sea shore. Then, there was the added joy of walking back to her little cottage and smelling the sweet aroma of a freshly-baked pie just out of the oven.

She had one peculiarity, although looking back on it, I imagine it was for her own sanity. Mrs. Fraser insisted we stay out of the cottage all afternoon. She served us lunch at noon, and after that it was: "Awa' ye go, now. I'll close the door, and Ah'll see ye at dinner time.

Rain or shine, that was her wish. I suspect the poor woman lay down and had a well-deserved nap in the afternoon, and who could blame her?

We didn't stay evacuated for long – my memory tells me it was no longer than three or four months. Fears about a German invasion had subsided. Air raids on Scotland had been concentrated on Glasgow and the Clyde dock area.

My parents sent word that we were to come home. On that day my brother and I stood on Mrs. Fraser's doorstep with our little suitcases, ready to return to Dundee. Then, all at once she pulled each of us in turn towards her and hugged us hard.

We weren't a hugging family and I looked up at her in surprise. To my amazement Mrs. Fraser's face was awash in tears. She was shaking with emotion. She stood there, hankie held to her face, as David and I walked away.

I never saw her again.

A Nun's Story
Hugh McGrory

Sister Beatrice, as the family referred to her, was my wife, Sheila's, first cousin once removed – and a good friend of her mother when they were growing up. She was a nun in a convent in the Maritimes and would occasionally come to Toronto to visit family and friends.

On one of Sister Beatrice's visits, for Christmas and New Year, Sheila, announced to me that we were going to take her out for dinner one evening. I was a little apprehensive ' as an atheist who had never before even spoken to a nun...

Learning soon afterwards that she was actually the Mother Superior at the convent didn't help – the term Reverand Mother didn't exactly flow off my tongue. (Although, and I may have gotten this wrong, I got the impression that this was a rotating position – sort of like in some university faculties where taking a turn as Dean for several years is seen as a penance, the job being likened to herding cats.)

I remember when we sat down to dinner, I wasn't sure if I should ask her if she'd like a glass of wine – but I did and she did. She turned out to be a frendly, warm person with a sense of humour, and as the evening progressed I grew quite comfortable talking and joking with her.

Around dessert time, we were getting along just fine, and so finally, I couldn't resist – I said "May I ask you a question?"

"Yes" she said.

"Say a nun has a brother who is a priest."

"Yes?"

"Would such a sister call her brother, Father, Mother?"

She laughed, and afterwards I felt, that she thought, that I was a very funny guy.

Looking back, it was probably the wine...

That Unmistakeable Accent...
Gordon Findlay

In all honesty, Dundee can't lay claim to much that is famous around the world, although the city did raise the inventor of the adhesive postage stamp (James Chalmers) and the first working incandescent lamps (James Bowman Lindsay). We also lay claim to launching marmalade on the world (Keiller's).

We did build Antarctic explorer Robert Scott's research ship 'Discovery'; we have the largest teaching hospital in Europe (Ninewells); and we should own up to having raised the world's worst poet, William McGonagall, whose doggerel lives on to this day.

"Beautiful railway bridge of the silv'ry Tay
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath Day of 1879
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

You get the picture.

But we do have something unique. Over the years Dundonians have perfected an accent which has been delicately described as 'quite distinct.' It certainly is that. Others might label it ugly, harsh, grating, grotesque, or simply incomprehensible. But to the trained ear, it has a certain lyric rhythm to it.

Let–s start simply with some key words of the Dundee alphabet. To wit:

BAFFIES – Slippers.
CUNDIE – A drain cover.
DOWP – That part of one's anatomy we sit upon.
EHRUM – Upon which your hands are affixed.
ERSE – See DOWP.
FLOOERS – Given to girlfriends and spouses on special occasions.
GANSIE – One's undershirt.
JEHKIT – An item worn outdoors.
KEEKER – A black eye, inflicted for forgetting the flooers.
LEHN – A loan. As in "Geez a lehn o' a fehver." (Give me a loan of 5 pounds.)
LUG – That through which one hears sound.
NAIKIT – Undressed.
PEECE – Jelly or jam are favoured, but peanut butter is also popular.
PEELY WALLY – To look unwell. As in "She wiz lookin' affy peely wally."
SANNAYZ – A foot accessory now overtaken by Reebok and Nike.
SKELP – To strike a blow, as in "Ah'll skelp yer lug furr ye!
TULLY – The local newspaper, available in the evening.

Another couple of expressions which seem to be made-in-Dundee, are:

FLEH CUPPIE – meaning a quick cup of afternoon tea, and
SAIR FECHT – meaning a sore fight or a hard life.

And I doubt that many would decipher the meaning of a Dundee tenement housewife who might tell a friend: "Ah'm hashin' fir a hingie." She would mean that she was rushing through her housework so she could lean out the window to talk to other housewives doing the same thing.

Anyone from our fair city could quickly understand the following short, sad story: "Eh fell doon the Wellgate steps, an' mah peh went skeh hegh.' Or even a slightly more advanced sample, given to the proprietor of a bake shop: "Twa pehs, twa plehn bridies, an' an ingin ane an' a'." ("Two pies, two plain bridies, and an onion one as well.")

And thus, employing our distinctive 'eh' intonation, any Dundonian could swiftly understand the words of some kind matron, saying to a nicely-dressed young man: "Oh, meh – whut a bonny teh." Once you get the hang of it, it's quite simple.

Anyone else out there who can come up with a few more favourite, Dundee-only words or expressions? Let's share . . .

What the...?
The Answer

Hugh McGrory
A few weeks ago I spoke of the time when I thought my face was stopping a clock – see the story below. My thanks to those of you who responded with a variety of clever suggestions – but no one figured out what actually was happening. For the non-responders, here's the answer:

I remember at Morgan, in physics class, learning the whys and hows of pendula. As far as pendulum clocks
are concerned the pendulum, along with the escapement, regulates the speed of the clock and keeps it relatively constant. Traditionally, power comes from a descending weight which is raised up again, periodically, by a key.

My bewilderment at what had hap- pened with our clock really arose from the moment we first set eyes on it.

We said somethng like "What a nice little pendulum clock...", and over the years we always referred to it, and thought of it, as the "pendulum clock" (such as the one on the left above). The problem is that clocks such as the one in question (on the right), are not pendulum clocks...

They are battery powered – typically the time mechanism is based on a vibrating quartz crystal. An electro magnet gives a pulse to a magnet on the horizontal pendulum arm, which gives the pendulum a natural-looking swinging motion – but the pendulum is really just a decoration.

The time mechanism operates independently of the pendulum movement and the pendulum has no effect on it. When the battery begins to get low, the pendulum, which requires more power than the time mechanism, stops swinging, but the clock continues to keep time for a bit longer.

So the first day when I thought the clock had stopped, it really hadn't – only the pendulum. When I flicked the pendulum with my fnger and it began to oscillate, I assumed that it then continued to swing – in fact it probably stopped again a minute or so after I left the room.

After the second day, I replaced the battery, and the pendulum began to work reliably again. So there you have it.

At this point, some of you may be saying to yourselves, "Nah – it was his face" – but I'm sticking to my story!

My M.G.
Gordon Findlay

After I finished my two years of National Service, I went back to my sub-editor job at D.C. Thomson in Dundee. Being single and living at home, I had cash to spare, so I indulged my young self by buying a nifty little M.G.

It was a 1945 MG-TC. Bright, fire engine red. Rear-wheel drive, 54 horsepower, 4-speed gearbox, wire wheels, cable brakes, and of course, a drop-down front windshield if you really wanted to feel the wind in your face.

The manufacturer claimed a top speed of 80 miles an hour. However, that must have been when it was brand new, factory-tuned, and maybe with a good following wind. Still, when you were sitting low down in the car and practically on the road, you felt like you were flying along at 150 miles an hour.

It had cable brakes with fairly small drums, so you had to allow for a fairly lengthy stopping distance. Even more so if it were raining, since the water got into the wheels and the drums. Suddenly you had to allow a good 100 yards to come to a stop. It made life interesting at times.

I bought my little MG in 1953, so the car had been thrashing around Scotland for some eight years, and I suspect that a couple of previous owners had bullied it around a bit. The dashboard was definitely showing its age. Being all wood (walnut, I think) the impact of sun and rain had aged it badly.

Fortunately, my older brother was a skilled mechanic and while he set about rejuvenating the sturdy 4-cylinder engine, I tackled the dashboard. Once removed, it was relatively straightforward to sand it, have it re-waxed and polished, and to fit it with an upgraded tachometer and a couple of new switches.

The drop-in side windows of Perspex had clouded slightly, and the canvas top kept the rain out – but the whole wet weather arrangement had become – let's just say – a lot looser over the years. Rain spray from the road or from other (much taller) vehicles going past came sifting in both sides. I tried to tell my girl friend at the time that it was good for the complexion. Don't think she bought that line.

But these shortcomings are minor when you're young. The car was thrifty on petrol, the engine was unbreakable, and the bright red beast was great fun to drive, especially on a warm summer day with the top down.

Then, in 1955, I decided to emigrate to Canada, so I advertised my car for sale. Amazingly, I sold it to another MG enthusiast within a week, and for the same price I had paid for it. So, I figured I'd had a grand time with licence plate US 7906, for only the price of petrol and oil . . . plus some labour of love in sprucing it up.

Fast forward now to June of 1959. I have returned on holiday to Scotland with my new Canadian bride, to introduce her to my parents and to show her something of the land where her husband grew up.

We are in Edinburgh on a fine sunny day. We tour Princess Street and nip in to a nice restaurant for a bite of lunch. We come out afterwards, and stand on the sidewalk figuring out the easiest way to get across the street and over to Edinburgh Castle to continue our tour.

And that's when it happened. Just like a scene from a Hollywood movie.

I'm looking up Princess Street to get my bearings when suddenly my eyes are attracted to a flash of bright red coming down towards us. I look more closely. Surely it can't be! This is unbelievable! But a second or two later there's no mistake: here it comes – licence plate US 7906 – my shiny wee red MG-TC bouncing down towards us, with a young man driving it. He has a young woman sitting beside him.

I grab my new wife, point at the little sports car and yell like a madman: "Look! Look! That's my old car! My old MG! The one I sold before I left!" We stood there, laughing together at the sheer unlikeliness of it all. Then we watched as a happy piece of memory went gliding on past us, down Princess Street, and out of our lives forever.


What were the odds?

My Uncle Wullie
(7 Feb 1909 – 10 June 1941)

Hugh McGrory

Inspired by the recent Remembrance Day ceremonies, I want to tell you about my Uncle Wullie.

I spoke in a previous story, of the death, in a plane crash in Iceland, of my 20-year-old Uncle Frank, my mother's brother. Wullie, my Dad's brother, also died, at sea, serving his country – he was 32 years old.

He lived in Methil, Fife – I'm not sure what he did for a living – I was only four when he died in 1941 – I think he may have worked in the coal mines, probably the Wellesley or the Michael, and/or at Methil docks. The only thing I remember about him is once hearing the statement "he was a bit of a lad, wis Wullie...".

I decided to see what I could discover about how he died, and almost immediately
came up with a puzzle. I found his death commemorated on the war memorial in Upper Methil honouring local men who had died for us in two world wars:



I also found his name on the War Memorial in Point Pleasant Park in Halifax Nova Scotia, honouring Canadians who, having died at sea during the war, have no other marker:



So I set out to find how this came about, and came up with much more information than I expected. Before I tell the story though, I want to set it in it's historical context,:

Background – June 1941 – Battle of the Atlantic

Britain

By mid 1941, U-boats had had great success against Allied convoys travelling back and forth between Britain and N. America. The British were beginning to understand how to better deal with the undersea


menace, but still had a long way to go before supremacy at sea would be achieved. There weren't enough escort ships to protect the convoys all the way across, so for roughly the middle third of the voyage, the convoys dispersed, and the individual, poorly-armed, if at all, merchant ships separated and had to fend for themselves.

Norway

The Norwegian Campaign of World War II refers to the invasion of Norway by Germany and the brief campaign that followed (9 April to 10 June 1940) against a British and French expeditionary force that came to Norway's aid. Despite some success in the north, Germany's invasion of France in May eventually compelled the Allies to withdraw and the Norwegian government to seek exile in London. The campaign ended with the occupation of Norway by Germany, and the continued fighting of exiled Norwegian forces from abroad. The only nation that withstood the Nazi Blitzkrieg longer than Norway (62 days of fighting) was the Soviet Union.

With the German invasion of Norway, the question of control of the Norwegian merchant fleet became critical, and the Norwegian government, the British government and the Germans were the main contenders. Around 15% of the total fleet was within the German-controlled area and was lost to the Allies; the battle would be for the remaining 85% sai