Scottish Memory Lane -
Organisations, Clubs and Societies
21st World Scout Jamboree meets at Hylands Park.
Graphic © Gordon Griffiths, via Wikimedia Commons)
This page of "Memory Lane" focuses on recollections of past events involving various clubs, societies and organisations recalled by contributors to "Memory Lane"
I'm hoping that readers will send in their own stories and memories of their own childhood in Scotland. All contributions should be sent to Scottie@RampantScotland.com.
I first became aware of the Freemasons at the funeral of my Grandfather Scott. I was a teenager at the time and when shaking hands with relatives (many of whom I had never met before) I became aware of some "strange" handshakes. A little later I overheard a conversation between two of the relatives who had shaken hands and had recognised that they were both Freemasons. I later understood that my Grandfather had been a senior official in the Perth Royal Arch No 122 of the Freemasons. I also learned that Freemasons are "members of an international order established for mutual help and fellowship, which holds elaborate secret ceremonies." Later still, when my father (who had never joined the Freemasons) also passed away I came across my grandfather's Masonic apron and papers plus other aprons and sashes which had belonged to my grandfather.
It also appeared that my grandfather had met up with Masons in Cleveland, Ohio, when he and his wife had visited the USA in 1939 and had been given an apron of one of the local Grand Masters.
Over the years I have learned a little about the Freemasons but as part of the preparation of this article for "Memory Lane" I had a look at their entry in Wikipedia and read that
"Freemasonry consists of fraternal organisations that trace their origins to the local fraternities of stonemasons, which from the end of the fourteenth century regulated the qualifications of stonemasons and their interaction with authorities and clients. The basic, local organisational unit of Freemasonry is the Lodge which are usually supervised and governed at the regional level by a Grand Lodge. Each Grand Lodge is independent, and they do not necessarily recognise each other as being legitimate."
I never became a Mason myself but that Masonic Apron of my Grandfather Scott is a prized possession - as is the walking stick of my other grandfather Kaye.
I was thirteen. It was the Boys Brigade fiftieth anniversary in 1933. There were over 30,000 boys on parade in Belahouston Park Glasgow. They had travelled to Scotland from over fifty countries world wide. Viewing the spectators from my position on the parade ground, there appeared to be as many viewing us as we were looking at them. It was a glorious afternoon, and it saw the culmination of a mammoth task of engineering this massive assembly.
My battalion had travelled from Dundee by coaches on the evening of the day before, and were for that night billeted at Shawlands Academy. There we were comfortable and remarkably well fed, even more remarkable as at that time we were unaware that we represented only a small section of the next day´s parade of 30,000 Brigade Boys.
I think that our battalion assembly started about 2 pm and as we marched to the parade ground at Bellahouston Park (graphic of the entrance to Bellahouston Park as it looks today is © Thomas Nugent via Wikimedia Commons). We passed along streets crammed with other boys waiting to be marched in. Only then did I become fully aware of the enormity of the task of organising this gathering. My group was positioned in the front rank in full view of the saluting platform, and the large throng of spectators, reportedly outnumbering the boys on parade. We were addressed by several dignitaries; sang songs and at last the march past. This was totally unrehearsed and from my viewpoint the performance wasn´t quite Scots Guards precision quality. Looking back, however it was quite remarkable that it was performed as well as it was. The Salute, preceded by a resounding "Eyes Right" after the National Anthem took us off Bellahouston Park back to Shawlands where we collected our kit and were rebussed back to Dundee, with a memory which is alive today as it was in 1933. While I can recall some of the words of the rousing BB "Anchor Song" I had to refresh my memory by going to the Internet to find the following:
There´s an emblem fair that is known to all,
A sign to help us through,
It stands for strength and it stands for right,
An Anchor tried and true.
The emblem of The Boys´ Brigade
It helps us on our way,
Our father´s knew in days gone by
This sign we know to-day.
"Sure and Stedfast"
The Brigade Boys´ motto clear
That´s our watch-word
when trouble and trials are near.
"Sure and Stedfast"
to the flag that flies above
In all that we do we´ll try to be true
To the Anchor that we love
With gallant heart and gallant soul,
On life´s broad sea we´ll sail,
What-e´er storms of life may bring,
Our Anchor must prevail,
Although the clouds may cross the sun,
And skies grow dark and grey,
We´ll face the foe until we´ve won,
A glorious victory.
There several other renderings, but the words about the Anchor seem to be very appropriate to the occasion. I thought there was no way I can introduce you to the tune which to a thirteen year old boy was quite rousing with youthful sincerity and distinctly emotional. But another quick search on Google produced The Anchor Song played by the Wishaw and District Battalion of the BB, (with yet another set of slightly different words), so you can sing along!
Several years went by and at the age of seventeen as a Staff Sergeant my Brigade service came to an end. I had hoped to continue my career with the Brigade as an officer, but there were no vacancies in my Company. Possibly as a military substitute I joined the Territorial Army in response to a heavyweight government persuasion campaign. To my dismay a couple of weeks later a BB officer vacancy occurred, but it was too late, I was committed, but I wonder which direction my uniformed career would have gone had that elusive Boys Brigade officer vacancy occurred just a couple of weeks earlier.
Alistair Macdonald, Beckenham, Kent. UK
When I had just finished my 4th year in Eastwood Senior Secondary School in Giffnock, renfreshire, I put my name down to go to a forestry camp in the summer holidays, organised by Mr Cambell, my technical teacher.
This was for 6 weeks on the Isle of Arran, to work for the Duke of Montrose, who owned the land. We travelled by train to Ardrossan, and sailed on the ferry to Brodick, and made our way to Glen Rosa where we set up the tents that we were to live in for the next 6 weeks.
Our camp site was on the bank of the Rosa Burn, which had it´s source somewhere on the slopes of Goatfell, the highest wee mountain on Arran, and where the burn left the glen and widened into a nice wee pool where we washed ourselves and were able to swim in! (Graphic of Goatafell © Andrew J Gallagher via Wikimedia Commons). Our work was to thin out and trim part of the forest on the ridge by the camp, and to saw the logs we produced into mining tunnel supports. After a couple of weeks, the group in my tent decided to go for a walk up the glen, and set out along the path that ran along the bank of the burn, and after a few hundred yards we came to a point where a ridge ran down on our side, and another just beyond it ran down from the other side, so we could not see up the glen.
There was also a small tributary burn running down to our side of the Rosa, and a small wooden humpbacked bridge carried the path over it. We made our way up on to the bridge, and just as I reached the top of the hump, I suddenly stopped. The other lads stopped, but before they could ask me why I had stopped, I blurted out to them "I know what is around the corner on the other side of the burn"! Before they could respond, I said "on the other side of the burn, there is a wooden fence with a gate in it, and there´s a collie dog lying down at the gate. There is also a white cottage away up the hillside"! Since they all knew that I had never been to Arran in my life, they all laughted at me, and jeered somewhat.
We walked on around the corners of the the two ridges, and there it was, exactly as I had described it! The collie got to its feet and barked, and all the lads stood there, mouths hanging open, and staring in misbelief, while I stood completely dumfounded. I thought, was this the ´second sight´ that I had heard highlanders speak of?
From the age of 12 to 17 I was a member of the 28th (Dundee) Company of the Boys’ Brigade. Prior to that, for three years I had been a Life Boy. It wasn´t a big BB Company - about 40 boys strong, and certainly not large enough to have its own band, but the Battalion of about three dozen companies, supported both a pipe band and bugle band. All companies were encouraged to provide musicians for the several annual Battalion parades. To this end the 28th was provided with three bugles, three sets of bagpipes and three kettle drums with accompanying drum sticks.
I fancied my self as a bugler, but by the time I got round to doing something about it, all the bugles had been spoken for, as had the bagpipes. I had no choice other than one of the side drums. All three drums were similar but the sticks were what looked like two sets of oak sticks, and one of ebony. The black sticks were a tad heavier but nice to look at, and here I made my first error of judgment - I chose the black pair. not appreciating that they were heavier than the oak ones, and as I discovered later they lacked “bounce” This was a deficiency I soon discovered to my cost.
The Battalion band´s training school was in Dudhope Barracks (now Dudhope Castle again) The side drum school was in a drab, cold unfurnished room; dominated by a very large and ancient oak table down the centre; no chairs, and no other furniture. When the class assembled I was surprised to find that the majority standing round the table were already trained drummers – with only about half-a-dozen new to drum sticks. There were no drums, the table being the practice surface. At the head of the table stood the instructor, and for beginners, after the newcomers were introduced and shown how to hold the sticks, we would start with the Roll. The Roll was named “Mummy Daddy” – two strokes with left hand stick (mum-my) followed by two with the right (dad-dy) The introductory strokes were slow and measured, building up to a steady and fast Roll. The instructor kept time with his call of “Mummy.... Daddy...gradually...Mummy...Daddy, until it rolled out MummyDaddy MummyDaddy – the Roll sounded like an over loud concrete mixer. When one pupil failed to keep pace with the time keeper, his finger was pointed to him accompanied with a loud, over the drumming roll of the sticks “OUT” I was usually the first to be so expelled, and had to wait until the show was over before being allowed to resume. “Right then” he would call “once again – Mummy-Daddy”
Next stage of the lesson (I hadn´t mastered the first one) was the tarry-diddle but don´t ask me to describe it, which was not quite as difficult (for me) as Mummy.Daddy, but my progress was limited as was my enthusiasm for the kettle drum. However I persisted hoping for the magic touch to appear. It didn´t, and I was on the point of handing in my ebony sticks (which I blamed their heaviness for my failure) when at the Company Friday night parade it was announced that I had been selected to join the Battalion Pipe Band for the annual parade in the Baxter Park. I protested that it was my sick day, or I had to go to a funeral, but as I was the only private in my Company to be selected, I was told that I couldn´t let the side down.
So there we were, a Saturday afternoon in May assembled in the City Square; about a couple of thousand boys and in the lead the Battalion pipe band, About a mile´s march to the parade ground at Baxter Park (graphic © Stephen Samson via Wikimedia Commons, through streets lined (in places two deep) by cheering spectators. I found myself placed in a lead position next to the pavement, in full view of the cheering spectators. Luckily I was next to an experienced drummer and when I got lost I was able to follow his beats, albeit a second or so behind, I think I played the tarry-diddle to every tune. I never did find a piece to demand my nightmare beat of mummy-daddy.
The parade and march past the saluting base was mustered in the large flat area of the lower park, and when it was over we marched back to the City Square to be dismissed. A day to remember – tiring but enormously triumphant. As this was my only appearance in the Battalion band, I can remember most of the detail. In particular I remember the bloke at the top of the table, his pointing finger and his “OUT”!
During my baptism to a pipe band I felt like a dog standing on its hind legs. It doesn´t do it well, but you´re surprised it does it at all, but I think that the reason I remember Mummy - Daddy so well is that it was probably the first time in my life that my efforts had been so peremptorily dismissed - OUT
Alistair Macdonald, Beckenham, Kent. UK
Boys Brigade Collection
[Editor´s note: Wikipedia describes the The Boys Brigade (BB) as "an interdenominational Christian youth organisation, founded in Glasgow in 1883. The BB quickly spread across the United Kingdom and became a worldwide organisation. As of 2003, there were 500,000 Boys Brigade members in 60 countries.] (The graphic on the right is the BB symbol in a stained glass window which is © Kim Traynor via Wikimedia Commons)]
Friday night in the church hall was my Life Boy night, and my age at the time of this tale was probably no more than eleven, which puts this event a bit over eighty years ago. On this occasion our Captain asked for volunteers to be accompanied by a Boys’ Brigade NCO to make up a team to collect for a charity on the following Saturday.
So, at ten o’clock on Saturday morning Dave and I collected a tray of miniature pink flowers and a collecting tin, and set off to the annual sports day of Dundee High School. Graphic of the school here is © Val Vannet via Wikimedia Commons ) I carried the tray and Dave was in charge of the collecting tin. We got there about eleven o’clock, and as the hours passed we became very hot, hungry, thirsty and tired. At about four o’clock the sports day finished, and a departing lady suggested that we go home. We called it a day, but first had to return the tray and tin to the church hall.
It had been a good day financially and the tin was heavy and full to capacity, and as we walked through the Baxter Park on our way to the returning point we passed the Pavilion (graphic here is © Wikimedia Commons) , and its very popular Forte’s ice cream shop. We were thirsty, not having had any food or drink since breakfast, but had no money. We did however have a very full collecting tin. We sat down and reviewed the situation, and our conclusion was that we could squeeze a couple of pennies out of the tin and no one would notice. Nothing would come out, and we resorted to brute force with a penknife.
To our horror a half crown piece (thirty pennies in value) dropped out, and no way could it be persuaded to go back. Decision time. We would buy two penny ice creams and put the change back into the tin. This we did, but our agony wasn’t over - not a penny of the change would go back into the tin which was still jambed solid. There was little else for it, we carried on to the church hall and handed in our takings. The lady said thank you.
For months afterwards every time I saw a policeman I thought of my favourite Dixon Hawke paperback “Guilty or not guilty. How do you plead?”
Alistair, Bromley, Kent
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