Abernethy, Aberargie and Dron News

Last date for submissions

31st January 2018

Date of publication

1st March 2018

FAMILY MEMORIES

Donald Gordon MacKenzie, born 1937 at Perth City Hospital. I spent the war years staying with my grand-parents, Moses Struthers Forsyth and Margaret Semple Forsyth at Glenbank, Glenfoot, Abernethy, along with my mother (Charlotte) and following on sisters, Kathleen(1939) Sheila (1941) and Elizabeth (l944) whilst my father Mark Gordon Mackenzie served in The Black Watch for the duration of the war.

I have very few memories of the war years at Glenfoot, I can remember being sent down the ‘short cut' to meet this strange man, dressed in trews, who had just got off the bus - my father" !! I recall standing outside the headmaster,s study (Mr Ironside ) at Abernethy school waiting to get the tawse, I know not my crime. I was in a state of terror as his strap was rumoured to have metal studs in it ! Luckily for me his wife came by and sent me back to the class- room. Later in life I wondered if that was the plan all along.

I have a photograph, circa l94O of papa, as I called my grand-dad, myself and Mrs. Strachan from across the road, she was dressed in military officers uniform.

My auntie Joey Forsyth, who was my mother's non-identical twin, was also in the army for some time during the war. Aunt Jean Forsyth was a district nurse, both were based at Glenbank.

After the war the Mackenzie family moved to Ladybank and then Cupar but Glenbank remained a steady part of my life as we visited almost every second Sunday till the mid 50s. I can recall if the weather was fine then everyone would walk up to the witches cave till my grandparents were no longer able.

My grandfather must have been one of the first people to have electricity in Glenfoot as he had his own generator which was started up on regular basis to charge up the rows of glass battery cells that were lined up in the same shed as the generator. I can recall being fascinated by the whole process of creating and storing one's own power.

In the 1940's I have memories of papa delivering eggs and vegetables to PC Cant at the white house with the blue police lamp outside, it was always a good idea to keep on the right side of the law even in those days. Papa very occasionally went on a bender and these visits to the police house were no doubt to ensure an uninterrupted journey home, no breathalyzer in those days, not many cars either. Papa had an Austin 16 which he managed to put on the lawn at the front of the house, he had been out shall we say !! ! If you look at Glenbank you will understand it was a wonder the car did not roll over down to the roadside hedge !! The grass carried the scorching by spilt petrol for some time. After that he kept the car in the Strachans garage so cutting out any further risk. Still on motoring, I can recall, with petrol rationing still in force, Papa switching off the engine and trying to free-wheel all the way down to the Auchtermuchty road, he never quite made it but it was good fun trying. I must also mention whilst writing about cars that in the earty 50s I was in a Humber Hawk that my cousin was driving when I went over a 100 mph for the first time, it was down the Baiglie straight, no 70 mph limit in those days !!

In the early 50s as I got older I used to get paid 10 shillings (50p), a lot of money in those days, for cutting all the grass and later still when I stayed at Glenbank during holidays getting considerably more for cutting the hedges. Papa had one of the first electric hedge trimmers, his grandson (me) did, in the initial usage, cut through the electric cable several times causing much sparking - and tellings off.

The mid/late 50s I was in the RAF so was seldom at Glenbank. My grandfather at some time during that period tried to buy the small-holding next door belonging to a Mr Neill, who was one-armed but worked the land very efficiently. This small holding was to be my start on the farming ladder (papa had farmed at Newton of Collesie until the mid 1930s) Mr. Neill however decided not to sell. I had my 21st. birthday celebration with a meal at the Abernethy Hotel and a visit to my grandparents at Glenbank before proceeding to Perth theatre.

The deaths of my grand parents and selling of Glenbank in the early 1960s saw my connections with Abernethy limited to Pitversie House which was owned by my aunt Connie (Dow), it was run as an orphanage/shelter for young girls. Aunt Connie adopted two of the girls and they were to become, at different stages in my life good friends. My sisters occasionally helped out at Pitversie House during holidays.

Also sticking in my mind as happening around that time was having a 'naked' picnic with a girl friend close to the witches cave and the mad panic that set in when we heard voices in the distance. That must have been when we had summers !!!

The 1970s saw me visit Glenbank just to show my own daughters where I had spent so many very happy times, taking photographs of them at the entrance.

Since the late 1980s to the present day I have passed along the Aberargie to Abernethy road several times each year on the way to visiting friends Leslie and Sheila Mclntosh at Marylea. I always check to see what colour the woodwork is at Glenbank. I can remember painting the upper reaches with papa holding the bottom of the ladder, light and dark grey.

Aunt Joey became a school cook, working at Abernethy and other schools. She had a flat above the Bank on Newburgh road. Aunt Jean was a district nurse all her working life. Both have died in recent years.

My memories of Glenbank, Glenfoot and Abernethy are so positive and happy that, all being well, my ashes will be scattered close to the witches cave.

Don Mackenzie

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