MEMORIES OF WATERSIDE
By Alexander(Alex) Harvey
Written Oct., 1960
O' weel I mind those happy days, I spent aroon Truffhill, when wi' barefeet
in the summertime, we dandled tae the schule;
Where oor teacher, auld Miss Burgess, taught us oor a.b.c's., and when
teachin' us oor numbers, made us hum like bumble bees. And then, Miss Lizzie
Anderson, in Standard One and Two, put us through oor tables as oor wee
brains slowly grew.
Then Alex Scott, in Standard Three--- we made his hair turn grey, as he
tried to teach us grammer, long division an' history.
Next on to Standards Four an' Five; Mr. Sinclair was there then, twas in his
class that we first learned to write wi' ink an' pen. I never saw anither
man who could throw a strap sae true; When he saw a pupil talkin'; straight
through the air it flew,----- it landed at the culprit,-- who had to take it
back to Don, an' believe me when he used that strap, he fairly laid it on.
Mr. Williamson Heid Maister, taught Standards Six an' Seven an' I tell ye
very truly, it was onything but heaven. Poor Mr. Williamson---- oftimes he
was appalled--- at oor spellin' an' oor grammer---nae wunner he was bald. Oh
my, how mad he used tae get at Pete Rowan an' the like, Bullock Hervie,
(Harvey) Geordie Richmond, Tommy Bryden an' James McKnight. We caused him as
much trouble as we possibly could; Archie Winning, he was just as bad; an
ill mannered little brute.
An weel I mind on Friday nichts wi' us he had tae cope when he assisted Mr.
Mae tae rin the "Band O' Hope". He must hae thocht we were a band o'
hopeless wee bad boys, as we sat up in the Gallery; just kickin' up a
noise---- when wi' shiny soapy faces, we yelled oot lood an' lang "Look Not
Upon The Wine'--- the Conductor's favourite song. 'It stingeth like an
adder'--- I'm sure that was the line that scared us a' an' made us gled the
"Temperance Pledge' to sign.
Then there were the 'Contatas' all of which he supervised, I remember once I
got a part which made me quite surprised. The part was "Granny Brander' in a
'Springtime Holiday'; How proud I was that I got such an important part to
play. And then there was the Sunday Schule--- it started at eleven, twas
there we learned mair o' Hell than we ever did o' Heaven. Mr. Dalghetty was
the minister; he lived abin' the store; my how I used to marvel, at the
fluent way he swore. He talked about Damnation, Hell's Fire an' sic like
things; When by masel. I often treid tae copy him; --- But Jings----- I
couldna dae it half sae weel nae matter hoo I tried; (although I kent a lot
o' words I could only use outside.)
Another 'Happy Memory' "The Band O' Hope Soiree"--- when we a' got a bag o'
buns an a cup o' milk or tea, and every time it came aroon; of one thing we
were sure--- the Minister Mr. Henry frae Dalmellington, would be there. He'd
stan up on the platform an' thunder oot the grace; then tuck a napkin neath
his chin, an' start tae feed his face. He used tae scare me half tae death,
wi' his voice sae gruff an' lood, an' I've never seen anither man who could
swallow sae much food.
Jam rolls, buns an' cookies he ate the whole darned lot; you could see his
adam's apple jerk as he crammed them doon his throat.
Another 'Happy Memory' my thoughts won't let me skip,--- the times we went
to Ayr Low Green,---The Sunday Schule Annual Trip. Frae the schule doon tae
the station, we mairched behin' the Band; wi' oor tinnies hingin' roon oor
neck an' a wee flag in oor hand. An' weel I mind at the same time, I had a
sweet wee lass; when the ither weans were racin' we sat the gither on the
grass. Oh we were really deep in love,---we'd baith be nine or ten-- an I
was Mary Burgess lad an' she was my lass then.
Oh, Memories keep crowdin' in, as my thochts I backward turn,--- dookin' in
the shallow land; catchin' minnows in Kiers' Burn. Stealin' tatties oot the
gairdens,---gosh that was really graun', we took them tae the furnaces, tae
roast them in the san'. Oftimes up tae the stables; up past the Bowlin'
Greens, we'd slip ow'er tae the biler an' steal the horse' beans. We'd be
fillin' up oor pooches, when Jimmy Carr or Hammy Gray wa'd drive in for a
cairt o' coal, an chase us a' away.
At Nancy Stewart's Sweety Shop; near the Kirk it was then; on sugarlly
chewin' gum; oor pennies we w'ad spen'. Sometimes we'd buy a Lucky Bag,
there were prizes in each one,--- a wee balloon, a whistle, a brooch or a
wee tin gun. Tae the midden at the slaughter hoose, we often made a call,
tae get an auld coo's blether, tae use as a braw fitball.
Oh I could ramble on an' on aboot my memories dear, some o' them would bring
a laugh, an' some would bring a tear.
When Wull Fulton played fitba wi' the "The Dunaskin Lads Fitball Team, along
wi' brither Sam, Happy Young, Spitty Campbell, wee Pinkie Grant an' my Uncle
Hugh the butcher wi' his one horse cart was never known tae fail when
weighin' oot a pun' o' steak, tae pit his thum' upon the scale.
Miidge Keatly an' Roons-a-Hoop, Greaser Grant an' Creacher Blain, Sammy Tear
an' Joe the Pole, we'll ne'er see their like again.
Och memories keep pourin' in o' those lang happy days, when Paddy Rooney had
a drink; he;d hide frae Father Hayes---yet he'd stan' up tae Barney
Woods,---a real tough fightin' man I tell ye that was somethin' I could
Auld Liza Quinn, pearl fishin' in the "Din" was quite a sicht, A
waistcoat,--that was a' she wore, an it really was too ticht: She never had
it buttoned--but Liza didna' care it wadna fashed her one wee bit if the
King an' Queen were there.
Auld Liza's only worry was tae fish up some good pearls; she didna care who
saw her; be it Princes, Dukes or Earls.
Auld Molly wi' her barrow; sellin' herrin' roon the Raw, Tam the Milkman,
Patna Dummy, --- they'll a' hae passed awa', Johnny Campbell in the Joiner's
Shop, remember he was lame; on the draught board, Johnny wi' my Dad played
mony a hard fought game. Pete McCreachin sellin' Drapery, Bob Hood sellin'
Beer, Mr Kerr the Satation Maister, 'his wee Nancy was a dear',
Och many times I ponder o'er these happy memories getherin' firtops in the
Plantain, in Kiers' Glen climbin' trees.
And then there was "The Institute" a boon at ony price where we played
Billiards, Carpet Booles an' Summer Ice. The Tournaments in the winter, the
Swings an' the Trapeze; Everytime I tried to Skin the Cat, I always skinned
my knees.The walks we took on Sundays,---stealin' turnips oot the fields an'
then we'd shake like Potty Heid, meetin' Constable Greenshields.
Gettin' pennies for jeely jars frae Jim Rankin in the store, buyin' sweeties
then frae Geordie Park,---he always gave us more. We never went to auld
McDougall, we aye felt kind o' scared o' his big shaggy eyebroos an' dark,
thick, heavy beard.
Sneakin' into Bolton's eggie or Swallows' Picture Show where we'd see
Charlie Chaplin, Pearl White or Clara Bow.
Tho' many years hae come an' gane; an far ower the sea I bide, I ne'er
forget the boyhood days I spent in Waterside.
Contributed by Elizabeth
I do hope any descendants of people mentioned above, will not take offence
to anything my Dad has said in the above' Memories'.
Sorry I couldn't do a spell check no Scottish dialect on my spelling check.
My Dad Alexander Harvey Mackenzie was born Nov 16 1896 at 30 Drumgrange Row,
Waterside to John & Sarah Mackenzie (Harvey). Came to Fergus Ontario 1927,
with his family, my Mom Bessie , my two brothers Jim & Jack & my sister
Jean. I am the only Canadian.
This is just a wee verse, frae a lad frae Dunaskin,
'Where's that ?' is a question, a few will be askin'
Weel, it's richt on the Banks o'ye old Bonnie Doon,
Twelve mile an' a half frae Ayr, the Auld Toon.
'Noo if ony o' you come frae onywhere near
Just cast yoursel's back for a few years,
We'll start at Truffhill, where I first saw the light
Now just have a look- noo ain't that some sight.
'Now ! now! dear folks, don't shed the tears,
Just take a look --why , there'e the Kiers
An' there's Davie Burgess, oot on the hill.
Wi' his gun an' his ferrets all set for the kill.
'And there's Tam Telfer's coo guan hame,
That black and white yin must be lame,
There's Davie Henderson looking his sheep,
An' Sammy Tear wi' his ' hop and leap.'
Noo we'll go for a stroll before it gets late,
Doon Murray's Brae and past the gate,
Noo pass the gas burn, and what do we see?
Well ! well ! the umbrealla tree!
'And look ! why, there's the glaury sheaugh'
An, Neilly McLarty--treating them rough,
Well I don't want to take any more of your space,
But I tell you, dear Editor, right to your face,
I don't want a prize, for this wee simple letter,
To hear from someone who's been there would be better.
James Mackenzie - Fergus, Ontario
Contributed by Elizabeth
I am not sure when Uncle Jim wrote this poem but this letter from the editor
was with the poem
James Mackenzie Fergus Ont
Mr Mackenzie receives one of the Gold Cigeratte Cases (see page 11) for his
letter printed on page 13 under "DUNASKINS (Ayrshire)"
THE EDITOR GIVES HIS REASONS FOR THE AWARD
For the first time, the Gold Cigarette Case goes to one of the Memory Lane
poets. Needless to say it is a grand poem for there have been many sent in
and this is the first one chosen for the laurel. It comes from an Ayrshire
lad now living in Fergus Ont., and for real Memory Lane spirit and downright
poetic merit, the Editor thinks it is hard to beat anywhere. It is so much
in the spirit of the best work of Robert Burns himself that it actually had
us checking through our well worn volume of Bobbie's work to make sure that
it was original with our Memory Laner. It has all the burns
qualities---------a real song like lilt, a feeling of the countryside, sly
glances at the neighbours, and a spirit of good fellowship that makes all
the world so much a kin that enen an Irishman like the Editor brgins to feel
that he must have known Davie Burgess oot on the hill wi' his gun an' his
ferrets all set for the kill', and "Tam Telfer's coos guan hame --that black
an' white yin must be lame" Yes there's a real poet up in Fergus. We haven't
heard of him before, and if Memory Lane has been the first to discover him,
it's a real feather in the caps of all us Memory Laners.