Jean Sutherland - Jottings of the Early 1920's
I was brought up in Auchencairn and went to the Junior School. We also all had to go to the Sunday School and on a Sunday we would go in the morning at 10.30 and come out at 11.30. Then we had half an hour break and I used to go to my Grannie's for a cup of milk. By 12 o'clock we had to be back in the Sunday School again and we would stay until 1.30.
My father and his friend, a builder by trade, didn't go to Church every Sunday, but used to go the Sunday before, during and after Communion, which was held twice a year. This way they could keep their names on the register and still attend the Communion Service. The Church was well attended and us children had to sit at the back for the two hours it took. Mr Henderson was Minister then and he decided to have a go at all the occasional attenders. When my father and his friend left my father said, "My Word, the Minister was lashing out today, wasn't he?" And his friend replied "Yes, I felt very sorry for you”.
There were many more shops in the village then, what is now the Solway side was three shops, the bakery on the left, Rorisons the Grocers in the centre, and on the right was a snooker table with a library in the back. I don't know what happened to all the books that were kept but I remember looking at them and thinking how dull they were.
Down by the bridge where John Halliday now lives was Mrs Eley's which sold food, and Mrs Kirk's was half-way up Main Street. My father had the butcher's shop where my sister now lives, next to the old Commercial Hotel. We also had the Post Office and the field behind the Post Office was used as a nine-hole golf course for a number of years. Buckets of sand were placed behind each hole to make up the tees.
Where lane and Nick Smith's shop was used to be a tailors and where David Gordon now lives was the shoemakers, and down back of the Post Office was the Smithy where first Joseph Heughan worked and then his son, Bob. Mr Alexander who also lived there and was a keen churchgoer once told Bob that he didn't mind hearing the Old Hundred hymn tune in Church but he certainly hated to hear it sung at full blast at 3 o'clock in the morning. Bob Heughan would, of course, be working late on his forge and enjoying a little singing.
When my father closed the butcher's shop we moved to Collin Mill farm and lived in the big house. The house next door, West Burnbank, is now up for sale, but then it was used to store grain. Rats were very plentiful then and the men used to put wire netting round the sacks to catch the rats as they left the sheaves. I remember once seeing a huge box, on wheels, full of dead rats. Later my father moved to Hazlefield and then on to Drungans.
When I was twelve I left the Junior School and went to the Academy in Cotton Street (now the Community Centre) in Castle Douglas. There were no school buses then and during the warmer months we all had to cycle to school each day. This was not easy to do then as the roads were still dirt tracks and very hilly and hadn't been straightened out. In the winter months we would cycle in on a Monday and stay in lodgings during the week until Friday afternoon. The lodgings provided a packed lunch and a cooked meal when we finished school.
As you approach Castle Douglas and go past the cemetery the road dips down. In those days it hadn't been levelled and often used to flood in "wet weather. What we had to do to get through was pedal very fast until we reached the water and hope we had enough speed to get to the other side, the water often coming up to the wheel hubs.
Before I finished at this school Davidson’s who owned the garage (which was for horses, originally), bought a Napier single decker bus which had a ratchet handle on the steering wheel and by pressing down on it increase the speed. Sometimes, as we were going up the small hill by Torr Farm he would ask all those on board to lean forward to help the bus get to the top.
The house I live in now used to be two houses, with steps running up the front to reach upstairs so two families could live in it. One of the families kept two cows which used to graze on the land where Berry Agnew and Jim Thompson now live. I still have the stalls in my garden although it has been altered a lot. Two doors down at Windyridge there were cow stalls too.