Page 1

FEATURES Elizabeth Bushnell recalls her childhood in St Andrews

80 Years Ago One of my earliest memories is of walking my seeing the horse rolling in agony, having down South Street and coming towards us, obviously broken its legs, and hearing the a tall distinguished-looking gentleman with shot putting it out of its misery. a beard; I had met him before when my The annual horse-parade at Cockshaugh father took me to the Bell Pettigrew Museum. Park was an event to look forward to. The Professor D’ Arcy Thompson greeted us, parade of carthorses, heavily decorated with swung me up onto his shoulder and marched polished and jingling horse brasses was an along into Smart’s sweet shop, bought me impressive sight. the biggest box of chocolates, returned me The Lammas Fair was lively, but much quieter than nowadays. I – on my feet this time – to my mother, and suppose everything must have been worked without electricity; there went on his way. He was one of the first were certainly no electric streetlights. I enjoyed watching the lamplighter people we met after we had moved from progressing down South Street with his long pole, lighting one gas lamp Staffordshire to St Andrews when my father after another. became University Librarian One of the added attractions of the Lammas Fair in 1925. I loved spending Oh, it all seems like was unintentional. The wooden caravans parked all time in “his” Museum down North Street, their horses pastured beyond Jacob’s a different world! gazing at the exhibits. To his students he was probably a Ladder – opposite the then Goods Station. On Sunday formidable figure, but to one small girl he took the place afternoon we would walk along North Street admiring of the grandfather she had never known. For many years he brought me the beautifully painted and decorated caravans, so clean and polished, mementoes of his travels: among them a necklace of seed heads from and each one distinctive. There were vases of flowers and ornaments on the island of St Helena and large cowrie shells and others, from India. The the windowsills, doors wide open to let in the air (as well as inviting our latter formed part of the shell collection I still have, augmented by tiny, inspection!) almost iridescent shells from Portugal, brought Sometimes in the summer a man, or back for me by Miss Fletcher, who owned the gift woman, with an hurdy-gurdy arrived in town, shop in South Street. complete with small monkey, surely a survivor of Dickensian times! Equally kind to this small girl were the artists Ada Hill Walker and her two sisters, There was no electricity in our house in Elizabeth (known as ‘Tibs’) and Agnes. Almost South Street near the Cathedral, although in always together, they frequently passed our 1931 when we moved to Queen’s Terrace, house and soon became friends of the family. electricity was installed before we moved Very distinctively dressed, they were easily in. The lack of light had its humorous (or recognisable, as each one confined herself to frightening) moments, such as when a visiting one – or at most two – colours and was dressed friend got lost in the dark among the maze of from head to toe In that colour: ‘Tibs’ in some pantries and walk-in cupboards on the ground shade of green, Agnes in blue or purple, Ada floor of the South Street house and was Newly arrived in St Andrews, making friends in pink or lilac: the co-ordination included hat, eventually rescued when someone noticed with “Polonius”, a neighbour’s cat! (1925) shoes, and stockings. What wonderful subjects that she had not returned upstairs where the they would have made for colour photography! living rooms were! It was a very long time, however, before electricity was I delighted in going to the Pierrots in the Pavilion behind the Step used domestically for anything other than lighting. When radios moved on Rock and especially when an elderly plus-foured gentleman I had met from the ‘cat’s whiskers’ sets, they were run by a combination of batteries previously with my father, joined the troupe on stage in a chorus number, (nothing like the small cylindrical objects we call batteries nowadays) and breaking into a solo, “Did you ever see an oyster walk upstairs…” (I bulky accumulators. cannot remember how it continued!). W.T. Linskill (for it was he) is Oh, it all seems like a different world! remembered for his Ghost Stories; but as well as his story-telling and performing, he was a serious local historian and an amateur archaeologist, an active member of the Town Council and Dean of Guild. I loved hearing of his opening of the Square Turret to find the Whlte Lady, and of his quest for an underground tunnel from the Castle to the Cathedral – also of his fortunate escape from death in the Tay Bridge Disaster. As he died in 1929 I was privileged to have known him. “Cynicus” (Martin Anderson), of postcard fame, I met when my father took me to Cynicus Castle in Balmullo, but I have no mental picture of him. Another character of the time, whose name I have never known, was the one-armed greengrocer in Market Street. Less than a decade after the end of the First World War one would see a man with a wooden leg, but this was the only old soldier I ever saw who had lost an arm. He was so adept at weighing and bagging up fruit and vegetables despite his disability that I was quite fascinated! His little shop was one of a handful of small ones between Macgregor’s furniture shop and Union Street. Later they were demolished to make way for the Buchanan Building. The furniture shop was David Macgregor‘s, brother of the Provost and owner of the furniture shop. He was a painter and decorator and his wife an amateur artist. I believe their son became an artist teaching in the Glasgow area. Next came Bayne’s Dairy, then the greengrocer and lastly Haggart’s paper shop where I could buy lovely ‘scraps’ (then widely collected and stuck into albums by children). Miss Haggart wore her hair in tight earphones of plaits round her head. The shop, which she ran with her mother, was always overrun by cats. One very vivid memory is of shopping in Market Street with my grandmother when, suddenly, a runaway horse from Johnston’s stables careered down the road chased by stablemen. The horse slipped, came down heavily, and my grandmother’s desperate attempts to drag me away in the opposite direction did not prevent

7

article30  

Oh, it all seems like a different world! 7 Elizabeth Bushnell recalls her childhood in St Andrews Newly arrived in St Andrews, making friend...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you