I was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. I was nine years old when the second World War started. My father joined the Royal Air Force and my younger brother and I were evacuated to the country. We came back to Edinburgh three months later when it was realized that any bombing was going to be mainly on the shipyards around Glasgow. When I was twelve and my brother eight, there was an epidemic of diphtheria and even though we’d had our inoculations, we ended up in the fever hospital and my brother died as a result of the disease.
With just my mother and me at home, we became very close. On the weekends, we would climb the hills behind Edinburgh or take the bus down to the sea. We also attended many theatrical productions which probably started a life-long love of theatre. I belonged to the Girl Guides and each summer we attended the International Guide Camp in Blairgowrie – girls from all over Europe who had been evacuated to Great Britain would join us at the camp where we would pick raspberries for jam, for the war effort. We were there for a month and would arrive home from camp, brown from the sun, covered in scratches and our hands dyed dark red from the berries!
Everything was rationed – food, candy and clothes. I grew so quickly my mother always had trouble keeping me dressed in our school uniform – black wool stockings in winter, knee highs in summer or thick lisle brown stockings. When my cousin came home on leave from the Merchant Navy and brought me my first pair of nylons from the U.S.A. and I wore them to church on Sunday – well! Everybody wanted to see them and where did I get them? Those nylons were a joy!
When V.E. Day arrived, I’ll never forget the sight of all the lights going on all over the city – we’d had so many years of blackout – the excitement, the tears, the whole city and indeed the whole county, celebrated. My father was demobbed soon after, and I went down to the Waverly Station to meet him coming off the train. I didn’t see him and came home very disappointed, only to find him ensconced in his favourite chair by the fire. We’d passed on the way but hadn’t recognized each other. It took time for us to get used to each other again!
I belonged to a church youth club. We’d hold dances and games nights and we also had a drama club. I loved being on stage and met my husband while playing the part of a sixty-year old woman! I was nineteen and we got married when I was twenty-one and moved to Fife. My three children were born in St. Andrews and in 1957, we all immigrated to Saskatchewan where jobs for school teachers were plentiful.
It was quite an adjustment, moving from Scotland to a very small village in the middle of the prairies. We were fortunate that we were given a remodelled teacherage and everyone in the area was so friendly – they would pop in to visit and always had to use our bathroom. We couldn’t understand why until we were invited to their homes and discovered DRY TOILETS. I hated them! We moved to Carrot River the following year, and guess what – DRY TOILETS – no flushers. I took our bucket out one very cold morning in winter to empty it in the pit at the top end of the field behind our house. I fell through a hole in the snow and got stuck while trying to hold the bucket high enough not to spill it. It seemed like hours (it was really only ten minutes) before the family missed me and came to the rescue. The next move we made, I made sure there were no more DRY TOILETS!
After the children were grown and had all left home, I moved to Calgary in 1976 where I worked as a secretary, and in the evenings, studied Art and Drama. I met Mike in 1979 and we moved to Canmore and were married in 1982. I’ve always had a great love of theatre – acting and directing. I started the children’s drama group “The Pine Cones” under the auspices of The Pine Tree Players, and have directed many plays for The Pine Tree Players. The training I’ve taken in directing, through Alberta Theatre Projects, has been of great help and now I’ve started writing plays. We had a very successful production of the I. Y.O.P (International Year of the Older Person) musical for the seniors in 1999 and I hope to be able to write many, many more.
In Canmore Seniors at the Summit, ed. Canmore Seniors Association, 2000, p. 69-70.