Memories of Straiton from James McAlpine
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 The remembrances below were contributed by Jim McAlpine now living in Ontario, Canada.

I've always been of the belief that there is a specific period in time when we first become aware of our surroundings. As we enter various phases of life we become aware of other things, such as, self, emotions, and how we relate to one another. This awareness, I'm sure, happens to people in different ways, some may experience them much sooner in life than others.

The very first awareness of my surroundings happened as I lay on the ground wrapped in what I presume was a shawl, better known in Scotland as a plaid. I was at eye level with a body of water and I could smell the odours of grass, gravel and water all intermingled. The water was moving but quiet, it was partially shaded, most likely by trees on the opposite bank. As I took all this in a great sense of contentment and wellbeing suffused my entire being. This experience has remained with me my entire life and I still see it as though it had just happened yesterday. I told my mother about this a long time ago and she said that I was probably looking at Tairlaw Lynn. She told me that she used to take my brother David and I there quite often. I would have been about 7 or 8 months old at that time, late July or August 1930.

Photo Copyright Mary and Angus Hogg and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence . Full size image

Craigengower Hill. This hill is etched in my memory, not because of the Hunter Blair monument at the top, but because I ascended it when I was about two years old. The ascent I must hasten to add, was astride the shoulders of my father. There was some event taking place in a field at the bottom of the hill and I could hear the skirl of the pipes as we rose to the summit. My brother David was away off to our left scrambling up by himself, among the sheep.

That experience has also stayed with me throughout the years. I visited my father in Maybole in September 1998 and just before I left he asked me, although we had never spoken of it beforehand, if I remembered going up the hill on his shoulders. I told him I did. He passed away at the age of 91 in June of 1999.

Photo Copyright Mary and Angus Hogg and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence . Full size image

Other Straiton memories ... Mr McTurk---joiner--- I loved to visit his workshop- Just around the corner from our house, which was the second door up from the war memorial. Young brother John, about a little over a year old at that time, turned on the tap of a kerosene drum, which did not endear him to Mr McTurk. I loved the smell of sawdust and wood shavings, still do. Mr McTurk built a blanket kist (chest) for mother, she still had it in Cairnfield Avenue when David and I Left for Canada.

Mr John Reid delivered fruit and vegetables from his small truck to the country folk, including my grandparents at Seaview cottage in those days. He parked his truck not too far from the war memorial, in Straiton. On one occasion my brother David, abetted by yours truly got into he cab of the truck, released the hand brake and lo and behold,ended up at the war memorial.

A Celtic cross in Main Street NS3804 : Main Street, Straiton.
Copyright Walter Baxter and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence 
Full size image

I remember going with father and it was probably to the McCandlish hall to see a group of touring entertainers. He had once again to hoist me up on his shoulders so that I could view the proceedings. What I saw from this vantage point was a line of black faced people singing along to the sound of banjos. I can still see this today.

Copyright Oliver Dixon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence . Full size image

In a remote area such as Straiton, you hear sounds that perhaps would be absent in built up areas. The sound that I remember most of all was the cry of the houlet as the night closed in. The sound of the houlet (owl), combined with the shadows cast by the oil lamps created havoc with a very young and fertile imagination. It was a great incentive to snuggle doon and try to go to sleep.

During my Straiton years I contracted scarlet fever and was taken to the Davidson cottage hospital in Girvan, I have no memory of how I got there. However, I still remember the antiseptic smell of the hospital along with the sound of the train whistles. The railway tracks ran at the bottom of Avenue Road where the hospital was located. My final memory of Straiton was of us leaving. Mother, three children, David, myself and John in the cab of a lorry with all our worldly possessions. There was no room in the cab for father, he stood on the running board all the way to our new residence at Glebe View in Maybole.

Straiton village looking towards Highgate Hill for NS3804  
Copyright Nick MacNeill and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence  Full size image

Jim McAlpine with Skye. Jim is now living in Ontario, Canada.
More of Jim's stories below