Shops and tradesmen in Old Deer

In the '30s Mr Buchan was the shopkeeper. He sold everything: some drapery, groceries, ironmongery and paraffin (which he had to leave his counter to fetch from the back of his house!)

(Aside: Mr Buchan died. They had one son, Billy. Mrs Buchan a very attractive lady, became an avid reader, visiting the school library in the evenings. Major Law (headmaster) now a widower, distributed the books! Much was made of the Romance—which led to their marriage.)

Mr Mackenzie, the master baker and his two daughters, Annie and Laura, kept the area and village supplied with bread (plain or pan) rolls (butteries) Softies (soft white rolls) and girdle scones. "Fancies" were few and far between. I remember a small (2-bite sized) madeira cake which had a paper wound round it—known to us bairns as "a sair heedie".

The shop also sold sweets—displayed in the window—for 1/2d and 1d [1p=2.4d]. A "sherbert dab" cost 1d—and took much deciding upon when in competition with an "ogopogo eye"—a large gob-stopper which changes colour (and the tongue's colour) when it was sucked.

The Baker was a real old worthy in my childhood days. Barely visible under a liberal dusting of flower—he would—VERY occasionally sally from the bakehouse to deposit a wooden tray of rolls etc. at the far end of the counter. Saturday nights were late nights (maybe even 9.30–10 pm) other nights 6–7 pm, but no matter what befell his day a batch of bread was always there. If softies had gone, there were profuse apologies from "the girls" (A. and L.) and assurances that another lot would be ready soon.

As well as serving—very good humouredly—Laura drove around on a Wednesday and Saturday in a square grey van (cranked to start, and spluttering all the way). This was quite remarkable, as few ladies drove—in fact few cars were around. She delivered bread etc to farms—often on a barter system—receiving eggs or milk and cheese in exchange. This was done every Saturday at Mill of Aden (my grandmother's and grandfather's farm house.) My grandmother loved a "blether and laugh" with Laura, who, however late, was never in a hurry.

Another "village feature" of the Baker's shop was the gossip exchanged while the women and bairns waited for the bread to be ready. Many a titbit was spread around from "The Baker's". Laura had such an infectious laugh—Annie was more serious and anxious to help her father. I can still smell the new bread being pulled off the batch, wrapped in tissue paper, and hot to handle, passed to the eager waiting hands. My mother who did not approve of the tittle-tattle had a saying "Bairns can hear ower muckle"!

Mr Adams, the blacksmith, reputedly had a terrible temper so we were all wary of this. He sold paraffin (this was important as needed by all) and Mrs Adams sold milk! Sometimes either did both—no fuss about contamination in those days. But I liked to go to the Smithy (Smiddy!) as my favourite uncle, Uncle Jimmy—was a blacksmith in Buckie and I was always keen to see him at work. I can't help recalling the Smiddy smell of horse shoeing and singeing horse flesh. If Mr Adams was in a "bad mood" he just left you standing. I liked this—I could see more—but lots of complaints were made. It was likely that he couldn't drop the work he was doing just to fill a paraffin flask.

The Adams children were clever, especially Sandy, but he was made to "work", mornings and nights, helping the Smiddy--neglecting his lessons--But he joined his father on leaving school, was a very good smith-engineer as he was called--and his trailers for tractors were much sought after.

(Revision date: Wednesday 7th May 2008)