School: Early days

Old Deer: A local scene

I started at 5 yrs in Infants 1 with Miss Rennie. We had to bring a slate and slatepencil and a damp rag to clean the slate. I was very proud of mine, as Dad had made it a wooden frame and burned out my initials MMEC with a red-hot poker!

Miss Rennie taught Infants (1, 2 & 3?) in the first room. It was quite large, with a glass partition dividing it from the next room. (When one or other of the teachers was "off" this partition was opened and we were "looked after" by the teacher present. I didn't think Miss Rennie was ever off, except when her mother died.)

Miss Cruickshank taught Primary 1, 2 and 3, and the Head Teacher, Major Law (ex-army 1914–18) taught P. 4 and 5—and the "Advanced division"—and this included all secondary subjects—he had a great leaning towards science—We had a "Science Room"—all glass cases and Bunsen burners, little brass weights & balances and lots of glass tubes of all shapes and sizes. Also (as biology and botany) stuffed specimens of a variety of non-local animals—collected from folks' travels. We also had French and Latin—Miss Cruickshank taught French and 2 or 3 of us stayed after 4 pm for Latin. Miss Cruickshank (a blonde, who wore lovely clothes!) was a great favourite. Miss Rennie got all the affection and respect that she deserved—she was so patient—yet quite firm. But Romance came to this set-up in the person of Mr Lawson the assistant Banker—and Miss Cruickshank became starry eyed & was courted and carried off to be Mrs Lawson to his agent's post (I think in Old Meldrum). Note this—I never heard any christian names so they remain "Miss" or "Mr" to this day!

It is worth noting that Miss Rennie spent all her teaching years at Old Deer. She lived at Mintlaw Station, in a small flat up a stone outside stair, and cycled to and fro each morning and night. She was always last to leave having put her day's work for her pupils up on a huge roller blackboard which was fixed to the wall in front of the class. The desk-cum-seat—which held 2 pupils was screwed into the floor, so we always faced the front. Miss Rennie had a few pictures—there was little wall space but she always had seasonal things on the window sills—we didn't touch them but she told us about them in the afternoon. We had a class reader(green & orange illustrations—First Primer) and no other books. There was a large "alphabet/phonic" flip-over pad which helped us through our "sounds". I could—almost—read before I went to school—so I thought "the sounds" were good fun to learn.

(Revision date: Tuesday 21st February 2012)