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35


FOND MEMORIES
OF MY CHILDHOOD

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by Anne MacFarlane
The earliest memories I have of my childhood in Prestonpans begin from the age of five years old. I was the youngest of three daughters, and I had a younger brother; it was with my brother and our various pals that I shared many adventures. My family resided at twenty five Rope Walk; indeed my mother always related to me the tale of my birth in the front bedroom of the said address. I attended Prestonpans Primary School, which consisted of various buildings which were named the grey school, the red school, and the huts; these buildings were set apart from the main building, gym hall and dining hall. The headmaster was Mr Douglas Allan, who is now a local councillor, and just the mention of Mr Allan's name was enough to set the majority of pupils quaking in their shoes. I was lucky enough never to be summoned to his office, but any of my schoolmates who had used to tell the most dreadful tales of how he would make his victims stand with both hands straight out in front of them one on top of the other, while he would produce his Strap. Now of course this strap was the thickest leather strap imaginable and it had six thongs at the end to inflict more pain to the naughtiest of children. Indeed the rumours were that Mr Allan had a drawer in his desk filled with assorted straps of various thicknesses and he would use whichever strap he considered to fit the punishment of the crime committed. This of course was nonsense, or was it? I was only ever in Mr Allan's office as the result of an errand by a teacher, and I used to dread ever being asked to go, as to me it was a frightening place it had dark polished wood furniture, and I will never forget the beady stare of the stuffed owl in a glass dome, which was perched on top of a glass fronted bookcase. This wretched bird seemed to look and search your very soul as you stood waiting for Mr Allan's permission to return to your classroom.
On our way to school, we went along through the Double Dykes which formed a lane through the Pennypit Park, which was at that time a wilderness of brambles, weeds and long grass. We were often late for school, being waylaid by trying to catch butterflies or snails which could be
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