'And finally, not everyone’s being doing topical. In fact, here’s the rather lovely 6 Oxgangs Avenue devoted to the history of the development of the area, this week highlighting how the block of flats came into being. Could have been prompted by Who do you think you are? Or just a timely reminder that not everything worth blogging about is in the here and now.'
Kate Higgins, Scottish Roundup 26/08/2012
Sunday, 29 July 2018
The Wednesday Profile #1 'Doreen's Story - Full Circle'
As Ben Jones, M.D. says ‘The saddest thing about dying is that all the stuff you’ve learned goes in to the ground with you. Make sure you pass it on before you croak.’
Depending on what people contribute to the new Oxgangs and surrounding area Facebook page it has enormous potential to grow into something rich, wide and interesting – a rich cultural tapestry full of human interest stories where people can share their Oxgangs memories – the good, the bad – the colourful and the dull – exciting lives and those led quietly – some who have lived all their days in the community and those now far flung to America and Australia - they’re all of value and interest.
To help kick-start this aspect Doreen Rutherford Black (just taken early retirement) has very kindly agreed to share some of her early memories of Oxgangs as well as the obvious follow up question – so what happened next.
By the way, if anyone who would be keen to contribute something similar in the coming weeks and months but feel they might need some assistance with editing or putting their tale down on ‘paper’ I would be pleased to offer any help.
Full Circle – Doreen’s Story
'And the end of all our exploring/Will be to arrive where we started/And know the place for the first time.' T.S. Elliot
My family moved into a self-built house at 56 Oxgangs Farm Drive early 1956. I was subsequently born in that house in June that year.
There were many young families living on our street and two doors down lived the McKenna girls. They were my sister’s and my closest friends as we were around the same age. Lisa Sibbald was also one of our crowd. We are still in close contact with the McKenna girls.
We had a free and happy childhood even although times were hard financially. There was a strong community spirit where neighbours helped each other out by sharing food, babysitting and offering moral support. We didn’t have much materially, but we felt safe and loved and we all looked out for each other.
I was the youngest of three. I have a brother John who is six years older and my sister Margaret Rutherford who is 13 months older. Margaret was always very protective around me which had its ups and downs. I never had to worry about being bullied when people knew who my big sister was. I did feel a little suffocated sometimes as she tended to ‘mother’ me. I felt a huge sense of freedom in primary seven when she moved up to Firrhill High School.
My dad had various jobs including managing a car wash, insurance and double-glazing salesman. My mum worked part-time as an auxiliary nurse in the ENT department at The City Hospital. We were often invited to join the Christmas parties at the ward. Sunday School Christmas parties were always something to look forward to as well.
Most days we came home for lunch when at Hunter Tryst Primary and Firrhill High School.
When we were as young as 7 or 8 years old my sister and I were often sent to do the weekly shopping in Morningside. We learned from an early age how to be frugal and choose produce with the best value and had to carry heavy bags on and off the bus - can’t imagine any children of that age doing this now.
TV shows I remember were Top of The Pops naturally! Sunday Night at The London Palladium, (“Wakey Wakey!”) and Captain Pugwash. Sunday afternoon films during the winter brings back warm memories. Favourites include ‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn’; ‘Mrs Minniver’; and ‘Captain’s Courageous’.
Christmas and birthdays were always family affairs at our house with Granny and Grandad and our Great Aunts. Happy times.
My father was really keen on sports so during the summer holidays, his days off would be spent coaching my sister and me in running, high jump, hurdles and the long jump. My strength was the 100 metres sprint, but my sister was a great all-rounder. The year we won the Interscholastic Shield we both had won in our events.
At Hunters Tryst Mrs Berwick was a gentle and kind teacher. She must have had great patience to be able to control such a large class single handed, especially with the group of rascals, Peter Hoffmann, Geoff Hunter, John Kay and Norman Stewart along with others.
I loved Miss Sully. She was a great teacher, always fair, interesting and funny. I really enjoyed the years in her class.
As for Mr Hoddinot, I do not have any good memories of our time under his tutelage. I was always quite anxious in his class which meant I didn’t learn much.
All I can remember from his teaching is reciting the names of the Bible; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges Ruth, 1st & 2nd Samuel, 1st & 2nd Kings... and I can’t remember the rest. Not exactly useful! I think I still remember it to this day because I was so scared of the consequences had I not learned it.
I remember Miss Bateman as a very attractive, young, classy woman. I think she stepped in when Mr Hoddinot left.
I remember being quite friendly with Audrey Smith and Dorothy Davies because we both went to Miss Brown’s Ballet School. I was very fond of Rosemary Bennett (McMillan) and occasionally was pally with Joyce Colbron. In primary 7 I sat beside Jimmy Myles and we had a good laugh together. All through my time at Hunters Tryst I carried a torch for Stephen Drysdale.
I also hung out with Lorraine Gray ultimately. She had a gorgeous white Pyrenean Mountain Dog and I used to go for walks with her and her dog after school. Margaret Summers (Millar) came to our class in Primary 6 or 7. I also hung out with her a lot and she helped with our jumble sale for the orphanage.
The Pentland Festival stands out for me. I was cast in one of the shows and I loved it. The qualifying dance was also a strong memory. Harry Rookyardand Jim Myles asked me. Jim came to my house with chocolates. Harry hardly acknowledged me. I don’t think we even danced together.
I attended ballet from aged 5 to about 13 years.
Hunters Tryst was good in many ways, although I wasn’t sure about some of the teachers.
At Firrhill High School I think I was the smallest in the whole school and my first week was plagued by the older kids saying I was at the wrong school and that I should be in Primary 1. I think it is one of the reasons I started to smoke. I thought I might be seen to be older and one of the cool set.
I enjoyed the first two years but when having to choose a course in third year that might fit a suitable career, I was ill advised to choose a course that consisted mainly of art. This did not work out well and as a result I had to repeat my third year and take a more science based course. By this time I was really put off and couldn’t wait to leave after my O Levels. I passed all 5, but could have done much better had I chosen the correct course in the first place.
My first full time job was as a lab technician in the department of haematology at The Royal Infirmary. Whilst I enjoyed working there and learning so much I already had itchy feet. I stayed for two years and when I was 17 I left to spend 6 months working as an au pair in Paris.
I quickly got used to the French way of life and ended up staying for 5 years. I met my first husband whilst living in the Latin Quarter ‘Boulevard St Michel’. He is Venezuelan, so I had a great time socialising with the poets, musicians and artists.
Later I moved to Venezuela with my then boyfriend. I stayed there for almost a year but returned as I could not get a permit to work. I came home, and my boyfriend followed. We married at Bruntsfield Registrar Office in 1980. My husband did not speak English, so my aunt translated the vows so that he understood what he was getting in to.
We started a family fairly quickly. My son was born in 1982 and daughter in 1985. We remained together until 1992. We lived in Wardieburn. After our split I was in a long-term relationship with my late husband. We married in 2008. We lived in Gilmerton. He died in 2010. I moved back to Oxgangs in 2009 to the house I was born in.
Over the years I have had various jobs working in hospitality whilst my children were small. Then in the railway for 7 years then as a travel coordinator. Organising school and adult language trips abroad. I travelled a lot with this job and got to use my languages, French and Spanish. More recently I worked as an administrator for the business development team of the Blood Transfusion Service.
Travel is my passion and latterly I have made the most of this.