I, William Peden born on August 26, 1893, Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland, more for my own amusement and for the purpose of passing along a record of family characters, most of them gone, than for any idea that same could be of interest to anyone else other than by comparing the not too distant past, with present day conditions, have put pen to paper.
My Father, now gone, and a finer man I have yet to know was by necessity a shoemaker, but by natural bent, was of the great outdoors - a keen hunter and fisherman. Hunting and fishing in those days was for the favoured few and the indulgence of such pastimes without permission placed one, if apprehended, in the category of a poacher; many there were around our neighborhood who had unofficially earned this distinction.
Father was an expert fly tyer and net maker and his services were in demand, both by those who had a legal right to and by those whom through prohibitions had to practice the art under the cover of darkness.
Mother was big and strong and well able to handle her scrappy brood of eight boys and two girls, and with such a large family you may be sure there was never a dull moment around our place. When the boys were not raising hell among themselves there was always the chance of their being mixed up in some mischief with other kids, and as she was a firm believer in the old adage of, "Spare the rod and Spoil the child", the rod was almost in constant use, to the accompaniment of howls of anguish from those on the receiving end, while the others who for the moment were more fortunate, stood by at a safe distance and looked on with malicious glee.
The idea of those receiving corrective treatment was to howl like hell, in the hope that they would be more lightly dealt with, as if one did not howl, it was construed as an unrepentant attitude, and an extra dose was administered, which very often fell to my lot. My earliest recollection, is of being lost or having wandered away and being picked up by the courier who used to travel by horse and cart the nine miles between Maybole and Ayr. This I learned caused quite a commotion in Town as we had not then the fast means of communication or transportation that we have today, and it was quite late at night before I was safely delivered home.
One event which out of the distant past stands out quite clearly in my mind today, is at the age of five years starting school. Well I can remember my eldest sister taking me for the first time and probably on account of getting me dressed and ready, we arrived late for which she was given the strap. Perhaps it was not too hard, while it may have been designed to impress me, and did, of what to expect from any breach of discipline. The unmerited punishment also instilled in me a bitter hatred of injustice and caused me on one occasion to hit my teacher over the head with my slate, for which, with the assistance of another I was severely manhandled.
Now in those days while the discipline in the class room was very strict and while some teachers took advantage of the latitude allowed and inflicted punishment beyond reason, there were others with kindness and understanding, whose memory will live as long as life itself. Such a one was Mr. Wilson.
From my boyish memory of him I can recall a gaunt pale faced man with a quiet smile and a rather shy sense of humour. He had a strict sense of duty while in the class room, but after school hours the teacher was laid aside and he became a man and a friend. At times I would be called to his desk to receive a well merited correction and after being strapped, stamped back to my seat blowing my hands to ease the sting and inwardly cursing him for his needless enthusiasm in plying the strap and vow that while doing my work, I would completely ignore him for the rest of my days; only at the end of the day as I was leaving the room to have him tap me on the shoulder and ask me if I would care to go out to the golf course and caddy for him. If there was no one on the course to team up with, he would give me a club and show me how it should be done and at the end put his hand in his pocket and out of his meager earnings pay me the regular fee for my services.
To be remembered for his kindness and understanding is the highest tribute a pupil can pay to his teacher.
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