Growing up in the Manse..
10 February 2020

We were delighted to welcome Miss Jessie Lyon as speaker on 10th February. Jessie is a great friend and supporter of Rotary and leads our club choir as Musical Director.

This evening though we were treated to a most interesting story of growing up in the Manse - as of course Jessie did.

Growing up was in Addiewell in West Lothian, where her father was the Minister. The manse was an eleven roomed house - far removed from the church - and with two staircases. Addiewell was then a mining community, with a history closely related to ‘Paraffin Young’ and his patented process for the extraction of oil from the local shale. An industry long gone, but recalled now in the remaining ‘bings’ of red shale.

It was clear that being in a manse imposed some restrictions in those days - no toys, no dancing classes and no visits to the cinema being mentioned. It was also during the second world war with rationing and the many other privations brought to so many. Not many would know that, at that time, the Church of Scotland paid ministers six months in arrears!

There were many memories - the sound of bombers overhead and targetting Clydeside, local miners digging shelters, father in the Home Guard, the lack of heating in winter - and burst pipes, barrage balloons, railings being removed for munitions, and the school assembly and leaflet drops to let people know when the war was finally over.

We heard too of the importance of the Minister and Doctor in those times and in remote villages - the need for self-dependency. And the community support for people in a tragically remembered pit disaster of 1947.

An important part of Jessie’s life is music and we heard too of its importance in her childhood. Throughout this most interesting talk we were treated to verses of the songs remembered; community singing too!

Altogether a greatly appreciated talk with a vote of thanks proposed by Colin Campbell.

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