Juarez's Going Home
Monday, March 24th - My Dundee Again
March 24th, 2003
Dunlaw House Hotel, Dundee
Im still a day behind, so
any recounting that Im able to do will be about showing my friends my
Bonnie Dundee on a Sabbath day yesterday.
Its 7:10 a.m. right now.
The troops are up and moving around in our penthouse suite, getting
ready for breakfast at 7:30 and Steve coming to pick us up at 8:00 to get
on our way to Dalwhinnie, Loch Laggan, Aviemore, Spean Bridge, Mallaig and
then to catch the one and only ferry of the day at 4 p.m. to sail over
the sea to Skye.
Since I unfortunately left
all my carefully selected songs I was going to teach my friends at home,
along with my equally carefully selected Burns poems I was going to share
with them and teach a few words of Burns Scots doric, Im afraid Ill
have to invest in a song book because I truly do want to sing a verse or
two of the Skye Boat Song as we wend on our way.
Yesterday was wonderful.
Our group was well on its way to blending together during our first two or
three days together, but the pieces really fell into place last night at
dinner in the Counting House the pub on Reform Street, remember, that
Xylia got us thrown out of then our walk that was for us our second hike
of the day up the Conshie Brae.
Lia, Suzanne, Robbie,
Nickie and I left for Dundee, crammed as previously noted, in our taxi. We
had our entire compartment to ourselves in that early Sunday morning train
ride up to Dundee so we were able to have free and uninhibited
conversations about our lives, our families, our jobs.
We had learned our lesson
in Edinburgh and took three taxis up to Dunlaw my driver was named
Robert McIntosh and we chatted about our family histories in our brief
trip up to our bed and breakfast stop.
After dropping off our
luggage, I took my friends up the hill and showed them my part of town
the way up the Law, where Johnny Bachie (real name Bachelor, and best man
at my Mums wedding) our local bookie had his corner and where my Granny
would send me to give him her lines,; Bonnethill Church were I was
christened, attended Sunday School and participated in cantatas; the
location of my home, my school, and the pend where the Clydesdales that
pulled the heavy jute carts were stabled; the Hilltown clock; the shops I
ran messages to; and the ice cream and bakery shops where I worked from
the time I was 12 till I was 17 on Saturdays and holidays when I was a
When we were at the
Hilltown clock I met an old age pensioner and chatted a while about old
Hilltown. I slipped him a couple of pounds to have something for his tea
on me, and I felt good about being able to do that. While I was talking
with him, the girls stopped a lady passing by to ask her to take a group
Now Dundee doesnt get too
many American visitors walking up to the Top of the Hill, so they told her
my story about being a Hilltown girl bringing her mother back for burial.
She stopped to talk with me and asked me if I knew Margaret Kerr. Of
course I did she and I were in Primary 7 together and she is a person
Joy and I have been hoping to find. It turns out Margaret is this ladys
neighbour. I gave her my addresses and phone number and asked her to give
it to Margaret. I hope I hear from her.
After that we went over to
Iannetas, the sweetie and ice cream shop at the top of Dens Road where I
had my first job as 12, as their message girl and shop helper. Mary who
was my boss and who made the ice cream still lived upstairs in the same
I worked as their helper. Mary invited me up and we had an emotional
reunion after 40 plus years. I still remember how, when I first started
working illegally of course at 12, but even the Bobbies whose little
police hut was just across the street and kent weel enough that I was
working turned a blind eye for about £1 (one old British pound) a day I
had Mary take a shilling or two out each day so I could save enough up to
buy my mother a box of American chocolates named a Whitmans Sampler in a
box that looked like it was embroidered for Mothers day. Those Samplers
still come in boxes that look like theyre embroidered, and every time I
see one Im reminded of my first earnings and first spendings of my own
Have you any idea how
wonderful it is to be able, as an adult, to say Thank you to the person
who had enough faith in you, whether you were 12 or 112, to give you your
first paying job? Its like saying Thank You to everyone who ever
positively influenced your life that you missed along the way. Sweet.
I stopped in the close
after saying Goodbye to Mary and promising to write, to cry a little
before joining my friends. And these were tears of gratitude to be able to
come back to the flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone that are the
people who live at the top of the Hill.
We spent the rest of the
day walking down the Hilltown, with me telling the girl stories about Old
Dundee and our history pretty much all the way over to the Discovery
visitor Center where Joy joined us.
We were definitely given a VIP tour. My friends were very impressed with
Dundees involvement in Scotts journeys to the Antarctic, and I was able
to share with them my feelings about how important is to have heroes in
our lives and to be able to pass some of these heroes on to our children
and our families. That is what I think the Discovery exhibit does for both
children and adults who are able to get here time and oppo0rtunity to
think a little about, as they say, not just people of prominence and power
but the ordinary persons, be they men or women or children, who somehow
conduct themselves in extraordinary ways that improve the world in their
own way. We can all do that. Im grateful I had heroes and that my
Grannys stories about our family and ancestors lives led me in the path
of being able to have faith in heroes and to believe these heroes, living
or dead, cared about me, my safety, my happiness.
Maybe I can be a hero to
Lia and Kari joined us
after their day Edinburgh and we hiked down the Conshie Brae to continue
our party with supper at the Country House Pub where we were indulged by a
very understanding bar tender and his staff. Then it was up the same Brae
(I was accused of having a wee touch of the sadist about me by the bar
tender) to Dunlaw House Hotel and an ongoing laughter and gab fest in The
Studio. We finally separated for the night, getting some sleep for our
next day tour to Skye.
And thats where I will
leave off until next I write about going over the sea to Skye.
Robbie and Nickie taking the train the Road and the Miles to Dundee from
A stop at my great, great grannys church, St Salvadors and where my
granny went to Parish School on the way to Hill Street
Kinghorn Road corner where I used to run to Johnny Bachie with my Grannys
horse betting lines, just about where the people are walking the new
flats are on Johnnys corner the modern tenement on the right was there
in my time as a young lass.
The Hill Street Corner of
Butterburn Church, across the street from our house until the 60s
The Church door and looking up Hill Street from Strathmartine Road
No changes at all, just new ownership of the shops, in Hill Street and the
Strathie as I remember
The girls and me and the Clock and the Strathie
The pensioner who reminisced with me at
the Clock this little shop was everything from a fish shop to a betting
shop in my day, but is closed now once again
Marys Iannetas backies behind the block wall is the wee hoosie where
she made the ice cream every day for her shop where I started as a message
lass, then progressed to serving ice cream and teas and then, finally, joy
oh joy, getting to measure and sell sweeties and make and sell ice cream
cones even putting the raspberry sauce on themt. When the girls went in
without me and bought ice cream, they didnt know to ask for the home made
ice cream with the raspberry sauce on it just the same as I remembered
Looking toward the Tay Road Bridge and the Kingdom of Fife from the deck
of RRS Discovery
Suzanne, Lia, Robbie, Nickie and Joy on the deck of the RRS Discovery on a
sunny and warm March Sunday looking toward Dundees Mathers Hotel
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