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 Robert Burns







Our Family's Economy

My dad Tom Reekie and Jill.


The Earlsferry and Elie Town Councilors as in the early 30's or thereabouts.

Back row from the left: councilors Oddy, Webster, Braid, Peter Rennie,

George Clark and town clerk, Alastair Cook, 

Front row left: my dad, Bailie Tom Reekie, Bailie David Greig,

Provost Short, paradoxically he was a tall man and was also the

Elie school master, ex-provost Prescott and last, Dr. Pentland-Smith.

who in 1926 assisted my mother in bringing me into Earlsferry.


My father, Tom Reekie, was an Earlsferry golf club maker and a teacher of the game of golf. Dad was a diligent, independent and a successful family and business man. In 1880 Tom was born in St Monans, the next village to the east and went to school there until he was 15 years old. His father John and his grandfather before him had both spent their entire working years as North Sea fishermen and my father would also have followed the same lifestyle had not an event happened that changed him for ever. One day he went swimming in the sea by diving from the rocky shoreline at nearby Newark Castle. Just as he decided to end his swim and climb back up on to the rocks a large vessel passed by that caused big waves that repeatedly dashed him against the barnacle covered rocks. By the time the waves abated he was severely bleeding and he had difficulty getting out of the water. As a result of this episode he developed such a fear of the sea that he knew he could never be a north sea fisherman like his father. In 1895 when Tom was 15 years old he walked to Earlsferry and signed on with the Earlsferry golf club maker George Forrester to serve a 5 year apprenticeship to become a golf club maker. Tom continued on to work with George Forrester until he was called up to fight in France for all of the years of World War I. After coming home from France, Tom went back to work with George Forrester for one more year when he and my mother Katie Ferguson married at which time in 1919 Tom decided to start his own golf club making business and hang up his own shingle, "Tom Reekie, Golf Club Maker." St. Monans fishermen were all very frugal and saved their money and this is one trait my dad continued on with. When my father and mother first got married they lived in St. Monans where my sister Minnie was born. Later Tom and Katie with their combined savings, which they had in the form of gold sovereigns, bought the house in Earlsferry that's named The Cross. In 1923 my brother John was born in The Cross, I was born there in 1926 and lastly, Noel, my younger brother in 1929. At that time, across the street from us lived a very good friend spinster lady who owned three houses. She observed that with Noel's arrival we must be getting cramped for space in The Cross. One day she said, I'm thinking about emigrating to live out my life in New Zealand. She made the offer, "If you sell The Cross  I'll let you have Viewforth which has more rooms and a larger garden for the same price and when I leave I'll let you have Viewforth Cottage next door for a very good price." We did that and moved across the road. My dad's earning season was from May till the end of September and most all of his income was in cash. The month of October was the month for Tom and my mother to play and do whatever they wished. From November till May Tom built up his inventory of hand made clubs that would all be sold during the months of the coming summer. My dad was a scratch (no handicap) golfer and during the months of summer he taught others how to play the game of golf. While Tom was teaching, my brother John ran the golf shop and  also made clubs and did club repairs. Later John entered the business full time and the name became "Tom Reekie and Son, Golf Club Makers."


In my parents early years of being together they never had a bank account. They were their own bank. All during his earning season and at the end of his summer earning season Dad took all of his new money which was in the form of pound notes and silver coins to the local bank where he converted this money into gold sovereign coinage. Under his and my mother's bed was kept a leather bag that held their lifetime savings. Never once in their entire lives did my father or mother ever borrow one penny from anyone. As a consequence they were never indebted to anyone and were sound sleepers. They were strictly cash buyers. If they had the money they bought what they wanted but if they didn't they waited until they did. At the end of each summer they had a ritual that they did. With all of the family gathered around, my dad retrieved his below-the-bed bag and spread all of the gold sovereigns on to the kitchen table. It then became my sister, Minnie, my brothers John and Noel and my job to handle and count all of our gold and compare the count to what it had been at this time last year. It was then decided how much money would be used for the family to live on for the following year and this amount of money was set aside into a different bag for day to day use. As we handled and counted the gold the feeling of family solidity and security was incredible. Then in the early thirties disaster struck the family. It was announced that Britain was going off the gold standard and gold coinage would no longer be legal currency and everyone who had gold had to turn it in to a bank in return for which a savings pass book would be issued with a number written in ink that represented the amount of money now on deposit with the bank. From that day on we lost our sense of well being and security. Our home was paid for, we owed not one penny to anyone but before, where we could handle our sparkling gold, feel it's weight and know the security that it  represented, all that we now had was a piece of paper with a number written in ink. No matter what the amount of money on deposit at a bank it took the same amount of ink to make a number in the thousands, the hundreds, the tens and the ones columns of the pass book. 


The day that my dejected dad took our heavy bag of beautiful shining  gold sovereigns to the local bank and came home with his tiny paper savings pass book in his pocket must have been our family's lowest day.