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My Religious Upbringing

 

Deo Gratiam Habeamus

 

Both my father Tom and my mother Katie were devout Christians and devoted to the Presbyterian way of life. The whole family, Dad, Mam, Minnie, John, Noel and I, all had  been baptized into the Scottish Presbyterian faith.  

 

To the best of my knowledge The Royal Burgh of Earlsferry has never had a church of any denomination. If Earlsferry people wanted to go to a church they either walked to the church at Kinneucher or they walked to the church at Elie.

 

As to the Reekie families religious instruction, Mam was the one who made sure we kept the faith by attending church every Sunday.  To show our respect we all dressed up in our Sunday best and with bibles in hand we walked the mile to the church in Elie come rain or come shine.

 

The children of our family each had a coin, usually a penny, to put into the collection purse and my Dad put in a silver coin on behalf of himself and my mother.  The collection purse was a red velvet bag with two wooden handles and was passed from hand to hand on along the pew so each could contribute his or her offering.  I remember that there was one time that my penny stayed in my pocket as I passed the purse along the pew and that my mother had noticed my omission. When we got home in no uncertain terms she made me to understand that my failure to put my penny into the purse was the work of  the devil, Satan and  that I'd better mend my ways or for sure I'd spend my eternity, in a deep dark pit while I danced forever on a bed of red hot coals in the devils burning fire.  I believed her.

 

Once children were old enough to take care of themselves, we left our parents at the Elie church gate and went about two hundred yards further along the street to go to the church hall to attend children's Sunday school.  We were later let out to retrace our steps to meet up with our parents at the church gate in time to go home with them.

 

One Sunday I had a devious thought. Down the road on the way to the Elie Harbour at the outside of the door of the Ship Inn pub was a slot machine that dispensed Willy Woodbine cigarettes and all that it took was for two boys to shove our two pennies into the slot to get a packet of five. Down to the Ship Inn I and another boy ran, shoved in our two pennies and did just that. From there we went along the beach to the cave at the Lady's Tower.  Lo and behold boys were already there and smoking clay pipes. Clay pipes in these days were no more than a penny each. For tobacco to smoke in clay pipes, boys walked the length of the town to pick up thrown away cigarette butts that were laying in the gutters. Others were there smoking cinnamon sticks bought from Melville's  grocer shop.

 

I made up for my religious back sliding by each week-day in the summer attending the SizumThe CSSM. The Children's Special Service Mission.  Each summer this group came to Earlsferry and rented the big house that was named St. Margarets, the garden of which opened on to the beach. The purpose of this mission was the guidance of children by the teaching of biblical stories and the singing of children's songs of praise.  As far as I know the Sizum was non-denominational and everyone was invited to attend.  At the beginning of each day all of the children participated in the building of an enormous mound of sand that became the pulpit and the place for the pedal organ.  At the back of the pulpit and supported by two poles buried in the sand, was a large red banner with the gold letters CSSM.  The children decorated the mound with all kinds of different seaweeds, shells and bits of flotsam from the beach. Shells were used to spell out the word of the day which might have been, "God Is Love," or some other letter of love written in the sand. Other children gathered wild flowers to make floral arrangements.  Each day the decorating was different and really was quite beautiful.  It was a place and time that all the children laughed and had a great time while we listened, sang and absorbed the love message of the day.

 

The Sizum did a great job with me in that to this day every once in a while I'll find myself singing one of the Sizum songs.   "Joy, Joy, Joy."

 

 Joy, Joy, Joy, With joy my heart is ringing.

Joy, Joy, Joy, His love for me is told.

My sins are all forgiven, I'm on my way to heaven,

My heart is bubbling o-o-ver, with Joy, Joy, Joy.

 

Each night before I went to sleep I said my bed time prayer.

 

Tonight as I lay down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep,

If I should die before I wake,

I pray the Lord my soul to take.

God bless Grampa, Dad, Mam, Minnie, John, Noel, me -----

and all the rest of the people in the whole wide world.

 Amen.

                                        

The message from my mother that I most remember is,  "we should live our lives according to the book of  John, chapter 15, verse 12."

 

"This is my commandment that ye love one another."

 

Cave at the Lady's Tower 

 Peaceful Earlsferry Beach