Memories Of Wick - Connie Dunnet Sutherland - Part One
23rd February 2014
Connie Dunnett Sutherland ( late of St Fergus Arms, Wick, now domiciled in Edinburgh).
Connie has sent us some of her memories of growing up in Wick.
My first memory was of trying to clamber out of my cot on Christmas morning to reach a gorgeous bright pillar-box-red 3 wheeled tricycle with a black shiny enamelled back rest. Mickey Mouse in all his splendour was painted on the seat. Muffled up to combat the cold in the winters of the 1930s with no central heating (-ice had to be scraped off the inside of the window panes as opposed to the car windscreens nowadays).
I was brought down to earth to discover that instead of zooming around the kitchen, I tottered about, being whacked on the legs by the pedals. Retreating to recover and lick my wounds, I returned to my old favourite, a wooden horse on wheels -Tom Mix's horse,Tony (a cowboy hero) - from old Barbara Bain’s shop in the High Street, next to the Soda Fountain, an ice cream shop far removed from those of today. I feel sorry for today' s children, who have never known the excitement of turning a corner and being engulfed in the intoxicating aroma of real Italian vanilla ice-cream -oh happy days! Today one can spoon ice-cream into your mouth and never smell it; the texture is quite different also.
I would take my doll for a walk in my new doll’s pram, obtained through collecting Good as Gold tea coupons from the establishment of Hector Sutherland Grocer, High Street. This was a long-established business, handed down from father to son. Confusion arose over time as to whether the business was run by Hector’s John or John’s Hector, so eventually the shop was known as ‘Johnny Heck’s’. I remember my Mum taking me up to the shop to collect my treasure and watching assistant Etta Henderson wheeling my dark blue pram with navy weather-proofed hood and storm cover with pristine white rubber tyres, which my dear Mum lovingly kept clean, reminding me to be careful not to wheel them through any of Fido's calling-cards on the pavements. Fido's descendants have not improved their habits.
Another popular grocer shop also in the High Street was owned by Jim Tait, a well-liked, easy-going yet industrious middle-aged man with a dry sense of humour. This morning he was having a battle of wits with a rather glaekit, feckless new message boy. In those days, regular customers would get their groceries delivered in large cane baskets. The new boy had done a great job, or so he thought, baskets laid out wall to wall but Mr.Tait said “boy, do you know what the Romans did when they came to this country?” “nah, what?” “They made roads.
So now I would be grateful if you would be so kind as to make a road for me through these baskets in order for me to get to the staff in the bake shop, thank you.”
This same shop owner had a regular tussle with one of his finicky customers and this day, Madam was after fresh cabbage with long-lasting qualities. “Has this cabbage got a good strong heart?” Reply from long suffering Jim Tait :
“This cabbage is as hard as yer ain hert.”
Memories of Wick - Part One
Memories Of Wick - Part Two
Memories Of Wick - Part Three
Memories Of Wick - Part Four
Memories Of Wick - Part Five
Memories Of Wick - Part Six
Memories Of Wick - Part Seven
Other Wartime Related Items On Caithness.org
Wings Over Wick
A collection of memories on RAF Wick - World War Two compiled by Primary 7 Hillhead School (first published in 1993)