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Stories from John Henderson
Banknock 1944-1949

'Schoolhouse Banknock was, and still is to this day, a lovely villa, surrounded by, wonderful farmland forplaying in or sledging down, and burns to guddle in.

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However when we arrived it was still war-time and restrictions were all too evident - Ration Books controlled our consumption of good meat - sausages on a Saturday were a real treat - minimal amounts of sweeties were occasionally obtainable from the wee shop that Mrs Sherman kept in the lobby of her ground-floor flat in Streetville - just across the waste ground that served as a sort-of fitba' park for the local youth when 'jaikets' were 'pit doon' for goal posts.

Our milk had to be collected each evening in a can from Murchie's Farm at the far edge of Coneypark Council Housing Scheme, and, as soon as we were old enough, my sister and I took turns at walking the half mile there and back carrying our precious cargo, then, with some bravado latterly, swinging the can wildly in an arc to demonstrate the power of centrifugal force! Eggs were only occasionally available to buy, even with umpteen garden hen-runs in the village, and those procured were immediately stored by my mother Nancy in a heavily greased pail in our walk-in larder inside the north wall of the schoolhouse.

The School was the distribution point for Dried Milk in big silver tins with blue lettering as well as for the National Health bottles of Cod Liver Oil and concentrated Orange Juice. My father JNK as the 'heedie' had the job of storing these necessary vitamin supplements safely in his Headmaster's Room and also the control of the allocation to all needy parents who queued weekly for the good of their bairns.

There were few problems with supplies of vegetables because everyone grew the necessary varieties in their gardens - and my father proved rather good at this - although his favourite crop was a flower - sweet peas  (we soon realised why Nancy poured water in our bedroom potties before taking them out to the garden each morning!!)  rather than the green pod type that we plundered almost as mercilessly as we did the garden strawberries and rasps.

Another crop that had to be harvested (legally) by us, and of course organised by the 'heedie', was the gathering of rose hips from surrounding hillsides on the way up to Cannerton Brickworks - a penny a pail was our reward - and thus we contributed to the war effort. For our own mothers' jelly making, we did however enjoy much more the picking of brambles, despite the scarred arms we suffered in the process.

All garden walls were minus railings, long ago requisitioned by the MOD to make whatever our troops needed to fight with. The occasional drone of a returning bomber was heard nearby as pilots used the Forth and Clyde Canal to guide them back to wherever they may have come - we never knew whether they were friend or foe! And it became common place for my mother to serve tomato soup and bread (only a penny a half-loaf then) at all hours to various merchant seamen coming or going to Glasgow or Grangemouth along the canal. When they stopped at nearby Wyndford Lock looking for sustenance - they would spot the nearest light - our schoolhouse - and knock our door. I think my mother's kind reputation was passed on by word of mouth amongst these lonely sailors!

However the worst visitors we received came in the summer of 1946 when burglars from Glasgow (it was guessed by the 'polis') ransacked our house for clothes while we were taking a short holiday in St. Andrews. With clothes being on the 'ration', they were highly valued items. The only items for wearing not taken were my dad's 'Plus-Fours' - probably because they were so 'ken-speckle' or perhaps because nobody but JNK would ever have been seen dead in them!

As they would say nowadays, the winter of 1947/48 was 'something else'! Snowdrifts were piled high for weeks; there was no safe way in or out of the village for a time and the outdoor school 'lavvies' had to be defrosted daily with pails of hot water from the school boiler room. Maggie Johnstone, the school cleaner (and our beloved 'baby-sitter') and JNK worked miracles to keep the school open that winter, while we children enjoyed the ice caves, the sledging, and, when things cleared a bit, the super slides that JNK allowed us to run the whole lengths of both the boys' and girls' playgrounds. He was against snowballing because of the danger of a stone getting into one of the icy missiles - a mistake that had cost a friend of his in his own school days the sight of an eye. When we children heard his reasoning we were only too quick to obey. Anyway nobody dared defy JNK as his reputation with his Lochgelly belt was legend even from his very occasional resort to this form of punishment!

Schoolhouse Banknock in 1945

But my pride and joy was the school-field which I annually, not only converted into 'Bumpy Ibrox' or 'Lumpy Lords' depending on the season, but also made into a Mini-Wembley Olympic Stadium in 1948. This enterprise involved my next-door neighbour pal Robin Profit and me, not only in a great deal of planning, but also in the pinching of hundreds of bits and pieces. The Marathon (two competitors only - Robin and me) took place in our magnificent arena, but it started and finished with about sixty laps of our track while in between it involved much running round local fields, the school playground and adjacent pavements!

'Bumpy Ibrox'

Elizabeth and I seemed to catch every disease going in these latter war years, including Scarlet Fever for me and my needing to learn how to walk again after being confined to bed for nearly two months in Bannockburn Fever Hospital. As one result of this fever I underwent the very new 'cure-all' operation of removal of tonsils and adenoids, duly performed by a surgeon uncle in Falkirk Royal Infirmary. Chloroform haunts me to this day and although the memory of the prescribed ice-cream in the taxi home after the operation is soothing, the bucketful of blood I filled as a necessary result is still a vivid 'horror movie' picture in my mind.

Class Photo of P4/5 1947/48

The village schooling was great, as were school concerts, ‘Kitchen Showers’ and the like held by various village organisations in the school as the only meeting place locally. But I’ll never forget the excitement as a mad-keen footballer, and the school 'goalie' eventually in Primary 5, of meeting my hero, 'Geordie' Young, captain of both Glasgow Rangers and Scotland, at a match on the village blaes football pitch atop the local 'bing' in honour of Banknock United's winning the Scottish Juvenile Cup.

Banknock PS Football Team 1948/49

The autumn of the year 1949 brought us to Cambusbarron on my father's promotion to Headteacher of its primary school and I experienced equally fulfilling rural days there throughout the rest of my village and town schooling years........

Schoolhouse Cambusbarron

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