A Contented & Satisfying Life
Termite Eaten Bones
These pages were written by Dorothy Bremner
Rob's son Alex was punished at school with a belting. He told his father his version and next day Rob walked into the classroom and in front of the class told the lady teacher that he would "gie her a skelpit leatherin" if she ever did it again.
Another change of career. He did hot, heavy work at the Lanarkshire Steel Works and later worked at Bogle Brig on the Dunkeld Rd. About 1911 he became a labourer in Perth where they lived in a farm cottage on the North Inch and he worked as an orra (odd job) man.
A fellow worker boasted about his physique compared to Rob's, saying that his jacket would hang loose on him. Rob said the other man's jacket wouldn't make him a waistcoat. Rob put the jacket on, hunched his shoulders and split the back seam open. He left that job too.
Back in Glasgow he worked as a gardener in a nursery near River Kelvin, and lived nearby. He then set up as a self-employed jobbing gardener (contract gardener) and employed others. He tended the gardens in the affluent great Western Road, and was contractor for the turfing of the Glasgow University playing fields at Anniesland.
One night in a pub Rob was boasting about his ability to handle animals. A drinking crony challenged him saying "I'll bet you can't handle my dog here". It looked a quiet wee animal but when Rob bent down to pat it, it sunk its teeth into his wrist. Rob twisted his hand round, caught its windpipe between his fingers and thumb and strangled it. So the story goes with occasional variations.
He apparently had a good income but was too fond of the drink and on such occasions became abusive. His son Alex, just back from the army, once picked up a pair of hedging shears and told his father that he would cut off his head if he didn't lay off. Belle said she had never seen her husband look so frightened, and it had its effect. On another occasion Alex found his father beaten up as well as intoxicated. When Rob saw his face in the mirror next morning he became more temperate, only drinking at New Year or on special occasions.
Meanwhile Meg, daughter of Elizabeth, Rob's first wife, was training to be a nurse. Meg's cousin Elsie Davidson had migrated to Australia in 1910 to marry James Morris, born in Aberdeen in 1885. Her brother John travelled with her "to protect her", their brother William followed later, in time to join the AIF. He was gassed in France during WWI. The brothers later settled on farms at Cowra, NSW.
When WWI broke out at least two of the older boys, Charles and Alec, enlisted and Charles was gassed.
About the time their youngest child, Bena was a toddler, one of his older daughters, Lizzie, about eleven years older had a job as a "stay-in skivvy" working nearby for some teachers and small business people. One day one of the employers came to their Tillie St door and complained to Belle that Lizzie had stolen a scone. When Rob heard of it he was incensed and went to the house and told the "wifie" that "If ye fed the lassie she widna need tae steal yer bluidy scones." He sent one of the girls to bring her home.
At this time most of Rob's siblings were living in Aberdeenshire. When Jane Farquharson died, Elizabeth's seven children, now adult, inherited the properties she had left to Elizabeth, which gave them all a chance to make some choices.
In the 20s Rob and Belle both in their 50s, also came back north and rented a crofter's cottage near Tarland which had been a little shop in his childhood. Several similar cottages had probably been built about forty years earlier when the agricultural system began to change. It was built of undressed stones and clay mortar and had two chimneys. Here Rob raised chickens and turkeys commercially and had a huge garden. It was called Cnoc or Knockie, the name coming from the rounded hill on which it was built. The cottage itself was officially Woodend.
Rob grew most of the fruit and vegetables for their needs. Enough parsnips and carrots were stored in pits to last them through the winter. Peas were dried, apples kept in the corner of the landing of the stairs, Belle made a lot of jam from the fruit. Some blackcurrants were sold.
There was a "parlour" which was rarely used, a living room with an open fire and table where Belle cooked and served meals, and where Rob and Belle slept, and a "back" bedroom where the children slept, also rooms in the attic. The water supply was a shallow well, some distance from the door across the road. Water flowed from croft to croft and was carried to the houses in buckets. Belle cooked on the open fire and had no conveniences.
Charles Low, one of the older children had been gassed in WWI, came to the Cnoc and helped to fix up the shed so that he could live in it for a while.
Meg who already had cousins in Australia, failed to get her father's consent but went with a girl friend to Australia where she met and married Bob Paul and had two children Yunis and Ian.
Only one or two out of a hundred children were able to continue their schooling, travelling 20 miles to Banchory each day, by bicycle to Aboyne, then bus or train. As was usual for girls, Isa went into service working at various places.
She met Charles (Carl) Bremner, a farm servant, living at Aboyne.
The name Bremner is believed to have originated in Belgium, from the district Brabant, the people being called Brabanters. The name appears in Scotland ca 1400.
Carl had a brother Fergus and a sister Nancy. Fergus (Fergie) had a son Doug who married Cathy Rush and came to Australia and had three children, also a daughter Betty who died in Canada of liver failure aged 39.
Isa, aged 18 became pregnant. Carl and Isa were not allowed to marry, probably because he already had another girl friend and drank a lot. He left the district. In February 1927 Isa came home to have the baby, who was shown to Isa's three teenage sisters as their new brother. He was known as Ian Low, and came to call his grandparents Ma and Da, although the name Bremner was on his birth certificate. When Meg came home from Australia on a visit she wanted to adopt Ian but his grandparents would not hear of it.