My Religious Upbringing
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
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
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
Sizum. The CSSM.
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
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
Joy, Joy, Joy, His love for me is
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.
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