A Seven Iron Through the Fish Tank
By John Montgomery – Rev Robert Montgomery’s youngest son.
“6lb Pollock caught at the Foul Hole about 1975.”
“Jings! Lots of hair and no belly seem to have traded places over the last 30-odd years!”
I spent my first 17 years of my life in Portsoy. My father, the minister at the time, Rev. Robert Montgomery, my mother, Elsie, my brother Daniel and I, the youngest son, were living in The Manse, adjoining the Kirk in Seafield Terrace.
It was a great house to grow up in, and stood in a fantastic big garden. The hall in the manse was huge, at least it seemed so at the time, and had many uses, such as a boxing ring, a rifle range, a race track for our “hot wheels” cars and a pitch and putt course – although that was brought to a prompt halt when I smashed a 7 iron through the fish tank!
The garden was a football pitch, an obstacle course, a ski slope in winter. And a golf driving range, since indoor golf was now banned.
I vividly recall Dr. Scott’s boys from next door spending quite a bit of time in our house and garden and vice versa. Just recently, the youngest of the Scott boys, Michael, reminded me of the time I ‘accidentally’ broke the window of the surgery waiting room with a “tattie”. Fortunately, the waiting room was un-occupied at the time.
Being a son of the Manse did have some advantages. On one occasion a group of us were walking on the path between the Loch and the Bowling Green. A woman approached us and asked if we had been stealing her apples. Of course we all denied it. Then she asked us all what our names were. When I told her who I was, she said, “John Montgomery, the minister’s son? Oh well, that’ll be the truth coming from you then.”
It is now 35 years since we left Portsoy, in 1978, but I still remember fishing for trout in the Durn burn, digging for lugworm in the old harbour at low tide, catching flounders from “The Pinty” with my good pal Willie Taylor, Cubs and Scouts in the Institute Hall, Saturday trips to Elgin Baths with Danny Sutherland, the junior choir with Miss Leighton, the youth club on a Saturday night in the church hall, and buying hot butteries from Forrest’s at 9pm on a Friday night. I even remember the church being packed to capacity for the Christmas Eve midnight service. All fantastic memories of happy days in Portsoy.
When I came across a photo of the Church Hall on the Portsoy Past & Present Facebook Page, I noticed that the same maroon coloured curtains still remain after all these years. When I showed the photo to mum, I was informed that the Church Guild raised the money for them. She even recalled they cost £82, which also included the winding mechanism.
Although unsure of the exact date of purchase, she reckoned it must have been around 50 years ago, around 1963. Somebody else who commented on the same link endorsed both their versatility and durability by remarking that the were “great curtains for swinging on before Sunday School!”
“Didn’t we all sit on the rocks waiting for the waves?”
It would be impossible not to mention the Swimming Pool. We spent so much time there during the summer holidays. It’s a wonder that the Portsoy kids of my generation didn’t develop webbed feet with the amount of time we all spent at the pool during the lengthy warm summers of the 1970s.
As I reminisce now, I feel it’s such a shame that the Pool is no longer in use, although, I would imagine, it’s still a popular walk there along the west braes. Sadly, when meeting someone, this much-used question will no longer be asked: “Fits the water like?”