This week’s memories are provided by Keith Rowe who attended Daniel Stewart’s College and left in 1956. Keith says:
“The second world war was over by the time I entered the Senior School. Education in Scotland was still considered to be the finest in the UK. The teachers were very experienced and mostly of the “old school”. We certainly studied a wide range of subjects until the Fourth Form when we started the subjects we were to take in the School Leaving Certificates in the fifth form, where we took a Higher or Lower according to ability both at the same time. We were interviewed by Dr Robbie, the Headmaster. He told me he had put me in for 5 Highers and 2 Lowers but he thought I would not get them all. ‘Right’. I thought, ‘I’ll show you’ and began to swot. Looking back I am sure that was his intention – it certainly worked. Later on in life, I have been grateful for the breadth of my school education. I obtained a University entrance, studied Chemistry at Edinburgh and then moved down to Birmingham, where my parents now lived and there I got a job in the paint industry. I had a happy life working for Postans Paints, Docker Brothers, Courtaulds and eventually PPG Industries as an analytical chemist. The last ten years of my working life I spent travelling round the world as a trouble shooter. I got this job on the grounds of knowing what the paints contained so that I was in a position to analyse technical problems. At the age of 62, just as my working life began to be a bit much for me (I was on an aircraft several times a week) I was offered a package for early retirement and ran to the bank and put the money in before anyone changed their mind! My wife Vera had become ill with malignant melanoma so I was fortunate to have several years with her before she died.
I had an interesting and enjoyable career. In retirement after I lost my wife I had many holidays travelling the world and on one cruise I met Patrick Tobin, former Principal of Stewart’s Melville and Mary Erskine, who enabled me to remake contact with the school. Recently, like old men do, I began to write my memories down and produced the present script, which I hope will be of interest to present students and perhaps stimulate other older alumni to write some memories of their schooldays.
The request for some reflections during the current crisis in the world stimulated me to finish it. I can’t help feeling that if any more of my contemporaries write about their lives some interesting details of the school’s history might emerge.”