An Excerpt from `A Man’s a Man For A’ That`
A LAD IN DUNFERMLINE SCOTLAND
Dunfermline, Scotland, the picturesque and famous birthplace of our own Andrew Carnegie, is also that of Adam Brown. In this little town, the lad, youngest of ten children, a boy with woefully poor eyesight, made his way around with difficulty all his early childhood. He remembers the time when two uncles returned for a visit to Dunfermline, Scotland, from Great Falls, Montana, U.S.A. He recalls how as a seven year old he hustled around waiting on these two relatives in raccoon coats and fur hats and listening to their words about America, finding a vision of this country that inspired him then – an almost blind lad, behind in school, lacking the wherewithal for years to come to venture out of Scotland – but with the concept that America has advantages and they might some day be for him. Crying to go with them when they left, he had to be convinced that a family of ten children must remain behind.
Adam Brown’s parents kept a grocery store with a bit of a short order area. He helped out there, left school at thirteen as only a third-grader, still with defective eyesight that had held him back in his education. he got a job on a milk route and had a paper route to earn a few shillings – to see America some day.
Gradually with steady treatment and the wearing of eye-shades for seven years, his sight improved, the cause having been a seven month child at birth. A brief effort, however, at a coal-mining job proved too exhausting for a boy, but a six-year apprenticeship to a painter, at seventy-five cents a week, with his other odd jobs, gave him a chance to save money and travel around a bit of Scotland. He loved to travel and meet people. “Before I reached the age of twenty-one,” he recalls with a bit of nostalgia, “I believe I had visited all the principal cities and lochs in Scotland and listened to the Scotsman talk.”
The teen-age years passed quickly. War came. In the summer of 1914, “Scotty” joined the Black Watch, the Royal Engineers, concealing his poor eyesight by memorizing routine answers. Illustrating their need for men, he tells one story of their discovering his defect only as he incorrectly sighted a rifle. They kept him in the regiment notwithstanding. Seeing action in Belgium and France, he was wounded twice. His own words tells a significant story.
“When I recovered I was sent into the Cook House to help out the Sergeant cook, a very good chef from England – a “soft” job to cook for fifteen sergeants, quartermasters and master-sergeants, an assignment lasting nine months. Then I was packed up to the line again to cook for the Boys. I learned to cook, you may be sure. This job of planning and ordering food for so many people was to mean considerable difference in my future.” A wartime experience may be a vocational asset for many years to come.
He continues, “One day the ‘Jerrys’ came over. There was no kitchen left; but, thank God, we all were safe in a deep dug-out.”
“Then came the false armistice many will remember. Te actual signing took place on November 11, 1918. I was on the French line then. We made friends with our enemies – and this was ‘the war to end all wars.’ This one had cost me a brother, killed in Turkey; the Second World War, five nephews. Since then the Turks have been friends, as are the Germans and the Japs, Such is War and Peace!”
“World War 1 over, I returned to my home in Scotland and to a job. But my home was not the same, nor was I. My mother was worn, her family married and gone, all my buddies but one had been killed.”
AN AMERICAN DREAM…………