Political Roots, Childhood Memories • Technical Politics

From the age of one to seventeen, 1951 to 1967, I lived in St. Petersburg. Andrews, Fife and my family; my father was a medical consultant, my mother was a medical professional and my older brother and sister and since 1959 my younger brother.

From the age of seven to nine or ten I spent about six weeks on summer vacations and headed for the beach with my best friend. His father gave him the nickname as he crawled sideways as a baby and peered under a sturdy slope. I still call him that today! We worked hard to guide the donkeys all day and had fun going home in the afternoon to the donkey field near the piles. We all loved it never tired of what to some might seem like a repetitive task.

The donkey business belonged to a local family led by Harry and Violet. Violet was Roman. They always took good care of us and gave us a shilling during lunch to get a delicious but shiny Scottish pie. It took good care of us. My mother would occasionally beg me to come home for lunch. At home it was just ten minutes up the hill. But the stability of the home lunch was less interesting compared to the freedom and enjoyment of lunch on the beach.

My fondest memory of those days on the beach was the deep satisfaction and added excitement of the sprint. One day we were chased away by a herd of cattle and finally reached the gate. It was so much fun!

As a kid you don’t really understand why you enjoy certain events, you just have them, but when I look back I think there were a few things that made it worthwhile.

I had a close friend, so I had a good relationship with someone I knew well, and Harry and Violet were good local people and were well organized and well cared for. We felt safe. I remember spending a lot of time in silence. Sitting on the sand waiting for my next client, enjoying the sand between my fingers, the breeze, the refreshment of the air, the sun on my face and the sea look. I felt I could handle my case and take care of my ass. I enjoyed watching every child in the car. We donkey leaders were part of a united group and then of course there was excitement and freedom for gallop at home.

In a sense, this childhood experience has formed the basis for the realities of my life and politics. I promote opportunities for all and inclusive. I have always been interested in contributing to the well-being of the community, whether it was running the Woodcraft Folk team for four years for fifty children, offering yoga classes for 20 years, running Quaker Sunday School for ninety children for ten years and now. providing an Introduction to Haiku by the Support and Meditation Group, currently at Zoom and participation in decision-making. In all these endeavors I have endeavored to work harmoniously together to bring out the best in people. Seeing silence has also become the most important thing in my life; becoming a Quaker in 1976 and being trained in meditation practice for the past two decades. In a way, all of this is rooted in my Donkey experience. The experiences I am now aware of became the foundation of my life.

In adult life I learned that they were the deepest parts of childhood experiences. Before I worked with Harry he was very sick to my father and the care he was given either saved their lives or greatly improved it. Thus the whole experience of working for him was emphasized by appreciation and confidence. When I learned this part of the story, my whole memory grew.

Jane Graham Reed is a retired science and health educator with expertise in psychiatry. She is currently studying as a CBT facilitator and is working on mindfulness, well-being, meditation and good health.

Picture of West Sands c. 1900: Public.

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