Photograph 1

Sandy Calder

This fine gentleman is the grandfather of the last person to be born in our house. His granddaughter was kind enough to let me take a copy of it. She is as bright as a pin, still lives in Banchory (my home village) and walks around for a cup of tea every two or three months. On her last visit, I explained my interest in memory and wondered if she had any old pictures of our house. She said she had the picture above that includes the old house that stood on our land before our current house was built.

This seemed like a nice story until I started looking hard at the picture. The light on Sandy Calder comes from his right and high, so it seems likely that he is facing east, with the doorway of the building facing south. However, the landform in the background does not match that to the west of our house – in fact it does not match the landform in any direction from our house. The house in the picture is also thatched. Thatching is rare in this part of Scotland (I do not know if this has always been the case), and in addition the steadings that still stand from this era (pre-1900s) are slated. It seems unlikely that steadings would be slated, but not the main croft house. So I think it is reasonable to conclude that this is not the old house that once stood on our land.

I will continue to investigate where this is though – Mr Calder always lived near Banchory, so it is local. This picture apparently shows him in his postman’s uniform, but he also worked on the railway (that existed then). Before anyone asks, J. Collier, the photographer’s company no longer exists. I think this is a good case of a photograph showing that memory is not perfect.

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