It was September 1942 and the middle of World War II. The workmen started taking apart Baxter Park’s railings and ornate gates. They said that as part of the war effort they were taking it for the scrap metal collection which would help build ships and aeroplanes.
Soldiers on leave strolled through the Park and noticed that some of the lawns had been dug up to make allotments. Vegetables were being cultivated to make food since rationing limited the amount people ate. It was the only time the lawns were dug up in the Park but growing carrots, potatoes, onions and leeks was important. In the early evening light Lizzie left the shop where she worked and hurried along Park Avenue. She’d arranged to meet her Alex at the Pavilion. He’d promised to help check over her Dad’s allotment then walk her home. There’d been rumours that someone had been sneaking into the Park and stealing vegetables. That was mean but Lizzie knew there were more generous folk who were doing their bit for the war effort, like the chap who’d gifted a stone of potatoes from his allotment to help raise money for the Red Cross.
Lizzie looked up at the sky and hoped there wouldn’t be any bombers that night. So far, Dundee had been lucky, but she knew that wouldn’t last and was thankful that next to the allotments stood a row of air-raid shelters. She saw Alex standing on the Terrace and thought how handsome he looked in his uniform. Waving at him, she remembered how lucky they’d been that his last leave had been during the holiday fortnight and they’d spent a lot of time here in the Park. Despite the war, they’d seen variety concerts come through from Glasgow, and Military Bands of course, and cheered on their friends who’d played in the tennis and bowling competitions. Her grandad had even joined the dominoes club, and these days it was as hard to get him to leave his pals as it was to get her wee brother away from the Park’s playpark and home for his supper!
Yes, the war was terrible and she worried about Alex, but the Park was a comforting and constant part of her life. She remembered her grandad telling her how Sir David Baxter had gifted the Park to the people of Dundee. Looking around she felt proud that the people and the Park were all doing their bit to win the war.
Look for other benches with qr codes and listen to more stories about the history of Baxter Park.