I am just in from the meeting of the school Literary Society. They had a Gaelic debate: “Has emigration been beneficial to the Highlands?” They went into it with great vim and seemed to enjoy it greatly. Several times it resolved itself into little duels in which there seemed to be excellent bits which brought down the house, and retort would follow retort to everybody’s delight… The affirmative won by 35 votes to 14; some did not vote… Stornoway, 28th Feb. 1917

Extract from letter from Mrs Gibson to Jean Gibson, 28 Feb 1917

This week, Mr Gibson reports on the hotly debated topic at the Literary Society: “Has emigration been beneficial to the Highlands?”. He also notes his concern for the school at the possibility of losing more teachers to the war effort, and, ever practical, Mr Gibson offers advice on Jean’s financial matters. The next in our series of letters from the W.J. Gibson collection held by Museum nan Eilean. Please get in touch if you have any comments: archives@cne-siar.gov.uk

Jean Dear,

I am trying the writing on Wednesday this week to see how it works.  I am just in from the meeting of the school Literary Society.  They had a Gaelic debate:  “Has emigration been beneficial to the Highlands?”  They went into it with great vim and seemed to enjoy it greatly.  Several times it resolved itself into little duels in which there seemed to be excellent bits which brought down the house, and retort would follow retort to everybody’s delight.  In these encounters I noticed that in most cases the young lady had the last word.  Whether the boy in such a case was convinced or only silenced I had no means of knowing.  The affirmative won by 35 votes to 14; some did not vote.

Miss Gammack started work this morning.  She had a good crossing of the Minch, at least she had not been sick.  I took her round some of the buildings and a portion of the staff, and then left her to the tender mercies of IIIA.  I think my first impression was fairly favourable.

We are expecting to lose some more of our Masters owing to a new regulation by the War Office.  I hope we’ll be left with enough to keep going on.  I had a letter this morning from Salonika from John Macritchie (“Pickwick”).  He is well, and seems cheerful.

The Literary Society next week holds an open meeting – musical and dramatic – so Miss Angus is busy.  We are looking forward to it, for as you can guess, things in Stornoway are at their quietest.

We were interested to hear of your visit with Maud to Miss Taylor.  I was delighted to learn that good old Dummy had kept his luck with the cards.  It all comes of his being unable to speak, and so the preservation of the luck by obeying the mandate “Favete linguis” is obviously easy.

I note the details as to the state of the Degree grind.

Be sure, that in the general cheerlessness of the Mathematics difficulty, you do not put it too much aside in favour of the Latin.  But you are probably alive to that danger.  It must have taken you some by surprise to find that your modest percentages in Maths gave you the 12th and 13th places.  I suppose you were quoting to yourself:  “Among the blind…….!”  It should cheer you some, though.  How is Clara getting on with it?

Mamma and I are feeling that with the big rise in prices the amount you pay to the ladies for your board is not sufficient.  What do you think about it?  Mamma mentioned it in a former letter, but I think you forgot about it.

We were amused at your experience of the “early door” in your theatre-going.  It is good you had a chance of seeing a first-rate company, but a pity that it was not in a better play.  If the Compton Company ever visits Aberdeen you must try to see one of their presentations of old English comedy.  Your criticism of Miss Neilson is just the fault that as a rule I have felt like finding in one or more of the personae when I have seen them on the boards – they are too stagey; they don’t do it with enough simplicity and naturalness.

How are the funds running?  You are remembering that you will have Degree fees to pay.  Take out enough in time, as you have to enter your name by a fixed date……  I have just been looking up your Handbook and find the last date is March 3rd for entering the names.  I see your first paper in Latin comes a fortnight from to-morrow, and your Maths is the next day to that.  But keep cheerful.  I should have mentioned that as your Mathems is to count both for the M.A. and B.Sc. course you will need I suppose to enter for both, and, I expect, will have an extra guinea to pay, but they’ll be able to tell you about this at the office.  I hope they do not have a higher standard of pass for B.Sc. than for Arts in the subject.

Now, I’ll have to stop, paper and the patrol-boat are both calling for me to be done.

With our best love.

Papa

Ref: 1990.50.64i/L35

Transcribed by Dawn Macdonald, Archive collections assistant

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There have been some fine catches of herring this last week, one day 5000 crans. The Minch has been getting “swept” and the mail-boat is running regularly. Oatmeal scarce; we have had to fall back temporarily on Quaker oats… Stornoway 22nd Feb 1917

In this week’s letter Mr Gibson remarks on the unusually calm spell of weather they have had with hardly any wind or rain in January and February. He also mentions some fine catches of herring, but a shortage of oatmeal. The War is never far away: the Minch has been ‘swept’ for mines, and a soldier on leave provides first hand accounts from the Macedonian front.  The next in our series of letters from the W.J. Gibson collection held by Museum nan Eilean. Please get in touch if you have any comments: archives@cne-siar.gov.uk

Jean Dear,

To-night the winds are beginning to rise, and we have had such a long spell without them that they sound quite strange to us.  We have had a remarkable winter – quite unusual in fact.  Since you left to return to Aberdeen there has hardly been a day of rain, and such a record for Lewis in Jan. and Feb. is worth remarking on.  There have been some fine catches of herring this last week, one day 5000 crans.  The Minch has been getting “swept” and the mail-boat is running regularly.  Oatmeal scarce; we have had to fall back temporarily on Quaker oats.

School more or less as usual, no more teachers off yet, but we have not yet got a substitute for Miss Maciver.  Miss Fraser, the last I heard of her, was still in bed.  Miss Gammack expects to be here in a week from now.  And she’ll be needed!  You can guess the effect of a six weeks’ interregnum in front of the L.C. examinations.  We were having our council of war to-day on the presentees for the Int.[ermediate?] Certif.[icate], and were recognising how poor some of them are.

At the Literary last night a symposium on “Some recent Poetry”.  Masefield, Newbolt and Kipling were the ones on whom papers were written but we also had pieces from Rupert Brooke and G. K. Chesterton read.  Quite a profitable evening it proved.  Miss Angus is busy for the next Open Evening.  It is to be musical and dramatic.

The School Annual, after long delay, will soon I hope be ready. I got your note of the members of the Committee.  I have utilised some of the old exercises of the Sixth of 1916 and scraped a fair amount of matter together.

Kenneth B. Macleod was in and had tea with us on Monday evening.  He had a lot of interesting things to tell us about the boys in Macedonia.  We had for example a “fascinating” picture of John Macritchie (“Pickwick”) making his bed beneath the pulpit of a mosque.  As the entering of the native churches was forbidden John and the Sergt. have a grave discussion and come to the conclusion that it does not look like a church, and must be the town-hall.  Peaceful sleep of Coinneach Bard and of the shrewd John!  “Zadok” and the other boys reported well – Kenneth himself looking very fit.  He is about to go into training for a commission.  I had a p.c. [postcard] from Mr. Menzies to say he had met some of the boys at Salonika.

We got the two Almas [‘Alma Maters’], with thanks.  I put it to Mamma as to whether the buttercup poem or “Ultima Thule” was yours.  She rejected the first, said you could do the latter, but thought you hadn’t.  After further thought it gained on her, and she concluded it was yours.  Send a copy with the poem marked with your name, to Dr. R.S. McKim, 19 Abbotsford Ave., Rutherglen.  He will enjoy it after his Lewis wanderings, and his sleeping on the heather.  Also another copy to your “pore Uncle”, in Greenock, who always remembers “such a ile of peace and rest.”  I am sorry to say he is not well – rheumatic pains.  You had better, if you have time, write him a nice comforting letter at the same time as you send “Alma”.

We were sorry to hear of your sore throat.  Poor old Jean!  That was where the headache and general wretchedness of your Roman History exam. came from.  Well, we hope you are quite clear of it by now.  Maud was a good lass to go out to see you and comfort you.  She wrote a nice letter to Mamma, who also had a letter from Bessie, not giving much news, however.

Mamma has been down this evening at the post-office with your box.  There was quite a mob, she says, at the parcel counter.  She hopes you will get it all right on Saturday.

How is your Maths. getting along?  You must be finding it dreary work without the help that a good teacher could have given.  Well, cheer up; I’m sure you’ll do your best.  We were glad to hear about the sphagnum pickings and the interesting talks attached thereto.  I see the Friday evenings keep as entertaining as ever.  I hope Muriel is better.  How are Jean and Miss Templeton?

I have taken to the quarts paper again; I note that you did not like the small sheets.

With our best love.

Papa

P.S.  We liked the poem.  I think it was very nicely done.  Try another soon again on some local theme, when you have time.  It is a good kind of exercise.

Ref: 1992.50.64i/L33

Transcribed by Dawn Macdonald, Archive collections assistant 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on There have been some fine catches of herring this last week, one day 5000 crans. The Minch has been getting “swept” and the mail-boat is running regularly. Oatmeal scarce; we have had to fall back temporarily on Quaker oats… Stornoway 22nd Feb 1917

This week’s letter highlights a difficult truth which is very pertinent, given that it is Black History Month. In the course of transcribing the letters we occasionally encounter racist language which is extremely offensive and considered abhorrent today. The fact that a highly educated woman like Mrs Gibson would use this particularly horrible word in such a context reflects the racist ideas prevalent in Britain at this time. We thought carefully about whether to publish this letter on the blog, but we feel it is important not to cover up the past and that we should bring it out into the open, as the attitudes of people in the past are an important part of the historical record. In another sentence of the letter there is a reference to insanity in a particular family. We have not revealed the family’s identity in case this causes distress to any descendants.

Extract from letter from Mrs Gibson to Jean Gibson, 18 Feb 1917

Nicolson Institute, Stornoway, Feb 18th 1917

Dear Sheann,

Your letter was up to time this week and Papa read it to me at breakfast yesterday.  Sorry the Roman History was so horrid but we cannot always be in good exam. form.  The Romans seem to have had a very difficult history don’t you think?  My impressions of it are of the vaguest and consist mostly of legions and laws.

Thanks for ‘Alma Mater’. Was the “Ultima Thule” poem yours? That’s the only thing that seemed likely.  It is a good number.  Don’t forget to tell us if our guess is right.

I was at “Crauford” with Papa on Thursday night.  It was really very good and Miss Angus deserves much credit for her cleverness as well as her work.  You would have enjoyed it I am sure.  The dressing was quite wonderful considering.  Miss Angus got all the “properties” which we had been giving house room and made wonderfully good use of them.

Thursday and Friday were holidays for the Fast.  Mr. Jenkins went off after Mr. W. J. Mackenzie’s funeral to preach for a vacancy and we had Mr. Mackay of Kinloch today whom I don’t think I ever saw before.  There were very few people in church for a communion Sabbath.  We met Mrs. Menzies and Miss Dean as were going out of the gate this morning.

Mrs. Menzies said that they were out working in the garden on the Fast Day.  She said they went in and found Mr. Gellan, Mr. Macallum, Lochs, and Mr. Mackenzie, Uig, sitting over the fire and told them they ought to be ashamed of themselves to be so lazy.  The two former actually joined them and worked like n_____s.  Fancy that on the Fast day!  Today Mr. Clark says Mr _______ had a telegram saying that his poor brother had become violently insane and had to be tied down and must be returned to an asylum at once.  Isn’t he a sorely tried man?  both his sister and brother insane.  Mrs. M. and Miss Dean will both be very nice to him I am sure.  I met Maud’s mother on Wednesday on my way to the sewing meeting.  She was lame and said she had phlebitis and had not been out for a week but had been on the sofa.  I did not stand more than a minute as I did not want to keep her standing.  Don’t mention it to Maud unless she knows.  Her mother seemed quite bright and said she could not lie up.

We have had wonderful weather, sunshine and frost day after day.  The two holidays were ideal.  Today and yesterday however are somewhat overcast.

Miss Smith and Miss Macfar[lane?] were in seeing me one day and I was down one evening addressing the Band of Hope for them.  Have not heard from Greenock or Belfast for two weeks.  They were all well then.

Love from us both. Your loving Mother

Ref: 1992.50.64i/L32

Transcribed by Dawn Macdonald, Archive collections assistant

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on This week’s letter highlights a difficult truth which is very pertinent, given that it is Black History Month. In the course of transcribing the letters we occasionally encounter racist language which is extremely offensive and considered abhorrent today. The fact that a highly educated woman like Mrs Gibson would use this particularly horrible word in such a context reflects the racist ideas prevalent in Britain at this time. We thought carefully about whether to publish this letter on the blog, but we feel it is important not to cover up the past and that we should bring it out into the open, as the attitudes of people in the past are an important part of the historical record. In another sentence of the letter there is a reference to insanity in a particular family. We have not revealed the family’s identity in case this causes distress to any descendants.

I had letters this week from Wm. B. Macdonald, who is with a battery in France and has had one or two narrow escapes, from J. W. Matheson, in Salonika, and from Alick Thomson, in the training camp at Gailes. He is enjoying the change from the trench-mud. Did I mention that Simon Mackenzie, who has been on a minesweeper off the west coast of Ireland, is now home, discharged on account of his health?… Stornoway, 15th Feb. 1917

Extract from letter from Mr Gibson to Jean Gibson 15 Feb 1917

In his letter this week, Mr Gibson is full of praise for the Dramatic Evening at the Literary meeting, he reports on a large, local funeral, and gives Jean the latest news from two local boys serving in France and Salonika, and a third local boy training at a camp in Gailes. The next in our series of letters from the W.J. Gibson collection held by Museum nan Eilean. Please get in touch if you have any comments: archives@cne-siar.gov.uk

Jean Dear,

This is the Fast Day.  The weather has been particularly fine all day – hard frost where the sun did not shine, but lovely sunny weather with a touch of the Spring in it.

Mamma and I, after the morning’s chores and an early and light lunch (cocoa), went off for a two hours’ walk, down by Sandwick beach and Stoneyfield and home through Sandwick.  It was fine.  School is closed again to-morrow, so we hope there may be another fine day.  Mamma went to church in the evening.  I stayed at home and read.

I don’t think there has been much to note in the school – just a flurry (too common now) to keep things going.  Miss Matheson has been down with influenza and we are so short-handed already that it is difficult to manage.

Mr. Wm. John Mackenzie’s funeral was on Wednesday afternoon, and there were a great many people there, at least 250 I wd say.  He was very well known in the Island and had been a generous giver.

Our meeting of the Literary this week was a Dramatic Evening, and Mr. Pryde presided.  We met in the Art Room and members had been allowed to ask adult friends.  There was a turn-out of about 180 altogether, as many as we had room for.  Among others, present I noticed Mrs. J. P. Anderson, Mrs. Kitson, Mrs. Ewen, Mrs. Macleod (Abd.), Mr. Burns (Fidigary), and Mr. W. J. Clarke.  The curtain-raiser was a Gaelic sketch, in which a crofter expects a visitor to negotiate for the purchase of his mare, and another comes to ask for his daughter.  He mixes them up to the amusement of the audience.

Then followed scenes from “Crauford”, very well done, and the girls made up beautifully.  It was done by the girls of the Sixth with Roddie Fraser and Max Murray.  The only defect was that some of them did not speak out sufficiently for the size of the room but they acted their parts well.  Miss Angus had made a good job of them.  It was quite enjoyable and Mamma liked it well.  Mr. Pryde made quite a good Chairman, and Callum “Zadok” looked after the curtain.

I had letters this week from Wm. B. Macdonald, who is with a battery in France and has had one or two narrow escapes, from J. W. Matheson, in Salonika, and from Alick Thomson, in the training camp at Gailes.  He is enjoying the change from the trench-mud.  Did I mention that Simon Mackenzie, who has been on a minesweeper off the west coast of Ireland, is now home, discharged on account of his health?

We noted your marks – the Unseen was fine, and the Rom. Hist. will doubtless pave the way for a rise next time.  Much “potting” and the grinding thereof, is the only way.  We are noticing that in another month the Degree exams will be upon you.  How the time runs in. Best love from both.  Remember us to Maud.  Papa  How is Livy getting on?

[Italics written in margin]

Ref: 1992.50.64i_L31

Transcribed by Dawn Macdonald, Archive collections assistant

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on I had letters this week from Wm. B. Macdonald, who is with a battery in France and has had one or two narrow escapes, from J. W. Matheson, in Salonika, and from Alick Thomson, in the training camp at Gailes. He is enjoying the change from the trench-mud. Did I mention that Simon Mackenzie, who has been on a minesweeper off the west coast of Ireland, is now home, discharged on account of his health?… Stornoway, 15th Feb. 1917

He told us of a mule who had a spite against a man and waited patiently for an opportunity to pay him out [get revenge]. One day the man was grooming the third mule from his enemy. The watchful one saw his chance and laid the man out with a kick delivered below the bellies of the two intervening mules. What do you think of that? E. says they never forget anybody who has beaten them…Stornoway, 9th Feb. 1917

Extract from letter from Mr Gibson to Jean Gibson 9 Feb 1917

This week, a visit from a local man who is home on leave provides Mr Gibson with an insight into what it’s like to be officer in charge of horses and mules on the front. Mr Gibson also gives Jean a review on the scenes performed at the Literary meeting. The next in our series of letters from the W.J. Gibson collection held by Museum nan Eilean. Please get in touch if you have any comments: archives@cne-siar.gov.uk

Jean dear,

I did not get your letter written last night as some folks were in for the evening – Ebenezer Mackenzie (home for leave) and Isabel, Mr. Jenkins, and Mr. C.J. Maciver.  Had a nice tea (sausage rolls of Mamma’s making – 3/4 lb. of meat for six persons!) and an enjoyable ceilidh.

We learned something from Ebenezer about horses and mules.  He had 70 horses under his charge and about 100 men – the men being more trouble than the horses.  He told us of a mule who had a spite against a man and waited patiently for an opportunity to pay him out [get revenge].  One day the man was grooming the third mule from his enemy.  The watchful one saw his chance and laid the man out with a kick delivered below the bellies of the two intervening mules.  What do you think of that?  E. says they never forget anybody who has beaten them.

Mr. Jenkins is going next week to preach in a vacant church in Forfarshire.  We all wish him well, if it is a nice place.

You forgot to answer my question about the School Magazine Com’ee of last year.  Who were the others, besides yourself and Angus, who gave out the Mags.?

At the Literary this week we had ‘Shakespeare’ and ‘Molière’ with a scene from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and one from “Les Femmes Savants” [sic] – the one where the maid-servant is to dismissed because of her error in grammar.

Max, Catherine Matheson, Margt. Mackenzie, & Catherine Murray were the actors, and did it very well indeed.  You w’d. quite have enjoyed seeing them.  Max, with the help of a moustache, an imperial [cigar?], and a light vest and trousers, made up into a wonderful Frenchman.

The Crauford night for which Miss Angus has been training a troupe comes next week.  I’ll get Mamma to go?  Our harbour was closed for two days this week – no ships, not even the poor ‘Sheila’ being allowed out or in.

Hope you enjoyed your Maths. “social.”

With best love from both.

Papa

Ref: 1992.50.64i/L29

Trancribed by Barry Shelby, Museum Visitor Assistant

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on He told us of a mule who had a spite against a man and waited patiently for an opportunity to pay him out [get revenge]. One day the man was grooming the third mule from his enemy. The watchful one saw his chance and laid the man out with a kick delivered below the bellies of the two intervening mules. What do you think of that? E. says they never forget anybody who has beaten them…Stornoway, 9th Feb. 1917

Dr. Robertson is here just now and thinks more of the teachers will be called up soon. However we need not anticipate trouble and of course if necessary there can be nothing said. The successful prosecution of the war takes precedence of all else… Stornoway, 4th Feb. 1917

Extract from letter from Mrs Gibson to Jean Gibson 4 Feb 1917

In her letter to Jean this week, Mrs Gibson has news of a local boy who has returned home from the Struma front on sick leave having had malaria, and the possibility of more teachers being called up hangs heavy over the school. The next in our series of letters from the W.J. Gibson collection held by Museum nan Eilean. Please get in touch if you have any comments: archives@cne-siar.gov.uk

Dear Jean,

Your letter came at the right time this week and we found it interesting as we always do.  What are you going to sing I wonder. I hope the Maths.  ‘At Home’ will be as nice as the Latin one was.  We note all your remarks about your exams. marks and studies generally but I leave that for Papa to reply to as I really am not in a position to know much about it.  Do your best and be sure it will be all right.  We were interested to hear that “Chrissy Kirkcaldy” had written you.  We have always felt disappointed that she did not get to the University.

Papa’s cold is nearly away now.  It has been bad in his head all week and a great deal of nose blowing and sneezing going on but he got over the body symptoms the two days he was in bed. The weather has been very cold and yesterday and today we have snow, the dry powdery kind blowing like smoke before the wind.

Yesterday Papa and I had a walk before dinner out to Sandwick through the cemetery and home by the beach and Newton.  Met Miss Mary Pope near the gas-house.  She had been at a chrystoleum [sic] painting class held by Mrs. Matthew Morrison.  I wonder now if they wouldn’t be better doing something more useful in these days. In the evening Mr. Ewen came in to pay us a visit and while he was here a Battery boy came in home on sick leave from the Struma front, Murdo Maciver, a brother of the girl who is somewhat lame.  He had had malaria and dysentery and had been in hospital at Malta and then in England but is now quite better and ready to go out again.

I wasn’t at the sewing meeting on Wednesday as I was expecting the plumber.  I need hardly add he hasn’t come yet.  On Thursday I went to the B.W.T.A.  The kept me so long in the post office where I had gone with your parcel that I didn’t get in till 4.30 and at 20 to 5 we were out.  There were only six present including me which is too bad treatment of the new Secy.

Dr. Robertson is here just now and thinks more of the teachers will be called up soon.  However we need not anticipate trouble and of course if necessary there can be nothing said. The successful prosecution of the war takes precedence of all else.  I haven’t seen Mrs. Morison yet, I suppose she is just as busy as I am.

Met Mr. Clark on our way home from church.  He says they had a wire from Bessie yesterday asking if she might go to live with the Walkers at Carluke as they wanted her.  They agreed meantime.  He says Bessie won’t be home at Easter but I hope she will.  Papa is deep in “Their Silver Wedding Journey” and smiled a far-away smile when I asked him for news.  Doubtless he’s keeping it for his own letter. 

Love from us both to our little She-ann.

Your loving

Mother.

Ref: 1992.50.64i/L28

Transcribed by Barry Shelby, Museum Visitor Assistant

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Dr. Robertson is here just now and thinks more of the teachers will be called up soon. However we need not anticipate trouble and of course if necessary there can be nothing said. The successful prosecution of the war takes precedence of all else… Stornoway, 4th Feb. 1917

The kipper girls are on strike this week for better wages. On Tuesday afternoon they marched in procession round the town with a union jack and singing. They passed down Francis St. while the wedding was on, and I was amused to see that even in strike time a wedding was too great a temptation to be resisted and their procession joined the crowd at the church door until the wedding party came out… Stornoway, 1st Feb. 1917

Extract from letter from Mr Gibson to Jean Gibson 1 Feb 1917

In Mr Gibson’s letter to Jean this week, he gives her the latest news from the local boys in the War and provides a report on a wedding at the Episcopal Church in Stornoway. The kipper girls are also on strike this week, stopping only to admire the wedding, much to the delight of Mr Gibson. The next in our series of letters from the W.J. Gibson collection held by Museum nan Eilean. Please get in touch if you have any comments: archives@cne-siar.gov.uk

Jean dear,

We got your letter in due course, and were glad to note that Maud had got over her cold, though sorry to hear of her tooth troubles.

We read with amusement the joint letter of yourself and the other young lady who corresponds with her home. It reminds me a little of the testimonial I once wrote for you when you were a baby; I think we once told you about it.

Alick Thomson was in to see us one evening, and we had him in to the kitchen to share our tea and had a nice long talk about the war. He stayed for about three hours and told us such a lot of things. He really has the gift of making us see things. We both felt we knew in quite a new and vivid way the kind of life it is in the trenches.

I had a letter from Murdo Murray this week. He says John Munro is away to France again. He was trying to get him kept for a bit as a Phy. Trg. [Physical Training] Instructor, but owing to some mistake in the orderly room it did not get arranged. I congratulated Murdo on his marriage.

Isobel Ross was married on Tuesday in the Episcopal Church. Our afternoon interval came just as the service was being finished and the children of the Francis St. Building were just in time to swell the crowd which saw Isobel and her husband off in the motor. Dorothy Macleod was, I think, chief bridesmaid, and Cathie Alexander the understudy.

The kipper girls are on strike this week for better wages. On Tuesday afternoon they marched in procession round the town with a union jack and singing. They passed down Francis St. while the wedding was on, and I was amused to see that even in strike time a wedding was too great a temptation to be resisted and their procession joined the crowd at the church door until the wedding party came out.

Mamma was at the B.W.T.A. this afternoon; the meeting was a short one, and there were few present.

Last night’s meeting of the School Literary Society I was not at, as I had still a bit of a cold in my head, and am being careful o’ nights. I believe they had quite a good meeting. It was an election à la Gulliver – one candidate urging that eggs shd. be opened at the big end and the other at the little end. I was told the heckling and the replies were quite good. Mamma insisted on my staying in bed on Saturday and Sunday. I felt all right on Monday, but have had a head-cold since Monday evening – nothing bad.

Mamma asks me to say that she posted your blouse to-day.

By the way, who were the four of you who acted as the School Magazine Committee last autumn & passed round the Mags. – Angus MacPhail and you – and who were the other two?

The pussocks are at my feet and Mamma is skimming the newspaper, and supper-time is near.

Best love from both,

Papa

Ref: 1992.50.64i/L27

Transcribed by Seonaid McDonald, Archivist

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on The kipper girls are on strike this week for better wages. On Tuesday afternoon they marched in procession round the town with a union jack and singing. They passed down Francis St. while the wedding was on, and I was amused to see that even in strike time a wedding was too great a temptation to be resisted and their procession joined the crowd at the church door until the wedding party came out… Stornoway, 1st Feb. 1917

Speaking of study circles reminds me of Miss Angus… She is leaving she tells me at the end of this school year. She told her com’tee that she cannot continue at £80 per. an. + £5 bonus as it is not enough to be efficient on. They evidently cannot raise any more. She thinks of taking up work as welfare superintendent at a Munitions factory or something of that sort… Stornoway, 28th Jan. 1917

Extract from letter from Mrs Gibson to Jean Gibson 28 Jan 1917

This week, Mrs Gibson tells Jean about a Nicolson teacher who is to leave at the end of the school year owing to, what she considers to be, her low salary. The big fishing week in Stornoway continues to be a hot topic of discussion, and there is much talk of new clothes and shoes all round. The next in our series of letters from the W.J. Gibson collection held by Museum nan Eilean. Please get in touch if you have any comments: archives@cne-siar.gov.uk

Dear Sheann,

Your letter did not come on Saturday morning and this morning there was no one to go as Papa has been in bed these two days with a feverish cold.  However when lil’ Lizzie had brought the milk I bespoke her good offices and she smilingly agreed.  She came back with quite a number of letters, most of them requests from T.C. [?] girls for testimonials and also yours among the others.  What I didn’t bargain for was her appearing embracing a big parcel from Daniel Neals containing two pairs boots, a pair slippers and a pair rubbers all for Papa.   It looked very un Sabbatarian indeed and it is to be hoped her mother doesn’t object.

We were much interested in your account of your Latin class party.  It sounded “a little bit of all right.”  Papa was tickled at you willy-nilly having to ask Willy Lillie to see you home. The supper discussion when you reached home also struck us as very good.  Glad your dress is nice.  The price was all right.  It is a good thing that you have got into touch with a good dressmaker.  Your study-circle and your moss-picking are interesting new activities. 

Speaking of study circles reminds me of Miss Angus.  She called one afternoon last week and stayed talking for a long time.  She is leaving she tells me at the end of this school year.  She told her com’tee that she cannot continue at £80 per. an. + £5 bonus as it is not enough to be efficient on.  They evidently cannot raise any more.  She thinks of taking up work as welfare superintendent at a Munitions factory or something of that sort.  I think she is right to give up church work; she has not the enthusiasm of the right sort of church worker.  I am not mentioning the matter meantime to any one leaving it to herself to let it be known.  She invited Papa and me to a tea party they were having on Saturday night in Mr. Hunter’s old church.  I went and stayed for an hour and explained Papa’s absence.  When I returned I found a parcel leaning up against the front door containing my new Harris coat from Dannie Maciver’s.  I had to take a grey one after all.

This is a very voluminous garment with Raglan sleeves and a belt.  I wore it to church today and found it such a nice “hap”[?] after going so long with a thin coat and skirt.  It is to cost £2.17.6.

Mrs. Cameron of the manse came in to see me on Friday night and paid me quite a nice long visit.  She was telling me how disgusted she was that the old sewing meeting had come to such an unbusiness-like end and wishing that she had abandoned it long before.  I think she wanted to be friends with all parties.  I was at the meeting last Wednesday but did not stay as I had to go to get my coat fitted.  I handed in your muffler and a pair of socks, and got more wool for another muffler.  Maud’s mother never comes now.  Are they not friendly with the new provost’s people I wonder.  I met Mr. Morison on my way home. He and Mrs. M. had been for a walk and Mrs. M. had just left him to visit Mr. Forbes.  Mr. M. says she is quite well again.  He himself tell Maud was looking active and well and not at all as he did this time last year.

There is big fishing in Sy. at present.  The front is all built up with hills of barrels as you remember it.

Chrissie Garrynahine is not back at school yet.  Did you ever write to her I wonder.  Jessie Smith has not come back either.  I don’t know what is wrong with her.

I was sitting with Ella Mackenzie at Miss Angus’s party last night. Ebenezer is home on leave.  He is going for his officer’s training before going back. 

How is Muriel Mackenzie?  Her mother was telling someone that she had been very ill and that the doctor had forbidden her to study.  I had not known she had been so ill as that.

Hope you got your boots and blouse all right.  I am sorry I have not managed to get your new blouse made yet but live in hope.

I congratulate you on the galoshes but I alas ! have not got the little girl yet.  But be re-assured I am getting on all right and am taking care not to do too much.  You see too you’ll soon be coming home to help, a little girl of a really serviceable age. See?

I have not seen Miss Fraser since she left school.  Dr. Ross from Borve was in one day and advised her to keep to her bed for a month’s rest.  Dina Macleod was telling me that Mr. Radcliffe has made them an offer for their house from April till October.  Mrs. Firth Maciver is staying in Capt. Nicolson’s house.  I hear her poor husband continues very ill.

Isobel Ross is to be married in the Episcopal church on the 30th.   Simon Mackenzie is temporarily in her place at Back.  He has got his discharge from the Naval forces as not physically fit.  He might have gone back to the University but they think a while in Lewis will do him good after his illness.

Papa is feeling better and thinks he will be able for school tomorrow.  I wish this east wind would cease.  It makes the new school so cold: every one is complaining of it.  Last week was exam. week so they found it especially trying.  I think that was what gave Papa his chill.   I gave him his big woolly gloves to put on when reading in bed as he had no fire.  We have had some fun over them.  Now I must brave the east wind to get this posted but in my new coat he has fewer tremors.  You should see me – “just like a house-side” as my mother used to say.

Love from us both to the little Sheann.

Your loving Mother.

Ref: 1992.50.64i/L26

Transcribed by Barry Shelby, Museum Visitor Assistant

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Speaking of study circles reminds me of Miss Angus… She is leaving she tells me at the end of this school year. She told her com’tee that she cannot continue at £80 per. an. + £5 bonus as it is not enough to be efficient on. They evidently cannot raise any more. She thinks of taking up work as welfare superintendent at a Munitions factory or something of that sort… Stornoway, 28th Jan. 1917

I don’t know whether Mamma told you of Matthew Russell’s visit… He was in one evening to see us, and has developed physically into quite a fine strapping lad. He has quite come out of his shell too. He has made an interesting generalisation from his experience when grooming and feeding horses – that the same horse will not try to bite and also to kick, that is, it will not be aggressive at both ends… Stornoway 24th Jan. 1917

Extract from letter from Mr Gibson to Jean Gibson 24 Jan 1917

In this week’s letter, Mr Gibson has news regarding some of the local boys serving in the War, there is mention of a big fishing week, and we find out what Jean thought about her recent theatre trip to see ‘The Arcadians’. The next in our series of letters from the W.J. Gibson collection held by Museum nan Eilean. Please get in touch if you have any comments: archives@cne-siar.gov.uk

Jean Dear,

Barrie is on Mamma’s knee and is having the advice with which you closed your letter quoted to him – “Be good.”

A big fishing this week, of which to-day we got a share, viz., two herrings.  Very good they were, too, and B. [Barrie] & L.L. [Li’l Lissie] got the trimmings.

We were sorry to see from your letter that poor Maud has a cold.  Tell her we hope it will soon be better.  We have had dry, rather frosty, weather this week.  Some of the days have been very good indeed, but to-day there has been a cold east wind.

Second Term’s exams this week in school, in the old way you know so well.  We have missed Miss Fraser, but commandeered Miss Harper sometimes to sit with the Sixth.

The Literary on Wednesday was taken up with three little papers on Bacon, Lamb, and Macaulay as essay-writers; Cathaday was in the chair.  Miss Angus, by request, read two of Lamb’s essays.  I told them the story of Lamb wanting to lead home the lively piece of cheese.

I don’t know whether Mamma told you of Matthew Russell’s visit.  He was home on leave for a day or two, and Gerrie developed measles on the day when he was to go off; so his leave was extended compulsorily.  G. is almost better again, and Matthew is now away.  He was in one evening to see us, and has developed physically into quite a fine strapping lad.  He has quite come out of his shell too.  He has made an interesting generalisation from his experience when grooming and feeding horses – that the same horse will not try to bite and also to kick, that is, it will not be aggressive at both ends.

Mr. Tait had a letter to-day from Angus Maclean; he is in France, where Wm. B. also has been for some time.

Alick Thomson is home on leave pending his entering on officer’s training.  I am sure he’ll be glad to get out of the trenches and the mud for a little.

We were glad to see that Maud and you had enjoyed the “Arcadians”.  The student concert you describe was evidently like one or two of those I remember only evidently more so!  I seem to recollect that we made the most of the intervals between pieces but listened to the pieces, which on the whole seems to have been a better way.  Undergraduate views of enjoyment have always however, been a little erratic.

How is the Maths progressing?  I suppose Mr. G. is not becoming any clearer in his exposition.  Your only way will be to work up the essentials from your text-books, using him as an index of the parts you are to read.

Mamma asks me to mention that she sent off your blouse yesterday and your boots to-day.

When you are in a hurry for money remember that you are able to get out a pound at a time from the P.O. Savings Bank without waiting for any intimation from London – just by presenting your book at the counter.

Our best love

Papa

Ref: 1992.50.64i/L25

Transcribed by Dawn Macdonald, Archive collections assistant

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on I don’t know whether Mamma told you of Matthew Russell’s visit… He was in one evening to see us, and has developed physically into quite a fine strapping lad. He has quite come out of his shell too. He has made an interesting generalisation from his experience when grooming and feeding horses – that the same horse will not try to bite and also to kick, that is, it will not be aggressive at both ends… Stornoway 24th Jan. 1917

We have just had a visit from Duncan Macaskill, Tarbert. He is the son of the lady from whom we bought your tweed. He is home on leave from Salonika and leaves again on Monday… He was giving us all the news of the boys at the front line. He told us that Donald Mackay had got the gold medal of St. George from the King of Serbia… Stornoway, 21st Jan. 1917

Extract from letter from Mrs Gibson to Jean Gibson, 21 Jan 1917

In this week’s letter to Jean, Mrs Gibson has news of two local engagements, and informs her of the presentation of a St George gold medal by the King of Serbia to a Lewis man involved in the War. The next in our series of letters from the W.J. Gibson collection held by Museum nan Eilean. Please get in touch if you have any comments: archives@cne-siar.gov.uk

Dear She-ann,

Papa went down to the post-office this morning but your letter was not among those he got.  I was very much disappointed thinking we would not get one til Tuesday.  But as we were sitting down to breakfast Johnnie Fraser came to the back-door with it and said Jacko had not noticed it til Papa was gone.  We were very glad as you may imagine.  The collar and “Flappy Thing” are lovely.  Thank you so much.  I hope your frock will be nice.  Be sure you give me a particular account of it when you get it.  I hope too the Latin class party will be good.  We were very sorry to hear that Maud had not been well.  Tell her from me that she must be specially careful when coming out into the cold after being heated at work.  Glad she is now feeling better.

Miss Fraser’s successor is not to be here till March.  She is a Miss Gammack from Shettleston.  The latest school news is that Miss Annie Miller is engaged to Mr. Harriman.  They say she is 10 years older than he is which seems a pity, too much of a difference.  Miss Eva Macleod is also engaged to the man who is in charge of Sick Bay at the Battery. I don’t know his name or anything about him.

Papa and I were at Mr. Ewen’s to tea on Friday night.  They were very kind and we had quite a nice evening.

We have just had a visit from Duncan Macaskill, Tarbert.  He is the son of the lady from whom we bought your tweed.  He is home on leave from Salonika and leaves again on Monday to go straight back.  He was giving us all the news of the boys at the front line.  He told us that Donald Mackay had got the gold medal of St. George from the King of Serbia.  We are expecting Alec. Macaulay, Breasclete in tonight on his way back from leave.

You spoke just in time about your boots.  Seeing you had not replied when I offered to send them I naturally concluded you did not want them and meant to give them to Lil Lizzie, the milk maid.  However, I have them still.  I washed and ironed your blouse yesterday so it is all ready to be sent off.

I have not seen Mrs. Morison this year yet.  I always mean to go up but do not find the time.  I was at the sewing meeting on Wednesday but she never comes there now.  Barrie & ‘Lil’ Lissie are rolled up in two tight rolls at my feet on the study rug and Papa is sleeping in his big chair so no more at present.

From your loving Mother Did you get your down quilt?  Did you get your bank book?  Why She-anly(?) do not you say?

Ref: 1992.50.64i/L23

Transcribed by Dawn Macdonald, Archive collections assistant

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on We have just had a visit from Duncan Macaskill, Tarbert. He is the son of the lady from whom we bought your tweed. He is home on leave from Salonika and leaves again on Monday… He was giving us all the news of the boys at the front line. He told us that Donald Mackay had got the gold medal of St. George from the King of Serbia… Stornoway, 21st Jan. 1917