‘Curiously enough, following on your information about Mr. Dodd came a letter from himself. He is… an R.A.M.C. orderly with the Friends’ Unit on a Hospital Ship. But here is a queer coincidence: who, do you think, is his Medical Officer? Ian Mackenzie.’ Stornoway, 9th Nov. 1916

Mr Gibson to Jean Gibson. The next in our series of letters from the W.J. Gibson collection held by Museum nan Eilean. Knitting, war news, the first debate of the Literary Society and an outbreak of whooping cough at Skigersta are just some of the topics reported on. Please get in touch if you have any comments: archives@cne-siar.gov.uk.

Jean dear,

Another Thursday evening – eight o’clock. It is moonlight, and our silly old rooster is crowing, evidently mistaking it for the dawn. We are in the kitchen, Mamma busy knitting brown stockings and Barrie and Lil’l Lissy on their board, all very friendly and cosy. I’ve been to the drill and there was a record parade, forty-five, probably owing to the moon. The moon is getting to be a lady of importance these days (or rather nights) when tea-parties and concerts and all sorts of things are arranged to suit her convenience.

Now for school news. On Friday our four teachers got back again, none the worse of their visit to Fort George. They had all been classified in the Medical Group A, the best of all. This week Mr. Roderick Macrae is away for the same purpose. I do not think there has been anything special in school except the first debate in the Literary Society. It was on the “Nationalisation of the means of Transport.” Roderick Fraser, supported by Bessie Clarke, took the Affirmative and Max Murray, seconded by Mary Cameron, the Negative. Their papers were very good. Then there followed an awkward pause, and it took a good deal of encouragement to get the ice broken. Mr. Maciver was in the chair and was very pleasant and helpful in getting the shy ones to speak. About ten or a dozen took part, and generally we regarded the first effort as quite successful: the points were well made and there were a few quite good hits. The voting was 38 for, and 36 against.

This afternoon Neil Macdonald, whom you will remember as having been in the Fifth when the war broke out, was in seeing us. He has just finished his officer’s training course and is now at home on leave until he is gazetted. He is for the Royal Field Artillery. Miss Margt. Maciver’s brother Kenneth was trained in the same corps. 

Mr. and Mrs. Clark were in seeing us on Tuesday evening. They had had a letter that morning from Bessie. She is having long hours and little time to spare.

We had a nice letter from Maud at the same time as your last one. Mamma is to write her soon. 

We were glad to see that you had enjoyed your visit to Miss Taylor. She is a very charming glimpse into another world – isn’t she? It seems a pity that there are not more people of that kind about.

Yes, you must just do the best you can with the Maths in the circumstances. You can take the topics mentioned in class as the pegs on which to hang your work from your own textbooks. We note that you had B and B+ for your two proses – quite a comfortable class to be in. We are interested to hear how your Roman History test got on.

We were pleased to get your description and plan of the Residence. It has quite helped us to realise things. Mamma suggests a plan of the girls as the next thing we want. Are glad to hear that the new specs. see better. Mamma asks how much they were. She also wants to know what like the coats are; I suggest a sketch!

Yesterday was my birthday; as usual my family omitted to take any notice of the interesting event.

Curiously enough, following on your information about Mr. Dodd came a letter from himself. He is as you said an R.A.M.C. orderly with the Friends’ Unit on a Hospital Ship. But here is a queer coincidence: who, do you think, is his Medical Officer? Ian Mackenzie.

Miss Mair is to sail for Sydney on 5th January. She has been eleven years on the school staff, and will be quite a loss to us. Miss Johanna Munro’s place was filled temporarily by Miss Christina Mackenzie, whom you will remember as a member of the Sixth Class of 1914. She is teaching in Skigersta, but it has been closed for whooping cough, so we got her temporarily. Angeline MacCallum has been appointed to the vacancy. We don’t know yet who will get Miss Mair’s place.

Now, I think this is a very fair budget of news. Let us know a little more of how you are regarding things. Make your letters a little subjective occasionally – we are anxious to keep alongside, you know.

Our best love. Papa.

Transcribed by Barry Shelby, Museum Visitor Assistant

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