Speaking of the Minch we heard that poor W.J. Payne the night he left Sy. was so sick that at Kyle two men had to carry him ashore. He is now on a destroyer in the North Sea… Poor boy ! we feel very sorry for him now. Stornoway, 19th Nov. 1916

A long letter which refers to the difficulty of getting potatoes and also wool for the tweed, the Women’s Temperance Association and the politics of the sewing circle, amongst other news. 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 on Friday morning. Now this week perhaps you would write so that we may get it on Saturday morning. That would be so nice when Papa is not hurrying off to school and we would have time to enjoy it together.

I am glad you got the spoon for the baby. By the way what is the baby’s name? I don’t think I have heard. The Andersons are very kind to you and Papa and I are grateful to them.

I am so glad your costume is a success. I was hoping very much that it would be. It will just be in good time for the cold weather if you are getting anything like what we have here. This last week it has been very dry with a bitter east or N.E. wind day after day. Papa was just saying today that he hoped you were attending to the clothing being sufficient. I hope the skirt arrived all right and that the stockings were not too small.

Give my love to Maud and say that I had a visit from her mother on Friday afternoon. Miss Smith was in at the same time. Mrs. Morison did not stay very long as she was going out walking with Mr. M. She seemed well and bright. Miss Smith enjoyed her holiday greatly. She wrote a long letter to you when she was away addressed to Aberdeen and which she thinks has not reached you. She was looking very nice in a gray costume, gray hat with a pink satin rose in front and gray gloves and pretty shoes with buckles. You see I took note for you. We met her today after church and she says they are expecting the Tuckers with every boat. They are delayed with Arthur finding it so difficult to get away. You remember perhaps that he is making search lights?

The B.W.T. A. [British Woman’s Temperance Association] met last Monday. I resigned and nobody would take my place, so nothing could be done. Finally I suggested a Com’tee of three to confer and look round for a Secy [Secretary]. Miss Bella Morison was convener of this Com’tee so I handed over the books to her. Miss Smith says that Mrs. Menzies has agreed to take the office and today a special meeting was called for Thursday to appoint her I suppose. 

You will see from this week’s H.N. [Highland News] that the sewing meetings ended with the provostship and that Mrs. McKenzie and the Morisons have resigned. I suppose they resigned to one another as there has been no meeting and I understand Ella has still got the money. Yesterday afternoon Mrs. Murdo Maclean called on me presumably to ask my advice . . . . . . just at this point Murray Macdonald and his officer from France called. They have both been wounded. Murray at Ypres and the other on the Somme. The officer is a Canadian born and bred and yet he joined in Oct. 1914 and has now seen 2 years service. Mary Macdonald has just started teaching in Winnipeg; up till now she has been teaching in the country. The officer leaves tonight and the Minch is just frightful after a week of this wind. Speaking of the Minch we heard that poor W.J. Payne the night he left Sy. was so sick that at Kyle two men had to carry him ashore. He is now on a destroyer in the North Sea and has not got used to the sea either. Poor boy ! we feel very sorry for him now.

To return to Mrs. Maclean, I recommended that she announce a sewing meeting for Wednesday and just start in on her own. So this was done today. I will attend the meetings if I can and try to do a bit of work but will keep strictly to that.

I don’t see Miss Angus at all. She was at the B.W.T.A. meeting and said she couldn’t do any Band of Hope work this winter. When I see her to talk to I will give her your message.

Ellice Clark rushes in here every day at dinner time to see if she cannot run for a message for me. Now isn’t that nice of Ellice! She is a dear.

Dr. Robertson has been here for the past week. Last night Papa was at his lodgings all the evening discussing time-tables with him. He leaves tonight and will have a very bad time I fear.

About your exam. mark Papa says “ Better fortune next time.” A little grind won’t do you a bit of harm as long as you balance it with plenty of out-door exercise. The latter remark is mine of course but I am sure Papa agrees.

Barrie and “pore lil’ Lyssie” are sitting with us at the study fire. You will be glad to hear that Barrie’s poor ear is quite better. I have made two nice beds with straw for them in the cellar. They must be comfy beds for nearly every morning I find the stripy one in one of them. I have to steel my heart against him for I really kinna like him. He is lame just now so evidently some one has been “to him”.

I had a letter from Maggie returning 15 /- I had given her to send me over potatoes. She and her father went to every house in the village but they could not spare any. Maggie says that they themselves are 300 creels short of last year’s crop. It was only on Friday night that two men came for Maggie’s trunk.

I went to Dannie Maciver’s for a Harris coat and Barbara took me into the tweed department where there were only one or two pieces. It seems they cannot get wool. I am waiting in the hope that some may come in from Uig. It was fortunate that Maud and you got yours when you did. Are you thinking of getting your brown frock done up? You did not answer my question of last week.

Now don’t I keep you very nice writing you such a long letter? I will also insist in Papa posting the ‘H.N.’ with this so that it may not be so old when you get it. Do you pass it on to Maud? Love and all good wishes from us both to She-ann.

Your loving Mother

Transcribed by Barry Shelby, Museum visitor assistant

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