The snow has lain (the hens have not!) thick… with frequent renewals. Mamma has been down the town only once during the week to hunt for meat, and, as I told you, she got none. Butter is all done, margarine unobtainable, and for two days we have had no milk. If ‘lil Lizzie’ had not obtained half a dozen herring for 10d. on Saturday there is no knowing what state of lowness we wd. now be reduced to… Stornoway, 14 Jan. 1917

Mr Gibson’s letter to Jean gives an insight into the difficulties of obtaining food supplies during the War. A combination of the German submarine blockade and an unusually heavy and prolonged snowfall was making life very difficult for Stornoway residents in January 1917. 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,

No letter was written yesterday. I was in bed nursing my cold, and outside the snow blizzard continued. The hens have been out of their house only once since your departure. The snow has lain (the hens have not!) thick since, with frequent renewals. Mamma has been down the town only once during the week to hunt for meat, and, as I told you, she got none. Butter is all done, margarine unobtainable, and for two days we have had no milk. If ‘lil Lizzie’ [the Gibsons’ maid] had not obtained half a dozen herring for 10d. on Saturday there is no knowing what state of lowness we wd. now be reduced to.

I was out at school again today. In some of the Springfield Building classrooms the thermometers were at 32° F. We made a double session of it and dimissed at 1.30 to let them get thawed out. They were needing it.

Miss MacColl arrived on Friday morning after 2 o’clock. Their steamer from Tobermory earlier in the week had been turned back by a patrol boat on account of a submarine being in the vicinity. Fortunately I had Mrs Weiss’s help during her absence.  Miss Lillias Morison has resigned, and Miss Tolmie is to do so in a few days. She wants to get a change away from Stornoway for a bit. We are still advtg. in vain for lady assistants.

Mamma is busy knitting your belt, and Barrie makes frequent efforts to outflank her and get on her knee.

My paper on ‘Rural Education’ is published in full in this week’s’Educational News’. I left some of the little illustrative stories out, that I told them.

The Nat. Phil. result of 64% was quite good, and you’ll probably do better if your next one is a paper on Physics. Tell me about what you are going on to now. Were the Profs. satisfied with your reason for absence on the opening day? You seem to have been having quite a sociable first week judging from your visiting list. We were sorry to hear of Mrs Milne’s illness, and hope she will soon be better. Our love to Maud. Remember us to Miss Muriel and Miss Templeton and to Jean when next you are visiting and give them our New Year wishes.

This letter is not going to be posted tonight, as Mamma won’t let me go out in the deep snow to take it down to the office. I do not remember a long continued snow like this in Lewis before; though I was told there had been such a fall 38 years ago.

Our best love.

Papa

Ref: 1992.50.64i/L20

Transcribed by Seonaid McDonald, Archivist

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