You would be sorry to hear about Dawtie Macleod’s death – you will probably have heard about it before now…The funeral was in Stornoway on Wednesday…The afternoon turned out very wet and stormy, but in spite of that there was a considerable turnout of people. We are grieved at Catherine’s loss; she was a very fine girl… Stornoway, 24th October. 1917

Extract from Mr Gibson to Jean Gibson 24th October 1917

This week’s news from Mr Gibson to Jean concerns a local lad who is home on leave before heading out to Athlone, Ireland, the sad news of the death and funeral of a local girl, and how Mr Gibson caught a grain thief! 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 were glad to hear that you are getting over your cold, and hope that you are now quite clear of it.  Have just got in from my drill.  Mamma is ironing and Barrie Diogenes is reposing on the cushion of the chair.  Roddy Fraser was up at the drill and I took the chance of having an expert signaller present to have him give the squad a first lesson in morse signalling with the flags.  They seemed to enjoy it.  Now, let me see what news during the week.  Mr. D.J. Macleod was in for tea one night and we had a nice ceilidh on archaeology.  Mrs. Kitson was in for a little while after, and Mrs. Small had been in for a little before his visit.  She called, as she said, to make sure that Mamma was still here.

We have had great rain, regular downpours, and everything is sodden.  There is snow on Cleisham [sic] and we have had sleet and hail between the rains.  Some forenoons have been fairly good – to-day, for example, but they invariably fall away before night.  Last night a storm blew up from the north or northwest and the constant vibration set loose the bolt of the gate at the end of the house and I had to get up and go out in pajamas and waterproof to close it.

I told you the little “nipper” had been making a fine bag.  Then the one in the washhouse began to disappoint me – three time the meal was eaten off it, every grain, and nothing was caught.  This seemed to be the work of an unbelievably crafty mouse whom I much wished to nab.  One night before going to bed I went out and caught the delinquent red-handed – I mean mealy-mouthed – and it was not a mouse, but a brown slug.  There is a natural history note for your edification.  Much pleased to hear that your classes are turning out so well.  Will be interested to hear the result of your English essay.  Your Zoology programme seems very attractive.  I am glad Prof. T. takes so much of the work himself.  Hope the new man will prove an acquisition.  Did you find out whether it was to be Heat etc., in the Nat. Phil. or Electricity?  We were sorry to hear about Maud being worked so ridiculously.  Housecraft instructresses would a priori be expected to have more sense – but I’m afraid they haven’t.

We were just ready to go to church on Sunday evening when Mr. John Anderson came in to pay his farewell call before returning to Aberdeen so we didn’t go to church, but stayed in and did ceilidh instead.

You would be sorry to hear about Dawtie Macleod’s death – you will probably have heard about it before now.  She passed away on Saturday.  She had suffered much.  The funeral was in Stornoway on Wednesday.  The four Masters of us who are left, and the boys of the Post-Intermediate classes, attended.  The afternoon turned out very wet and stormy, but in spite of that there was a considerable turnout of people.  We are grieved at Catherine’s loss; she was a very fine girl.  It will be a sore blow to Mrs. Macleod and Maggie. Poor Willie, too, away in Mesopotamia, we are sorry for.

I am enclosing your Aunt Dean’s letter, from which you will see the Greenock news.  I forgot to say that Wm. B. Macdonald is home for a few days’ leave.  He is looking very well, but the leg is pretty lame. He is to go to Athlone when he leaves here.  He wd. like to get his discharge, but that is unlikely, as they will be able to make use of an educated lad like Willie for instructional or clerical work.

Our best love,

Papa.

P.S I enclose copies I kept of Callum’s papers on Zoology & Physics in the recent Bursary examn. Keep them beside you. They may prove useful when you are revising for your exams. later in the session.

Ref: 1992.50.64ii/L5

Transcribed by Barry Shelby, Museum Visitor Assistant

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