Thursday, August 9, 2007

Dumbarton Jan 1946 (II): Post-War Penpals, pt 7b

This is a transcript of pages 6-10 of a letter sent to my aunt from Dumbarton in Scotland, postmarked January 19, 1946. This was a particularly long letter so I am dividing it into three parts over three weeks. The original letter is in my possession. In the interest of security, should the author be living, this transcript may have certain details, particularly surnames, omitted. If you were the author or were involved in pen friends from this area please comment or email.

(continued from August 2)

In English we have just read “Pickwick Papers” by Charles Dickens. It is a magnificent piece of prose. There is no definite plot but that is characteristic of Dickens as his idea was to write about the appalling conditions of his time. I have read nearly all of Dickens’s novel and the most descriptive I think is Nicholas Nickleby. This novel was written to bring to the public notice the conditions of the schools, and they were some conditions. If our schools had the punishments that they had I would pack in.

This summer we may be going to back to Millport for a holiday although we are certainly going on tour through Scotland. We may have an engagement to go to Southampton to Hugh’s cousin. She invited us last year but we could not go owing to our financial predicament.

We have started a tug o’war team in school and Hugh and I are in it, although I weigh only 9 stone (126 lbs). My younger brother has joined the Dumbarton Health and Strength Club and progressing steadily. He was in the last tug o’war team that we were in when we won [undecipherable] each by pulling the other team all aver the park.

I hope you have found a correspondent for Jim [name omitted]. He is a regular guy. He has just sailed for Ceylon in the aircraft carrier “Indomitable” which is now used for troop carrying. Then he will be going to Sydney where I have two uncles and an older brother. This means that the address I gave you will now be archaic, but it will still get [to] him. So, he says anyway. However, he will send her the right address.

On January 25th Scotland will be celebrating the birthday anniversary of Robbie Burns “The Ploughman Poet.” I know some of this gent’s poems off by heart because we were made to learn them. In my opinion they’re deadly or as you would say they’re super. He wrote one to a flea he X [undecipherable] on a woman’s bonnet in church. He and McGonnigle(sic) are my favorite poets. I love reading and I simply get “tore right intae” history books although I can’t do history and as this is a free country (I hope) I can support the big bug who once said “History is bunk.”

We once got an essay to do on that remark and what a laugh Horace got out of it (he is the teacher, we christen them all some historical or ficticious(sic) name e.g. Mussels,-Aggie-Donbago).

All the American Red Cross Centers are closing down. In London the Rainbow Corner closed down after five years of service. The Edinburgh branch has closed down too and the Glasgow branch is closing down a week on Monday.

I forgot to mention the type of supper we have on Jan 25th. If we are lucky enough to get hold of a set of pipes I “pipe in” the steaming haggis. Then a toast is proposed usually “Robbie Burns” and a little of his poetry is recited. Now this supper consists of haggis, a quaint Scottish delicacy; Tatties, potatoes; and Tumakie, turnip. Oh boy what a feed. The there is some more toasting, more recitations and a sing-song. Nearly everybody takes part doing something. Then they do a spot of Jigging (dancing) and end up by singing “Auld Lang Syne.”

(To be continued next week.)

McGonnigle: also seen as William Topaz McGonagle, sometimes William Topaz McGonagall
Robert Burns – website
The Rainbow Corner – 303rd Bomber Group Association website (to dissolve in 12/2007)

Links to other posts in the series:
Personal History: Post-War Penpals, pt 1
Christmas Card from Scotland, 1945
Dumbarton Jan 1946 (I): Post-War Penpals, pt 7
Dumbarton Jan 1946 (III): Post-War Penpals, pt 7c


Shelby said...

I am not familiar with haggis - sounds delightful :)

take care and happy Thursday!

7sky said...

This material from the war era is fascinating...I have my late father's letters to my mother from 1942-46 and my uncle's letters to my aunt from 1944-45; hope to do some sort of compilation or relating their content (my father dated each one) with the war events of that day.