Thursday, May 10, 2012

Family treasures...

The last post sent me in search of my Dad's Complete Works of Robert Burns. It is a handsome volume and one that I treasure because I have so little from the Robertson side of my family. There is no publication date. The story I recall was that the book was rescued from the family home in Duntocher Road, badly damaged in the 1941 Clydebank blitz, as the Germans targeted the shipyards. My father was at sea in the Merchant Navy at the time. My grandparents were evacuated to Auchterarder (the 'Lang Toon') where they eventually settled.  The discolouration in the photo below was, according to my Dad, part of the bombing damage.

Just before 'To a mouse' there is a brief outline of the genesis of the poem...

While I was leafing through the Burn's book I came across a folded, yellowed piece of paper...  

and on the back, a letter from my Mum to Auntie Nora...

Dear Nora, I can't resist sending this - one of Jane's letters to you - executed early this morning. According to Mum [my Nana] all it adds up to is "How are you Nora and how is Smutty?" (the dog). The sooner she gets to school and learns to write the better I'll like it. 


  1. Oh oh oh! This is wonderful! Be still, my first-grade-teacher heart! The little Jane in the upper left corner. Precious beyond words. That is a child with highly developed reading readiness skills. I know it didn't take you long from this point. Look at your excellent visual discrimination and your fine motor coordination. From this one little glimpse I can tell you were an A+ student. :-) Your mother's handwriting, on the other hand . . . .
    Intensely fascinating, the origin of the Robert Burns poem. Wow. A riveting post---from first frame to last!

  2. I suspect, from the (unusually harried) tone of my Mum's letter, that I had been badgering her about the writing. The word 'early' is a giveaway too. I always woke very early. My parents trained me to read in bed (to keep me quiet I'm guessing!).

  3. Ha ha. Me too (and my siblings). We knew from an early age the lights were turned off at bedtime, but flashlight reading under the covers was never curtailed. We thought we were getting away with something, but I'm guessing too, they didn't mind our civil disobedience, as long as we were quiet. They knew we wouldn't be awake for long, once quiet---and what better way to disobey than to read?! I always allowed it with my kids, too :-). I hoped they thought I didn't know.

  4. Be a good idea to add a piece to the book saying about the damage. :) Re your writing etc .. brilliant :o))<

  5. What a wonderful tradition to pass on DKM. To choose your battles and to 'lose' the reading by torchlight one :-) Have you discussed this as a family?

  6. Hee hee---parenting is all about choosing your battles, isn't it? I think I lost more than I won :-)---but we all have a great deal of mutual respect for each other as adults, so maybe it's as it should be.
    PG is right---the reason for the damage to the book gives it a lot more historical value!

  7. He has a nice hairdo. :)

    There's an 'A.J' on the bottom left. :)