Mom and the Medals

My mother and her father’s WWI medals, March 14, 2017.

Mom had never known about the medals and certainly never seen them. We are very grateful to Patrick for ensuring they made their way back to us. The story is here.

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The Medals

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As you can see, the medals arrived (after an anxious wait on my part and that of the sender). I want to get a photo of Mom with them and I plan to get them properly framed in a shadow box.

I don’t know if my grandfather ever looked at them after he received them. Certainly, he never put them on their ribbands which are still flat and bright, like new. I expect that, for him, the medals represented something that was not as important as the work that he performed. For me, they are a tangible link to him and to history. I am so glad to have gotten them back into the family.

Untimely Fate

I have been, as usual, been working on the family tree. There are many times when I find something really unexpected. Sometimes I find something that verifies something that I knew or turns what I thought I knew on its head. And, occasionally, I find something that I had completely forgotten. This is one of the latter.

My mother had related the story of “someone” who stepped off a tram platform to cross the street and was knocked down by an army truck. I couldn’t recall who this unfortunate “someone” was and sort of put it into the dark recesses of my memory.

The other day, I was searching for information about my great-grandmothers, my mother’s paternal grandmother, Jane Spence Soutar. I knew she died in 1940, 5 years after her husband, William Bowie McIntosh, seen here on their Golden anniversary.

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My mother never really liked her because she was always critical of her.

She had broken off communication with my grandfather shortly into the War after what was a very silly thing that she did. Prideful.

She was evacuated from Newcastle because of the danger of bombing and had gone to live with my grandparents in Dumfries. She was nasty and spent her time criticizing my grandmother and complaining about the food and my grandmother and her cooking and just about everything.

Late one night, after bitterly complaining about the food and refusing to eat, my grandfather heard sounds from the kitchen. He went down and discovered her down in the kitchen eating all the food she complained about the day before. He tore a strip off her, pointing out that she was a guest in his house, and that her complaining about and wasting food (that was rationed) and then sneaking down and eating was not just rude and in bad form, it was unpatriotic.

The next morning she packed her bags and left and never talked to him again. His sisters, all but one, refused to speak to him, also. And SHE burned her bridges after the war and my grandfather’s death.

I am not sure how long before her death the above happened. At least a couple of years.

Yesterday, I was searching the British Newspaper Archives and came across this news story.

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According to another report, the ladies had their umbrellas up and couldn’t see the truck. My great grandmother died later in hospital.

(A.R.P.: Air Raid Precautions)

So here is a family Christmas tree story.

Mom’s Life of Crime

When my mother was still living in Dumfries, Scotland, her father had always brought in a tree that they had dug up the first year they moved to the town, in a tub. After Christmas, it would go out in the shed until it could be planted across the road on the edge of the farmer’s field across the road (now all houses). Towards the beginning of spring, it would be replanted across the road, and before the next Christmas, dug up, again. When my Grandfather died in 1945, my Mom and grandmother had to move out of the manse and into a flat farther away. The tree stayed where it was.

My grandmother had cancer by then, the flat was small, and money was tight (both because of my grandfather’s death and the post-war prices) so a tree was really not an option.

In 1950, Mom really wanted to get a tree for what was likely my grandmother’s last Christmas. So she went to where someone was selling Christmas trees but they were WAY too expensive. So my Mom embarked on the only criminal act in her life.

After dark, she went back to the tree lot and broke some of the lower branches of several trees where they would probably be cut anyway. She took them home, tied them together with ribbon, and her mother had a Christmas tree for what did turn out to be her last Christmas. She died in November of 1950.

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