Jessie Lindsay. 24Jan1872 - 1941. (RLM's Aunt)
My acquaintance with my Aunt Jessie Lindsay began with the sing-songs at Havelock Street.
My impression is that after she left school (which school?) she worked for some time in a junior role in the same firm as her father and my mother, Nelson, Shaw & MacGregor, at the foot of Buchanan Street, Glasgow. When her very healthy father retired from work around 1900/1 she obeyed the ? 4th commandment: "The youngest daughter shall look after her ageing parents, thus honouring them, even although she has to miss the pleasures and risks of holy matrimony". That was Victorian Scotland and England!
On the removal to Minard Road, Perth, I became an occasional visitor to her father's house, for several days at a time. My first experience away from home. What fun! I was well fed, got pennies now and then, did simple errands, and went to church with her. Little did she guess that her little angel sometimes was down at the not-far-away level crossing gates, standing on them, putting out his hand to feel the draught as the Glasgow Express rushed by! Or that he was sometimes in a boat with the Tay fishers, trawling a net across the river for salmon. That was a thrill! But Aunt Jessie never believed there could possibly be any evil in me!
She used to complain of headaches in those early days at Perth, saying they were caused by the noise of the trains passing by, some half mile away. These diminished greatly after her marriage to Alex Meiklejohn on 10/6/1911 at Glasgow.
I think Alexander was a bit older than Jessie. He, too, had postponed marriage because he considered it his duty to look after his own ageing parents to the end. An old problem that is!
When she moved, having married, to Hyndland, Glasgow, her house was about a mile or so from our own, a very good training distance for a run either by day or night. I often visited her there. She kept a biscuit barrel of ginger biscuits on her dining room sideboard, always full, for me. She was a fine cook, and we often had grand meals at her house. High teas were her speciality.
I always had to submit to an interrogation about my latest girl friend, and when would I bring her out to see her? What was she like, and so on. It was great fun, and I did have an imagination which baffled her, whiles! But the only one I ever brought is downstairs at the moment, age 69, almost, having her evening libation before we retire for the night. Mine is at my desk!
In Hyndland, Jessie looked after her old father with amazing fidelity and care, right to his end, in 3/3/1922.
She was an expert baker of pancakes. I could never leave the house without taking a bunch with me. On one occasion, I was not long gazetted a second lieutenant in the Argylls (and thought a lot of my own importance too) when she gave me a small attache case, full of pancakes to take home with me. As I descended the stairs of the tram-car to dismount near my home the clasp broke and all the pancakes rolled down the tram stair and some, by some curious quirk of dynamics, actually rolled into the downstairs compartment of the tram. My dispatch box contained PANCAKES BY AUNT JESSIE!
She and her husband were a kindly pair. She never let him stray (nor did he desire) far from her, the furthest being to the bowling green 200 years up the road.
Poor lass! She once told me (her headaches continuing a bit - she always wanted a prescription from me because I was learning to be a doctor) that Alec was not STRONG, HE has a hernia!
Jessie was so loyal to her father and the Lindsay family, so tied to family tradition or teaching, so generous and so honest, and, (apart from the headache) so uncomplaining that she had more cause than most to be a rebel. But she wasn't a rebel. Perhaps that what made her a wonderful aunt to Agnes, John and Jessie and myself.
During War I, I got parcels from her, sent to France, and pleasant newsy letters too.
After my marriage and removal to Wolverhampton I did not see so much of her. We always visited her when we went to Scotland. Once, perhaps twice, she came to Wolverhampton.
She was of small stature, prim and proper in appearance, observed the conventions in dress and manners, spoke clearly and enjoyed being complimented on her "rig-out". She was always most king to my mother, and to her brothers. I used to take a juvenile delight in mildly trying to shock her - it was wrong and juvenile I know - but she always forgave. In every way, she was a good sport.
While I was on the seas to Middle East, in 1941, she had a cerebral haemorrhage and died at once. Two or perhaps three nights later the German bombers struck at Clydeside, and flats near her were tumbling down. I was so glad she was spared that experience.
Her brother John and Agnes, came through from Perth for the funeral, and experienced all the angish of the German raid around them. They had hoped to settle in Glasgow, perhaps to take over Jessie's flat. The raid finished that scheme. Back to Perth they went!
I have for the moment failed to find my copy of Jessie's will. Somewhat over £6,000. She divided it in the main between her four nephews and nieces, but she did not forget kindnesses rendered to her through the years, e.g. her dressmaker, and by some neighbours to whom she left small tokens of her appreciation.
Jessie conformed to the Lindsay pattern of her time, accepting God and the Scriptures as she was told. Never appeared to have doubts. Like her brothers, she married a Lowlander. My mother married a Highlander, to break the pattern! The first to do so! But not the last!
She was buried in the Lindsay grave at Cathcart.
Agnes Cook, my cousin, has written thus:
92, Queensborough Gardens, Glasgow, where my Aunt Jessie and Uncle Alec lived conjures up many memories of my childhood and teenage days. The smell on entering was of Brasso, Mansion Polish, moth balls, and sometimes of Sloan's Liniment. Brasso had a special significance for me as one of my chores at 92 was to clean the many brass taps, handles on doors, letter box and ornaments. The taps and door brass was done daily, early in the morning, so that any visitors ringing the bell would find it bright and shiny. Moth balls perfumed sheets, pillows, blankets, wardrobes and drawers, and I am sure no self-respecting moth dared show its face at 92. Sloan's Liniment and embrocation were the favourite remedies for all aches and pains, colds and coughs. Large, ample pieces of flannel were at the ready for anointing and poulticing. How itchy they were.
Polishing was another of my tasks, and Uncle's old socks and Aunt's old vests were handed out to me with a large tin of Mansion Polish to do the surrounds and every inch of lino.
Food had a routine, and Aunt was a good plain cook, never using spices or different flavourings. Porridge, bacon and eggs, or some egg dish were always served at breakfast. Lunch was often mince and mashed potatoes followed by stewed apples and custard. Fish pie on special high teas, and cod or haddock were great favourites. The first treat for me were Craig's cookies loaded with butter and jam which Uncle was instructed to bring on his way home from work. Ginger snaps were always in the biscuit barrel, and I would help myself whenever I felt the pangs of hunger. A large soda-water making syphon stood on the scrubbed wooden coal bunker in the kitchen. Home made fizzy drinks were another treat. I loved to press the tap and watch the bubbles rising up the funnel as the soda splashed out.
The front room was The Holy of Holies and I used almost to creep into it when I wanted to play the piano, which was permitted at certain times of the day when it would not disturb the neighbours. An H.M.V. gramophone sat in stately elegance to be operated only by my Uncle "as he understood the machine" and I might break it. The records of Harry Lauder, Will Fyfe and the boy singer Ernest Lough were played on week nights, and on Sundays we heard Clara Butt singing "Abide with me" and other religious records. The heating of the front room was by gas fire, which always made a loud pop when lit and then hissed continually. Green carpets adorned the front room and bedrooms. These were cleaned daily with a very squeaky sweeper which was never oiled. My Uncle was no mechanic. My father used to refer to the greens on the golf course as "Aunt Jessie's carpets".
Although they never had children my aunt and uncle were fun to visit for they loved games such as Lexicon, draughts, dominoes, whist and rummy. After the tea dishes were washed up, out came the games, and they often let me win to make me feel happy. Aunt liked the music hall and pantomimes and I was always taken to shows on my yearly visits to 92. They were young in heart and romantic, enjoying to hear of my romances, and I am glad they lived to see me happily married.
John Lindsay, her nephew:
John Lindsay records that his aunt was always generous to him as, indeed, she was to her nieces and other nephew. Her home was a most pleasant one, where there was always a welcome. "She could be a bit fastidious at times, especially concerning behaviour and appearance, with particular reference to her nephews". She was an excellent correspondent. She lived in great harmony with her husband, Alexander Meiklejohn, and both are remembered with deep affection by John and his wife, Isabel.