Generation: D

James Brechin

Mary Mather Black

Born: 1876 Died: 1957
Father: Archibald Black
Mother: Margaret Mackay


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[Picture] photo of her standing at the door of Lonachuan in 1935.

Her daughter, Margaret Carruthers, in Canada wrote: "You ask for a sketch of my mother, I guess you mean verbal, for I am no artist. She was the first of the six children of Margaret Mackay and Archibald Black who married on 24/9/1972. Margaret was then in domestic service and Archibald was a seaman.

My mother was tiny, supposed to look a bit like her grandmother, Janet Mackay. In our street she was known as "the wee woman with the big head of hair" which was jet black. She had grey-green eyes and was considered nice-looking by friends. She was kindly to a fault. If a sickly-looking child moved into our neighbourhood I was dispatched to the drug store for a bottle of emulsion, and I had to march up to the door and hand it in, probably never having spoken to the people before.

My father, James Brechin, was an engineer on the Railway (Driver) from Uerwell, Aberdeen [spelling?], having started there as a boy. He had long spells of sickness due to having fallen from the engine and strained a valve in the heart. Where my mother could get even a shilling or whatever was the price of the emulsion I'll never know. She took to sewing for a drapery store and she was paid the magnificent sum of 4 1/2d for cutting and machining flannel shirts for outsize workers in Colville's Steel Works. One time when my mother was sick the doctor arrived and asked was my mother the patient -- she looked so white. He promptly made out a prescription for a bottle. When we came back from the drug store with the bottle she just as promptly poured it down the sink.

She was intensely proud of her Highland heritage on both her father's and her mother's side. The fact that our son (George Carruthers) was born at Lonachuan on 1921 was a source of great pride to my mother. My mother one day was telling Helen Buchanan, her young cousin about this fact, but Helen soon put Mother straight by saying "Mary! How could he be Highland when his father and mother are Lowland?" Poor Mother! That took the wind out of her sails and her come-back was "Well, anyway, he can always go back and claim the poor-house."

My mother was exceptionally fond of singing, and always remarked, and I quote "A Scotch song is as good as a hymn any day. Of course, it has to be a Good Scotch Song". Once we grew up my mother treated us to a gramophone and when Father went to work we had an evening of song and dance among ourselves. Your may be sure there was always a pipe tune or two, e.g. "McGregor's Gathering". Mother had a few months lessons on the violin.

She usually celebrated New Year with a party. We children went to bed, but were awakened on the stroke of midnight and handed a piece of currant bun and a glass of ginger wine. Mary Black's dad, i.e. Archibald Black, always sang a comic song. He had a great sense of humour.

Our mother had absolutely no thought of her own welfare and we used to hint very mildly that she should be thinking a little about her own welfare. Her reply would be: "The Lord will take care of me". We were happy to be able to bring her to Canada for a 6 months vacation in 1948. We would have liked if she would have stayed with us. She had a little Highland terrier waiting for her, and she thought it would not be fair to Jim and me. So that was my mother exactly. She passed away in 1957 at the age of 82. She believed in Spiritualism. When she was 65 she joined a Gaelic choir which was organised by a Motherwell banker."

Mary Black, her niece wrote to me: "Your cousin, Mrs. Brechin, was quite small, about 5 feet 2 inches in height. She was an inveterate talker, and knew quite a lot about the family. Lots of her conversation was most interesting and knowledgeable, but she had a habit of jumping from one thing to another which made it a bit confusing for me. She had a very kind disposition and would help anyone who was brought to her notice. She studied Gaelic at one time, but did not seem to make much headway. We all loved to visit her when we were young, as she was very lively and had lot of energy."

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