Generation: D

Donald Nicolson

Born: 1887 Died: 1919
Father: Malcolm Nicolson
Mother: Helen Mackay

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Varied career, died USA. No news available of children. One daughter.

Donald was a strong well built lad, alert, with a pleasant smile, full of mischief. He never quite settled down, it is said. He occasionally worried the police a little, as well as his Uncle John, the detective inspector whose territory included Donald's mother's residence. He was advised to emigrate. Was full of tricks, restless. I have the impression that he was at sea for a time.

There are two stories about him:

Once he was working in a Scottish Hotel as a waiter. The proprietrix Mrs. Robertson was a tyrant. She had a parrot with which Donald became friendly. Donald taught it things. One day during lunch the parrot came out with "Mrs Robertson is a bitch, Mrs Robertson is a bitch". That was the end of that job.

On another occasion Donald was at home, sitting dejected, looking out of the first floor window onto the street below. No money, no job, no prospects. As he continued to look out moodily, he noticed coming towards him on the pavement below a man, all dressed-up, a real "swell". He could not fail to contrast his present situation with that of the apparently rich stranger. As the man was just about to pass below the window, Donald seized hold of a jug of water containing flowers on the table before him and poured the whole contents right on the stranger's head.

Donald ultimately became head waiter at the Tuxedo Club in New York, a millionaires club. He married and had one child. He died suddenly from pneumonia in early middle life.

Jessie Howie writes:

"Of the two brothers, Donald left the greater impression on me, not because I remember him personally, but because he would present me, his young cousin (I must have been something like 15 years younger) with exciting gifts from abroad, a string of beads which were actually seeds from an island in the Pacific, a specimen of coral which was actually a collection of the skins of small animals from the sea, a fascinating plate with a picture of a shepherdess and her dog and, wonder of wonders, an openwork rim through which one could thread a ribbon. He epitomised for me an exciting though elusive personality and one who loved children.

Jessie Petterson 23/3/67 writes:

"Donald I remember as follows. When we visited Glasgow he was never there!

The year Willie came to Canada, about 1912 or so, we got a letter asking us to meet him in New York as he was anxious to see Donald, who had a very good position as Head Waiter in the Tuxedo Club, Tuxedo, New York. This meant me taking two days off work, which was a hardship at that time. However we went. It was and still is a millionaires club. No admission without passes. I of course was thrilled except for the expenses which Willie never offered to pay! When Willie went off by train that was the last we saw or heard of him.

When Mother and I were home in 1920 Aunt Helen gave us the address of Donald's wife. He married a lovely girl from Tuxedo. They had one child whom Donald never saw, for he died when we had the bad epidemic of influenza about 1917-1918. We visited one another until she re-married about 1926.

Frank MacDonald remembers staying once with Helen Nicolson when her son Donald was either out of work or on leave between voyages. On coming home, and about to ascend the stairs of the "close" up which Helen lived, Donald noticed a beggar who appeared to be about to knock at every door. Donald passed upstairs. At that time Helen had a young Glasgow policeman boarding with her, and he was asleep when Donald entered. Donald got into the house, and quickly put on the policeman's uniform and helmet, and when the expected knock by the beggar occurred the poor devil got the fright of his life and ran downstairs."

Frank Macdonald reported:

"Donald was full of tricks. He and Willie might be going to the same dance and Donald would hurry up and might get into Willie's dress suit and get off before him." "but there was no ill in the lad".

Once when he was working in Mrs. Raffie's hotel somewhere, he picked up the wrong plate with something on it. Mrs. Raffie was furious and shouted at him. "Put that plate down at once". So Donald dropped it at once and it smashed on the floor. He also got the sack at once!

He could play the piano to the acceptance of the proletariat, quite well. Could not read music. Just picked up the tune by ear.

He once saw a swimming competition advertised for a swim from Fort Matilda over the Clyde to Dunoon. He went in for it without telling anyone and won a prize for completing the swim!

"His mother's house was a busy one. She had the Gaelic and was vivacious, with a hearty laugh. A quite out-standing character. She was most hospitable to Skye men who were coming to Glasgow to join the police force. One or two might be found sleeping on the floor at night in her house while awaiting interview".

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