Shop assistant. Flat 2, 66 Wokingham Road, Reading.
See photograph .
Kate Buchanan - Mrs. Grant. Now aged 83, in 1968.
Kate records that when she was a girl she and my two Nicolson cousins came across the West End Park, early one morning, 30th July 1896, to enquire from my father whether it was a boy or a girl!
I seem to remember one or two visits by her to our house when I was a very young lad - and she completely passed out of my life until I got her address from her niece, Myra Buchanan, last year. Dr. John had not replied to my request for it.
She has proved a very good correspondent, writes a very good hand for her age. So my sister, Jessie Howie and I went down to see her at Reading, Berks, a few months ago, to take her out to lunch. We were joined by her Sheila and husband, a Mr. Douglas, who monitors broadcasts from Czechoslovakia nearby at a B.B.C. station.
Kate proved to be an active, alert, talkative lady of middle height, and tremendously pleased to be taken out. Like all such meetings the topics were so varied that none was touched upon in depth, and one came away with the impression that it was a very good meeting anyway. Kate's husband, Mr. Grant, had died in 1927 at the early age of 41. Her early life had been spent pretty much in shops and warehouses. She recorded that when employed at the Glasgow Coliseum she used to have occasion to visit my father's firm and always went up to his department to see him, and to give him family news.
She "visited Uncle Donald when he was ill and Aunt Helen was looking after him". Indeed Kate seems to have visited all the family at times, and, indeed aroused attention.
Frank Macdonald wrote about her 5/Feb/68: "I'm glad to know from her letter that Kate Grant speaks well of me. It's a comforting thought. She writes well at 83. She obviously has retained much of her verve. She was a bright personality. Dressed in tartan skirt and jacket with a cocked bonnet at a jaunty angle she was quite an eyeful. Tell her I have happy memories of her visits to the Breadalbane."
She was also friendly with her cousin George Macdonald, who later disappeared in Australia. While Alan Macdonald (these Macdonalds were all handsome!) "was fond of Kate's sister Jessie".
Kate also wrote:
I remember the day Aunt Sarah and Jessie sailed away to Canada. My brother Neil hired a cab to take them to the docks. I got bits and pieces of things for them to take away. I also remember the Robertsons all going to the U.S.A. Their father went off first. He was a stone mason. I remember my mother, Ann, and I and my sister Jessie crying very sore. Their mother, Kate, seemed to be my mother's real friend. I suppose we should have kept in touch with these people."
Well, Kate did her best, without doubt. Her cheerful letters frankly revealed that the Buchanans thought the Mackays were snobs, i.e. my father (or was it my generation?) and Dr. William Mackay. I looked up the dictionary. Snob has so many meanings that one of them is bound to apply! She also thought Margaret Macdonald was a snob. Maybe we all are, the whole bunch of us! Kate added that she stayed in Dalmuir with her brother Willie for 20 years - "her best friend".
Kate also recalled: "Now, about the Malcolm Campbell relationship. All I know is about the fruiterers in Renfield Street. (Campbells). My sister Jessie and I when very young were shelling peas in the shop window with other girls, and a crowd looking in at the window admiring us. My sister had lovely red hair and was fair skin."
"I remember my mother taking Uncle Andrew in as he had no home or money and we had very little room in those days".
"My mother was not told of Uncle Donald's death (1909). On the funeral day I had to take a day off and go with my mother to the cemetery. My mother was very upset. Aunt Helen was to blame, and for a long time I dare not visit her".