Steamboat Springs Dear Bertha,
I've been sending stories about my Scottish relatives as these stories have been told to me by my cousin, Eileen Woodburn. Eileen taught school in Scotland for a year as part of her study of relative aspects of school systems in the United Kingdom and the United States, for her university matriculation (for her master's degree in education).
During Eileen's year in Scotland, her mother, my Aunt Jenny, stayed with her, and together they had great fun rediscovering scenes from Jennie's girlhood days in Ayrshire. These experiences became doubly interesting when they discovered a distant relative, John Ross, and were "adopted" by John's son-in-law, Bob Milligan.
John and Mrs. Ross had raised two daughters, Jean and Nan. Jean and Bob Milligan had raised a large family in Kilmarnock and the older members of their family had scattered to the four winds, though the younger members were still at home with their parents. These younger Milligans became the object of a great deal of Eileen's research.
As soon as Jean met Eileen and Aunt Jenny, she had written to Nan in London. Nan was just the opposite of her sister. While Jean was reserved, Nan was quite outgoing, very much like her brother-in-law, Bob Milligan.
Nan hadn't been in any hurry to marry, as she was having a great time exploring every part of Britain on a motorcycle.
Nan did, however, eventually marry a fellow by the name of Breeds, and they had two sons before the father disappeared. Nan was determined to avoid further relations with Mr. Breeds, and ensured this by changing her name and address and vanishing into the midst of a population of more than 8 million!
The letter from Jean really excited Nan and her two young sons had never met an American, and Nan insisted that Eileen and Aunt Jenny absolutely must visit her and her sons in London. (Another opportunity for Eileen to examine, firsthand, the consequences pupils experience from
a single-parent home. Meanwhile, Eileen and Jenny had received an invitation to visit the small private school on the Cunningham estate. Eileen reported that her mother said the private Cunningham school was exactly the same as it had been when she attended that same school in her younger years. The private school devoted considerable attention to preserving traditional practices and customs. A date was set for Eileen and her mother to meet with Nan Breeds, sister of Jean Milligan, and Nan's two younger sons. Eileen rented a rental car for little more than their two train tickets would have cost, and the Milligans helped Eileen plan the best route each way for the round trip of nearly 800 miles, including a number of attractions suggested by Nan.
Eileen lined up a substitute teacher to take her place on Friday and Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday in case of an emergency. Eileen and Aunt Jenny had their "gripes" packed ready for a "take off" immediately after school on Thursday. Their plan was to see some of the sights along the way, spend a short night at a hotel and be on their way again at daylight, and meet Nan and her sons before the boys left for school Friday morning. Well, to make a long story short they didn't calculate how long it would take them to locate Nan's apartment after reaching London. Result the boys had to depart for school a few minutes before the Americans located the apartment. Eileen had planned to spend most of Friday seeing London; so, after visiting with Nan for half an hour, Eileen and Jenny took off for the mall, and had a visit to St. James Palace, which had opened its doors to the public to view an exhibit (pictures and relics from the British clipper ship, "Cutty Sark") designed to attract donations for the preservation of the grand old sail ship. The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret were in residence in St. James' palace, but the Americans didn't see any of the royal family. They did enjoy watching the guards on duty in front of Buckingham Palace, and the changing of the guard at White Hall; also the Queen's guard on horseback accompanying the Queen's coach.
And I learned that on the following day would be the big, biannual event, where the entire guard company would change with a big ceremony in which the regimental bands from the regiment furnishing the guard company going on duty (a great honor) and the regiment to which the retiring guard company belonged. What a show!
Until next time, sincerely,