NANCY AND OES
When Nancy and I first moved from Keppochill Road to Bucklaw Terrace we left behind many friends who were an integral part of our lives, and the making of new friends was something that we had to work at. Our next door neighbour was a Mrs Gillies and her son had married an Italian girl named Antionette, who at that time was quickly learning to speak English. When our Morag was out playing Antionette would take her into her house and as time passed she would show three year old Morag how she cooked and did her household duties, and so we began to get to know Antionette and the Gillies family, and became very good friends. In this and other ways Nancy soon had a circle of neighbours whom she got to know well, and one of those folk were Mr. and Mrs. Bob Smith who lived a few doors away from our house. Anne Smith was a member of “The Order of the Eastern Star” a Masonic based organisation for the ladies of members of the Masonic order, and she spoke to Nancy about her joining this order so that in this way she would meet lots of new friends. Nancy and I talked about her joining, but she said that she would not join unless I too joined. As a result of these talks we asked Anne Smith if she would make the necessary arrangements for the two of us to become members, and so it was that on the 16th of November 1959 both Nancy and I became members of Fairfield Chapter No. 113 of the Order of the Eastern Star which met in the South Govan Town Hall. When Nancy and I joined the O.E.S. on November 1959, we little thought that for the next twenty odd years we would be active members of this international organisation. In attempting to compile the story of this part of our lives, I have decided to tell what we did in a section of its own, as it would be almost impossible to bring in all the other happenings in our lives at the same time.
1959 to 1980 as Eastern Star Members
Fairfield Chapter in these 1960s was a very popular one and was attracting many new men and women to its membership. On the night that Nancy and I joined the number of candidates was twelve, and we later heard that this was quite a record. The Matron at this time was Sister Jenny Forbes and her Patron was Brother John Bow, who were approaching the end of their year in office. We were happy to see our first installation of office bearers for 1960 when the Worthy Matron was Sister Jean Cully and her Patron was Brother David Ewing. By attending the regular meetings and the social evenings we began to make friends with many of the members and at the social events we would meet some of their families. The office bearers were appointed to their offices in a progressive manner, the Matron would ask a lady member if she would like to be one of points during her year in office, and if she agreed she could progress to the office of Marshal, or Chaplain, or Conductress, to be in the long run Associate Matron and finally Worthy Matron. The men members would go through much the same procedure, finally becoming the Worthy Patron. In 1961 the Worthy Patron of that year, Brother Brother Robert Littlejohn, asked me to take the office of Sentinel which I accepted after talking it over with Nancy, and this led me to become Associate Patron in 1962 and Worthy Patron in 1963. As I was blest with a very retentive memory I did not have much difficulty an learning the ritual, and my experience in reciting poetry made me reasonably competent in delivering the lectures to the new candidates. In 1963 the Worthy Matron elect, Sister Margaret White, known as Rita, was seeking five ladies to fill the offices of her five points, and she approached Nancy asking her to become the point ELECTA during her year in office. As usual when a big decision had to be made Nancy and I discussed the changes that her acceptance would have on our lives, our two children, our finances, and all the other unknown problems that could arise, did Nancy think she could learn and be able to remember and recite the ritual that she would have to say to the new candidates, and although Nancy was more than a little nervous at this offer of an office in Fairfield Chapter, she was confident that she could carry out her duties in a very competent manner. In talking of the two of us now being office bearers in the O.E.S. in such a short time we both marvelled at how well we both fitted into this new situation. I bought a booklet with the ritual for both of us in it, and we both used this booklet. Nancy required to purchase a full length red frock which was Electa’s colour, and gradually Nancy was becoming more and more efficient doing the ritual which she would be saying when she was installed into her office. Nancy was installed as Electa in 1960, and although I am naturally biased towards anything that Nancy does, she excelled in her role as Electa. Once every year the Central District Grand Chapter (which is the ruling body controlling the Chapters within the Glasgow district) visited each Chapter under its jurisdiction and on the evening of their visit to Fairfield Chapter the District Grand Secretary Brother John B. Stevenson spoke to me after the meeting closed, saying that in his opinion my wife would become one of the top women in our order, as her portrayal of the point Electa was one that in his twenty odd years as Secretary was the best he had ever heard. In 1962 Nancy was elected into the office of Chaplain, which required her to wear a long white frock and sash and here once again Nancy did credit to her office. Both of us started to visit some of the Chapters that were near at hand such as Electa Chapter, which met in the Govan Town Hall in Merryland Street, or Mosspark Chapter which met in the Labour Hall in Mosspark Drive, just a few hundred yards from our house. The furniture in the background are some of the pieces that I made in 1959-60, and today there is still one of these pieces on the half-landing of 33 Inchmead Drive in Kelso. Fairfield Chapter held a dance once every month and these social events were very well attended. Many members of Central District Grand Chapter came to these dances, and both Nancy and I got to know and become friendly with many of these members. Although neither Nancy or I were any good as dancers we could get up on to the dance floor for a St. Bernard’s Waltz or some of the easier to remember the steps of dances. We brought Russell and Morag to quite a few of these evenings and as I began to film the odd social evening or dance, Russell was excellent at standing in as camera man on the occasion of Nancy and I being on the floor. All Chapters in our district held an annual meeting when they invited members of other Chapters to come and perform their offices. I had as Patron been asked to do my office on many occasions and now it was Nancy’s turn to receive the invitations. At first she was very nervous but after a few times going to different Chapters she conquered her fears As Nancy’s year as Chaplain was drawing to a close she began to practice doing the ritual that she would be performing as Conductress, which was a very difficult ritual to remember. The new candidates would be led by the Conductress to meet each of the five points individually, and after being introduced to them the point would tell them the Biblical story concerning her point. The Conductress did not have a particular colour of gown to wear, and Nancy chose a light blue gown. At the installation ceremony of 1963 I was installed as Worthy Patron and Nancy was installed as Conductress On the first year that I was Worthy Patron I began to be invited to attend what were known as “At Homes”. These were dinner dances that were hosted by the Worthy Matron and Worthy Patron at the end of their year in office, and the chosen venue was usually the Grand Hotel at Charing Cross. Nancy and I really enjoyed these nights out, with Nancy in her evening gown and me in my dress suit. One night at the Grand Hotel I noticed that J.B. Stevenson was carrying a leather bag and collecting money from various people, and towards the end of the evening he came and sat on a vacant seat beside us. I asked him why at a social evening such as this he was working, and his reply was that this was part of his job, he collected cash from folk for various reasons and he took the burden of paying any outstanding bills at the hotel which relieved the hosts from having that trouble. I found out that he put the cash into a night safe in West Nile Street, and then got a tram car home to Govan. I offered to take him to the bank and then run him home, which Nancy and I did on that night and for many nights to come, if I was going to a function which John was attending I would pick him up and bring him home. On the nights that Nancy was not at a function I would sit in my car and listen to John tell me parts of the history of the Eastern Star. Throughout 1963 Nancy successfully performed her duties as Conductress, and both of us were invited to several visitors nights where we acted out our offices in other Chapters, and we were now being invited to the District Grand Matron’s “At Home”, which was a great evenings entertainment. At the installation of 1964 Nancy was installed as Associate Matron and once again during that year she excelled in her office. Our association with J.B. Stevenson became much more friendly during these years, as both Nancy and I were being invited to more and more functions where he was in attendance, and I would pick him up and bring him home from whatever social evening or meeting where he was present. As Associate Matron Nancy was becoming more involved in taking part in organising the various social functions of Fairfield Chapter, such as the monthly dances and the annual bus run to a chosen town or resort. On one of these days the Chapter chose to visit Moffat in the Borders and we invited my mother to join us on this trip which was a great success, as this was for most of us our first visit to this town, but the really great outing was one to Loch Lomond where we boarded the train at Central station which took us to Ardlui, where we joined the paddle steamer “The Maid of the Loch” for a sail down the Loch to Balloch. Russell and Morag were on this trip which we all thoroughly enjoyed, viewing the magnificent scenery, having tea in the ship’s tearoom, calling in to the piers of Inversnaid, Luss and Balmaha, and finally disembarking at Balloch where we joined the steam train back to Glasgow. I had been made a life member of the Central District Grand Chapter which only me twice a year, but this gave me extra duties to do which Nancy could not participate in until she was a Past Matron. At this time Nancy began to invite some members and office bearers to visit our house for a social evening and in turn she and I were invited to other folks homes, and these nights were a great way of getting to know our fellow members in a more close manner. Nancy was thinking of her dress as Matron at this time and once again practicing the ritual that she would be speaking during her year in that office. Slowly the installation date grew nearer and Nancy grew more nervous as her big day of being installed as Worthy Matron eventually arrived. In the month of November 1965 Nancy was installed as Worthy Matron of Fairfield Chapter No 113, and the room was so full that more chairs had to be brought in from other rooms. More than usual in the East there were many officers of the District Grand Chapter, and a few officers from the Imperial Grand Chapter which made me very proud of my wife and her wide popularity. Her Patron was Brother John McAbney and they both looked wonderfully well as the two installing officers did a grand job at the end of the ceremony in naming them as Worthy Matron and Worthy Patron of Fairfield Chapter. 1965 was probably the busiest year in the whole of Nancy’s life. It became her duty as Worthy Matron to visit any of Fairfield’s members who were sick, and this meant Nancy visiting their homes in the evenings, which obviously upset her normal mealtimes at night, and for the first time she was almost duty bound to visit as many of the Chapters within the District as possible. One night when Nancy and I were both going to meetings, and I had George Turnbull in the house waiting for me attend a Masonic meeting, and Nancy had Mary R. Whyte accompanying her on a sick visit. Nancy asked me if I would take Mary and her in the car to the home of the sick member she was visiting, and though I was in a bit of a hurry I reluctantly agreed. I was driving along with the right of way when out of a side street came a speeding car, so I jammed on the brakes just a little too late and the other car hit my driver’s front wheel and catapulted into a residents garden. Nancy was the one who was most harmed, she had deep gash about four or five inches on her brow across her hair line, which was bleeding profusely. Fortunately a local resident had phoned for an ambulance and we were all taken to the Southern General Hospital in a short time. When Nancy was examined the Nurse called a lady doctor to examine her and I overheard her say,” I will stitch this ladies wound as it will be required to be thoroughly cleaned, and the stitching very finely done”. The driver of the other car was a 15 year old boy who had taken his mother’s car without permission, he had no licence or insurance and came out of the fracas without a scratch. The bravery and conscientiousness of Nancy during this traumatic time was shown by her 100% attendance at her meetings, and I know that there were many times when I would not have gone out, but Nancy did. Although I did all that I could to claim compensation from the culprit, Nancy only received a paltry sum, George Turnbull got a pittance and Mary got her glasses replaced. Although I had no injuries my car was a right off and I only got its right off value. During the year when Nancy was Matron of Fairfield Chapter, in spite of the injuries to her head and mind, she was brilliant at her ritual and with her Patron John McAbney they both had a very successful year. As the year drew to a close they both started to plan their “At Home” and their chosen venue was the Grand Hotel at Charing Cross. Above is the bill from the Grand Hotel which seems nothing to what it would cost today, but even with Nancy and John sharing the costs it was still a lot of money for them to find. Nancy’ speech on the night was written by herself, as were all her speeches during her years in office. I would not feel that justice had been done to Nancy if I did not quote at least some part of her speech at her installation, and her speech on her last night as Worthy Matron in the Grand Hotel. At her installation Nancy said---- By allowing me to be installed as your Worthy Matron you have given to me a trust which I, with all sincerity, will do my utmost to fulfil, and also an honour which I hope time will prove me worthy of.
"Sisters and Brothers, A gardener sows a seed --- nurtures it, and hopes that with the help of nature that seed will flourish, and in maturity bring joy to himself and to others who may pass by. When my Proposer and Seconder introduced me to the O.E.S. they sowed a seed, and that seed was nurtured by the office bearers of Fairfield Chapter and Sister Rita White when she asked me to be her Electa. When I completed my term as Electa our members allowed me to be elected to the offices leading to the East, that seed has now matured, and in the coming year it shall be my humble wish that the result shall bring joy to Fairfield Chapter and to all those who pass this way".
On the night of her “At Home” she said---Life can hold no greater gift than the love and loyalty of friends, and I have been granted this gift throughout my whole year. There are occasions in life when one feels real gratitude cannot be expressed, and tonight I feel that I have so many people to thank, I just don’t know where to begin. Fairfield Chapter is gifted by having a very competent Treasurer and my thanks go to Sister Agnes Guthrie for her great service to me this year. Sister Peggy Riddel has served her first year as Ben. Fund Treasurer in a very fine manner and may I express my appreciation of her efforts. To Sister Mary R. White ---your knowledge of our work renders you a valuable asset to all Worthy Matrons. You have helped to smooth the path for me during the past year and I would like to say an extra special thank you, and on so doing would ask you to accept this small gift of appreciation. To my Installing board---I feel that thank you is a very small word, but when it comes from the heart it has great meaning, so with a heart full of thanks comes my gratitude for the great efforts you all made to make my year one of happiness and success. Our tea committee works in the back ground, and we just couldn’t do without them. We all look forward to the cup that cheers at the end of a meeting, so to all of them may Express my thanks. It was in 1975 when I was Associate Patron for the second time we got the news that Mary R. White had passed away, and Nancy asked me if I would write something to say to the Chapter in her honour. I wrote and delivered to the Chapter the following-------
A TRIBUTE TO MARY R. WHITE
Secretary of Fairfield Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star.
When the tears of parting have fallen and dried
When the pangs of grief have flown.
Then we will remember a Sister who tried
To brighten our Star as her own.
Devotion and friendship we will recall
Were given to all as of right
Our chain has been broken, but we, one and all
Will miss you-------Mary R. White.
In November 1976 Nancy and I were installed as Worthy Matron and Worthy Patron of Fairfield Chapter with the hope that we could do something to save it from disaster but it was all in vain, and in a short time, about the end of 1978 we were forced to report to the Supreme Grand Chapter that Fairfield Chapter No. 113, was no longer in existence.