the living flag of Andrew scattered all across the Earth.
A Scot in America
by Alastair McIntyre
2003, I had the good fortune to spend two weeks in the USA
courtesy of the Odom Library in Moultrie, Georgia and The Family
Tree (Really by Braveheart Scottish Weekend 2003) and thought it
might be of interest to tell you about it.
I arrived on 12th
February at Tallahassee Airport where Beth Gay had arranged to
meet me and take me to where I would be staying in Moultrie. With
Beth was her husband Mel and Woody Bowers, their good friend, who
was going to put me up for the duration. Also with Beth were Billy
and Dawn Henderson from Mississippi, who were there for the
Braveheart Scottish Weekend 2003, who had volunteered to use their
big van to pick me up. They immediately made me feel right at home
and this was to be the theme of my whole stay in America...
friendly folk who went out of their way to make this local Scot
feel at home!
Alastair, Beth Gay, Beth's Cousin and
Sir William Wallace
I was of course
there to attend the weekend in Moultrie where some 400 or so
Scots-Americans turned up to celebrate the event. The event is of
course all the work of Beth Gay and her army of volunteers. The
Odom Library hosts many events throughout the weekend.
The Odom Library
does in fact hold the archives of some 125 Scottish Clan Societies
in America so there were lots of Clans represented. There were
special talks given on a whole range of topics and all were well
Paterson was the Honoured Guest of the event, being the author of
many Scottish history books, and as a fellow Scots we had a grand
chat and we both agreed the hospitality was outstanding.
To start the
weekend off we attended a lunch given by Anne and Monty Carlton
who have graciously hosted a lunch at all the Scottish Weekend
events down the years. It was an excellent lunch and I for one
very much appreciated the good food that was served up. Woody, my
host for my stay, drove me around ensuring I got to all the events
I met Melody
Jenkins who is in charge of the Odom Library and she was most
welcoming and kindly listened to all my wee stories and gave
generously of her time. Of course I also met Miranda Mabry who
helps out Beth along with many of Beth's helpers such as Harriet
Carlton and also her special trustee prisoner who was helping with
I should at this
time tell you an amusing story. I was going out the back door to
get something from Beth's car but couldn't open the door. I then
went back to Beth to say I couldn't get the door open and she said
just to press a wee button at the side and the door would then
open. Going back I confess I couldn't find that wee button so was
heading back to confess my failure when I met the prisoner. I said
to him "Any idea how to open that door as I can't get out" and he
kindly showed me how to open the door. It wasn't until later that
I realized the irony of asking a prisoner how to get out!
The food was
outstanding at the event as we had big dinners on both Friday and
Saturday nights and you could eat as much as you wanted. There was
great entertainment from Smithfield Fair, Carl Peterson, Colin
Grant-Adams, Rixey & McMillan and Bobby Murray. Lots of banter,
wee stories and lots of laughs... just like a good ceilidh ought
to be with many individuals taking the microphone to give their
contributions. Everyone was having a great time.
Mind you they sure
caught me out at the Braveheart Scottish Weekend 2003 as I was to
give a half hour talk and when I got up to give it I was asked to
just give 20 seconds... I was a little puzzled about this but did
as they asked. Then Jim MacIntyre made an appearance to present me
with an honourary membership of the Clan MacIntyre Association...
I was kinda dumfounded as it was a complete surprise but most
appreciated and I probably stammered out my thanks. Then Beth came
up to say how much she appreciated the work I was doing for The
Family Tree and then presented me with a Superman T-Shirt!
I'm not sure if you
are aware of it or not but Scots on the whole have a hard time at
taking compliments, although we do appreciate them, so I guess I
did more stammering and probably went bright red as well!
Anyway... all was much appreciated by me for sure and thanks to
them both for their "surprise". I then went on to give my half
hour talk and when finished I was heading off to get a wee smoke
when I got tapped on the shoulder. "You have to give another half
hour talk Alastair". Err.. I said... are you sure about that... I
thought I was just to do one half hour? Be back in 10 minutes I
was told [gulp]. So that was my other surprise and it was just as
well I had a store of stories I could tell. Anyway, I think they
all enjoyed it and I certainly enjoyed meeting such a lot of
Braveheart Scottish Weekend 2003 I spent lots of time with Beth
and Miranda in the library and helped where I could. I was
introduced to the great fried chicken from the restaurant over the
road from the library where the staff were most kind in ensuring I
got to taste everything. They even got me wee samples of food so I
could say I'd tried them and on my last morning there they
organized a breakfast cup of their special grits - which I must
say were excellent. Thanks to them all for making me feel at home.
Beth, Mel and Woody
then ensured I got to visit as many other restaurants as I could
and we went all over the place. I have particular memories of the
Farmers Market where you could eat as much as you liked for only
$8.80. The food was great and there was a one man act there that
sang any song you asked for. I had a great time.
We also went down
to the Gulf of Mexico and Woody took the special scenic route so I
could get a better appreciation of the country and it was
outstanding. Hadn't realized there were so many trees. We ended up
at a special seafood restaurant which was excellent. One other
outstanding evening was spent at The Cracker Barrel in Tifton,
Georgia, where after an excellent meal we sat on the rocking
chairs outside and chatted for ages saying "hello" to folks as
they went past. It was certainly a night to remember.
During my stay I
was also the special guest at the Jacksonville Highland Games. I
was staying with Neill Baker and his wife Francine. Beth dropped
me off at their house where I was staying for the next couple of
nights. They saw to it I got to the Highland Games and they looked
after me with great hospitality. I attended their special
Sponsor's night on the Friday along with Beth and met lots of
great people while I was there.
I also got the
opportunity to meet a few of Beth's friends on the way down to
that event. She took me to a cousin, Watkins Saunders, who had
just renovated a beautiful home on the banks of the Suwannee River
at White Springs. Afterwards we had lunch with her friends,
Barbara and Jerry Williams, in their beautiful home in Middleburg,
Florida - on another river. I was getting to see a goodly portion
of the country for sure.
LtoR: Beth Gay, Aunt Mildred (95) and Miss Peggie (88)
Jacksonville I also got to meet two venerable ladies who are very
special people in Beth's life, one in her late 80s (Miz Peggie)
and another in her late 90s (Aunt Mildred) and both were most
hospitable and fun people. Beth decided to have a run on the beach
so I kindly went with her and while she ran I sat enjoying the
beach albeit there was a heavy fog. In fact it was so heavy that I
figured I'd better stand right up to the sea so that Beth would
know she'd returned to the right spot. Eagle-eyed Beth found a
huge Megladon shark's tooth, millions of years old, which she gave
me as a memento of my day on the beach :-)
Games went off very well... it was lovely and sunny albeit with a
high wind and only in the last hour did the threatened rain make
an appearance. A great time was had by all but I have to say I was
exhausted. Beth is the fittest person I've ever met... she tows a
wee buggy around with her giving out copies of The Family Tree
newspaper to all the clan tents and vendor tents as well as any
one else she speaks to. I have to say she must have ribs of steel
as she is so well known at these events she gets loads of hugs.
About three quarters of the way around I confess to giving up and
sought out a wee seat but she marched on! I'm full of admiration
for the work Beth does.
Jacksonville Highland Games
As a local Scot I
was amazed at the sheer passion there is for things Scottish in
America and how proud our Scots descendants are of their Scottish
roots. Their enthusiasm rather puts to shame us local Scots as we
don't seem to know how to promote Scotland very well in America
but they certainly do.
Neill, the past
president of the Jacksonville Highland Games, couldn't understand
why people like VisitScotland didn't take part in these events. As
he said to me... "Around a quarter of the people at these Highland
Games are 'professional Scots' in that they will probably have
already visited Scotland or bought Scottish products and with a
little encouragement would likely visit Scotland again or more
often and would be interested in buying more Scottish products."
When I returned to
Moultrie for my final day and night I got the opportunity to meet
with Mayor William McLeod McIntosh of Moultrie (what a grand
Scottish name) and he kindly gave an hour of his time to chat
about the town and area. I also got to meet Daryll Moore,
President of the Economic Development Corporation, as well as a
number of other important citizens. They all gave generously of
their time and made me feel most welcome. I also got interviewed
by The Moultrie Observer and an article came out in the Monday
issue just before I left. I received a personal showing of some
outstanding art collections at The Arts Center in the town and was
amazed at the importance of some of their collections.
Outside the Odom
Library there is a wee bench where one can sit and as a smoker I
confess to adopting that bench as I would pop out for a wee smoke.
It became a meeting place where lots of folks stopped for a
blether and I learned lots more about the town and area. You
really couldn't find a friendlier bunch of folk anywhere.
There was just so
much I got to see and experience that it would take me a book to
tell you all about it. I don't think I've ever eaten so much...
had so many laughs... had so much fun. My overall impression was
of a great people, friendly and welcoming, and willing to put
themselves out to ensure a wee Scottish chap had a great time in
The Scots are alive
and well and living in America! A massive thanks to everyone I met
and I can't wait to go back!
Taken outside La Fogata restaurant in
Moultrie, one of the many I visited!
Front row, Beth, Alastair, Harriet. Back row: Bob Ragan, Mel Gay
Celebrating the Pipes
Loch Broom Bay
(by Gordon Duncan)
Freedom Come All Ye
by Hamish Henderson
Read by Marilyn Wright
Rauch the wind in
the clear day's dawnin',
Blaws the cloods heelster gowdie o'er the bay,
But there's mair than a rauch wind blawin'
Through the great glen o' the warl' today,
It's a thocht that wad gar oor rottens,
A' they rogues that gang gallus fresh and gay,
Tak the road and seek ither loanins,
For their ill ploys tae sport and play.
Nae mair will oor bonnie gallants
Gang tae war when the braggarts croosely craw.
Nor wee weans frae pitheid or clachan,
Mourn the ships sailin' frae the Broomielaw.
Broken families in lands we've harried,
Will curse Scotland the Brave nae mair, nae mair.
Black and white each till ither married,
Mak the vile barracks o' their masters bare.
Sae come all ye at hame wi' freedom.
Never heed whit the hoodies croak for doom.
In yer hoose a' the balms o' Adam
Can find breed, barley bree and painted room
When McLean meets wi' his freen's in Springburn
A' the roses and geans will turn tae bloom,
And the black boys beyont Nyanga
Ding the fell gallows of the burghers doon.
(Repeat the first four lines of the first verse)
Auld Lang Syne
By Robert Burns
Sung by Gill Bowman
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
And surely ye'll be your pint-stoup,
And surely I'll be mine;
And we'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
For auld, etc.
We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou'd the gowans fine;
But we've wander'd mony a weary fit,
Sin' auld lang syne.
For auld, etc.
We twa hae paidl'd in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd.
Sin' auld lang syne.
For auld, etc.
And there's a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie's a hand o' thine!
And we'll tak' a right gud-wellie waught,
For auld lang syne.
For auld, etc.