Tolsta District News 1936 as reported in the Stornoway Gazette
ACCIDENT ON ICE
Mr. John Murray, 61 New Street, while acting the good Samaritan, slipped and fell heavily on the ice-covered road, dislocating his collar-bone. He is progressing favourably.
WELCOMING THE NEW YEAR
A moderate easterly breeze and drizzling rain on New Year's Eve, did not deter our youngsters from gathering all odds and ends of a likely combustible nature and setting fire to the same, at the appropriate hour. The only way to escape the noxious fumes from discarded tyres, was to get to windward of the blaze.
A GENEROUS FISHERMAN
January 1st. A quarter moon shining. What's this! Straggling group of boys wending their way homewards, each and all with a string of fish. "Mac- a-Bhogie" with his usual perserverance, has been to sea, caught four crans of herring and true to the traditional generosity of fishermen, has distributed to all a generous "fry." No "means test" with him. His query is simply, "Bheil duine tuilleadh ann an sin nach d'fhuair gad."
A PIER BADLY NEEDED
Next day the sea is rough, the Tolsta shore offers no shelter, but the same crew, fully rigged for the occasion, venture to face the music. "Can't be done," we suggest. "We will risk it," says the Skipper. Willing helpers drag the boat to the water's edge, a hundred yards away. One hardy lad divests himself of every stitch of clothing, dons a borrowed overall and in company with extra hands in ordinary attire, wades out to help launch the "Ribhinn Og," which was all but swamped ere they managed it.
Laughable! maybe. The laugh should die away, as you realise a fellow courts death from pneumonia or bruised limbs, for doing what is a common occurrence in Winter with us, for lack of a pier and a crying shame it is in 1936, if it is not remedied by the Government. Heavy shots have been taken off longsands here and we have seldom seen drifters venture ashore and as a consequence, thousands of seabirds find "Eilean Haisker" a welcome sanctuary.
THE ECLIPSE ECLIPSED
All hope of seeing the eclipse of the moon, on Wednesday, was dashed to the ground by heavy clouds and rain.
A HINT FOR TRAWLERS
We suggest the Board of Trade regulations re. navigation lights be drastically amended, to meet the requirements of trawlers operating in this bay. Apart from the danger of collision to the trawlers, deck-hands working in semi-darkness are liable to minor injuries. Of course the two which were observed here last night, had a little moonlight to go by.
The insertion of the movement of vessels on which Lewismen are serving, is worthy of praise and is distinctly a step forward - such is the view in this district.
SPECIAL F. C. SERVICES
In connection with the Free Church special services being held throughout the island, the Rev. K. MacRae, M.A., Stornoway, conducted a Service here on Wednesday. We believe the movement is a step in the right direction, for there is much need of a thorough Evangelical campaign in our day when (to quote from a certain writer.) "Our Churches are made up of people who would be equally shocked to see Christianity doubted or put into practice."
AN ARCTIC BLIZZARD
Though small lines were ready baited, fishermen had to remain ashore all week, on account of the rough weather and "ground" swell. On Friday, however, in a south-westerly breeze, with snow, the "Graceful" and "Faithful", ventured out and were rewarded with fair catches of haddocks. They were hardly ashore, when the wind veered suddenley to the North and we had a regular arctic blizzard for fully six hours. The towering cliffs of Tolsta Head afforded a welcome shelter to stormbound fishing.
KING GEORGE V'S DEATH
"Bhasaich an Righ" was heard with real sorrow and we feel that a popular King has passed on.
Owing to the heavy snow and the severity of the weather generally, sheep on the common grazings had to be hand-fed. A thaw set in over the weekend.
THE MEDICAL SERVICE
Hats off to the Medical service! Unrivalled for courtesy. When 'phoned for at 3pm., or 3am., it's always, "O.K., I'm off immediately." How they can continue on the move day and night, no matter what the weather, has ever been a mystery to some of us. Though this last week has been an exceptionally trying one, with ice-covered roads and snowdrifts, our doctors, as usual, were "on the spot."
A PRIVATE REMEMBERS - SCENE 1
The early months of 1915. A young Staff Officer in company of an elderly brass-hat walks leisurely through the village of Laventie. At the entrance to the farmstead where B. Coy. are billeted. Private X, on Sentry duty, salutes the pair. The salute is returned.
January 1936. Heralds proclaim the same Staff Officer "King Edward V111. God Save The King." Ex-Private X (also in January 1936) with a wife and child, receives the following communication - "Unemployment Assistance Board - The following determination has been made in your case, etc.,... for each pay-week thereafter 12/-." No bitterness. Merely a story of two ex-Servicemen. "Gu ma fada beo an Righ."
A TANG IN THE AIR
Lovely weather prevailed during the past week, though we had that "tang" in the air to remind us that Winter is not easily buried. The older generation tell us that we always get "tri la uthar anns an fhaolach."
SMALL BOATS OUT
Small boats were out and excellent catches of good quality haddocks were landed. Owing to the uncertainty of getting to sea, fishermen are wary of selling and usually cure for their own use.
LA A CHUILEAN
Spring is here and wintry conditions as well. The place is as white as James W. Ellsworth Land. By the way, Monday, February 3rd, was "la a chuillean" and the "seann duinne" say it presages good weather ahead, if the sun is invisible all day on account of the snow, but for as long as it takes for a rider to jump into the saddle. By the way, when did we last have five Saturdays in February?
A CHANGE OF TUNE
Re. last week's editorial "Our Democratic Monarchy," we agree with Mr. J. P. Dollan and feel it is a healthier state of mind than when we heard him in 1920 reply to the question "And what would you do with the King?"
"The King, well, I'd make him a foreman bricklayer."
THE INSHORE FISHERIES
Re. Tolsta Pier. If the inshore fisheries of Lewis are not revived, it's not for lack of fish. Trawler Skippers do not risk their good name and £100 Fine, to collect bricks between Broad Bay and Cellar Head. It's not for lack of cash. The King (item 2), unmarried, gets £125,000 for household expenses annually. It's not because we thrive on the dole. Family of three appeal against 12/- dismissed.
Owing to the unsettled weather, no fish was landed here during the past week. Such is the Fishermens' lot. The morning this paper is published, will mark the first anniversary of the "Ribhinn Og's" crew. Again, we say thank you.
NATURE IN THE RAW
Under the heading "Nature in the Raw," the "Daily Express" recently published this paragraph:- "A flounder, a cormorant and a seal were principals of one of nature's dramas in the town's harbour yesterday. The cormorant dived, reappeared after an interval, with the flounder in it's beak. Meanwhile the glossy head of a seal bobbed nearer and nearer from the harbour entrance. The cormorant swallowed hastily and dived, with the seal galvanised into pursuit. Three times the cormorant broke the surface for air and to change direction. The third time he was seized from below ......
Later the seal swam slowly out of the harbour - a bulge in his throat." At Tolsta, sand-eels, a sea trout and a seal, were the principals in a drama we witnessed from the top of a high cliff overhanging the Tolsta shore. In a calm, clear, sea, a small shoal of sand-eels were seen to have been annoyed by a seatrout, about sixteen inches long. A seal three hundred yards away, was seen making with unerring instinct for the spot.
The trout was electrified into action and for fully ten minutes, we witnessed a splendid display of fish "sense" and speed. But it's hungry relentless enemy was not to be outwitted by any tricks. The trout made one great effort seawards, failed, turned back and made for the shore, one final leap and it lay quivering five or six feet from the water's edge. The seal followed a few awkward "paces" on it's flippers and poor Johnnie had to "come quietly."
At the beginning of last week, the weather was good and though Fishermen got to sea, the landings were poor. On-shore breezes have kept them ashore since. We are not impressed by the "Vigilant's" debut at Stornoway. Meanwhile, local "Ronie" keeps burning. A large number of geese estimated at 200, were observed over Tolsta Head, on 10th February. They had crossed the Minch and were flying in the direction of the Ness Moorland. Anyone who has seen geese in flight, cannot but admire the regularity with which they follow their leader in their wonderful 'V' formation.
The rainfall on the night of the 19th February, is reputed to be the heaviest for the past six months. Herring are still plentiful in the vicinity of Tolsta Head, though the quality is poor, as might be expected at this time of the year. It is an uncommon sight to see a steam drifter shoot nets on Sunday evening, as we witnessed on February 23rd.
The action of the "Norma's" Commander, in putting eight men aboard the "Uberous", to help them haul their nets weighted with fish, is a splendid instance of the comradeship, among those who go down to the sea in ships. Though black houses are rapidly disappearing and few tears will be shed on that account, much remains to be done in our villages.
Grants from the Department of Agriculture have helped materially towards better housing conditions and if that privilege, at present confined to Crofters were extended to squatters, we would no doubt have a happier and healthier community. In this village, we have over 120 white houses, which is certainly praiseworthy, when it is realised that most of these are built with shingle (stone being scarce), taken by motor lorries from Gress, five miles distant, at a cost of two shillings per barrel, or approximately, 9/- per ton and freight alone on goods, cement, etc., from Stornoway costing, £1 per ton. Town dwellers may thus see that country folk do pay taxes, but in a different way.
SOMETHING TO BE THANKFUL FOR
March was ushered in by a bitingly cold north-easterly wind, reaching gale force and showers of snow. We ought to be thankful we do not have hailstorms, as was the case in Lahore, India, on February 27th, when hailstones were as big as pullets' eggs and thousands of birds were killed and much damage done.
AT A SAFE DISTANCE
The scarcity of fish during the past fortnight may account for the absence of trawlers. Those that did work kept a respectable distance from the headlands. Is it forced respect for the "Vigilant's" mode and speed?
HOW TO SPEND
Last week's news is interesting and instructive. £250,000 tax-payer's money may possibly be used towards settling Assyrians along the banks of the Ghab; £300,000,000 to be spent in armaments in one form or another, in the industrial belt, mostly in the Midlands - of course. If there is anything left over, we suggest the tail end of the "belt" be curved in the shape of a reinforced concrete sea wall, to enable Tolsta small-line Fishermen to become a self-supporting community, before the next war swallows them up, as the last one did their fathers and brothers.
A WORD OF ADVICE
With the controversy raging round the "Lochness," Bayble Hall, etc., writers might study briefness. A certain writer gives us the following instructive quotation - "The man who has something to say, says it in five minutes, the man who is merely saying something, says it in twenty minutes and the man who has nothing to say, says it in sixty minutes."
THE RETURN FOR A NIGHT'S WORK
Eleven small fishes were the total landings by the "Ribhinn Og" and "Graceful" last Friday.
While discussing the new naval programme, an old salt on whom the years sit lightly, recalled the day when he saw the Channel fleet under sail (auxiliary) racing before a strong northerly breeze, several miles off Peterhead. He also remembers seeing the "Renown", "Iron Duke"and "Rodney", under canvas in Stornoway Harbour.
THE HOSPITAL'S NEEDS
Our claims on Hospital services calls for renewed energy on our part, as that institution needs and is deserving of all that we can do and more than we can do, to place it on a self-supporting basis. We would like to draw the attention of Tolstonians abroad to that fact. John Morrison ("Shonnie Toh"), 31 North Tolsta, who was admitted on 14th March, is the fifth Tolsta patient to undergo an operation since the New Year. If all goes well with our friend, we know he will not lack for visitors and we trust that smoking will not be forbidden!
HELPING THE HOSPITAL
The Hospital "go ahead" party, ex-Provost MacLennan, M.B.E., Dr. and Mrs. P. J. MacLeod and the Secretary, Mr. A. MacDonald, were met here on Wednesday, 18th March, by a large and enthusiastic gathering. Many new (to us) and interesting facts regarding Hospital work and maintainance were brought to light. A local Committee was formed and a few suggestions advanced, from which, if acted upon, we know that good and lasting results will accrue.
GROWING SCHOOL ROLL
Because of the large number of new Pupils entering School this week, an extra Teacher, Miss C. Murray, M.A., a native of North Dell, has been added to the Staff. We pity (and admire), her whose task it is to initiate this handful in the mysteries of the alphabet.
The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, was dispensed in the Free Presbyterian Church last Sabbath. Rev. M. Gillies was assisted by Rev. M. Beaton, Gairloch. A fair nujmber of visitors were present. The Tolsta section of the Free Church, (Back) congregation, were ministtered to by, Rev. Mr. Ferguson, Scalpay; Rev. A. MacLeod, F.S.A. (Scot), Ness and Rev. Mr. Matheson, Beauly. On such occasions, we are painfully reminded of the Apostles complaint of the Corinthians, "I am of Paul, I am of Cephas," etc., Satan sowed discord among the brethren here and today, after forty-one years worshipping in separate Meeting HOuses, we are not a whit nearer singing:-
"Behold how good a thing it is,
And how becoming well;
Together such as brethren are,
In unity to dwell."
A CASE OF MEASLES
An R.N.R. rating, home from Portsmouth, was laid up with measles immediately on arrival. Because of a typhoid case, the patient was not removed to hospital, but on account of a warning issued and precautionary measures taken by Dr. Matheson, it is hoped that the infection will be prevented from spreading.
THE HOSPITAL COLLECTION
Easter holidays, lambs, daisies (and manure), are reminders, that time does not tarry. The local Hospital Committee have arranged that a weekly house-to-house collection be taken there every Saturday throughout the year, contributions to be a matter of conscience. The first such collection was taken last Saturday. What the annual result will be, remains to be seen. Absent Tolstonians are reminded that they may send that odd 6d weekly direct to the Hospital, or to our local organiser, Mr. J. MacIver, "Verbena Cottage", North Tolsta.
Let us hope that the Hospital Management Committee will let the people know from time to time, through the medium of the "Stornoway Gazette", or otherwise, exactly how matters stand with them, for thus only can they be assured of continued local interest and support.
Apart from the members of one household, there have been no fresh cases of measles reported.
Northerly winds and snow, helped to lower the temperature during the week. Our old observers say Eastertide never did pass without snow.
THE SQUATTING PROBLEM
A breezy Meeting in which the principals were the Estate Factor and the Grazings Committee, was held here last Thursday. The dispute arose through the action of the Trustees in authorising an agent to measure certain sections of the Common Grazings or skinned land which form part of the statutory buildings of the Tolsta ratepayers, with a view to giving it to squatters and charging them a rent for the same.
The Factor explained that the Crofters were merely rent-paying tenants of the Estate and security of tenure was based on their continuing to pay such rent that the Trustees could mark out this land and upon application to and with the consent of the Land Court, acquire the same on behalf of the squatters and if the Crofters feel aggrieved, that they have liberty to lodge a protest, stating their objections in the proper manner, when the pros and cons of the case may be heard. The feeling locally among the ratepayers is that the Trustees are letting them down badly. Meanwhile, they await developments. In passing, we merely add that "Strube" would have had a good day last Thursday, if he had been here studying facial expressions.
A HUNGRY RAVEN
This is the peak period of the lambing season and ravens are being very destructive at such a time; it was therefore rather unusual to see one of these attacking two hens, squatters! but they escaped minus a few feathers.
THE SQUATTING DISPUTE
Provost Smith and Members of the Grazings Committee were in discussion regarding the much placarded "row" and though some suspect " a rat in the statue" the tension is eased considerably. Tolsta Crofters would like the public to know that they are not opposed to squatting, in fact squatters here did and do enjoy equal privileges with ratepayers. It is a pity that all the squatters do not see their way to submit to the 5/- levy annually, to meet necessary and inevitable communal expenses. A mass Meeting was held here during the weekend and the situation was further discussed and a select Committee appointed to meet the squatters, in the hope of a final and amicable settlement. At present the question of "sanctions" does not arise.
HELPING THE HOSPITAL
The practice of collecting weekly on behalf of the Hospital is working admirably here.
The oat crop, though backward on account of April snow is, with the coming of sunshine and warmer weather, showing above ground.
EAGLE SEEN NEAR TOLSTA
A friend tells me he saw an eagle on the Tolsta moor last week. He was able to get quite near, before this Monarch of the air took wing. His eyrie is usually in the neighbourhood of Cellar Head.
A PRAIZEWORTHY ACT
Though not "our village" notes, I may be allowed to congratulate a war-time comrade for his plucky rescue of a fellow mortal in Stornoway harbour. Considering the nature and extent of Mr. MacLeod's disability, his action is all the more praizeworthy.
SQUATTERS v THE TRUSTEES
The Crofters' and Squatters' dispute is likely to develop into a Trustees v Squatters case plus. Not being versed in legal technique, we abstain from expressing an opinion of what the ultimate result will be. Locally, we are more or less (as is usually the case) like the two Cockneys: 1st Cockney - Wot abaht it? 2nd - Wot abaht it? 1st - Yes, wot abaht it? 2nd - Wot abaht wot? 1st - Well, an wot abaht it?
In the Hospital acknowledgement the item - "five fowls form North Tolsta" is not a printers error. Five housewives in rotation hand over the goods each week and it is hoped other villages by arrangement with the Management Committee, will be "up and at'em".
THE FISHERMAN'S LOT
On a certain day last week two boats ventured out. One of these, on the point of being launched, was caught by a huge wave which completely filled the boat, breaking two ribs, and hurled the small lines in a jumbled heap. After a couple of hours struggling to free the boat, from the incoming tide, a very disgusted crew jogged home - thinking! The other was caught by a sharp south-easterly breeze and had to run for it under bare poles. The landings were poor.
THE END OF THE "OCEAN MAID"
The "Ocean Maid" S.Y.1. in tow, passed Tolsta Head for the last time at 8.30 p.m., on 7th May, bound for the ship-breaker's hammer in Port-Of-Ness. To us it seems outrageous to see these fine vessels scrapped on account of everses in fishing. If the situation can be remedied by the Government. I suppose by the time a fishing boat arouses as much interest as a fully rigged sailing vessel does today, the fishermen's case will still be "under consideration." But, to those more directly interested in the "Ocean Maid" her passing spells "Bang goes saxpence!"
RETIRAL OF NURSE CAMERON
After fifteen years conscientious service in this scattered village, Nurse Cameron has retired. Her average annual visits rank with the highest in Scotland. Before her departure for a much needed holiday in London, where her son, Dr. D. Cameron, is in practice, she was the recipient of a handsome presentation from the villagers, by whom she was held in high esteem. Mrs. Cameron, is the widow of the late Donald Cameron, J.P. Nurse Annie MacIver, a native of Tolsta, who was appointed to this district, has now taken up duty here.
In the F. P. Church, on 14th May, Mr. John MacLeod, 2 New Tolsta and Miss Mary MacKenzie, 1 New Tolsta, were united in marriage by the Rev. M. Gillies. The bridegroom, like the majority of his age, has had to rough it in his time. Ex-members of the Naval Division, interned in Holland during the War, will remember him as a member of their Pipe Band. Since then he has had a varied career, being for several years at Coppercliff, Ontario and afterwards for more than eight years working for an automobile firm in Detroit, U.S.A. He was not long in the Old Country when he was appointed by a motor firm in Essex, to a responsible position in their final inspection department. John is a son of Mr. Kenneth MacLeod, a figure well-known by another generation, who, in his 71st year, is still as erect as a Guards Drill Instructor.
MORE MAKE-UP NEEDED
We suggest the fishery 'Q' boat, "Vigilant's" disguise would be complete with the addition of part of navigation number and a smoking funnel now and again.
The raising of crops of early potatoes is already in full swing, in the Scottish lowlands, while ours are hardly ready for weeding and hoeing. The recent cold weather has retarded growth.
Most of our able-bodied men and women who are connected with the Fishing industry are now scattered over the various ports. Those engaged in Stornoway are proud of the berthing accomodation and the Maritime Buildings and are really thankful for the change in the colour of the water supply. We trust the Tolsta motor boats "Comrade", "Dove", "Provider", "Seascout" and "Verbena" and indeed all boats operating from this port and elsewhere, may have a remunerative fishing. If you need a box of kippers, ask for "Ian Mor".
A WATER SUPPLY NEEDED
On account of the continued drought and Tolsta being so high above sea level, the water question is becoming acute. Our public health authorities and insurance societies could do worse than interest themselves in the matter of an adequate and pure water in the rural areas.
THE HEAT WAVE
We are presently in the grip of a heat wave and with thunder in the air, the weekend was sultry indeed. Judging from remarks passed by the "Provider's" and "Sea Scout's" cooks in Bayhead, they are inclined to question the Astonomer Royal's theory that the sun is losing energy.
We would respectfully beg of those who, to enjoy themselves on the Lord's Day, must pass through this village, that they abstain from doing so while the people wend their way to and from the Churches, as well as during the hours of public worship. The man or woman in a car who gives occasion to the aged and infirm to "jump for it", not to speak of the clouds of dust that are raised, is surely lacking in courtesy.
The weather continues very warm indeed.
Friday last, was a day of prizes, smiles and whoopees for our schola5rs and no wonder. They are "free" as they judge it, for seven weeks and so are the teachers, yes and fishermen!
Small-line Fishermen fished several grounds with varying success. Trawlers working outside the limit, indicate the arrival of fresh shoals of haddocks and we mean to hook some of those that escape them. By the way, our Fishermen are of the opinion that it would not be sportsmanlike to press our claim for a seawall here, until the negotiations for a £10,000,000 Loan to Italy (to develop Abyssinia) is concluded.
One case of whooping cough has been detected here this week and with measles inone other family it is feared an epidemic may be on the way.
The heat-wave is past now and the most confirmed "grouser" won't grumble for the first two or three showers of rain and cooler weather.
THE HOSPITAL COLLECTION
On account of the absence of so many of our fisherfolk, the weekly hospital collection is not as good as it would otherwise be, but, with the influx of visitors from "a the airts" a few extra twopences should jingle in the boxes. Somebody's relatives are in-patients in the Hospital this very day!
If a fellow from Tolsta wants to go to Skigersta by road, ten miles distant, he is forced to travel a distance of approximately forty miles, but, with the 100 per cent Grants for metalled carriageways ten feet wide, we sincerely hope that a practical move will be made to join up the two dead-ends, by the construction of the additional six or seven miles of roadway. This would give us a road all round the Lews. Now, Mr. MacMillan, let us hope His Majesty, King Edward V111, will be able to make a complete circuit of the island - when he does come.
NORTH TOLSTA PUBLIC SCHOOL PRIZEGIVING
North Tolsta School closed for the Summer vacation on Friday, 26th June.
Mr. Angus Smith, Sandwick, briefly addressed the children and distributed the Prizes to the various Classes as follows:-
1. Donald John MacLeod
2. Donald Alister MacKenzie
3. John Angus MacMillan
4. Annabella Morrison
5. Christina MacDonald
6. George MacLeod
PERFECT ATTENDANCE - Malcolm John MacLeod, Angus MacLeod, Murdo MacIver.
REGULAR ATTENDANCE - Mary Finlayson, William MacDonald, Angus MacKenzie.
BIBLE KNOWLEDGE - Donald Campbell
1. John MacLeod
2. Johanna MacLeod
3. Roderick J. MacLeod
4. Murdina MacLean
5. Donald MacIver
REGULAR ATTENDANCE - Donald MacIver, Angus Norman MacKay, Donald M. MacLeod, John MacLeod, Isabella MacKay, Margaret MacKay, Mary MacLeod, Catherine M. MacMillan.
RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE - Mary MacLeod
1. John Murray
2. Johanna Nicolson
3. Isabella MacLeod
4. Katie Ann Morrison
5. Isabella Campbell
REGULAR ATTENDANCE - John Murdo MacDonald, Annie Campbell, Isabella Campbell, Isabella MacLeod.
RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE - Kenneth Murray
1. Margaret Campbell
2. Catherine Murray
3. Isabella MacIver
4. Murdo MacIver
5. Christina MacIver
REGULAR ATTENDANCE - Margaret Campbell, Mary Murray, Christina MacIver.
RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE - John A. MacIver
1. Isabella Smith
2. Catherine MacIver (b)
3. Alexander Graham
4. Murdina MacIver
5. Annie MacDonald
PERFECT ATTENDANCE - Johanna MacIver, Katie Ann MacKay.
REGULAR ATTENDANCE - Alexander Graham, Catherine MacIver (b), Murdina MacIver, Alexander MacIver.
RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE - Margaret MacKay
1. Dolina Nicolson
2. Donald Graham
3. Katie Ann Murray
4. Christina I. MacLeod
5. Jessie MacDonald and Angus MacIver (Equal).
PERFECT ATTENDANCE - Dolina Nicolson, Katie Ann Murray, Christina I. MacLeod, Jessie MacDonald, Lily MacKay, Torquil MacIver, Donald Graham, Angus MacIver.
RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE - Annie Campbell
ADVANCED DIVISION - CLASS 1
1. Mary MacDonald
2. Johanna Graham
3. John Murray
4. Katie Ann Nicolson
1. Henrietta Morrison
2. Gormelia Murray
3. John MacLeod
RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE - Henrietta Morrison
REGULAR ATTENDANCE - Angus MacIver, Colin MacIver.
THOUGHT FOR TODAY
The Hospital is surely worth the price of a small "capstan".
THE TRAWLERS HURRY OFF
Last week small-line Fishermen struck a heavy shoal of dog-fish and it is plain to us the trawlers last drag was not all halibut, as they made off as fast as the "maoir a dol troimh Gharrabost".
Our oldest inhabitants do not remember such a scarcity of water as we are experiencing now. Though there was a downpour in Stornoway on "la na drobh", not a drop fell here and now we have the beginning of the "uthar", we may expect the drought to continue for a while.
THE FISHER MAIDENS
Members of the House of Commons have seldom read such a strong appeal on behalf of Fishermen and maidens, as Mr. MacMillan's maiden speech, but we would have been very surprised indeed, if he had got a sympathetic hearing. We as fisherfolk thank you, Sir, but you do know - one can't get blood out of stones!
THE HERRING FISHING
Local motorboats were poorly fished. Mackerel have invaded the grounds and though these are unwelcome with Fishermen, the Swedish and Norwegian curers smile. It's an ill wind! To some of us, it seems queer that these should enjoy the monopoly, when we have in Stornoway, men of business ability who could, if they cared, find that cured mackerel can be sold profitably.
When a man parts with 10,000 guineas for a small painting (recent sale in London), we may be pardoned for thinking he has more money than sense, but, on the other hand, we should be sensible enough to part with 2d or more tomorrow, on behalf of the Hospital.
TWO HUNDRED NETS FOR TWO HERRINGS
One night last week, the total catch for three Stornoway motor boats with a combined fleet of 200 nets, was two herrings. Up till Saturday the landings were practically nil. Yet the Minister of Labour considers fisherfolk have no case requiring special legislation. Shades of 1914. Please remember the grubby faced crofter fisherman who cannot feed himself, is engaged in what concerns everybody - food production - on land and sea.
Autumn is here again and barley is taking on a yellowish tinge, as the first sign of it's willingness to die.
Tolsta herring fishers have had a poor return for the month of July. Pessimists are inclined to believe that there are no herring in the Minch. Small shots however on August 1st, revived hopes that they shall "swim up" again during the present month. Local small-line fishers have had better results, haddocks, flounders and rocker being plentiful and in fair condition. A sprinkling of "M.A.'s" all clad in oliskins and seaboots are putting their backs in it. "A lamh ud thall nas fearr".
The measles epidemic seems to be spreading rapidly.
A STRANGE CATCH
We would like to thank the fishing "Q" boats for very effective patrolling round these parts. White fish is fairly plentiful and close inshore at present. A local boat the "Good Hope", has landed somewhat unusual catches recently - a large eel, a seagull and a trawl almost complete. That an experienced hand like "Tormod Alan" should allow his thumb to wander between the jaws of a squirming eel is beyond us. After hauling a good part of the trawl aboard, they had to pay it out again, for fear of swamping the boat. They towed it ashore - to find themselves in the position of the man who bought a dunghill, because he was told it was a good thing, but who would afterwards give twice as much to know what to do with it.
The School re-opened on Tuesday morning and with the return of the Scholars, is a hive of activity once more.
A FOGHORN WANTED
Local motorboats in common with others, have had another blank week. It is heart-breaking enough for Fishermen to be on the move day and night and return to harbour reporting "not a scale", but it is more so, when one has to nose his way through a fogbank for hours,trying to locate the entrance and that for lack of proper direction facilities. It is surely time for the powers concerned, to awaken to the fact that an electrical foghorn or whistle, placed on Arnish or Holm Head, is long overdue.
HARVESTING AT A STANDSTILL
Harvesting was at a standstill during the latter half of last week wing to the wet weather. The barley and oat crop is pooreer than it has been for many years, but potatoes and other vegetables are excellent.
OUR CORRESPONDENT'S VIEWPOINT
We notice the Free Church Presbytery of Lewis comes in for severe criticism for protesting against the practice of taking Schoolchildren to the Playhouse to see educational films. Some of us are glad they are not "dumb dogs". When the devil sought to oust religion from Scotland in covenanting days he was iron shod and trampled in the blood of men of worth, but now he is in velvet slippers, creeping in unawars and destroying Protestantism and Presbyterianism by more easy, but truly effective methods.
POOR EARNINGS FOR FISHERMEN
We are thankful to see those who were fishing off the East Coast safe home again. While the Press may harp about "substantial increase in earnings and average of £800 per boat," etc., they are few and far between, whose personal earnings are on the right side of £20 for the season. Local boat crews out of Stornoway are even worse off and it looks as if the drift-net mode of fishing is doomed, if men are to get any return for their labour. It looks as if something must be done and that without delay, or Stornoway as a fishing port may be erased from the map.
EPIDEMIC PASSING OFF
The village is now entirely free from measles and whooping cough. Happily, there were no fatal cases.
A GOOD SPIRIT
The last of the Tolsta motorboats has "packed up", the final catch being one mackerel. The Fisherman is not easily "floored" so we find them saying "we'll get them yet."
A meteor that for brilliance and beauty exceeded anything of it's kind we have ever seen, wasobserved in the western sky about 10pm., on 8th September. First, there was a greenish falsh, lighting up the whole heavens, then the meteor, like a beam of light escaped from the sun, dropped in a perpendicular line towards the Earth. The tail was visible for approximately eight minutes.
In pre-War days a Militiaman's socks had to be very much the worse for wear, before he could expect to get a new pair issued and now when parents warn their children to be careful lest they fall through the bridge (near the F. P. Church), it's time the authorities ordered a few new planks. When the proposed taxation of Crofters takes effect, we shall no doubt demand a more substantial structure.
A STRANGE VISITOR
On several days last week, an object was seen drifting with the tide between Cellar Head and Tolsta. One boat's crew went to investigate and found it to be a mast with a tattered sail and a yard arm fifty or sixty feet long. They attempted to tow it, but that was out of the question, as the vessel was not visible at five fathoms deep. The "Vigilant" towed it and beached it, so as not to be a danger to shipping.
THE VALUATION COURT DECISION
The decision to assess Crofter's houses has been received here with alarm and indignation and it is hoped the Assessor and the members of the "inquisition" will reconsider their decision, or come and live upon a Croft, in a blackhouse for a tweve month period. But as one put it - "If I knew when I was humping shingle in a sack upon my back, during two Winters, to solve my housing problem, that I was to be taxed as soon as I bettered my condition. I would have gone to seek rooms in Stornoway." While no one objects to shouldering a reasonable share of the public burden, we predict the final outcome of this latest stunt, will be the depopulation of the rural area and certainly a check on enterprise.
The exodus for the East Anglian fishing has begun, many Fishermen having left at the beginning of the week and the fishing girls will probably be off within the next few days and then for the vexatious routine of gluts, exporters' rings, flags, limitation of nets, etc.
We are having wonderful weather at present and full advanytage was taken of it by those attending the F. P. Church, where the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was dispensed last Sabbath. Rev. Mr. Gillies, Stornoway, was assisted by that stalwart and "father" of the Free Presbyterian Church, Rev. E. MacQueen, Inverness. In the Free Church on Sabbath evening Rev. M. MacLeod, a native of Ranish, preached and on the previous Thursday, Rev. Mr. MacRury, Gairloch. The latter has a fervour and originality in preaching that reminds one of Robert Murray MacCheyne, to whom he also bears a striking facial resemblance. In our day we are truly thankful to find "youngsters" of this calibre standing in our pulpits.
A mass Meeting of unemployed juveniles was held in the Schoolhouse, last Monday, when Mr.MacLean, Headmaster, explained the most beneficial Scheme advocated by the MInistry of Labour for the benefit of this class.
A POINT OF HONOUR
"I will be at Tolsta for the purpose of receiving rents. Your rent this year is due in full and you should make every endevour to be present." "In full" - no debate this year, but it is a point of honour with Crofters to be on the spot with the (at times borrowed) cash.
Some excellent catches of small, but tasty haddocks have been landed here recently. In certain cases, boats worked so close inshore, that the line and fish were visible in three and four fathoms of water. Herrings have not put in an appearance yet.
NESS - TOLSTA ROAD
In time-honoured fashion, many Tolsta people walked right across the moor to Ness, to attend the Communion Services during the weekend. It is a thousand pities Mr. Hore Belisha, cannot be persuaded to give a Grant towards linking up Tolsta and Ness, with a much needed road and incidentally, opening up the most beautiful pieces of scenery in Lewis. But, in the absence of deputations and "I must have notice of that question," we expect, if health permits, to cross the moorland a few times yet, before we see the first consignment of picks and shovels for the job.
On Saturday, westerly winds reaching gale force, blew throughout the whole day and not since the tornado of 1921, did we see so much spendthrift. Many vessels anchored in the bay.
On Friday afternoon, I watched the Stornoway Lifeboat coming up the Minch against a strong head-wind. At times she was buried in spray and in spite of a heavy sea, she was going through her paces as lively as a porpoise. Crockett's (the Cox's ) face must have been well soaked with brine, before he got Tiumpan Head Lighthouse on his beam.
Miss Christina Campbell, daughter of Mr. andf Mrs. Donald Campbell, North Tolsta and Murdo MacLeod, North Tolsta, were united in marriage, on October 8th, in the Lewis Hotel. Rev. Malcolm Gillies officiating.
We are indebted to the rag collectors from Aberdeen, for their clean-up of these undesirables in their annual round. Judging by the bulk and weight of the bundle, for which I received the handsome sum of 3d - £5 worth, would give the "Loch Dunvegan" a bad list.
THE MOGUL AND THE PARROT
Canvassers on behalf of a certain paper knocked at every door in Tolsta last week with a very "catching" offer. Canvassing of this type always reminds us of the Mogul and the parrot. A Persian who kept a parrot taught it his own language. The parrot in answer to every question would say - "Our een chek shuck," or "What doubt is there of that!"
One day the man carried the parrot to market for sale and fixed the price at 100 rupees. Mogul asked the parrot - "Are you worth 100 rupees?" It answered, "What doubt is there of that?" The Mogul was delighted, bought the parrot and carried it home. Whatever he said he received for answer "What doubt is there of that." He then began to repent his bargain and said - "What a fool I was to buy this bird." The parrot said, "What doubt is there of that." The Mogul smiled and gave the bird its liberty.
Tolsta Crofters hope little from the new Minister of Agriculture, beleiving as they do, that he is probably like a former head of the Department, who, on being shown a field of barley, turned to his host and said approvingly - "That is a fine field of wheat!" So the juggling goes on.
THE EVILS OF BARTER
A lady from the Department of Agriculture delivered a lecture on poultry keeping in the Schoolhouse and among several suggestions new to us, the giving of cod liver oil to our feathered tribe was the last straw. While the barter system prevails here, hens will never pay for their "keep".
The 5th of November passed off quietly here. Indeed many in this generation cannot believe that men are as wicked nowadays as to commit such an outrageous act as was attempted in 1605. But aren't they? Other methods work more effectively. It is a sign of the times that in the arrangements for a Coronation of King Edward next May, the Romaan Catholic Communion and the Church of England should be singlewd out for recognition, while the
Reformed Free Churches have been ignored. Stands Scotland where she did?
There are several cases of Whooping Cough in the south side of the village.
Well, well; there's hustle for you! It was only in 1890 that the Walpole Commission reported that a pier at Portnaguran was necessary and desirable and a few days ago officials from the Board of Agriculture were on the spot to find out what it would cost to build a pier. But, with the feverish preparation for War, we would advise Portnaguran Fishermen not to smother Messrs. Charles Morrison & Son with orders for fishing gear, etc., rather wait and see. We wonder and ask when the Tolsta "case" which is far more pressing,is to be under consideration.
Believe it or not "Adidilum" is married. Yes. last Thursday, by Rev. M. Gillies, in the F. P. Church here, the bride being Miss Christina Bella Smith, New Tolsta, the 'groom Angus Campbell,13. Our friend is tanned abit by Australian sunshine and sea breezes, but to some of us it is certainly changed days to see the famous village quartette, "Ian Alley", "Ity", "Adidilum" and "Baker", settling down one by one to a quiet married life. Leaving a description of the dresses etc., to those who are best able to report on these things, the following from Tertillian is interesting: "Let simplicity be your white, chastity your vermillion; dress your eyebrows with modesty and your lips with reservedness. Let instruction be your earrings and aruby cross the front pin in your head. Submission to your husband is your best ornament. Employ your hands in housewifery and keep your feet within your own doors. Let your garments be made of the silk of probity; the fine linen of sanctity and the purple of chastity."
The vanguard of the Fishergirls, as well as some of the men, have arrived home.
THE "OLIVE BRANCH"
The "Olive Branch" disaster was the main topic of discussion during the week. All the victims were well known to Tolsta Fishermen.
The Electorate here would welcome an explanation from Mr. MacMillan, M.P., as to why he did not acknowledge the resolution re. Football Pool betting sent him by the Free Presbyterian Synod.
TEACHING OF NAVIGATION
With over forty males attending Evening Classes, Mr. MacLean, Headmaster, has a handful, but we are glad that the majority aqppreciate the instruction given. In this island where so many young people join the Naval Merchant Service, it is surprising that Navigation does not get a more important place in the School curriculum.
A FAIR FISHING
With the exception of one or two, all those engaged at Yarmouth or Lowestoft, have returned home with personal earnings from 12s to £40. The majority, however, have had a fair fishing.
Events of national importance and world-wide interest have passed over us these days, causing quite a stir here and we are trully thankful that the Government has emerged from the crisis "one up", in the public opinion. We have no doubt that the hand of God in this matter, will be more plainly seen in the years to come, than it is today and let us say "God Save King George V1 and his gracious Queen."