December 11, 2018 – Letter from Robert’s Aunt Christina:
(Uncle George says you won’t be able to read my scribbles)
[Something] Craigleith Road, Edinburgh
This is just a Xmas parcel to let you know that there is an Uncle and Auntie in Auld Reekie who are thinking of you. I hope you get it all right and also that we are to make your acquaintance before you go home again.
We had a letter from your father last week and he is hoping that you will have leave shortly. I expect you, like our ourselves, are glad that the war is, so far, over. It has been a [awful?] time. Now remember that we are all looking forward to your visit and all join in every good wish for Xmas and New Year.
“Teenie” was Robert’s Aunt Christina, married to his father’s brother George. Once again I am indebted to my mother, who did the lion’s share of “translating” Christina’s Scottish cursive.
I have to also give credit to Google on this one. In the first paragraph there was a word that neither of us could figure out:
I knew it started with “R” (same character as her “Robert” above) but that was about it. On a whim, I searched “nicknames for Scotland” and immediately got the answer:
And there it is: Edinburgh has been called “Auld Reekie” for centuries, and probably for exactly the reason you’d suspect:
The “lost loch” of Nor Loch used to be at the bottom of the steep hill below Edinburgh’s famous castle, where the gardens now stand.
The stagnant waters of the loch, which were subject to the dumping of human effluence, even bodies, and waste from the city’s slaughterhouses, are thought to have given partial rise to the Auld Reekie nickname.
It was also believed to have been down to the smoke of coal fires that would have heated the residents of Edinburgh which kicked up the famous stink.
And just to complete this journey down an Edinburgh rabbit hole, here’s where George and Christina lived, on Craigleith Road. Their street is in the upper left, Edinburgh Castle is in the lower right. This is a 1918 post office map, followed by the same view from Google Maps.
Where was Robert today? See the timeline.