Mrs Mitchell Teacher

A Memory of South Uist.

I just read the memories of South Shawbost and mention of Mrs Mitchell, teacher, has encouraged me to write.

Mrs Mitchell was Aunty Jean to me and my siblings: she was the sister of my mother Dolina Mitchell. Dolina had left Lewis for Yorkshire as part of the war effort and never returned except for holidays: we were taken along too.

I never saw Jean in action as a teacher and I once said to my mother, I wish Aunty Jean could be my teacher and she replied, you'd have to work very hard with her, she's very strict.

We only visited Shawbost from time to time so I cannot say that I knew Jean very well but one memory is of watching her knitting. I have never seen anyone knit so fast: phenomenally fast; and I thought my mother was quick!

I visited Lewis with other members of my family in 2007 for the first time in over 30 years and we visited the grave yard where Jean is buried. One surprise was that her real name was Jane and not Jean at all. None of the remaining family who still live on Lewis could explain this discrepancy!

Jean's son George was a nice lad and we used to play with him and he introduced me to the rolled up newspaper cigarette: take a small square of newspaper and roll it very tightly, take a match to it and make it smoulder then puff away. The weaving shed is where we spent most of our smoking time!

But the peats is my most severe memory! Because I was the most compliant of all of my siblings, I was loaned out for collecting the peats. On a breezy day there is peat in eyes, hair, down shirts, in ears, in mouth ... I didn't like it although I didn't find the work of loading the cart too arduous. Then there was the post peats supper: salt herring and boiled jacket potatoes! I used to think, what have I done to deserve this as they "rewarded" me with more and more fish and more and more potatoes!!

A lovely place with lovely memories for this occasional visitor!

Added 30 August 2011


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