The Thistledown
Volume 18, Issue 1              Jan-Feb 2002

Articles Inside
President’s Message
First Footing: No Redheads or Lassies Need Apply
Member News
New Members
Tartan Day Festival 2002 Update
Fall Highlights from the Scottish Dance Theatre of Virginia
Burns Nicht Supper
In Demand Recipe - Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Scots in Tidewater Have Web Presence
Royal Japanese Birth of Interest to Scottish Community
Jan-Feb 2000
Mar-Apr 2000
May-Jun 2000
Sep-Oct 2000
Nov-Dec 2000
Jan-Feb 2001
Mar-Apr 2001
May-Jun 2001
Sep-Oct 2001
Nov-Dec 2001
Current Issue

President’s Message
I hope that your holidays were full of good cheer and happy times. As we move into 2002, I hope that the year will be a good one for each and every one of us.

Our last meeting of the year 2001 was a very big success. If you missed it, you really missed out. Our annual Christmas ceilidh and silent auction was the best one I’ve ever seen. All the food was great [I’m still trying to find out who provided the bangers and mash; I want the gravy recipe!] The silent auction was a great success. We raised over $600 and these funds will go far in helping the society accomplish its goals.

I would like to thank all those who brought dishes to share with us, Evalynn and James Bolles for their help in the kitchen and with the auction, our new hostess Genene Butler for setting up and supervising all the helpers, Joyce Cowan, Debbie Clark, Jackie and Rosemary Wareham and all the helpers, and Debbie Sanchez who staffed the info table. To all of our lovely lassies, Thank You - without you it could not have happened. Last, but not least, I want to thank Ham and Rita Hamilton who provided the music for the evening. As always Rita’s prowess on the harp was enjoyed by all.

We have some wonderful events coming up in the year 2002 for our community and our society. First off, we have the St. Andrew’s Society of Tidewater’s annual Burns Nicht Supper on the 26th of January at the NAS Oceana Officers Club. Carolyn Barkley is chairing the event and invitations have been mailed to all Society members. Seats are limited and reservations are due by January 10th, so send in your reservations right away.

Next up on March 16th is the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Oceanview. We have been invited once again by the Knights of Columbus to participate in this year’s parade which promises to be the most memorable yet. It is a truly enjoyable event with a St. Patrick’s Day blow-out party at the end of the parade at the Knights of Columbus Hall. We plan on brining Nessie out for a stroll down the avenue. This year we wish to show our patriotism for our country. Bring your flags and clan banners and decorate with red, white, and blue, as well as the traditional green.

In April we have our Tartan Festival, which will be April 6th at Virginia Wesleyan College. Rita Hamilton will be putting out all the information. What I would like to say with regard to the festival is that this is our opportunity to share with our community our Scottish heritage and culture in a joyous and festive event. It is not my festival. It is not the Board of Directors’ festival, nor the Tartan Day Committee’s festival. It is your festival, and its success or failure hinges on your participation and support.

In the coming year anything and everything that we will endeavor to accomplish or wish to do is for the benefit and the enjoyment of you, our members. If anyone has some ideas as to what we should or should not do, or is willing to help by assisting on a committee like the Tartan Day Festival, or the planning of any event or activity, please come on out and take part. To sit back, or complain and do nothing accomplishes just that-nothing! I remember being told once by a wise old Navy Chief Petty Officer: ‘There are basically three types of people in this world: those that make things happen, those that are content to sit back and watch things happen, and those that complain and wonder what happened.’ I hope that you all join in and make things happen for the Scottish Society of Tidewater in 2002. Let’s make this year even better than the last one.

Yours aye,


First Footing:
No Redheads or Lassies Need Apply
Although first footing is almost always thought of in connection with Hogmanay, it actually took place on every cross quarter day.

Cross Quarter Days, as the first day of each three-month period was called, consisted of Candlemas (February), Witsun (May), Laminas (August) and Martinmas (November). It was only with great suspicion and care that anything was lent on these days as the power of the supernatural was strongest at these times and the luck of the house might go with the item. Luck could run out or be taken away and care had to be taken to preserve it. These days were also term days when the rents must be paid. They were supposed to be lucky days for many purposes such as starting a new fee. They coincide with the pagan festivals of Imloc, Beltane, Lammas, and Samhain.

First footing took place on every cross quarter day. Neighbors carried a piece of coal or peat into the house for luck as well as wine or spirits which were shared out and everybody had to take a drink. This idea continues in that anyone visiting a new house for the first time takes along a small gift and brings happiness and prosperity to the occupants. On every occasion upon visiting friends a gift of homemade jam, home-baking, biscuits, sweets or flowers, often picked from your garden, should be taken along. Often men take a bottle of spirits or wine for the host. In turn, hospitality, in the shape of food and drink, is always offered to guests. It is an offence to refuse and is a throw back to the custom of giving bread and wine which was supposed to show that the visitor meant no harm and averted the influence of evil and brought prosperity to the house.

Happy Hogmanay to All The perfect first-footer, that is, the first guest to cross your threshold, is male, dark-haired, and laden with food and drink to assure that the house will always have food and drink. Red-haired people are considered unlucky, and all women, fair or dark, are equally unlucky, although if they carry a small piece of coal, that is not so bad. If coal is carried, the house will also have fuel.

In the Outer Hebrides, boys went from house to house on Hogmanay, their leader wearing a sheepskin on his back. When invited into a house, the leader walked three times around the central fire, or, in more recent times, clockwise around a chair and invoked the Trinity. The custom of First Footing is stilled practiced in some areas on Hogmanay as many Scots often do in America.

Thanks to Rita Hamilton
From ‘Scottish Customs’ by Sheila Livingston


Member News

Best wishes for recovery to George Kidd who suffered a stroke at the end of November.

Our pleasure at John Wallace’s swift recovery from surgery in late November and our envy at his trip to Edinburgh for Hogmanay.

Bon voyage to James & Evalynn Bolles as they make the big move to Washington State. We’re going to miss you!

Command Master Chief Mark Butler is deployed on the Whidbey Island. His email is

Command Master at Arms Randy Thomas is deployed on the Whidbey Island. His email is


New Members
Mr. & Mrs. Hugh V. Blanchard (Kate)
Mrs. Lila R. Davis
Mr. Don Forsyth
Mr. Richard V. Jeffers
Mr. Brenton E. Martlin (Ed & Marilyn)
Ms. Connie M. Sage
Ms. Annie D. Twichell
Mr. & Mrs. Michael A. Wong


Tartan Day Festival 2002 Update

Your President and I met with some of the staff of Virginia Wesleyan College. They are very excited about Tartan Day and are willing to help us as much as they can, with obvious financial obligations.

We will be indoors. There will be inside facilities to support 2,400 people. They will furnish one table and two chairs per clan. Therefore, encourage your clan to participate.

The vendors will also be indoors. If you have a vendor that you would wish to see there, please contact me so that I may ask them to join us.

There will be an Antique UK Care Exhibit (outside). I’m looking forward to that and a member of the staff of the college will be issuing the invitations for that event. If you know of someone who might like to join the exhibit, please contact me.

There will be no dogs other than sight or hearing assistance dogs.

There will e a whiskey tasting, courtesy of Bill Lawler. We will probably hold it at no more than three times during the day, rather than continuously. We want the WILD BILL demonstration to occur as well.

We will be having D.C. and Nancy Miller wrapping the boys and girls in Scottish attire, and C.G. has been approached about MC’ing the event. (Yea C.G.!)

Eleanor Unger is graciously going to support us with dancers. We’ve invited the Scottish Country Dancers of Tidewater. We have one pipe band and are hoping for three more! There are other performers, but I have to wait to tell you later.

The event entrance fee will be $5.00 per person for anyone 13 or older. Anyone younger than that will be admitted free of charge. Remember, you can’t go to a movie for that any more and the event will be a day-long event!

Food will be exciting. The Chef of Virginia Wesleyan College, a CIA (Culinary Institute of America) graduate, will be providing good service including bridies, meat pies and sausage rolls, as well as standard food. I’ve tasted his food, and it’s wonderful!

There will be a tent outside for the children’s games and I’ll need volunteers to help with that. Again, please call me.

The college is excited about the event and so are we. I hope everyone will help, tell their friends, and come out and support this event. Remember, the purpose is three-fold: to let our community know about the contributions of those of Scottish ancestry thru demonstrations and information; to raise funds for the Richard S. Baird Scholarship for Scottish Studies, and best of all, to have a wonderful time.

From Rita Hamilton


Fall Highlights from the
Scottish Dance Theatre of Virginia

Dancer accepting the Most Promising Trophy We started the season with lots of fun and great success at the Neptune Festival Parade, where the dancers finished one point behind the winner of the Mayor’s cup for the Best Float. Everyone participated in making Nessie’s Virginia cousin, ‘Chessie’, and her hundreds of scales. She was a magnificent monster, although the wind was denuding her by the end of the route.

The group has its usual full contingent at both the Williamsburg and Richmond Games, and we are delighted to report that all won medals. Particularly successful at Williamsburg, were Premier dancers Katharin Shaw and Denise Erickson, who won their sections, and Jimmie Moore who won the Most Promising dancer with straight first places. Denise won the prestigious Dancer of the Day award which was presented by our own Larry McCauley, who conducted the awards since we were without a microphone and he said, ‘I have the biggest mouth!’ He used his best Navy foghorn holler and was heard all over the field. Denise and Katharin also won trophies and gold medals in a National competition held in Norfolk competing against all other forms of dance. Katherin was first runner-up to the overall Junior winner. Rayna Lawson and Ellen Carlson also competed and won silver medals.

Highland dancers showing awards At the Richmond Celtic Festival, young Jimmie also took straight firsts, and the group dancers placed second in the Choreography Contest with ‘The Pumpkin Patch’, a most appropriate piece for that time of year. While getting ready for the competition, they also prepared for examination by the British Association of Teachers of Dancing. This is an annual occurrence and I am delighted to report that the entire school received ‘Highly Commended’ passes in the various grades. That is quite an accomplishment.

The Fall came to an end with the annual Christmas party at Eleanor Unger’s house where everyone left full of fun and food. Not a single Highland Fling was danced and the only music heard were Christmas carols.

Joy to you all and Peace be with us!

From Eleanor Unger


Burns Nicht Supper - 26 January 2002
drawing of Robert Burns

A last reminder that the St. Andrew’s Society of Tidewater’s annual Burns Nicht Supper is scheduled for January 26th at the Oceana Officer’s Club. See below for more details and registration from. The evening features a full Burns Nicht program with this year’s entertainment provided by Iona. This event is a must for your winter calendar. All paid reservations are due by January 10th and seating is limited to 150. Don’t delay. Send your reservation and check in today.

The Saint Andrew’s Society of Tidewater
cordially invites you to attend its eighteenth annual


celebrating the 243rd anniversary of the birth of
Scotland’s Immortal Robert Burns

Saturday, January 26, 2002
Oceana Naval Air Station Officers Club, Virginia Beach, VA

Cash Bar and Registration at 6:30 pm
Ceremony and Dinner at 7:30 pm

Entertainment by IONA


Fresh Garden Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing
Choice of Prime Rib of Beef au jus OR Broiled Filet of Salmon
Pan-roasted Bliss potatoes and steamed vegetables
Assorted rolls & butter
Coffee or Tea
Toasting Wine

$35.00 per person

Dress: Highland Evening Dress or other suitable attire

Registration Form

Important Security Requirements: Oceana Naval Air Station is accessible only through the Main Gate on Oceana Boulevard. You must list below the full name of every person in your party. EACH person will be required to show a picture ID at the gate and have their name checked off an official guest list. The driver of the car will need to have a proof of insurance available. No one will be admitted who is not listed on the official guest list.

Name(s): _______________________________________________

Address: _______________________________________________

Phone: _________________________________________

E-mail address: __________________________________

Entrée Selection (indicate the total number of each):

Prime Rib of Beef_____ Broiled Filet of Salmon_____

Total enclosed at $35.00 per person:___________________


Please make checks payable to: Saint Andrew’s Society of
Mail to: Carolyn L. Barkley, Vice President,
Saint Andrew’s Society of Tidewater,
2509 Placid Place, Virginia Beach, VA 23456-3743

Please call 757-468-5829 or email
with any questions.


In Demand Recipe

At the Samhain / Halloween get together following the October Tartan Festival meeting, Marcey Burton brought Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars that quickly brought requests for the recipe. Here it is. Enjoy it at any time of the year!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
1 (16 oz) package of pound cake mix
3 eggs
2 T butter, melted
4 t pumpkin pie spice
1 (8oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1 (14oz) can Eagle Brand Sweetened
Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk)
1 (15oz) can pumpkin
1/2 t salt
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large mixer bowl or food processor, combine cake mix, 1 egg, butter and 2 t pumpkin pie spice. Press mixture onto bottom of 13 x 9 pan.

In large bowl or food processor, beat softened cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk, then remaining 2 eggs, pumpkin, remaining 2 t pumpkin pie spice and salt; mix well. Pour mixture over crust; sprinkle with nuts.

Bake 45 minutes. Cool. Chill; cut into bars.


Scots in Tidewater Have Web Presence

Did you know that our Scottish Society has had a presence on the World Wide Web (Internet) for nearly two years, that we have our own URL address -, and it can be found on all the major search engines?

We’ve grown from a few visitors each week in the beginning, to a current rate of a couple dozen per week. As of late November our counter has registered 2660+ visitors since May 2000. Our site includes individual pages covering local events, Scottish links, Tartan Day festival, our award winning newsletter, The Thistledown, and many pictures, as well as information about how to contact us. These pages contain an abundance of information on our society’s happenings as well as links to may other sites of Scottish interest. Much of what we've done with our website is to make it easy for our members and visitors to stay informed as to all that's happening throughout our area.

Events Page

Our Events page lists all known regional events of Scottish interest covering Virginia and the surrounding Maryland and North Carolina areas. Links are provided to those events with their own website. In addition, there are two links on our Links page to other well-known sites for gathering additional games information from across the USA and around the world. The Events page was designed to display the current month's events, but you can also scroll forward or backward throughout the entire year. Our members and visitors have provided much of the information found on our Events page. If you don’t see an event listed that you think should be there, let us know. Please provide the event name, location, dates, and web address (URL) if available. The Events page is updated frequently so be sure and check it out when planning your schedule.

Links Page

From our Links page easy access is available to a multitude of websites for local organizations listing their happenings, places like the White Horse Pub and Tidewater Friends of Folk Music. Links are provided to various St. Andrews Societies around Virginia, plus links to the Clan pages of our many members. We’ve included links to a number of commercial sites that offer Scottish history and items. New sites are always added and a button is provided for their submittal. I’d suggest visiting our Links page when starting your Scottish search on the Internet.

Society Website URL

Tartan Day Page

We have a page devoted entirely to our Tartan Day festivities and what our society is doing in recognition of National Tartan Day celebration. The page also contains several links to additional pages that reflect the many highlights of our past years’ activities. The logos of various sponsors are also reflected and when available, a link is provided to their website. Be sure and visit them, letting them know you found them here.

Newsletter Page

Excerpts of our Society’s award winning newsletter, The Thistledown, can be found on the Thistledown page. Members can spread the news of what’s happening with their distant friends and visitors can see what we’re up to. The page also contains links to an archive of past Thistledown excerpts dating back to the fall of 1999.

Points of Contact & Membership Pages

The Society’s mailing address and how to contact many of our officers are listed on the Points of Contact page to provide easy access for inquiries. Our membership application is available on the Membership page for those who’d like to join. Just print it out, complete it, and then mail it to our Membership chair.

Exchange Page

A special exchange page is provided for members to share their favorite pictures of themselves enjoying the many regional Scottish events. If you have any pictures of members and/or events you’d like to share contact our Webmaster at Digital pictures are preferred in either jpg or gif format. Standard pictures can be loaned to the Webmaster to be scanner into digital format. This can usually be done and pictures returned within a day. Don’t be shy share your fond memories amongst friends.

A unique feature of our site is the tartan background seen on the left and top sections of our site. The tartan shown is randomly selected from a present list of 45+ various Clan tartans. The tartan changes every time you access our site.

Maintenance of our site is an ongoing endeavor and with many external websites constantly changing their URL we greatly appreciate all notices of broken links. A special THANKS goes out to all our society members who have contributed items that have made our site so special, unique, and recognized. Visit our site today and add it to your favorites list so you can return regularly. Spread the word and pass our URL address around to all interested parties.

From Scott MacGregor


Royal Japanese Birth
of Interest to Scottish Community

The announcement of the birth of a daughter on December 1 to Crown Princess Masako of Japan is an event of considerable interest to the Scottish community.

When one considers this person may become a future empress of Japan, the consequences are staggering. As reported by Howard French in The New York Times (Sunday, December 2), ‘The debate over the future of the world’s oldest imperial line is only just beginning.’ When this young person comes of age, she will learn that her life was shaped by an American woman of Scottish descent, Elizabeth Gray Vining. The full story is told in ‘Windows for the Crown Prince’, a review of which appeared on the front page of The New York Times Book Review May 11, 1952, written by John Gunther, excerpts of which are given here. This provides one more illustration of the important role played by Scots-Americans in the life of the world.

The full story has a fairy-tale quality. Mrs. Vining was the tutor to the child’s grandfather, Emperor Akihito when he was the Crown Prince, and indeed opened his eyes to the values of our Western democracy. Many of our readers are aware that Mrs. Vining was the first cousin of the mother of Ellice McDonald, Jr., well known as the former High Commission of Clan Donald USA, and the person principally responsible for the creation of the Clan Donald Centre on Skye, and presently chairman of the Clan Donald Lands Trust.

When the Caledonian Foundation was assembling materials for its ‘Great Scots’ exhibit, Mr. McDonald mentioned that Elizabeth Gray Vining was the daughter of John Gordon Gray, President of the St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia (1911-12), and was married to Morgan Vining, Professor of Literature at the University of North Carolina.

Mrs. Vining was interviewed on many occasions, being the author of over 25 books. Following are excerpts from various articles that were published over the years.

‘Mrs. Vining said her experience in Japan was the second biggest thing ever to happen to her. The first was her marriage to Morgan Vining. When she took the position as tutor, she had been a widow for 13 years. Her husband died in an automobile accident less than five years after their marriage. Mrs. Vining never remarried.’

‘Viscount Matsudaira said he wanted me to open windows on a wider world for the Crown Prince, and that is what I tried to do...The Japanese were absolutely wonderful. They recognized they were defeated and wanted to find out what democracy was...They literally picked themselves up from the ashes.’

In 1959, Mrs. Vining traveled to Japan for the long-anticipated marriage of the Crown Prince. Against all traditions, he had chosen a commoner, and it was a marriage of love. Prince Akihito and Michiko Shoda were married on April 10, and Mrs. Vining was the only foreign guest. Mrs. Vining has remained close to the family and hears from them throughout the year. In 1953, the Crown Prince stayed for three days at Mrs. Vining’s home in Philadelphia. She was decorated with the Third Order of the Sacred Crown in Japan in 1950, an honor usually given to princesses.’

‘When asked why Emperor Hirohito had made such a remarkable request on his own initiative: why an American and a woman, Mrs. Vining said he told her two reasons: Once was that America was standing in an entirely different relationship with Japan. Japan was now occupied by America and was starting out with a new constitution and a new life and the Emperor thought the Crown Prince should be exposed to what America had to give...’The first thing Emperor Hirohito said to me the first day I met him two days after I arrived [was a thank you to] me as an American for the food that the Americans were sending.’

The significance of this seemingly casual encounter between a Scots-American woman and a young man who was then Crown Prince and is now the Emperor of Japan-and its ramifications for the indefinite future on international relations-particularly between Japan and the United States-is difficult to comprehend and one can only think of ‘destiny’.

Elizabeth Gray Vining died November 27, 1999, at a Quaker retirement home. She was born October 6, 1902. The anniversary of her birth 100 years age is being recognized by the Scottish community in 2002.

A press release from The Caledonian Foundation USA, Inc.



APRIL 26-27-28

Come and join us for the Virginia Arts Festival 6th Annual International Tattoo.

Marching highland piper To encourage participation among our members, the society's board has decided to subsidize the cost of tickets purchased through the society. This is in addition to the group discount the society receives for purchasing a block of tickets.

This year's tickets don't go on sale until February but general admission tickets range from $35.00 tier 1, $25,00 tier 2 and $17.00 for tier 3.

However, the society will receive a 15% discount by buying a block of 15 tickets (the number can change based on the number of advance purchases). With that discount, coupled with the subsidy by your society, the cost to you will be $17.00 for a tier 2 ticket. We are tentatively planning to purchase tickets for the Saturday evening performance.

Due to problems in past years, this year we'll be taking orders in advance with payment due up front. Don't delay in letting a board member know you're interested and how many tickets you'll require.

We will be taking orders now and collecting the money. No tickets will be purchased in advance or reserved without payment. Payment must be made by the February’s meeting to meet the March deadline for group discount purchases.


We did this last year after the Tattoo and it was so much fun that we will be doing it again

So come on out and enjoy the Tattoo with your fellow society members.

You can contact Larry for information. 471-4952 or