[Received May 18, 1918]


The Tarbet Hotel,

Loch Lomond,

April 30, 1918

Dear Mary B:

I hope you won’t mind having your letter numbered in the sequence of home letters. You see I am a bit of a cheat. I write to you, and count it as a letter to Mother and Father also.

I suppose there is no use of me telling anything about this place. You and Ging probably were here, and you can tell them all about it.

You see I got away on leave Saturday night. Spent Sunday and Monday in Glasgow and came here this A.M.

We had a lot of fun in Ayr Saturday afternoon, just before I left. It was a baseball game—American Officers vs. American Air Mechanics. We played on a lot near where the A.M’s. are billeted and it was a regular schoolboy back lot game. There was a lot of ragging, and talk, trying to ruffle the umpire and the various players. Everything according to the traditions of the game except the fight at the end. We lost and the A.M.’s. neglected to rock us home. The score was 6 to 3. There was a good amount of hitting and the playing was good enough to make a real game. I played second base and had a pot of good luck.

This trip has not been as enjoyable as I hoped. Having Frank Read and some of the other fellows for company so much in the past has spoilt me for boxing around alone. I don’t enjoy it anymore.

Sunday morning I went out to the University and walked all about it and through Kelvin Park. In the afternoon I took tea with the Misses Kidston who Ralph Whiting had introduced me to by letter. They are very nice. I met Mr. Kidston. Their mother and younger sister are sick with mumps. After tea we walked down to the American Soldier’s Club which has been organized in Glasgow about 3 weeks and in which one Miss Kidston is an active worker.

So far it is just a sort of social room—card tables, piano, magazines, etc. There were about 10 sailors there. I met a very charming lady Mrs. Robinson Blackie who was Nell Botts of Savannah. She is the widow of a rather wealthy Scotsman and is a leading light at the Club.

I took the Kidston girls home and asked the elder one if she would go to the theater with me the next evening. While she was deciding whether she could leave the patients or not both she and her sister began talking about “we” with the result that I was to take them both.

After I had had dinner at the hotel Mrs. Blackie called me up and said she wanted Miss Kidston and I to take dinner Monday with her and go to the theater afterwards. So I postponed my party and accepted hers. Miss Kidston having already conditionally accepted it.

Monday morning I went to the Admiralty sup’t of the Clyde District and got a pass to go through Denny’s Leven Ship Yard at Dumbarton. I got down to the yard at dinner time. Gerald Whiting had given me a letter to Sir Archibald Denny, Bart. when I made my first tour of ship yards, and I passed it in this trip. Sir Archibald was not there but his brother Col. John M. Denny was and received me very cordially. He gave me a guide to take me any place I wanted to go and a special card to visit their model tank. The workings and methods of the tank were so very interesting and explained to me in such detail by a very enthusiastic old Scotsman who conducted the tests with it that I did not have time to get more than a glimpse at the rest of the yard. But the tank was the most interesting and important part to see. Theirs was the second experimental tank in the history of shipbuilding. It was made and modeled after Froude’s first one.

That evening we had a fine dinner party at Mrs. Blackie’s. Besides Mrs. Blackie, Helen Kidston, and myself was a friend of Mrs. Blackie’s, a Miss Goodrow. Mrs. Blackie is a charming hostess and the dinner was great. The show we went to was an amateur production—words, music, acting and all. It was a fairly clever comic opera. The two leading girls were wonders, sisters, and sang beautifully. It was about the best show I have seen in England. I have been scratching my head ever since to try to get a scheme to meet the MacDougal sisters. Mrs. Blackie left Glasgow this morning so I guess my chances are pretty slim. The show started at seven and ended about 9:45. We returned to Mrs. Blackie’s and had cakes and cocoa.

I came up here by the little side wheel steamer from Balloch. The weather is ideal for this scenery. It is still pretty cold. The sun is out pretty bright and the air is clear, with a fair amount of clouds. The ride up the lake was very pretty. I had expected to go to Inversnaid and climb Ben Lomond and visit Loch Katrine from the hotel as my headquarters, but the Inversnaid Hotel is closed up and I am told you cannot get any food within 16 miles of it on that (east) side of the lake. So I am here at Tarbet.

This afternoon I walked over to Loch Long and climbed up over the mountain to the north on my way back. This country is surely wonderful and picturesque. One beauty about it is that it is practically impossible to get lost because there are no trees to hide the surroundings from you. Although you climb over a pathless mountainside you can see just where you are all the time. The grass and heather and moss is so nice and springy to walk in.

To-morrow I am going across the lake and take a walk up Ben Lomond and try to get a peep at Loch Katrine before I take the boat back to Balloch.

Mother’s and the newspaper account of that thrilling flight from Washington to Baltimore makes me wish I could get a good S.E. over there once. How we would love to show off. And Dad went out to Pimlico to see the bus. I suppose it was a Curtiss?

Well I guess I must call this off. Let me hear about your doings. Love to all,


Ging was probably Muriel Whiting’s friend and Mary Bowen Hooper’s travel companion, Virginia Woollen, mentioned by Parr in his letter of January 31, 1918.

Parr’s Kelvin Park was presumably Kelvingrove Park, the large public park south and east of the University of Glasgow.

I believe the family Parr met was that of James Burns Kidston, a Glasgow lawyer, and his wife, Alice Maud Kidston. Their eldest daughter, Helen Maud, who was about three years younger than Parr, had gone to school in Kent; and it was perhaps during her time in England that she came into contact with the Whitings. The Kidston family lived in Hillhead, the neighborhood around the University of Glasgow. The second daughter was Annabel Agnes Kidston, born in 1896; the third was Margaret Hedderwick Kidston, probably born in 1901.368

Mrs. Robertson Blackie (not “Robinson”) was born Ellen (“Nell” or “Nellie”) Arthur Botts in 1868 in Virginia, but grew up in Savannah, Georgia.369 Her maternal aunt, Lucy Herndon, had married Robert Blackie of the Glasgow and London publishing firm Blackie & Son, and through this connection Nell became acquainted with James Robertson Blackie, the son of Robert Blackie by his first wife, Ann Robertson Blackie.370 The New York Times offers a succinct account of wedding of Ellen Arthur Botts and James Robertson Blackie, which took place in New York on October 12, 1887.371 A more colorful account of the courtship and marriage made the rounds of other papers: Nell, as a schoolgirl, had lived for a time in her aunt’s house in Glasgow where she and James Robertson Blackie fell in love and became engaged. She returned to the States; she became ill and lost her sight. She offered to release her fiancé from the engagement. “The manly young Scotchman, however, refused to submit,” and crossed the Atlantic to claim his bride—upon which her sight was restored.372

The New York Times and other newspapers note that Nell was the niece of President Chester A. Arthur, which is not quite accurate: Nell’s mother, Elizabeth Hull Botts (née Herndon) and Ellen Lewis Herndon, who married Chester A. Arthur in 1859, were cousins.373

Shortly after their wedding, Nell and her husband returned to Scotland where they made their home. A daughter, Lucy Herndon Blackie was born around 1890.374 James Robertson Blackie, a partner in the family publishing firm, was fourteen years older than his wife; he died in 1911.375

William Denny and Brothers, founded in 1844, was a major shipbuilding firm in Dumbarton (west of Glasgow) where the River Leven debouches into the River Clyde.376 Archibald Denny (1860–1936), made a baronet in 1913, was a nephew of the firm’s eponymous founder and a son of Peter Denny (who was initially a junior partner in the firm, but in sole charge after William died).377 In 1881, the firm had built the first commercial ship testing tank with the assistance of the son of William Froude (1810–1879).378 The latter, an engineer and naval architect, was highly influential in ship hull design, having developed a formula (the “Froude number”) for using the results of scale model testing to predict the behavior of full size hulls; under his direction, the first full-scale test tank was built by the British government in Torquay.379

Miss Goodrow is unidentified.

The MacDougal sisters are unidentified.

Balloch lies at the southern end of Loch Lomond; Tarbet, where Parr is staying, is about two thirds of the way to the north end of Loch Lomond on the west bank, which is part of the isthmus between Loch Lomond and Loch Long to the west. Inversnaid is farther north on Loch Lomond’s eastern shore.

The thrilling flight was presumably that of George Creel, chair of Wilson’s Committee on Public Information, who, as part of Third Liberty Loan activities and the anniversary of America’s declaration of war, flew from Washington to Baltimore. His pilot, Overton Martin Bounds, one of the “early birds” of aviation, put down at the Pimlico race track in northwest Baltimore, but had to swerve to avoid a steeple chase hurdle, and the plane’s nose ended up in the ground. Neither Creel nor Overton was injured, but the plane—whose type is not identified in articles on the incident—was a loss.380