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FoJMB Newsletter 2009 06

FoJMB Newsletter 2009 06

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Friends of John Muir's Birthplace Newsletter No. 10, June 2009
Friends of John Muir's Birthplace Newsletter No. 10, June 2009

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Published by: fojmb on Apr 13, 2011
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Dunbar’s John Muir Association
Friends of John Muir’sBirthplace
Newsletter No. 10, June 2009
Dear friends,Summer is upon us and it looks as if it might be a good one,here’s hoping!.You will read in these pages that the Birthplace had a visit fromthe Duke of Rothesay (for our friends outwith the UK, that is theScottish title of HRH Charles, Prince of Wales). This was a tremendoushonour for the Birthplace and will no doubt further boost its profile.Several Friends were amongst those presented to the Prince includingour president, Dan Cairney; Birthplace trustees Liz McLean, WillCollin, Jacquie Bell, Adam Gillingham and Robert Russel; and our secretary Susan Panton, as well as Jo Moulin, Birthplace manager, andPauline Smeed, senior museum assistant.There has been quite a lot of activity for Friends in the past fewmonths including the launch of Will’s new book,
A Scotchman ComesHome
, telling of John Muir’s return to Dunbar and Scotland in 1893,and the launch of the John Muir Odyssey as part of ScottishHomecoming.Our secretary, Susan has again excelled in putting together anexcellent package of talks and events for 2009/2010 so please comealong and support her. We will give you advance details if not in thisissue, certainly in the next. The first event is the very popular sandcastle competition at the East Beach on Saturday 18
Jim Thompson 
A SCOTCHMAN (?) Comes Home
Eyebrows have been raised and questions asked regarding the title of WillCollin’s wee book on John Muir’s homecoming. ‘Scotsman’ surely!? ‘Scotch’is reserved for whisky, eggs, broth, mist, pies and the like. But folk? Never!Well, hardly ever nowadays but until 1918 the UK government department incharge of things educational in Scotland was officially the ‘Scotch EducationDepartment’. Without doubt, they should have known better.In fact, ‘Scotch’ was originally an English contraction of ‘Scottish’ and widelyused south of the border from the 17th century. It came into general usage inScotland in the late 18th and in the 19th centuries, but peculiarly in the Scots(or Scotch) language. When using English, the natives in Scotland retained thefull ‘Scottish’ version, to set themselves apart from the English perhaps.However, in Muir’s
The Story of My Boyhood and Youth
, he used theadjective ‘Scotch’ around 30 times. In chapter 2 appears the wonderfulpassage,
“In Scotch schools only pure English was taught, although not aword of English was spoken out of school. All through life, however well educated, the Scotch spoke Scotch among their own folk, except at times whenunduly excited on the only two subjects on which Scotchmen get much excited,namely, religion and politics.”
Football had clearly not reached California.We asked Will to justify the use of ‘
’ in the title. He replied, “WhenMuir returned to Scotland in 1892, he wrote in his first letter to his family inMartinez, ‘
Now I am a Scotchman and at home again
.’ If it was good enoughfor him to use to describe himself, it’s good enough for the wee book.”
‘A Scotchman Comes Home’ was launched on 25th June. It traces the journeyof Muir’s only return visit to Dunbar and his homeland as part of his Europeantour of 1893. Come in to John Muir’s Birthplace and discover the people hemet and the places he had long held in his heart to visit. This is a specialexhibition for the Year of Homecoming. Open 10–5pm daily, 1–5pm Sunday.You may also like to visit ‘Harvest of the Sea’ at Dunbar Town Housediscover more about the fascinating fishing heritage of our town. Open12.30pm – 4.30pm daily.
A visit to Dunbar in 2009
By President Teddy Roosevelt*It is the year 1909 and the day is 21st April. I am visiting with my good friendJohn Muir to wish him a happy 71st birthday and I have taken along with meanother mutual friend, Mr H G Wells. Mr Wells had with him a hugecontraption which he told us was a time machine. Now John and I are nothingif not adventurers of the first order and nothing would do but that wepersuaded Mr Wells to allow us to try out his machine. We decided that wewould go one hundred years into the future and by tweaking the latitude andlongtitude, land in the town of John’s birth, Dunbar in Scotland. Wonder of wonders, we arrived just before lunch time on the Glebe in the little town.On leaving our time machine, we saw that it had changed shape into a little car to blend into its surroundings. We found a little group of children having apicnic and they told us that they were celebrating the birthday of the greatconservationist, John Muir. John and I thought that this was quite a hoot. I toldthem that the gentleman with me was in fact Mr Muir, but I’m not sure thatthey believed me. Now, John had returned to Dunbar and Scotland for a shortvisit in 1893 and one of the adults with the children, a Mr Will Collin, told ushe had just had published a book chronicling that visit. So John and I sharedthe picnic with the children and John read excerpts of the book to them. Mr Collin also told me that this was not my first visit to the town which I foundstrange as I could not remember doing so.He then told me that in 2003, the 100th anniversary of the camping trip thatJohn and I shared in Yosemite Valley, our spirits had been seen in the town,John showing me the sights of his boyhood and in fact a photograph of us hadbeen taken The photograph seemingly can be seen on something called theinternet. All too soon it was time to return to the time machine. And in atwinkle we were back in Mr Muir’s house in 1909 with Mr Wells waiting for us.I am arranging for this little tale that I have just written to be kept safely for 100 years and then sent to Dunbar to confirm that our time travel really didhappen.*actually Jim Thompson!

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