Thursday, November 3, 2016

Walter McKenzie to Colin McKenzie May and June 1921

12 Marchmont Road

My Dear Colin

I think it is about time I was writing you again as it is some weeks since I did so. We have not had any word from you lately but we expect a few letters soon now.

I have now got clear of the Infirmary after eleven weeks.  In my last letter I told you that they had opened it up again & scraped it out well it did not heal up as quickly as they had expected so I got an xray plate taken, however the result was satisfactory so I was discharged although there is still a nasty mark left.

Since then I went to the dentist and got two teeth out and am now getting two more stopped. It is not a very nice job but it will save me a lot of trouble with them later on.

We got a note from the Military authorities in Brisbane saying that the War Gratuity had been paid into the Commonwealth Bank.

You will see from the papers that the coal miners are still out on strike.  It is causing a great deal of unemployment. Many factories have closed down and the railways have reduced their train service by 60%.

We are just going on with our work as usual at present as it is the only thing to do while this industrial unrest & trade depression lasts.  Hope you are well.

Yours & c


12 Marchmont Road
1st June 1921

My Dear Colin

We were glad to get two letters from you on Monday one to Mamma & one to Alex also one to John received today. We note what you say about conditions of trade in Australia.

You seem to be doing pretty well in your business.  In Mamma’s letter we received the bank Draft for £86-0-3 which we were very glad to see.  You did well in getting it attended to. Of course this money is Mamma's so she has banked it and will get herself attended to in regard to hearing, eyesight and dress & c.  You know Mamma’s eyesight is getting very bad; she cannot read now or thread a needle which is a great drawback to her as it was about the only little recreation she had.  However she went to an Eye Specialist a Mr Sym but got no more information from him than what she knew in Brisbane. He never mentioned Cataract so I don’t think she has that trouble. Yesterday she went to an Optitian (sic) but he could give her no glasses to help, he said it was just failing of the eyesight. I don’t think her hearing is any worse than when you saw her but she is going to get that attended to too; also her teeth are bothering her a little. So you see the money is very welcome to her. The firm I am with at Bonnyrigg is Henry Widnell and Stewart Ltd.  We have also a factory at Rosslyn and Eskbank. This is (I think) one of the largest carpet manufacturer in Scotland and is the only one working on full time just now. Every other one being closed down owing to the coal strike or rather for want of orders. We also make Velvet Table Covers and Furniture Moquette. Most of our trade is export a good per centage going to Australia. Nearly all the big firms we know in Brisbane buy from us either direct or through our agent.

Tomorrow is McDougall’s picnic so Alex will have a holiday. I hope he gets a good day. Alex also gets his summer holidays in a fortnight on Saturday. He is going to Balinluig again.
We have not yet started farming so are all in our respective jobs.

We are now into Summer and I must say that you can’t beat this country.  The trees with their big leaves (I had almost forgotten what they were like) are simply beautiful. Soo many different shapes and verities.

How is Mrs Reeve so slack in regard to boarders.

Hope you are keeping well as we are all here.

Your loving brother.


P.S. Postage after 12th June to Aust. Will be 3d per letter pretty stiff!! WMcK

Note from Alex

This will be the last of the letters because there is some great news to hand.  State Library of Queensland have accepted the donation from our library service so the items will be preserved properly.  Hoorah! I will miss the letters as I have grown quite attached to the correspondents but in my heart of hearts I am really relieved as they are very precious and old and need proper care.  

Also, because I promised Diane that I would reveal some news about Walter in a comment on a previous post, I feel obliged to finish the story somewhat.  Walter continued to stay in Scotland for a few years but then seemed to change his mind and returned to Australia in 1927.  However - most unfortunately - he contracted TB and succumbed very quickly.  He died at the Waterfall Sanitorium in New South Wales.  Colin was able to be with him when he died.  Weirdly I blogged about Waterfall before here.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Walter McKenzie to Colin McKenzie 6th April 1921

12 Marchmont Road

6th April 1921

My Dear Colin,

I don't think any of us wrote last week so I am just writing a short note to let you know that we are all right. We have not heard from you for a few weeks now but expect a mail soon.

You will see from the papers that we have another coal strike with the prospect of the railwaymen and transport workers joining. Just when things are beginning to right themselves we have more trouble. However things must be put on a self paying basis. Up till present the Government have had control of the mines and it is only now when they have let go the control that the coalowners are trying to reduce the wages. The railways are under government control too but it is later on when they are to be decontroled (sic). 

We are now getting into lovely weather and with the trees & bushes coming into leaf again and the birds busy; it makes this country perfect. We have the clocks put on one hour so that gives us fine & long light at night.

We had Aunt Kate and her "intended" here on the Glasgow Spring holiday 28th March. John was also through for that week end as he had the Monday too. Aunt Kate looks pretty much the same as when I went away (this is the first time I have seen her as I have not been through to Glasgow yet) Perhaps you have not heard that she is going to be married too (to a Mr Urquhart a widower with one child, a daughter of 3 years) Mr Urquhart is a painter and has just started on his own. He is a working man but as I only saw him for about 10 minutes at night I can not say much about him.

Mamma has been troubled with her eyes so she went to a Specialist but got no further information from him that what she already knew in Brisbane except that she had got cold behind the eyes and he gave her a bottle of medicine to take away the inflamation (sic). Her eyes are a little better now she thinks.

I am still attending the Infirmary as you see I have had a bad time too with my cheek.

Alex is busy at nights practicing the violin and I must say he is improving greatly.

Trade in this country is very depressed and jobs are scarce so the only thing to do is to hand on to whatever work we are at as we might be left outside altogether so we are all at our usual jobs. any one asking about me tell them I want to be remembered to them and especially Janet Campbell.

I hope you are keeping well yourself and doing well in your business.

Your loving brother


Note from Alex: Written in top left hand corner of letter pencil "Replied to 7/5/21". The photo is from the album dated 1921.

If you've just tuned in to the McKenzie story, you may want to read the introductory post here.