The Willow Springs Tuesday Study Club ends each season with a Spring Party at Club 60 in Mountain Grove. For a theme, the hostesses choose a country to learn about the people, culture, other facts about the chosen country, and to try a new cuisine. This year, hostesses Jean Biehl, Pauline Cape, Kathleen Carel and Claudia Marvin chose Scotland for a theme to end Study Club’s 94th season.
Claudia is of Scottish decent and Pauline hails from England, and they provided the decorations for the party. Angel Alessi of Club 60 provided black and red checked tablecloths and red napkins that made an attractive and bold addition to the decor. Claudia spoke about a beautiful Scottish lace tablecloth with a pastel-colored pattern that belonged to her mother, which was displayed on a side table. One of Pauline’s decorations was a large, stunning ceramic horse that was the centerpiece on the head table.
Since 2006 when Study Club began having Spring parties at Club 60, Owner/Chef Jim Alessi has prepared the amazingly delicious meals and Angel has prepared equally amazingly delicious desserts. Angel has also served the meals. This year, Study Club had a very special treat as Jim and Angel’s 10-year-old triplet daughters assisted with the meal. Kaylee helped Jim prepare the meal, and Kandi and Karena helped Angel serve. Their two sons, Justin and Jordan, also made an appearance.
With the Scottish theme, the menu was fish and chips a la chef Jim Alessi, served with tartare sauce for the fish and malt vinegar for the chips. The dessert was a lovely traditional Scottish Cranachan.
Following the meal, presentations were given. Claudia descends from Clan Erskine, a highland clan. She began with a presentation on Scottish kilts.
Tartans are a fabric made up of horizontal and vertical stripes in different colors, on a colored background. The interwoven stripes are known as a sett. It originated in the highlands. The first mention of tartan in Scotland was in 1538.
Originally, clanspeople used vegetables, herbs, local plants, mosses and berries to dye the wool. Scottish kilts originated back in the 16th century. A kilt is a piece of tartan, worn around the waist. A proper kilt is usually accompanied by a sporran (Gaelic for purse) a small bag worn around the waist over the kilt. A kilt pin holds the two pieces together at the front. A Sgian dubh (pronounced skee-an doo) is a small dagger which sits in the sock.
The kilt originated in the highlands also. Several feet of fabric were folded into loose pleats. It was worn around the waist, and fastened in place with a thick leather belt, similar to a modern kilt, but the remaining fabric was also draped over the shoulder and pinned. The upper portion could be adjusted according to weather, temperature, or freedom of movement as needed.
The kilts were a symbol of the Scottish highlanders’ heritage. They were outlawed by King George II in 1746 because they were considered a rebellious symbol. Some Scots ignored the ban and continued to wear them in protest. Almost 40 years later in 1782 King George IV gave the Scottish kilt a new lease on life, a respectability, and acceptance.
Historically, a particular color or pattern was generally a connection to a particular geographical area or district, rather than to an individual family or clan. In the 18th century this began to change and a clan could take “ownership” of a specific tartan pattern/sett. Those of us with Scottish ancestors or family may have more than one clan tartan from which to choose.
The knee-length kilts we see today closely resemble the small kilt or walking kilt that did not develop until the late 17th or early 18th century. For efficiency and practicality, the kilt was designed with pleats already sewn in. Modern colors are strong, vivid colors made possible by today's chemical dyes. The Erskine tartan is one of the oldest, and there are several, all based on the same design but with different colors.
Kathleen, who was wearing a T-shirt decorated with the Clan Hamilton tartan, motto (Through) and heraldic crest, spoke about Clan Hamilton, a lowlands clan, from which she descends on her maternal side.
Since at least the turn of the 14th century, the Hamiltons have played an important role in the history of Scotland. However, the precise origins of the family prior to 1300 have been lost in the mists of time.
With a long line of succession and marriages beginning after the First Lord Hamilton married Lady Mary Stewart way back in 1474, to Lady Diana Spencer who became Princess of Wales when she married Prince Charles in 1981, the modern day Prince William and his brother Prince Harry are descended from the Hamiltons on both sides of their family.
Claudia spoke next about her family crest badge. A Scottish crest badge is a heraldic badge worn to show allegiance to an individual or membership in a specific Scottish clan. It consists of a crest and a motto/slogan that belong to the chief alone and usually consists of elements from the clan chief's coat of arms. In early years the clan chief would give his followers a metal plate of his crest (a representative symbol such as a plant, animal, and or [gold] object). The crest plate was attached to the clansman's attire by means of a strap and buckle. Once removed, the strap and buckle would be coiled around the crest plate in display. The strap and buckle represent that the wearer is a follower of the individual who owns the crest and motto.
The Erskine clan crest is out of a chapeau, a hand holding a dagger. The motto is, “Je Pense Plus” (I think more). Erskine, Earl of Mar and Kellie’s coat of arms has two mottos. The first crest is “Je Pense Plus,” and above the second crest is “Decori decus addit avito” (He adds honor to the honor of his ancestors).
Kathleen closed with a presentation about a genealogy trip she took in 1990. One of her ancestors was the Earl of Glencairn in the 12th century. During the trip, she visited Maxwelton House, formerly Glencairn Castle, in Glencairn, Scotland, having made arrangements prior to beginning the trip. The castle was the birthplace of Annie Laurie.
Kathleen spoke about having “tea” with the gentleman with whom she had made arrangements to visit, along with his fiancée and his mother. She thought the gentleman was the caretaker of the castle. As she was leaving, she learned that the gentleman was a Duke, so she had high tea with a Duke in a castle!
The visit ended with a four-mile walk in rain, sunshine and continuous wind, to her hotel in Moniaive. She loved every minute of it!
Thus ended Study Club’s 94th season. Members will meet in October with a Fall Party to begin their 95th season.

Howell County News

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