Last week I posted a link to the cheeky news story of the James "Star Trek Scotty" Doohan tribute from Edinburgh Castle pub San Francisco. I emailed the James Doohan story to my parents and brothers with the subject line "Grandpa MacLeod would be proud of Star Trek Scotty".
I open my email tonight and see my mother's response to my email about James "Star Trek Scotty" Doohan tribute:
Grandpa MacLeod was easily proud. Edinburgh Castle was started by a man who bartended for my dad, Douglas (I think) Matheson. Grandpa's place was the Scottish Tavern or Scotty's 555 Club. It was a for real place just like Edinburgh Castle - dart boards, pipers, the jukebox with only Scottish tunes on it.
My Grandpa MacLeod, my mother's father, was the proudest of proud Scotsman. Born around 1898, "Mac" was the middle son of eleven children who always believed he was his parents' favorite. He immigrated to the US through Canada, picked up an icelandic wife en route, had my mom in Chicago, then raised her in Berkeley, CA.
After a few cocktails my grandfather spoke a hybrid language of Gaelic, in which he was fluent, and English. Apparently UC Berkeley's linguistics department taped my grandfather speaking Gaelic.
Since he died when I was just 4, I only know about him through the colorful stories told and retold at family gatherings. "He truly was a force of nature" my mother tells me. My older brothers have fuzzy memories, but they're lucky enough to know what his brogue sounded like. I ask my older family members about "Mac" from time to time, but before I can get much detail from them, they start to smile, roll their eyes and shake their heads at the memories of Evenader "John" or "Mac" MacLeod, and I can't get a clear picture of this larger than life dude. Oh, what I would do to hear him speak.
How would I have ever known that a) my grandfather owned a Scottish pub in San Francisco called "Scotty's 555 Club" and b) the man who opened the Edinburgh Castle pub was a bartender for my granddad? Had no idea. Edinburgh Castle pub also happens to be the place Roger, my boyfriend, took me on our first date. Classy place, I know!
I wonder how many other family history factoids are floating around in the tenuous day-to-day thoughts of my seventy-something parents? If only blogs existed back in granddad's time. I know enough to be sure his prose would have had plenty of sass and Scottish 'tude; he may have blogged about his favorite American leaders - FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt, JFK and his least favorites - like McCarthy. I know his posts would have be spare of apologies.