In August 1912, Anne and Reddy Choate were traveling through Scotland. They had heard that Juliette Gordon Low, Anne’s godmother, was at her home, called Lochs, in Perthshire. Both Choates had a warm spot in their hearts for her, because it was during a visit to Juliette in England that they had discovered their love for each other. Juliette had enjoyed playing matchmaker.
Since telephones were “nonexistent” in Scotland then, they could not call Juliette to verify that she was at Lochs. Nor could they rent a car. But they had reason to believe she was there, and so they set off. It was a twenty mile trip by horse and carriage. They arrived at lunchtime to an empty house situated in what Anne called “a barren spot.”
She described it for her mother: “Very high up among absolutely treeless hills, several small ponds nearby, shaggy Highland cattle grazing about on the heather and the usual rain falling. The house was a comfortable looking little box, but appeared quite shut up.”
|Exactly the sort of land through which the Choates traveled to reach Juliette Low.|
Eventually one of Juliette’s maids appeared—the only person left at Lochs—and told the Choates that “Mrs. Low had been called to America.” While the horses rested, the maid served Anne and Reddy “a pretty hearty lunch of eggs, tea and bread and butter and jam.” Their rain-soaked return trip took them past Meggernie Castle, the site of many happy occasions for Juliette and her friends. The Choates did not stop in. (1)
Juliette, who was criticized her entire life by family and friends for completely idiosyncratic and unpredictable plans, happened to be in London the day Anne penned that letter to her mother. She was writing to her own parents from her home on Grosvenor Street “implor[ing them] to come and take a new lease of life” at Lochs! (2)
“A new lease of life” is probably not what the Choates got that very long, very hard day of traveling. Still, all this traipsing around after the elusive Juliette Low? Good practice for Anne Hyde Choate’s later, important work in Girl Scouting!
|Anne Hyde Choate|
1. Anne Hyde Choate to Mary Gale Clarke, 6 August , George Hyde Clarke Family Papers, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library, Ithaca, New York, MS2800/17/2.
2. Juliette Gordon Low to William Washington Gordon II, 6 August 1912, Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, Girl Scout National Center, Savannah, Georgia.
Photo of the scenery around Lochs and Meggernie: timvsthemountains.blogspot.com
Photo or Anne Hyde Choate, used by permission from the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, Girl Scout National Center, Savannah, Georgia.