A Biography of Alejandro Murray Gillespie of Argentina/Colorado



David Southard Gillespie


Alejandro Murray Gillespie (2)
Alejandro Murray Gillespie (2)

My father was always interested in his antecedents, a trait he passed on to me.   Hence this biography.   Reading his diaries introduced me to a man I had not really known; his life in Buenos Aires, his ambitions, his worries, his friends and family.  All this he shared with my mother but it passed us kids right by if we ever heard it.

Argentina before the war was a vibrant place, considered the most cosmopolitan of the South American countries.  Buenos Aires, BA as it was called locally, had branches of numerous British and European stores and there were many American, British and other European companies with facilities in Argentina.   The population was made up of a number of groups.  Spanish and Italians were the largest followed by Anglos (British and Americans) Germans, and a smattering of others.  Since the native American populations had not penetrated that far down the continent, Argentina had a very small native American population.  While austensively a democracy, the country saw numerous coup d’etats and government was usually in the hands of a series of military dictators culminating in Juan Peron.  In spite of this the country was fairly stable and prosperous thanks to an abundance of natural resources and a hard-working population.

The Gillespie and Drysdale clans were strong Anglophiles.  They sent their children to the St. Andrews Scots School to be educated.  They read the Buenos Aires Herald.  They belonged to the St. Andrews Society of the River Plate and the Buenos Aires Rowing Club and they usually lived in Olivos, an upscale neighborhood near town and bordering the river.  When the travelled they went to England or the US.  Spanish was the primary language of the country but English was learned early and spoken in the home

The Gillespie clan can be traced back to William Gillespie, born about 1741 in Edinburgh.   He married Jean Alexander giving rise to the first name which would last through the generations.  The males were generally farmers and/or blacksmiths until Robert (born 1811) who expanded his blacksmith trade to manage the gasworks in a small Scottish town finally retiring to a small farm which he had come into through his wife.  By 1868 times were tough in Scotland and small farmers were having a very hard time. Alexander, his son, who had trained as an engineer had a hard time finding work and so, in that year, he set out with his family for South America.  [1]  Ultimately, Robert sold the farm in Scotland and emigrated to Australia where he died in 1938.

He indentured himself to          ***     to help build railroads.   Later he served as an engineer for a steamship company and finally as the manager of the Waterworks in the cities of Mondeo, Salta, and Rosario. [2]  He died in Montevideo in 1891

Before leaving for South America he had married Margaret Murray and they had one child with them on the voyage.   Subsequently they were to have four more although three of these died in childhood.  Robina, born 1866, married into the Drysdale family which was prominent in Buenos Aires and David continued the Gillespie line in Buenos Aires owning a printing firm and working as a self employed accountant for much of his life.    David met and married Bess Ayres who had come to South America as a companion for an elderly woman and whose husband formed the first Christian Scientist church in Argentina.   Bess’ family lived in Maryland and David was to make many trips to the US to visit and to make business connections.  They were to have two children, Alejandro Murray and Jewel Ayres Taylor (nee Gillespie).  The Taylor family remains in Argentina to this day.

With such extensive migrations, very few family records survive and none from Scotland.  My father, Alejandro Murray Gillespie, was meticulous in all things and believed in recording every detail of the family and their lives.   Although he may have kept journals earlier, those that survive date from 1929 when he was 17 years old.  But he wrote his memories at varying times during his life in an attempt to pass them down to me.

The home of his birth at 2340 Catamarca in Olivos was very dear to him and one which the family sold reluctantly when his father died in 1946.  David bought the home in 1910 just before his marriage at a price of AR$28,000.  It was a new home designed by E. Laurnece Conder, an architect with a business in Buenos Aires.  At the time it was a new development with only two other houses around it and vacant fields all around.  The land had been part of a large estate belonging to the Uribelarrea family stretching from the Rio Plata westward as far as the old Camino Real, now called Avenida Maipu.  The estate had a large carriage house and a large Colonial house in its midst—“the typical hand-made brick with inner courtyard and surrounded by a wide “galleria” or porch;  the windows opening to the outside were heavily barred for security.  As children we used to play there, and also on a conical hillock with a large wisteria vine festooned in summer with its bluish flowers.  The odor of magnolias and the type of jasmine known as “gardenia” was everywhere.”[3]   It was an ideal place for a young boy to grow up with lots of trees, cat-tails, and an environment that was home to all sorts of birds, bugs, and animals.  Dad’s interest in nature continued unabated for the rest of his life.

The house itself fronted on Catamarca which was un-paved.  “In times of wet weather we had deep, muddy ruts in front of the house, and crossing anywhere south of Corrientes was a messy business.  In 1924, when we owned a 1924 Model T Ford, travelling a block north to Corrientes during prolonged rain was unpredictable!”[4]

The house itself came on a bare ground plot which my grandmother undertook to turn into a garden very successfully.  There were Plam tree in the front, Two magnolia trees, a plane tree and a ponderosa with a row of cypress trees along the back border.  A variety of vines and shrubs as well as annual plantings of flowers brightened the garden and provided cuttings for the house.  Orange, tangerine, peach, and fig trees provided fruit for the table and the family kept chickens at the back of the garden.[5]  The garden played hose to many family events and was the frame in which most of my father’s happiest memories were held.

As a boy he attended the St. Andrew’s Scots School in Buenos Aires.  He was not a great student starting near the bottom of his class in the equivalent of 2nd grade but bring his grades up to the point where he almost made honors by his last year there.  His strongest subjects were scripture,  English and Spanish with his weakest being mathematics and science.  This was odd considering his lifelong interest in scientific matters and his profession as an accountant.[6]

In 1926 his schooling was just finished, having graduated from the St. Andrews Scots School in Buenos Aires receiving his diploma and a certificate in English from Cambridge University extension courses which were offered to English expats living overseas.   While this would have been considered a good education in Argentina, when he moved to the U.S. he felt the lack of a college degree held him back from many job opportunities.  Yet he was justifiably proud of his English and Spanish as his grammar and usage were unfailingly correct in both languages.  He also spoke Portuguese well and could get along in French and Italian.

Scouting was a lifelong interst which began in 1925 when he joined Troop 1 sponsored by the First Methodist Episcopal Church.  The Troop consisted of about 30 boys led by Charles W. Turner.  Mr. Turner was in his late twenties at the time and became a lifelong friend.  Dad described him as being “great at devising new and interesting experiences for us.  In 1927 he took us on an excursion to Conchillas, Uruguay, across the Rio de la Plata, on a sand barge, and on another occasion to Montevideo on an overnight river steamer.  One time we went to Rosario de Santa Fe on a cargo vessel . . . and returned by train.” [i][7]  When Mr. Turner left for the States in 1928 the troop fell apart and Dad applied directly to the U.S. Scouting organization to become a Lone Scout(for those where  there was no organized Troop).  He continued his membership in Scouting uninterrupted for more than sixty-five years remaining active in Weld County scouting after moving to the States.  He received the Silver Beaver in 1988 as a pioneer in Scouting along with numerous other awards.[8]

His journals begin in 1929 and he kept them up religiously until the end of his life.  He was still living at with his parents in the home his father had built at 2340 Catamarca in Buenos Aires and had taken a job as a clerk at Little,Fison Ratcliffs, Ltd., a British Importing firm.    It was clear that he did not regard this as a long term profession as he seldom mentions his work, simply starting a weekday entry with “office.”  As a young man of 17 he had an active social life with a large group of friends as well as an extended family including the Drysdales (his Aunt Robina had married into that family), and a group of other Anglos living in Argentina, some of whom were friends of his family and other he met through church, the St. Andrews Society, or the Buenos Aires Rowing Club(BARC) which he joined somewhat later.

1929 begins with a note that he had been camping with the Boy Scouts at the end of December and intended to organize some other scouting trips during January.  His meticulous nature and interest in history led him to record all kinds of things, not just his own journals.   Late in January he was named recorder for the scouting group and he is out getting supplies.[9]  Much of the month had been given over to camping with his fellow scouts and we find him still being a very much a youth in his outlook:  “:  Swimming & Hiking, & plenty of sleep.   We caught a snake, Joe Tow is taking it home in alcohol.   Called up Margaret Rhuberry at night.”[10]   In this one entry we find a number of his interests:  outdoor activities with the scouts,  his friends, a deep interest in nature and girls.  As he got older and his career began to demand his time  outdoor activities began to diminish but he remained active in Scouting for his entire life.  A large file of correspondence with with his friends shows both how important they were to him and how he meticulously kept copies of all his letters to them as well as their replies.

While scouting occupied much of his early years it was not his only interest.  He was interested in science, cleaning out the garage and setting up a small workshop so that he could build a weather center in February.   This workshop was to get lots of use for home repair projects, work on his radios, and bicycle repairs over the coming years and he told me that in his youth, apparently before 1929, he and his friends had experimented with chemistry nearly destroying the garage in an explosion.

In this period he was also finding his way up the ladder in other activities.   He became Senior Patrol Leader in Scouts[11] and gained some new responsibilities at work.[12]  Later in the same month he became a Lone Scout and went about setting up a Lone Scout troup comprised mostly of his friends.  At home he began a stamp collection  which he continued to work on for the rest of his life.

Social life seemed divided between Scouting with his male friends and Church where he met his female friends.   My aunt Jewel always said that he was quite the ladies man in his early years  though his diaries merely report a young man trying to date and sort out his feeling for the various girls in his social circle.  The fall months (March-June) of 1929 were particularly active social months.  On March 6th he notes that “It is today 3 ¼ years since Grace entered into my heart but she is ignorant of the fact, it is my opinion.  Margaret Rhuberry has the same pull tho, & she’s sweeter.”  On March 24th he suggests that he will try to kiss Grace when he sees her at church but instead, he is invited to a dance by Gladys Simcat.  After Church on Easter Sunday he had lunch with the Griffiths (whose son was a good friend)  “ Gladys Walker was there—she is first girl who has taken interest in my doings.”[13]  The following day: “Visited Betty at Griffiths—will ask her on Wednesday to teach me dancing.  Did not kiss Grace goodbye, but almost kissed Gladys.”[14]   At the end of the week he went to a dance party at Gladys Simcock’s where he ‘danced with all the girls’.  To say he was ‘dating’ , to use a 1950’s term, is perhaps an understatement.

David Murray Gillespie
David Murray Gillespie

In the middle of March, David M. Gillespie had received permission from his employer to take the entire family to the states for five months.  The journey began on June 28th when the family boarded a train after a send off by friends and family.  Such a trip was a major undertaking because there were no through flights as there are now and the trip took trains, planes and ships with overnight stops in hotels at each leg of the journey.  After an overnight stop in Mendoza(Argentina) they arrived in Valparaiso where they boarded the Santa Barbara, a small coastal steamer carrying freight and 70 passengers for the trip north.  Two days later they arrived in Antofagasta, Chile, where they went ashore and looked around the town:  “There was a comic incident when a man chased the ship in a launch but missed his trip.”[15]  In Lima they had a longer stopover so they went to visit the Markets and saw the Cathedral there.

The trip was not without incident.  One of the Chinese crew members died on the trip  was buried at a stop in Puerto Chucano, Peru.    The weather was rough for this part of the trip and a load of copper fell overboard.   On August 9th they had stopped in Talara, Peru,  “On leaving the Santa ran down and sunk a fishing craft & the fishermen were rescued.”[16]

On the evening of August 11th they arrived in the Bay of Panama and began the passage through the Canal arriving in Havanna, Cuba on the 15th when they took the day sightseeing around the city setting sail again in the evening.  Strangely, there are no further entries in his diary until September 1st when they were already in Baltimore.

Bess Ayres Gillespie
Bess Ayres Gillespie

Bess Ayres Gillespie had been born in Baltimore and her family was still in the area so the next few weeks were consumed with a round of visits to family members.  Alec amused himself with his cousins and looked in to taking some merit badge tests for Scouts.  He enrolled in a mechanical drawing class and took a driving test (which he failed the first time) to get a license.  That same day they purchased a Chrysler 75 for $600 in anticipation of a driving trip around the country.[17]   He tried to teach is father to drive it but the latter said it was “too complicated“ for him so Alec got to do most of the driving and seemed to enjoy tinkering with it.

On November 5th the family set out for Cleveland to visit the Corletts (close family friends who had returned to the US the year before) and then on to Detroit where they visited the Rhuberrys and he went to a Scout meeting with his friend Burton Rhuberry and tried to sneak a kiss with Margaret.   From Detroit they went through to Niagara Falls and then south east through upstate New York and Pennsylvania, arriving back in Baltimore on the 24th.

In early December there was a David, Alec and Jewel took a short excursion to Washington DC to see the sights before returning to Baltimore where they sold the car for $350 with about 19,000 miles on the clock.  Christmas was held with family in Baltimore .  On Jan. 1st, 1930, the family left Baltimore for New York City where they spent a week sightseeing before boarding the Western World on the 11th.  After a rough passage they arrived home in BA on the 28th of January, 1930.

In Argentina, every young man is required to do a year of service in the armed forces or the police.   Alec began his year of service in March, 1930 when he went to get his physical exam and shots (which caused him to faint!).   Service consisted of drills and guard duty as well as carrying around messages and generally doing what he was told.  But the service was not onerous in that he was able to live at home and the duty was similar to any other job in that he was on duty for about 8-9 hours a day including Saturdays.  It also allowed him to pursue his mechanical drawing course which he had signed up for in Baltimore through the International Correspondence School(ICS).  He got consistently high marks for his drawings and seemed to enjoy the work.[18]

Trouble began in September when he reported that “Minister of war Genl Dellepianne resigned and conditions is getting worse every day.  All troops confined to barracks; 13 war boats in New Port awaiting orders.”[19]  By the Sixth there was a full-fledged revolution underway.

. . . at 8:30 Genr Uriburu assumed command of revolted troops reaching city in afternoon; heavy warfare at Congresso, Plaza Mayo, and Calle Cordoba & Callao at which latter I took care of a number of 1st Cav. Regiment horses.  Machine gun firing with many casualties.  Irigoyea resigned.  Presidency , the government house yielded and the city is ours.  Viva la Revolution. [20]

But within days life returned to normal and he was seeing movies in the evenings with friends, going to church on Sundays and working on his mechanical drawings in the evenings. During the trip to the States he had taken a camera and this sparked an interest in photography which he had all his life.  We now see him putting together his first picture album and endeavoring to put down his memories of the trip.  His active social life continued with membership in the Forum Club (at his church) and Scouting activities began in earnest as the weather improved.  During the 1930’s he also became a movie fan.  Where in 1929 he might have recorded seeing a half dozen or so movies, ten years later he could record seeing movies several times a week.

In March the Prince of Wales visited Buenos Aires.  After his guard duties were over he went downtown with his friends to see the procession which brought them to the British Embassy.[21]

Several days later he and his friends hurried down to the docks to see the British Fleet come in.  It consisted of the “Eagle”, “Dispatch”, “Danae” and “Achates” of the Royal Navy.  They are wonderful ships, especially the air-base ship “Eagle”.[22]   The same day, in a rare complaint about Scouting, he “”.  Received the packet from LSA(Lone Scouts of America), having to pay $4.10 for duty, etc.  Most of it is propaganda and not worth $.50.”[23]

The Army had given him a sense of independence and when it ended on March 31, 1931 he was slightly adrift.  As an adult he voted “for the first time in my life” on April 6th   and it was now time to shoulder the responsibility for his own life and begin a career.   By the middle of the month he had helped his mother clean the house,  rebuilt his radio, rearranged his room, and visited every friend he could think of.  He was getting bored.   But by the middle of the month he had found a job with the International Radio company at $180 per month.  He was to be an operator working on the New York exchange where immediately struck up a long distance relationship with his counterpart in New York and was interested in the kinds of conversations taking place.[24]

With a job and the prospect of a regular paycheck he was able to indulge his interest in a short-wave radio, spending $43 on a kit to make a radio of his own.[25]  This was to be a source of pleasure as well as information for he got his news from the BBC and listened to stations all over the world.

“Made a very interesting new friend—Anita of New York—also Gertie!!  We had a grand converse of 2 hours over circuit—wonderful time.”

Over the next few years, he was to spend many hours tinkering with the radio to get it just right, trying various kinds of equipment and adjusting things time and time again.   This hobby would continue until after he moved to the USA where he also spent some of his first paychecks to buy a kit and make a short-wave radio.

But the cost worried him as he was very short of cash.   He began a lifelong habit of making up a monthly budget and sticking to it carefully.  Unfortunately he received word on August 31st that his job would be eliminated at the end of September and he would again, be looking for work. He would be looking for the remainder of the year having gotten two temporary jobs in the meantime to tide him over.  He finally found a job at Lysaght’s Ltd.  on Dec. 17th at the same salary he had been getting.

With a job in hand 1933 was looking as if it would be a good year for Alec.  He began the year setting up some new systems at work and he seemed to be doing well.  Yet he continued his correspondence course diligently working on drawing and sending them in for very high marks. Camping on the weekends with friends and various parties occupied his free time and he had become a member of the St Andrews Society of the River Plate, attending his first annual meeting in January.  After several excursions with friends on the Tigre he began looking into membership in one of the boat clubs.   His father had been a member of the Buenos Aires Rowing Club for more than 40 years so it was no surprise that he decided to join, even though he betrayed some nervousness at the high entry fee. [26] Having joined, he went out to the club nearly every day taking along friends and making good use of his membership.

By March he was getting more responsibility at work but also worried that the banking crisis in the US might effect his job.  At one point he told me that David, his father, had lost a great deal of his savings in the stock collapse of 1929 but they were in the US at the time and there is no evidence that David worried about it—or at least if he did, he did not let Alec know.  The Banking Crisis and the incoming president, Franklin Roosevelt were noted  as was the crash of the dirigible “Akron” with the loss of 70 lives.

If March had proven a worrisome month April saw life moving on in normal ways.  There was a week-long camping expedition with his fellow Lone Scouts at Easter,  many visits to the Buenos Aires Rowing Club, and various social activities including a Former Pupils Club dance at the St. Andrews Scots School.  They played games and,

I enjoyed repeated turns with Mary Grant, Rosie, Daisie and 299 (his girlfriend)who kissed me de golpe.  The Herald man took a photo of us arm-in-arm. Tea and cake.   I gave easter camp photos to Daisie & Rosie.  Of my crowd, the following were there:  Tom, Bob, Herb, John, Peggy, Rosie, Daisie, Joyce.  Five of us took a collectivo to Retiro & :05 home.  Finally left 299 at her home & locked her in, performing art on way to Borges by chalking plaza and some poles.  Bed at 2.[27]

On June 24,1932 he recorded verbatim a phone call from Doris Greenwood asking him to a dance.  She was to be the first of his steady girlfriends.   In 1933 he began using a sort of code to identify people—usually their address—so that Doris became “299”.

His social activities occupied much of his diary entries while work, being fairly monotonous only appears if there was a change in the routine.  The social life of a young Argentine must have been fairly lively if he is any example.   A typical Sunday is recorded as follows:

May 7, Sunday:  MESS,(Methodist Episcopal Sunday School) taking my Class of 8 year olds and getting on marvelously as they were less unruly than last week.   Herb, Bob, Tom and I had a session at the “martona suipacha.”  After lunch I went over to 2769 and 299 and I then  travelled by “C” to Tigre making use of my BARC-J12 and paddling thru Zanja and up Sarmiento, where I took two shoulder photos of her;  returning same way we went to Isla and signed the  register and commented on previous entry.  The full moon shown on us as we slowly came through the Zanja .  After a bath at the club we went to Olivos to get ? and leave our bags, then attended MEC service and after service having immense fun all the way.  This is the first time she’s been out alone with a boy at Tigre, and also her first visit to MEC.  We walked down Florida, took 22:55 and meandered across Olivos crooning, then bade each other “gute nacht” at 23:45.  [28]

From this point onward he saw Doris nearly every day but the romance was starting to cool off by the end of July when resumed spending time with his other friends and by August he was occasionally dating other girls. [29]  The relationship now became sort of on and off with spats interspersed among the good times.  By the end of the year this had all changed and he was again seeing her nearly every day.  She worked in a nearby office and they would often do something after work or just go home together.  Their “arrangement” must have become somewhat formalized at that point and it was clear that they both anticipated marriage.[30]

Work was going well and the manager of the business had offered him a travelling job which he declined.[31]  He was feeling confident enough in October to consider buying a Ford for $1000.  But on the way to put his money down, he thought better of it, saying that he couldn’t really justify putting his entire savings down on a car.[32]  For his Birthday on October 24th he had lunch with family and then sent to the movies with Doris and his parents, finally walking her home and kissing her goodnight.  “It sure feels fine to be 22,” he says.    By the end of November he had been offered an additional stipend at work, his photographs were being published  and Doris were considering marriage.[33]

Early in his life my father acquired the habit of meticulous record keeping which makes the discovery of two missing years in his diaries all the more surprising.   “ My diaries for 1934 & 1935”, he wrote in a note included in the 1936 diary, “ were maintained in Nota Bene Kidd books, similar to those for the preceding and succeeding years.  But I burned them around 1945, which I have since regretted many times because they contained information about an important time in my life, including the end of my second employment with Little, Fison, Ratcliff, Ltda., and the first two years of my second employment with Cia. Swift de la Plata, S.A.”

Evidently he also broke up his romance with Doris Greenwood in this period.  Many years later Aunt Jewel told me that the family had some trouble extricating him from this ‘engagement’.   When his diaries picked up in 1936 he mentions seeing her on several occasions and hints that she may have broken off the engagement to be with someone named Rogers.[34]   In November, 1936 he tried to re-kindle the romance but without success.

The flow of his life in 1936 was that of a young man with a fairly secure job and family.  He was dating a new girl—Daisy, he continued to go camping with his friends,  lived at his parents home (although they were away in the US for a few months) and visited or ate with his extended family several  times a week.  His weekends were often spent at the BARC taking out boats and picnicking with friends on the rivers of the delta.  When my father died in 1991 he left an estate of about $1 million, all of it saved through determined adherence to a budget and the recording of every cent that went in or out of the household.  Thus it is somewhat surprising to find that he liked to play the lottery—and that he was fairly lucky, winning numerous occasions.[35]

International affairs began to impinge on his life in March, 1936, when he noted that “German Troops have taken over the Rhineland.  Wonder what will eventuate?”[36]  Yet Argentina was a long way from Europe these events did not seem very immediate to him.  Argentina would remain neutral for most of the period and it was only his family associations with England and the US which made them important.

Saturday, March 21st was fairly typical of his life in this period.  It began with a half-day at the office where nothing worthy of recording was done.  Then he went home and cleaned his room and took apart the vacuum cleaner to clean and oil it before re-assembly.  His parents were returning home from the US in a few days and he needed to put the house in order for them.  Then a friend on the way to deliver some chickens came by.  The two of them went on the delivery and then met up with “the gang” at 9 pm at Borges Station.  Daisy’s friends were gathered at her house so they went over there to surpise them with a party–  “and what a humdinger it was, too”   The party lasted until3:30 in the morning when he went home, having “pinched a lovely small photo of Daisy which I’ve long coveted. “[37]

The City of Buenos Aires was also changing and several large public works projects were being completed.  In February he had been photographing the new port facilities just a short walk from his home and the new motor racing circuit opened and was to be a training ground for Juan Manual Fangio, Argentina’s most famous driver.   A new subway line from Retiro to Constitution was opened in early February.  Not to be outdone, work was also done on the Gillespie home to keep it up with the times.  A water tank was installed in the attic which provided pressurized running water throughout the house.   Connections to the new sewer system were made in April, making the outhouse obsolete.  “ Cloacas have at last been connected up, so from today on we enjoy this added comfort.  What we now need is steamheat”,  he writes.[38]    The installation of a bathroom had been accomplished through an addition to the house which included a new room for him in the new wing. “In my new roost for first time at 3:40 am, finding it pretty damp as walls are not yet dried out.”[39]

In May he reports that, “Ian offered me a job as eventual manager of Cooper-Stewart Engineering Co—a good position with promise—but as usual, it never rains but it pours & I don’t know what to do.  Swift jobs are notoriously precarious.”[40]   But he seemed to like the prospects at Swift as he was offered another job with National Lead Co. in October but turned it down even though it promised permanent residence in Buenos Aires.[41]He did not take this position and ultimately, his position with Swift seemed fairly secure lasting until he resigned in 1944 when they gave him a watch as a parting gift.  Still, the notion that he was in some demand must have boosted his confidence because a few days later he committed to buy a new Leica Camera for $710He justified it by saying that it would last him the rest of his life and indeed it did and was subsequently used by his son, Robert who was  a professional photographer.   As was the case with many in his generation, he had a deep seated belief that if you bought something good and kept in good repair, it would last a lifetime.   He never came to grips with the notion of throwing something away when it broke and, as a result, the family basement and garage were full of broken items he just couldn’t bring himself to through away but which also were not fixable.

At this point in his life he was dating several girls but his social life was less hectic and he enjoyed devoting a quite Saturday to household chores now and then.   He continued to be very active in scouting, was President of the Forum Club, and was active in the Methodist Church Young People’s Social Club.  Most local travel was by foot, “colectivo”, or train in order of expense.  But occasionally one of his friends could beg a car from indulgent parents and longer excursions were planned.  In those days roads were not what they are today.  On one such trip he went with his friend Doug to visits other friends and family in Rosario(about 80 miles away).   They left on Saturday via the Camino de la Costa “a new mud road” taking about 9 hours to make the trip.  The next day they left for the return trip.

“Before we were fairly started a storm threatened and broke, & we got caught before reaching Arrecife & the earth road.  Had a broken stearing rod, burned up oil, slid slowly thru mud and the night and ended up in a mud hole before dawn having started out at 16:40 the afternoon before. “[42]

As with any large company, a career with Swift & Co. required moving around.   The first of the moves was to Rosario at the end of December, 1936.   There he booked into a less than satisfactory  rooming house planning to move to the Frenchs, who were old friends of the family.

“ But due to terrific heat was unable to sleep.  Inummerable cockroaches feed on food strewn about  the place and sticky flies are rampant to say nought of the noisy neighbors next door.  I’ll be glad when I get my room at French’s fixed up, my radio installed and peace to continue my studies and hobbies.  I’ve plenty to do and little time to do it.”[43]

In Rosario he was somewhat lonely even though he had friends there including Bob McArdle, one of his close friends from BA who was also working at Swifts in Rosario.  He referred to this period as an ‘exile’ though he never expressed any regrets over having turned down several jobs which would have kept him in BA.  His principal entertainments were his radio, his camera and his stamp collection.  Outside the home he often went out to eat with his small circle of friends and he began to go to movies about 5 times a week,  much more frequently than he had before.    Yet the job was clearly a step up for him and a copy of a memo sent to employees shows that he was making regular progress up the ladder.  “Effective Februrary 3rd Mr. A.M. Gillespie has been appointed head of the Provision Dept. and would appreciate your giving him your full support”[44]

By late February his social life was improving and he reports dating several girls and going out nearly every weekend with someone.   At this point he met Lilian Christian who gradually became his steady date.   Within a month she had broken off ties with a former boyfriend and they were now an item making plans for the future:

“Lil phoned me so at 18:30 I appeared at YMCA and helped to prepare Boletines for port, taking them later to P.O. and going around to 1421(Lil’s home) to late dinner.  This over, while others disappeared, we sat in the hall for a delightful half hour—our first alone like that—and talked on our future;  if all goes as hitherto in Swifts I should be making $375 in May 1937 and $425 in May 1938, which would allow me to save a good bit and consolidate my position.  When I go down to BA we can alternate visits and enjoy vacations in each other’s company.  We love each other deeply so the wait will be worthwhile;  she consents. So all these things clear and past is less of a load on us.  Said goodnight.  Bed 23:30”[45]

Only a week later his boss suggested that he might be able to go back to BA soon but he now had a girlfriend in Rosario and was in no great hurry to return to BA!  By the end of April he was offered a new post to set up and manage a provision department at Swift in Montevideo.   The salary offered was not good so he asked for more.   In the end, the job was given to someone who would do it for less and he was transferred back to BA to take charge of the provision dept there.

During all of this his romance with Lillian was moving forward quickly.  He reports that he had a chance to talk to her father about her, his parents and communicated with her parents over the romance, and everyone seemed happy for the couple.  On May 1, 1937, the engagement was announce in the Buenos Aires Herald:    “Mr. and Mrs. Russell D. Christian of Rosario, and formerly of Buenos Aires, announce the engagement of their eldest daughter, Lilian Grace, to Alexander Murray, Only son of Mr. and Mrs. David M. Gillespie, of Olivos, FCCA.”  On the 8th of May he and Lillian went to Blacks to select an engagement ring which he had engraved, somewhat mysteriously, “A to L 1/15/37”. [46]

Only a month later, the romance was interrupted when he was told that he would be sent to manage another department for two months while the manager was away.  The good news for him was that he got a substantial raise in salary and his career was clearly moving upward.  The bad news was that this posting was for Rio Grande, Brazil, where he arrived on July 14th after a three day journey by ship and train.

Rio Grande was a small city of about 40,000 but with an historic center, parks, and a waterfront which gave it a quaint, old world atmosphere which he enjoyed.    Although he missed home, the job was interesting and he had the feeling that he  was part of a team and learning from his bosses.

“Mr. Neiderberger (on a visit) and Pedro Maestroni (who will probably be the Plant’s Pork man) arrived today from BA via Montevideo.  Have changed tables and now sit with them, raimained to charlar for quite a long time.  These after dinner conversationas are great and being near supt. And other big cheeses I’m getting to see their point of view better. “[47]

For a young man there was not much to do.  There was only one cine and he did not go often.  Whenever the weather was good on weekends he and his friends from work would rent a boat and cruise the lake going to different ports.   A night on the town consisted of going out for dinner and then to the Tabaris—a casino where he often won small amounts.  Because he was engaged, he did not attempt to date the local girls but did note that they did not wear “fajas”(bras)!

By the end of September he was able to return to BA.  There he resumed life, going out with Lil whenever possible and spending weekends on the Tigre with her or with friends.   The Methodist Church remained the center of his social life.  He escorted several girls to various social events at the church and was elected president of the Forum Club for 1938 although he notes that it “was no great honor” as no one ran against him.

Christmas, 1937, was a typical day for the family.  He arose early to help his mother around the house and garden as they prepared for a family dinner.   At noon they listened to the St. Andrews Christmas service and then heard the King’s speech on the radio.  The dinner began about 2 pm outside under the cypress trees and included some friends of the family as well as Uncle John and Aunt Robina.  A long dinner was followed by conversation which lasted until 10:30 when the guests departed.   He records a number of gifts including $25 from his father, a box of socks from his mother, a box of handkerchiefs from Lil and several books from family members. [48]

The year ended with the retirement of David Murray Gillespie and the first hints of trouble with his romance.  This was the occasion of some long discussion on New Year’s Eve and the following day he, Lil, and some friends took out a boat and went up the Tigre where he and Lil again sought out some privacy “when we talked on our affairs—an unfortunate cooling on my part being responsible.”

He was surprised by two things in January.   The first was that his father planned to go to the States for an extended trip.  The second was the wedding of his old flame, Doris Greenwood, which he attended on January 19th.  Somewhat wistfully he notes “I couldn’t help wishing things had gone differently in 1935 and that she’d been walking out the Church by my side.”[49]  The following day he worried about his relationship with Lil and decided to end it, somewhat cruelly, with a ‘dear john’ letter on her birthday:  “wrote Lillian a brief note asking her to release me from our engagement entered into last May 1;  sorry it’s her birthday (25th) too.”  Two days later she wrote back releasing him from the engagement.

By March he had resumed an active social life and was again dating Rosie Dee regularly.  He spent some evenings at home working on his stamp collection and finished the tests for his Boy Scout First Class badge.  Sister Jewel’s activities were “somewhat obscure” and she was palling around with Sonny Taylor (whom she later married).  He continued to correspond with friends and received several letters from his father, still in the States.

By midyear his career took another turn as he was promoted to head of the pork dept. in BA and he felt that this would help his case in asking for a raise in salary.  He felt that he might need all the money he could get “in view of the uncertainty regarding Daddy’s future.”   It is not clear exactly what this meant but at the end of the month he received a letter from his father “which still says nothing of coming home.”  Apparently he had retired expecting to be able to pick up some business representing American companies and that was the reason for his long trip to the states.   Jewel had taken her first job selling jewelry at Black & Co. and was able to contribute the family coffers.   By the end of the month he was told that he would have to go to Rio Grande for a maximum of 3 months, but still had heard nothing of his salary request. [50]

By the end of June his raise came through but his father had not returned from the States.  He was asked to go to Rio Grande on a permanent basis but declined saying that he could do the 3 month stint but not a permanent re-assignment and, in any case, he could not leave BA until his father returned. [51]  This did not happen until the middle of September and he was forced to leave his mother and make the trip back to Rio Grande in July  arriving on the 22nd.

His social life in Rio Grande slowed a good deal.  Most of his friends were from work and the usual entertainment was going out for dinner and a drink after work.  Occasionally there were forays to the local dance hall and the casino as well as weekend boating trips on the lake.   He kept up with his correspondence religiously, learning that his Life Scout badge had arrived from the states, that his cousin Ian Drysdale had been elected president of the St. Andrews Society of the River Plate, and that Aunt Robina was President of the YWCA in Argentina.

On the 23rd of Sept.  he went to a friends apartment to listen to the radio reports of Chamberlain’s negotiations with Hitler and mused “wonder where it will all end.”    Shortly after he received word that he would be able to return to BA where he arrived at the end of October.

Once there he took up his old position as head of the pork dept.  The job was going well and he was feeling fairly secure.  Always frugal he saved his money and was able to save $3535 surpassing his budgeted goal.[52]  Living at home helped considerably though he contributed to the family budget and seemed to enjoy helping around the house.   One morning was spent “cleaning and greasing Mama’s washing machine”, another spent taking apart and repairing the Pilot radio, and Saturday, Nov 26th was spent cleaning out the garage with his father.

These duties did not interfere with his social life and he resumed his usual round of Church social events, rowing on the rivers, and past pupil events at the Scots School.  John Monteith Drysdale, husband of his father’s sister Robina, died in October but the year closed with a big party for his father’s birthday on December 23.   The romance with Rosie Dee continued though he was a bit wary of the family.

“Worked until 18:30 & when went downstairs found Rosie waiting for me;  she wanted me to stay for supper with her, but I didn’t feel like it;  always feel ill at ease there—most members of the Wright-Dee-Christian family probably hate me, and I see no use in making it worse.  However at her insistence acquiesced, seeing she seemed in a bad way;  at 21:00 we went to Epworth League closing sports night.  Later accompanied her home.”  [53]

At the height of the summer season he was often out on the river or walking about town with Rosie.  A camping trip with his friends at the end of January led to plans for a longer camping trip to Mar del Plata, a seaside resort south of Buenos Aires.  This camping trip was marred by cold weather but there were thirty-four of his friends there and he enjoyed the trip immensely.  But it was to be the last outing with friends for a while as he had been asked to go back to Rio Grande.  He left Buenos Aires on the Monte Rosa on February 24 arriving two days later at the midst of Carnival.   There he was welcomed by some of his friends from Swifts and they resumed their work and entertainment schedules.  After work they went for dinner then to the movies or the casino or to play billiards.  On weekends they went to the beach or went sailing in the lake.

What was supposed to be a three month posting turned out to be somewhat longer and he was not happy about it.   He considered it “another promise lightly made and lightly broken” and wrote to his bosses about it.  He also wrote to seek the advice of his father, suggesting that he was becoming a bit less satisfied with his work arrangements.[54]   Apparently his protest letter did the trick because  several days later he was told he could go back to BA on June 7th.  To his great chagrin, the transportation dept. fouled up his departure and he was not able to leave until the 12th.  The delay was fateful.

“Rio Grande and at sea.  Said goodbye to Elias and Scarpelli and took taxi to the port, being there at 7 am.  The lighter didn’t leave until 10:00 & I boarded the Monte Pascoal at 11.  Lunched and had a siesta;  tea later.  After supper went to the lounge for coffee, and while there a lovely girl came to my table and asked if I were American;  I explained my identity—she is Mary Elizabeth Southard, blue-eyed brunette, born Sept 7, 1912, on vacation trip.  We walked 3 km around the deck, had sweet  German cider and we went the evening together;  she’ll be in BA up to 3 months, so we hope to see plenty of each other between now and her sailing time.  Said goodnight at her cabin door at 23:00.  The delay in leaving has been more than repaid. [55]

Mary Gillespie, mother of David Southard Gillespie
Mary Gillespie, mother of David Southard Gillespie

He was smitten.   From this point they were constantly together as my mother got to see the sights of BA with my father, on vacation for a week, as her guide.  By the 15th he had concluded that “we seem made for each other.”   On June 18th he asked her to marry him:  “Thank you, Mary, for your unhesitating, loving “yes”. [56]

His luck must have been running in overdrive because, when he returned to work on the 21st, the plant manager called him in to tell him he had gotten a promotion with an increase in salary but that he would have to go to Rosario.  Unlike Rio Grande, Rosario was a short train ride from BA and he had family and friends there. “ Mary met me at 12”, he reported “and we went to the Pagoda for lunch, when I told her our good fortune.”  The week went by quickly and on the 23rd Mary Elizabeth boarded the Uruguay for the US.  She left him with a letter which “made him cry” with happiness.

It was not until July 6th that he managed to tell Rosie that he was in love with someone else:   “undoubtedly a painful revelation but she took it with outward calm.  I’m a chump about such things, but Rosie is a brick.” [57]   Since this was nearly a month after meeting my mother, he must have been ducking Rosie all this time.

While she was in the US, Alec  continued to be busy at work and with his friends.  He also attended to getting Mary Elizabeth her visa to return to the Argentine along with have blood tests and all the other formalities attendant on marriage in that country.   He also moved to Rosario to take up his new job temporarily sharing a room at a boarding house with a friend who also worked for Swifts.   Events in Europe were a concern and on Sept 3rd he listened to the radio news that Britain and France had declared war on Germany: “ War was declared by Great Britain and France on Germany this morning—and the disaster of 1914/18 is being repeated.”[58]  After church he went over to the French’s house where they all listened to King George VI’s speech over the BBC.

One hiccup was work related as Mr. Whitman asked him to go to take up a position as head of the plant in Rio Grande.   This was a big promotion and was tempting giving him several sleepless night but the pull of home was too strong (and he had already seen Rio Grande).  “;  I don’t think I’ll agree—nothing would be farther from my heart than to condemn my dear Mary to a life of boredom and hopelessness in that town—we’ll either live near BA or near Greeley;  I’ve seen too many good men stuck in RG for life.”[59]   The following Thursday he got a letter from Mr. Whitman condemning his “stiff, narrowminded” toward Rio Grande and he worried that he may have made a poor choice but concluded that : “time will tell which was the wise move;  I haven’t sold my birthright for a potage of lentils, & will live in a decent city, near home, and in the good old Argentine.”[60]  Mr. Whitman did not seem to hold it against him, however, as he later visited the family in Colorado on several occasions and remained a friend until the end of his life.

My mother’s expected arrival on Oct 7th was delayed until the 10th and Dad was in a rare state of agitation.  But all was well and the wedding went ahead as scheduled, first at the Registrario Civil on Oct 10th and at the Methodist Church on the following day.[61]  Ian Drysdale served as best man and David Drysdale gave the bride away in the absence of her family.

With other things to occupy him, there were no diary entries during the honeymoon when they went to the mountains in a rented car.   On their return they rented a flat at 646 Cordoba and he returned to work.   Tentative steps into married life included introducing Mary to his friends and family both in BA and Rosario and resuming activities with the Young People’s Association of the Methodist Church in Rosario.   At Christmas they went to BA for two weeks to stay with the Gillespies where she stayed on for a week while Alec returned to Rosario to work on New Years Day.

My mother had been somewhat unwell even before leaving for the states—an illness diagnosed as a food problem and a ‘blood issue’.   By Feb 22nd she went into the Anglo American Hospital to have what we now call a D&C and remained hospitalized for several days.   At home in Rosario on March 3rd she was resting and feeling poorly and two days later she was back in hospital for an operation to end a fallopian tube pregnancy.  She was not feeling well enough to go out until  the first week of April and it was the 27th before the last dressings were removed and Dad could conclude: “ .  .  .  so all is plain sailing again now”.[62]

Dad had, as usual, taken charge of finances and had a budget.   Help from the Southards came in the form of a wedding present of $535 (no explanation of the odd amount) and smaller checks along with money Mom had saved.   They were able to purchase bonds worth $8500.[63] Smaller checks arrived from the states to help the newlyweds including a $15 check to buy tickets for a Stowkowski concert at the Teatro Colon in BA.   By the end of June, he reported a surplus of $30 which they dutifully put into their savings.[64]

With improving health and finances life settled into a routine of visiting friends in the evenings and weekends,  travelling to BA to stay with the Gillespies, visit friends and shop, and the occasional movie and long walks.   On August 27th  “Veda Reynolds, a violinist in Stokowski’s orchestra, came for lunch and brought a suitcase full of shoes, dresses and knickknacks for Mary, and a handsome leather pocketbook for me—gifts from Ma Southard, & brought from NY by Veda.”   My grandmother Southard had played with the Metropolitan Opera in her youth and retained strong friendships in the music scene.    In October Dad renewed his active membership in the Buenos Aires Rowing Club.

January 1941 brought another big change as  “ GW and I agreed on this this morning as they again want me to assume charge in Montevideo (Dick Gray has already left for England), & it seems the only way to arrange things satisfactorily will be in person.”[65]  They arrived in Montevideo on February 3rd where they were installed in the Nogaro Hotel and Dad assumed charge of the provision department with an accompanying raise in salary.  Several days later they took a year’s lease on apt. 12, Rivera 2645.  Getting further established in their new life they attended the Emmanual Church, attended by most of the Anglo Americans in Montevideo.  There they met several old friends including Miss Reid who was the principal at Crandon, a private school where his sister, Jewel, had graduated.   Mom had several conversations with her with a view toward teaching at the school.  A job teaching kindergarten was offered at $50 a month and they were both pleased.[66]

The war had not occupied his thoughts to a degree that he recorded them until March of 1941 when events began to dominate the news.  On March 13th he noted that Hess had landed in England and on the 27th that the Bismark had been sunk.   In April he was finding it hard to get kerosene in Montevideo and Gasoline was being rationed as a way to head off speculators who had driven up the prices.

Although the Argentine army had been boosted to 95,000 men by retaining conscrips, Argentina was not at war and life remained surprisingly normal.  Goods and services (except gasoline) were not in short supply and shoppers found good supplies.  Work at the Swifts facilities continued unabated although there was some loss of personnel as both British and American citizens returned home to serve.  Alec noted that several of his friends were serving in British and American forces.[67]  As a result several people left the department in the Rosario plant and Dad was again promoted and asked to return to Rosario.[68]  ME’s friend Angie arrived in Rosario for a short visit and mail continued to arrive regularly, at one point announcing the death of ‘Bybee’  (Mary Jane Southard, her grandmother) in Feb. 1942.

In March, ME began teaching English at the American School at a salary of $70 a month which kept her active and gave her some spending money.[69]   Sonny and Jewel were married in April at which Alec served as Best Man.   A huge social occasion, such weddings served to bring together the English-speaking community in Argentina which remained a close knit society.

By 1942 the family was well established in society with both children married and creating their own fairly economic and social circles.  Besides the large social events such weddings and Dances, the Church was the hub of group social activity and localized activity often consisted of visiting other families for tea and just walking around the neighborhoods. [70]  These patterns would continue for their entire lives even though they were to move to the US.   My father, in particular, loved to spend his Sundays talking with people at church and he would happily spend an afternoon or evening just sitting talking with family or friends.  The impact of TV and the automobile changed many social patterns, something he missed in later life.

His father, David M., had retired and gone to the States to look for opportunities to represent American companies in Argentina but the trip had not been a great success and he evidently was feeling pinched.  At the beginning of 1942, he had a long conversation with Dad, in which he worried that if he were to die, his wife would not be able to hang onto the house.[71]  In April he decided to represent Pitney Bowes who were making Postal Meters.   He had to purchase seven machines for re-sale but was short on cash so Dad had to co-sign the note for $10,000.[72]  But Alec was feeling fairly secure in his finances at this point as he and ME went looking at houses in the next week.  By this point ME was taking on more teaching duties and had agreed to tutor a private student (“will she ever stop?”) as a prelude to the incredible energy which both she and her mother devoted to their communities.   Feeling somewhat flush, he was able to loan money to friends when they got in trouble but always made sure to collect debts owed.[73]

As winter arrived the war began to take it’s toll even in Argentina.  On June 23 another Argentine ship, the third in the war, was torpedoed with resulting instability in the government and the resignation of the president.   Several more of his colleges at the plant were leaving to join the services of their countries “this means that the department’s personnel may have to be reshuffled in the near future in the interest of efficient work.”   At home he reported that ME was “hard at work these days knitting sweaters and making doctor’s robes for American Red Cross.  She’s been asked to play violin at Mission to Seamen on July 10.”[74]   He had to stand in a 3 block line to get kerosene for the heater as the weather got colder.

After Christmas and New Years with family in BA, they were back in Rosario resuming their married and social life and beginning to think about making a trip to the US.  The war was becoming more a factor and any trip would have to wait for more secure times.  By April Elizabeth and Florence French departed for Britain to join the war effort there.   They were donating money to the American war effort and going to fund raising events at the British Embassy—Ian Drysdale was later Knighted for his efforts on behalf of the British war effort.

The Argentine government, long in the hands of various generals, had been sympathetic to the Nazi cause and the English speaking community was ecstatic when the government was replaced with a more sympathetic one:  “The great news today is of a revolutionary movement in Bs. Aires to depose the Castillo government & that Castillo and some of his cabinet ae on “Drummond” and made a call to the people not to support the movement.  Revolutionaries (pro-Allies) have taken over government of BA and Rosario.  11th Regiment is also in favor.  General Rawson, heading the revolt, took over the temporary Presidency.”[75]  The new leader, a General Pedro Ramirez was someone Dad had served under while in the army and was generally sympathetic to the Allies.

His job involved much more travel.  There were two business trips early in the year on which he was able to take ME and make a vacation out of them.  They took a weeks vacation in March and asked Swift’s to send him to the US for a three month training course due to take place in the middle of the year.  With approval, they set off on June 22 after taking several days to close up the apartment and say goodbye to friends and family.

Although travel by ship would have been more comfortable, the seas were still too dangerous to risk it and they elected to fly.   Plane travel had improved a great deal since the first trip to the states in 1929 but still was a long journey.  They left on a Panair flight at 10am on June 22nd going first to Cordoba and then on to Mendoza where they disembarked and went to a Hotel for the night.  The weather was not good in the mountains so they were stuck in Mendoza for several days but were able to do lots of sightseeing thanks to a chance acquaintance with Mr. Cairn-Cross manager of London Bank and H.M.l Vice Consul who took them around to see the sights for the next several days.

Planes did not fly at night, especially in the mountains, and travel was often suspended because of weather.   When they finally resumed the flight, it was not a comfortable day, in spite of being mid- summer in South America.

We finally went out to Los Tamarindos airport, where we waited around for two hours taking off at 17:40.   It was very cold aloft, & the moisture froze on window glasses, but we had a fair view of Uspallata & Juncal passes, the Christo, the snow covered peaks including Aconcaqua & Tupungato & Los Penitentes valley.  Reached Santiago’s Los Peumerillos airport at 18:50.[76]

After a day’s layover in Santiago they flew on to Lima on the 27th  where they again went to a hotel for the night.  In the morning they “ went to Panagra office to learn they can give us absolutely no assurance as to time of departure; maybe a week or even longer.”  After several days the weather broke and they were rousted out of their hotel at 3 am on July 1st to resume the trip, arriving in Guayaquil that evening.  Buenos Aires was an urbane and very European city.  By contrast Guayaquil was poor and agrarian and both were surprised at the poverty of the city and its inhabitants.

The following day they were called at 4 am flying onward to Cali and then to the Canal Zone and finally to Costa Rica where they again stayed over in a hotel.  The next day they were able to fly out early landing in Guatemala City, Mexico City, and finally in Brownsville, Texas where they went through customs and were given a 10 month visa.  From there they took a Braniff plan to Fort Worth and then a Trailways bus to Wichita Falls where they arrived after a trip of just under fifteen days.[77]

Wichita Falls was the temporary home of ME’s sister Edith and her husband, Bob St. John who was serving in the army air corps.  They visited there overnight finally taking a train for Denver the following evening.   The trains were crowed with troupes moving around the country and ME had to stand until Amarillo and Dad the entire way to Denver where they were greeted by ME parents, Charles and Angie Southard, and, to their surprise, her brother Bill who was also in the army.  “What a meeting!!  We were all quite overcome for a while, but eventually pulled ourselves together”[78]  Not to waste a moment, they collected their baggage, Dad booked a train ticket for his trip to Chicago on the 9th, and they went to the Lefebre’s home (a friend of Mrs. Southard) for lunch and then had a meeting with Mr. Stoddard, Superintendant of the State Home for Neglected Children.

For the next several days, Mr. Southard introduced his new Son-in-Law around Greeley but time was short and he embarked for Chicago on the 9th.  In Chicago he met with Swifts managers and set p a training program which had him working in Denver so that on the 11th he was back on a train to Denver arriving just after midnight on the 13th.  His account of the trip gives a picture of wartime Denver:

Arrived Denver just after midnight.  One of our fellow passengers was a lovely girl with a beautiful 6 months boy—Mrs. Milton Meyer, of Oelwein, Iowa—come to join her soldier husband here.  She seemed quite worried & lost, so I helped her with her baggage, held baby while she phoned but couldn’t locate her husband, then took taxi with her & went the rounds of several hotels, finally finding a room at Mayflower at about 2 am;  camarlingo was quite surprised when I wouldn’t share room with her!  Then I tried, unsuccessfully, to find Pet milk for wee one.  Said goodnight, then went for a long walk, seeing much of the seemy side of life here.

Wound up my prowl at about 3:30 with a supper of ham & egg sandwich, fruit cup and coffee at an all-night joint, then walked to union station & settled down on a bench in main hall to await 8:15 departure for Greeley.  Quite an adventurous night, withal.  These American girls are going through hell for their men.[79]

The time in the US was made up of work during the week in Denver and weekends in Greeley or on an excursion.  He took advantage of the occasion to make some contacts such as Mr. JMBPetrikin, President of the  1st National Bank in Greeley,  and he filled out numerous forms for the children’s home and for immigration.

Although suffering from a cold, Dad, Mom, and my Grandparents borrowed a cabin for the first week of September and headed up to Estes Park.  On his first trip the mountains, Dad was quite taken, loving the scenery, the hiking and the lovely hidden lakes and wildlife of the Big Thompson area.   In later life, he always jumped at the chance to take a trip into the mountains.

Returning on the 7th, he spent a week in Greeley where they got news that there might be an adoptive boy available on the 12th.  Alec had arrange to go to Baltimore to visit his mother’s family but my mother decided to stay in Greeley so he left alone on the 15th for a trip that would involve a huge round of family visits including his entire Maryland family and their relations as well as a short trip to Bound Brook where met my Grandmother’s Aunt Mary and her family and then to New York to see Harold and Bert Corning who had been some of his closest boyhood friends.  While there, on Sept. 23rd he got news that would change his life forever:  “:  “ David Southard Gillespie arrived today; all here pleased, Love, Mary.”[80]

Although wanting to hurry home, he still had a week to work at Swifts in Chicago before arriving back in Greeley on Oct. 7th.    There he began adapting to fatherhood, noting on the 11th that “I had complete charge of Davie today—so’s to get my hand in.  He’ll be very different a few months hence. “[81]  That same evening the Southards had arranged a large wedding reception with a wedding cake to make up for having missed the wedding some years before.  With more than 120 people in attendance, it was my father’s introduction to Greeley society and he was a bit nervous about it noting that the things he had said “seemed well received.”

His training over, Alec embarked for Argentina on Oct. 15th leaving ME and David in the Colorado for a longer visit with her parents.  After several unscheduled stops for engine trouble he finally arrived in BA on Oct 24th where he was greeted by his family and by the 27th he was back at work in Rosario where he unpacked their belongings and recommisioned the flat, purchasing a new Electrolux floor polisher and some new furnishings.  For the next several weeks he was again a bachelor, visiting friends, going to the movies, catching up with friends and writing letters.

On Oct 4th he had received worrisome news that Davie was sick with what was thought to be a cold or bronchitis and then on the 24th he learned that Davie was in the hospital and that the doctor’s thought surgery might be needed  (lucky for me it wasn’t).   The vagaries of mail delivery during the war meant that he did not hear anything else until an international call was put through on Dec 31st when he learned that the Baby and family were all well and happy. [82]


[1] A letter dated 1869 presumably from his brother describes conditions and asks if there is any work for family members in South America.   Greeley Archives Collection

[2] Letter of recommendation dated 24 August 1882, signed Carlos Avitare.  Greeley Archives.

[3]Family Archive, AMG note, 26 April, 1983.

[4] Ibid

[5] Family Archive, AMG Oct. 26, 1978.

[6] Family Archive, grade reports 1920-26

[7] Family Archive, AMG, “Sixtyfive Year Veteran” Oct 3, 1990, p. 1

[8] Charles F. Clementz, Citation, March 11, 1988

[9]  Diaries of Alejandro Murray Gillespie, Jan. 22, 1929

[10] Diaries, Jan 15, 1929

[11] Diaries, March 2, 1929

[12] Diaries, March 6 & 12, 1929

[13] Diaries, March 31, 1929

[14] Diaries, April 1, 1929

[15] Diaries, Aug 2, 1929

[16] Diaries, Aug 9, 1929

[17] Diaries, Oct 18, 1929

[18] Diaries, May 27, 1930

[19] Diaries, Sept 2, 1930

[20] Diaries, Sept 6, 1930

[21] Diaries, March 5, 1931

[22] Diaries, March 12, 1931

[23] Ibid

[24] Diaries, April 28, 1932

[25] Diaries, May 29, 1932

[26] Diaries, Jan 25, 1933

[27] Diaries, April 27, 1933

[28] Diaries, May 7, 1933

[29] Diaries, Aug 8, 1933

[30] Diaries, Dec. 23, 1933

[31] Diaries, Sept 15, 1933

[32] Diaries, Oct. 28, 1933

[33] Diaries, Nov 23, 1933

[34] Diaries, Oct 27, 1936

[35] Diaries, Jan 10, 1936

[36] Diaries, March 9, 1936

[37] Diaries, March 21, 1936

[38] Diaries, April 17, 1936

[39] Diaries, May 9, 1936

[40] Diaries, May 22, 1936

[41] Diaries, Oct 6 & Oct 24, 1936

[42] Diaries, Sept 27, 1936

[43] Diaries, Dec 28, 1936

[44] Diaries, Feb 4, 1937

[45] Diaries, March 29, 1937

[46] Diaries, May 8, 1937

[47] Diaries, July 22, 1937

[48] Diaries, Dec 25, 1937

[49] Diaries, Jan 19, 1938

[50] Diaries, May 31, 1938

[51] Diaries, June 30, 1938

[52] Diaries, Nov 10, 1938

[53] Diaries, Nov 30, 1938

[54] Diaries, May 27, 1939

[55] Diaries, June 12, 1939

[56] Diaries, June 18, 1939

[57] Diaries, July 6, 1939

[58] Diaries, Sept 3, 1939

[59] Diaries, Oct 1, 1939

[60] Diaries, Oct 5, 1939

[61] Buenos Aires Herald, Oct 11, 1939

[62] Diaries April 27, 1940

[63] Diaries, June 24, 1940

[64] Diaries June 27, 1940

[65] Diaries Jan 16, 1941

[66] Diaries, March 10, 1941

[67] Diaries, Jan 5, 1942

[68] Diaries, Nov 26, 1941

[69] Diaries, March 12, 1942

[70] Diaries, April 5, 1942 describes a typical Sunday at Church;  April 9, 1942 describes a typical afternoon tea visit.

[71] Diaries, Feb 1, 1942

[72] Diaries, April 9, 1942

[73] Diaries, Feb 24 & Sept 8, 1942

[74] Diaries, June 24, 1942

[75]Diaries, June 4, 1943

[76]Diaries, June 25, 1944

[77] Diaries, June 22-July 4, 1944

[78] Diaries, July 6, 1944

[79] Diaries, July 12-13, 1944

[80] Diaries, Sept 23, 1944

[81] Diaries, Oct 11, 1944

[82] Diaries, Dec 31, 1944