you have the map of scotland in your face

Chief. My dad (or Chief as I like to call him). He was stationed overseas in the late 1950s and on a train where he struck up a conversation with an older British woman. She inquired about his ancestry. “Where are you from?” she asked. He replied, “I understand my heritage is British. My family is Montgomery, Graham, Good.” She studied his answer and then informed him, “You have the map of Scotland in your face.”

I’m not sure what features are classically Scottish, per se–the nose, the dark blue color of his eyes, his fair skin, the high forehead–but I have always loved this photo of my dear dad. I believe he is in his teens here, and I see his optimism. His keen mind, which he keeps to this day and which I attribute to his love of books and reading.

My dad once pointed out that his life was much changed for the gift of his hometown (Clinton, Indiana) receiving a Carnegie library. If you’ve never visited Clinton, you should know it’s a working-class coal mining town (Grandpa was a coal miner). Clinton is an essentially modest Midwest town. And this Carnegie library–gifted by Scottish businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and built in 1917–was a lifeline for my dad. He would bring books home and read them by flashlight at night when he otherwise should have been sleeping.

Thinking of the Chief today. Grateful for Scots, maps, and books.