When spending time in the Archives, trying to piece together a life using dates, signatures and brief references in meeting minutes, finding a voice seems an unreasonable hope. In the case of Glasgow Uni student Aubrey Fair Boyd, the unreasonable was to be found in a 1912 edition of the Glasgow University Magazine.
Born in Seattle, Washington, Aubrey came to study at Glasgow in 1909; this university’s first student from the West Coast of America. He published several short stories in G.U.M and in 1910 became Editor. It was after his departure from the magazine that a fellow staff member published an essay remembering Aubrey’s penchant for telling tales.
The following is an extract from the article, published in the February 7th, 1912 edition of the magazine.
“[Mr. Boyd having departed this University for the shores of Brittany, to the intense delight and astonishment of the natives, it was felt that as he was now only a memory, some attempt should be made to record his admirable manners and his adorable American accent. In response to numerous requests this plain chronics was written. It might serve as an introduction to ‘Twenthieth Century America’]
It is now four years since Mr. Aubrey F. Boyd entered this office. He spat leisurely upon the floor, withdrew his cigarette from his mouth and remarked ‘Say had Alexis P. Shaggs been here? What? Yew don’t know Alex P. Shaggs…
Another one of our party asked if his last oath ‘were merely a collocation of expressive sounds or whether it referred to some gigantic fauna of his native land?’
‘Stranger,’ was the reply, ‘put your paw there… I do refer to one of the gigantic fauna of my native country, namely, the Brontosaurus… Yew don’t smoke me? Wal, I’ll put yew wise about this Brontosaurus in a couple of shakes.’…
Alexis P. and me got into thisher cave…The stalagmites has ris’ up and shook hands with the stalactites… And the animals—gee-whiz. There was dinosauri, aurochs, pleisiosauri, manticoras, mammoths, mastodons, one- and two-toed sloths. Sphinxes (queer little devils there were, too), iguanoda, and what not. What not was considerably the worst. It was a diplodocus. It was shy some at first, and I don’t mind letting yew know I was a bit skeered on it myself. But it was peart and saucy, and I never had anything but a softside to the dumb creation. In five minutes, it was frisking around like a seventy-foot dog, and begging for dimes on its hind legs… [I]’m goldarned if that there diplodocus hadn’t sneaked my pocket handkercher and was tossin’ it up in the air and letting on he had secreted it for ever. And that amusin’ cuss would not come to heel. When I said, ‘Yew darned Seceesh, yew skunk-eyed reb, come and lie down, sir,’ it simply lay back, cocked its eye and wagged its tail as who should say, ‘Go and tell that to a Boston seminary.’… So I whistled up Lemuel (diplodocus answered to that) and made it plain the time was come to lift my stakes. I offered to take him. But the faithful animile with tears in its eyes explained by signs that like a Trojan hero it was going back to rescue its aged and infirm parent, from whose side it had already stayed to long. Gen’lemen, would you believe it, I went down on my knees before the affectionate crittur and pled with it to come. But no—in vain. I left the pious Saurian Æneas to its doom, and wal, hyar I am. I guess that’s about all. Yew sir, hevhed a second-hand shake with a live diplodocus, and I, sir, what hev I left?—this pocket handkercher!’”
Source: May 9, 1912 Glasgow University Magazine; DC198/1/18 (Vol. 24, No. 17, p. 437).
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