December 2014

In this Issue:

 Scotland's Stone of Destiny  Coming Events
 Meet Our Members  December Celebrations
 Mystery Member  Society Officers
 Gordon Brown to Leave Parliament  New Committee Forming
 Desert Highlander Newsletter History  A Christmas Story  

Scotland's Stone of Destiny

Scotland's Stone of Destiny is unique by any standard.  Few artifacts have generated as much interest, controversy and passion over such a prolonged period.  The stone, also known as the Stone of Scone and the Coronation Stone, occupies an exceptional place in British and Scottish history.  It is internationally famous—the most ancient, evocative and enigmatic symbol of Scottish nationhood.

Stone of DestinyThe Stone of Destiny is a simple oblong block of red sandstone some 26 inches long, 16 inches across and 10 inches deep.  On the top, iron handles have been set into the rock.  This stone is part of the soul of Scotland. Nevertheless, for most of the past 700 years, it has been associated with the coronation of England's kings and queens.

In 1296 during the bitter and protracted Scottish War of Independence, the English king, Edward I, seized the stone from Scone as a trophy of war and carried it off to London.  The purloined Stone of Destiny was installed in a specially made Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey.  The first monarch to sit on this chair with this stone was Edward II in 1308; the most recent was the present queen, Elizabeth II, in 1953.

There are many myths and legends—Scottish, Irish, and British—involving the stone.  One story states that the Stone belonged to a pharaoh and was brought from Egypt or Palestine to Scotland by way of Spain and Ireland.  The sandstone of which the Stone is made is very similar to that found in Egypt.  Another interesting story says that when King Edward I demanded the stone in 1296, he was given a fake.  The Scots fooled Edward and hid the real stone.  The Scots never asked for the stone's return after 1296.

Genuine or fake—it does not matter.  When all is said and done, the Stone of Destiny, the enduring symbol of Scotland's mystical soul is now home in Scotland, having been returned only months before the 1997 referendum on establishing a Scottish parliament.  Perhaps the ancient prophecy that "wherever the Stone is placed, Scots shall rule" and the Stone of Destiny and Scottish fortunes are inextricably linked. 

Meet Our Members - Highland Games Committee

Jesse & Teresa - Beer & Liquor Teresa Potts and Jesse Lopez - Beer & Liquor

We work closely with the beverage vendors to ensure that the alcohol sales run smoothly and safely.

Our goal is to exceed the expectations of those attending the Games.

We are both competing Highland Athletes, Teresa for over one year and Jesse for over 5 years.

Sandra Collins - Vendors Sandra Collins - Vendors

Greetings from Phoenix!

I am Sandra Collins and the current Vendor Chair for the 2015 Games.

I am excited to be the contact person for food and merchandise vendors at the Games, and loiok forward to meeting everyone!

Mark Pelletier - Clans Mark Pelletier - Clans

I have been chair of the Clans area since 2009. 

We typically have over 50 Clans and Scottish groups in attendance, with about 65 to 70 tent spaces. 

Also, I serve as the State Commissioner for Clan Campbell, and as a Trustee of our Society.

We are looking for an assistant chair for this area - please contact me by email if you wish to help

Can You Identify the Mystery Member?

Who Am I? December 2014I was born in Canada and enjoyed attending Highland Games as a little girl. 

I later moved to the U.S. when my step-father accepted a job in Tennessee. 

Later I moved to the Phoenix area, where I joined CSA and served on the board.




The answer is at the end of the newsletter - No peeking!

The Desert Highlander Newsletter - History

This will be the last edition of the Desert Highlander that I will edit.  It has been an honor to have served the Caledonian Society in this way for the last 20 years.

In the early days of the Caledonian Society of Arizona (BC) before computers, the President would write and mail out a letter to the members outlining the meetings and activities for the coming months.  This was not done on a monthly schedule—only occasionally as needed.

When Terry Shelbourne became President in 1988, he began to send out a letter nearly every month.  By this time the membership was large and the Society was sending nearly 200 letters each month.  It was decided that a more comprehensive announcement—a newsletter would be mailed to all "dues paying" members.  There were a number of "attendees" at the monthly meetings who did not pay dues.  Donna Groves (now an Honorary Life Member) was the first to write, edit and mail the newsletter.  She did it for about four years before moving to Oregon.

Another member, Rev. Craig Averill became the new editor—for only a few months before he and his wife left to serve as missionaries.  I became the editor in 1994, mainly because I was already serving as Membership Chair and had everyone's address in my files.

Up to this time, the newsletter did not have a name.  The Board decided to have a contest to name the newsletter.  There were numerous suggestions and on the voting day our Desert Highlander came into being. 

Our next big change—remember this was still BC—was bulk mail.  The price of first class postage had risen considerably and mailing out the newsletter was getting more and more expensive.  We applied for and received a bulk mail permit which cut the postage costs about in half.  That method continued for the next few years.

Now we are entering the computer age.  When Michelle Campbell was President, she and her husband James Weber were the first to suggest it was time to have a website.  James did the first work and we tried to have the newsletter online, but it was hit or miss because we "oldsters" had no computer skills.  But finally at the beginning of 2010 our Desert Highland went online.

Jo RamsdellThanks to all who contributed their various skills during the years I have been the editor.  It has been a wonderful but sometimes difficult experience.  (Thanks Jean Latimer for always having your President's Message in on time.)  I sincerely hope that the future editors enjoy their experience as I have.

Jo Ramsdell

Former PM Gordon Brown to Resign from Parliament

Gordon Brown, who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1997-2005 and as Prime Minister from 2005-2010, made the announcement Monday, although sources had already told British media that he was planning to leave parliament before May.

Gordon BrownBrown, who has been Labour MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath in Scotland for nearly 32 years, was defeated in the 2010 election, where Labour recorded it worst election result since 1983.

However, he was able to salvage his reputation with many throughout the UK during this year's Scottish independence referendum, where he proved extremely effective in convincing Scots to remain in the union.  Separately, he was known as one of the first politicians to voice his anger at the News of the World phone hacking scandal in 2011.

Brown's high profile and relatively high approval rates in his constituency had also raised speculation that he would be part of a future Labour government under incumbent Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Current Prime Minister David Cameron said Brown had "given a huge amount" to Britain.


A Christmas Story

I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma.  I was just a kid.  I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb.  "There is no Santa Claus" she jeered.  "Even dummies know that!"

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been.  I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me.  I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her 'world-famous' cinnamon buns.  I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so.  It has to be true.  Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm.  Between bites, I told her everything.  She was ready for me. 

"No Santa Claus? She snorted…ridiculous!  Don't believe it.  That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!  Now, put on your coat, and let's go."

"Go?  Go where, Grandma?" I asked.  I hadn't even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun.  'Where' turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything.  As we walked through its door, Grandma handed me ten dollars.  That was a bundle in those days.

"Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it.  I'll wait for you in the car."  Then she turned and walked out.  I was only eight.  I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped all by myself.  I stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy and who on earth to buy it for.

Red coat I thought of everybody I knew, family friends, neighbors, kids at school.  Suddenly I thought of Bobby Decker.  He was a kid with messy hair, and he sat right behind me in my grade-two class.  Bobby Decker didn't have a coat.  He never went out to recess during the winter.  His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but we kids knew that Bobby didn't have a cough; he didn't have a coat.  I would buy Bobby Decker a coat.  I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood. It looked real warm.

"Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady clerk asked.  I laid my ten dollars down.  "Yes, ma'am" I replied and proceeded to tell her all about how Bobby need a good coat.  I didn't get any change back, but she put the coat in a  bag and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper.  We wrote "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on the present.  Grandma said that Santa insisted on secrecy.  Then she drove me over to Bobby's house.  She explained that we were now officially Santa's helpers, so we crept up to the door, left the present, knocked and then quickly hid in some bushes.  Together we waited breathlessly for the door to open.  Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes.  That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were—ridiculous.  Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.

I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside.  $19.95.

New Committee Forming

Your Board of Directors is exploring the idea of helping the City of Mesa partner with a sister city in Scotland, for the purpose of establishing cultural, social, educational and economic exchanges between the people of Mesa and people of our Sister Cities.

These invaluable partnerships offer a forum for fostering mutual understanding, friendship and peace. If you’d like to join this exploratory committee, please contact either: Don Finch – or – Keith Waldrop

MEsa Sister Cities Mesa Sister City group

We met recently at Mesa City Hall and at the RAF Memorial Service with State Representative Kelly Townsend and Mesa Mayor John Giles.

Coming Events

December 11 Family Christmas Party (December meeting)
December 16 Games Committee Meeting at Wyndham Hotel
January 8 Membership Meeting
January 24 Robert Burns Supper
February 12 Membership Meeting
March 21-22 Our Gathering & Highland Games

Kilt Rental USAWill you be renting a kilt for the January 24 Robbie Burns Supper? Take a look at this special offer from our sponsor Kilt Rental USA.

Society Meetings
Regular membership meetings are held the second Thursday of each month at the Irish Cultural Center, 1106 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ. beginning at 6:30 pm. Come join us or log on to

December Celebrations
If you would like your special date recognized in our monthly newsletter, we need to hear from you. Please let us know your correct birthday and anniversary information by email to and it will be included in our Celebration list.

December 2 Don Hoeck - Birthday
December 9 Harold & Pam Stewart - Anniversary
December 18 Don Finch - Birthday
December 21 Karen Murdock (Honorary Life Member) - Birthday
December 27 Paul & Genie Smith - Anniversary
December 30 Edna McDonald (Honorary Life Member) - Birthday

Caledonian Society Officers
President: Mark Clark
Past President: (2010 – 2012) Jean Latimer
Vice President Don Finch
Secretary & Membership Chair: Ian Warrander
Treasurer: David McBee
Games Chair
Paul Bell
Trustee 1: Mark Pelletier
Trustee 2: Michelle Crownhart
Trustee 3: Thom von Hapsburg
Newsletter Editor:

Jo Ramsdell
Statutory Agent: Dan Miller



Who Am I ?

The mystery member is Jean Lattimer