Tartan Tablecloths: Five plus One

Having shared the story of the club’s tartan bunting, I feel honour bound to also tell the tale of the club’s tartan tablecloths.

Our tartan tablecloths form an appealing backdrop to Johnsonville’s delectable suppers – here at the 2018 October Tartan Night. Photo: John Patterson

The Five Originals

The club’s collection of five cheery, red tartan tablecloths has been around much longer than the tartan bunting.

Honorary Life Members Isla and Eric Norris (and their daughter Gaye) presented the tablecloths to the club as a donation in 1988, and they have been part of hospitality at club events ever since.

Eric and Isla had a long history with the club, first being recorded as members in 1968, and retiring from dancing in their 90s – their last recorded membership at Johnsonville was in 2003. For at least 20 years, Isla and Eric also served tea to club members at supper time. 

Club minutes from 21 June 1988 are full of decision making for celebrations of Johnsonville Club’s 25th Anniversary as a community group. (Previously dancers were part of the St Columba Presbyterian church Friendship Club).

In amongst confirming Peter Elmes as musician for the Special Club Night celebration on 27 June, and realising there would be no cake (!) as the club’s cake baker was going overseas, the minutes record:

Isla Norris has made up a set of table covers for use at dances, and she and Eric are presenting them to the club for its 25th Anniversary. A letter of thanks to be sent.

A correction at the next committee meeting on 26 July clarifies that:

The tablecloths were from all three Norrises, including Gaye.

The tablecloths would have made many an appearance in that year of celebration in 1988 – at the  (cake-less) Special Club Night on 27 June, the Annual Dance on 9 July, the Special S-themed Party Night on 3 October, and then the Final Night on 9 November.

Isla and Eric’s wish that the tablecloths be used at dances has been fulfilled many times over since 1988. As the photos below show, the tablecloths create a colourful and cheery presence at Tartan Nights, Annual Dances, Summer Ceilidhs, Midwinter Dinners and special events such as the club’s 50 Golden Years Celebration in 2016.

Kristin’s 50th in 2006 at a Johnsonville Club Night. Photo: Loralee Hyde (who also made the cake!)
Fruit salad in the ‘jewel bowls’ at the 2012 Annual Dance, with Elizabeth Ngan busy laying out the supper in the background. Photo: John Patterson
Laying out supper at the 2015 Johnsonville Annual Dance. Photo: Loralee Hyde
The tartan tablecloths add to the ‘brightness’ at the Club’s Bright Midwinter’s Night dinner in 2016. Photo: Loralee Hyde
Setting up the tartan bunting above the supper tables covered with tartan tablecloths at the Johnsonville 50 Golden Years Celebration in 2016. Photo: John Patterson
Tartan tablecloths on display at Johnsonville’s Dance Around the World dinner in 2019. Photo: John Patterson
Supper Co-ordinator Elizabeth Ngan laying out the supper at the 2019 Johnsonville/Capital City Annual Dance. Photo: Loralee Hyde
The last supper we had at Johnsonville School Hall at the 2019 Tartan & Final Night. Photo: Loralee Hyde

Plus One More

More recently another tablecloth has joined the collection. In 2016, her first year with the club as a new dancer, Liz Hands donated a blue and green tartan tablecloth, bringing numbers up to six – perfect for Midwinter Dinners. Originally bought for family dining at a refectory size table, Liz no longer had use for it when she downsized.

Aileen giving the ‘Address to a Haggis’ (with the haggis displayed on the sixth tartan cloth!) at the 2021 Johnsonville Summer Ceilidh. Photo: Désirée Patterson

Kristin Downey
25 November 2021

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