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Frank Sinatra and the Coll Girl

Posted on December 7, 2012 at 3:40 PM

I have just finished a recent commission for a US client and his Scottish ancestry traced back to the remote isle of Tiree in the Western Isles. I have not been to Tiree but it reminded me of the time that my wife and I went for a week's holiday on the adjacent isle of Coll in the late 1980s. At that time the island had only one hotel and one bed & breakfast and the nearest policeman was stationed on Tiree! We were on the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry from Oban to Coll and we got talking to this lovely old white-haired Highland lady. She started to tell us her life's history which had taken her all over the world. She told us that she actually had been born on the isle of Coll and when she was asked later in life what she did for a living she winked and told us, "I just told them I was a Coll girl!" During her married years she and her husband were employed by a wealthy Highland laird, Lord So and So, but whose name escapes me. Her husband was his Lordship's chef and she was the housemaid. His Lordship had a huge yacht and during the summer he would take his crew and house staff on his cruises around the world but in particular the Mediterranean. He entertained the rich and famous at that time and on one particular cruise he had on board Ol' Blue Eyes himself - Mr Frank Sinatra. At one particular port of call on the French Riviera, Frankie boy was disembarking and his Lordship had ordered the Captain, crew, the chef and the Coll girl to stand at the gangplank to wish Mr Sinatra a fond farewell. As Sinatra was passing the Coll girl he slipped a mere sixpence tip into her palm. In a dour Scots response she handed back the miserable coin stating, "No thanks, Mr Sinatra, ye'll need it long before ah do!"

Categories: Genealogy

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