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Haggis Child

Haggis Child

At the age of five, Heather Preston was the “Haggis Child” at the Anniversary Dinner of the St. Andrew Society. The year was 1937 and Heather was a dancing student of Mr. Dewar who she remembers as having a wooden leg. The Chicago Herald and Examiner described the event: “Amid the shrilling of bagpipes and the beating of drums the traditional Scottish dish of haggis was served to 1,500 members of the Illinois St. Andrews Society last night in the Stevens Hotel...tartans and plaids of all the Scottish clans were displayed at the banquet tables.

Many of the guests wore Highland colors. Sprigs of heather, received during the week from Loch Lomond, were in every buttonhole.” In 1951, when Heather Preston was chosen as the Heather Queen, she was a student at the Art Institute of Chicago. She remembers that the publicity photos were taken at the Art Institute and that she was interviewed on a daytime television show. Her crown was made entirely of heather. She wore a dress of white tulle that was decorated with white feathers. The dress was made by her mother, who referred to herself as “The Queen Mother.” (Her mother now enjoys good health, living in a retirement complex in Dayton, Ohio.) Prior to the Dinner, Heather had been entertained in the Conrad Hilton penthouse. “All very posh,” she remembers. At the Dinner she was crowned by Mr. Joseph M. Jardine.

Her father, James Robertson Preston, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was a graduate of the Harriet Watts College at the University of Edinburgh. As a naval architect, he was brought to the United States to “spur on the ship building industry” as the world prepared for World War I. Heather describes her father as a “poet, thinker, musician, good man, Mason, composer, proud, careful, storyteller (aren’t all Scots).”

For many years he was the organist at the Methodist Church in Glencoe, Illinois. He was a Life Member of the Society and also served as the Society’s Bard. We often use his writings in the program book of the Anniversary Dinner. After graduating from the Art Institute with “honors and special distinction” Heather studied and traveled in Europe. Returning to Chicago, she taught drawing and painting and was represented by a leading Chicago gallery.

She was exhibited widely and was named one of the outstanding artists of Chicago before moving to San Francisco and becoming an award-winning illustrator. The list of her awards are too numerous to mention but a list of her clients include: Quaker Oats, Frito-Lay, U.S. Dept. Of Forestry (1986 Smokey Bear poster), Pacific Bell, Bon Appetit, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill, Wadsworth, Addison Wesley and Scott Foresman. Her published works include: Rod McKuen’s Book of Days, Remember the Secret, Light Style, A Leaf from French Eddy, Laughing Down Lonely Canyons, Kinship With All Life.

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