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Chicago Scots gather as they await results of independence vote

They drank beer and ate shepherd’s pie. They wore kilts. They talked politics.

And even those who disagreed with one another shared in the excitement of a historic day.

Chicago Scots gathered Thursday at Duke of Perth, a Scottish watering hole on the North Side, to await the final vote of a referendum that could result in Scotland becoming an independent nation. 

Related: Scots reject independence in historic vote

If the “yes” vote had prevailed, Scotland — which has been united with England for 307 years — would have become the newest state in the world. 

John Crombie, 59, has owned the bar for 25 years. A native of Dundee, Scotland, he hoped the people vote for independence. But he understands the sense of unity many Scottish people feel with England.

“A lot of people have fought wars together. My father was in the Army, my grandfather and great-grandfather, as well. That gives you a lot of loyalty to a particular cause,” Crombie said. “But at the same time I think it’s time for the Scottish people to take control of their own destiny.”

 

 

Three generations of Scots ate dinner in a patio area of the bar. 

Stuart Shulski, 23, sat with his mother, Colleen Gillan, 59, and his grandmother, Frances Gillan, 79.

Shulski, who wore a family kilt, said he wants to move to Scotland and was hoping for a ‘yes’ vote. 

“I think it would be a great thing if Scottish citizens were in control of their own future,” Shulski said.

His mother said she has been glued to the television, watching the excitement over the referendum.

“The number of people who registered to vote was just unbelievable and surpassed every expectation,” Colleen Gillan said.

The matriarch of the family, however, said she had some concerns if Scotland became independent.

“Many of the older people, including me, are worried about senior citizen pensions and social security pensions. That if they separate from England, then there will damage to their pensions,” Frances Gillan said.

Native Scot Marcia Bremner, now of Elmhurst, supported a “no” vote. She says an independent Scotland would come with a lot of uncertainty. 

“Financial services organizations are talking about relocating to England, with an estimated quarter of a million jobs being lost, which in a nation of about 5 million is a quite large portion of job loss,” said Bremner, 37. “The result of that is really going to impact the everyday person, the everyday families.”

Gus Noble, president of the Scottish Home of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society, says there will be one big winner on Friday.

“Whatever happens on either side, we’re still going to be friends on Friday. Somebody is going to be disappointed. Someone is going to be delighted,” Noble said. “But the victor is really going to be democracy.”