Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Who Do I Think I am? ( & a sex starved Bichon Frisé)

Adelaide

My elder sister has been researching our family tree. She has been concentrating on our maternal grandmother's family and after just a few night's research on line we now have a list of rural Irish and English  ancestors stretching back to the 1700 's .
My sister is like me, in the respect that she doesn't have a " need " to visit family graves, but given the nostalgia of her search, she took herself off to find my grandparent's grave , a visit that resulted in a mini panic attack when she couldn't quite locate the exact spot where my grandparents were buried.
I have been thinking about my Grandmother's early life today.
These thoughts were sparked by my sister's research and by a book loaned to me by affable despot Jason which chronicled the photographic work of Horace Warner in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Warner took some extraordinary photographs of the street children from the slums of Spitalfirlds, and one such photo of a young girl called Adelaide Springett, dressed in what was described as her best clothes, almost broke my heart
My grandmother was born into a poor Irish/ Liverpudlian family in 1900. The family lived in basement rooms near the infamous Scotty Road and were no strangers to poverty, Gran was estranged from them  when she married my grandfather, who wasn't a catholic and She seldom talked of her blood family as an older woman.
The sadness of my grandmother's early years seemed to have been compartmentalized as we grandchildren  always remember her as being one of the few fun people in our growing up lives.

Today on the way back from walking the dogs on the beach, I took a detour and stopped at Coed Bell Cemetery. I wondered if I could remember where my grandparents were buried.
Leaving the dogs in the car, I walked up the hill , through the stones and crosses and strangely walked straight up to the grave. There was absolutely no hesitation at all.

In our modern day world of benefits for the poor and needy, and council initiatives and social housing, it is easy to forget that only 100 years ago, the poor were effectively on their own. 
My grandmother was no stranger to the pawn shop, fear of the rent man and scrubbing other people's floors. She left her husband and two young children to waitress tables in the Isle Of Man to make money. She put camphor candles out each night to ward off the cockroaches and learnt to waste nothing at all in the kitchen.....
She lived in a world that was so different to our own. That photograph of little Adelaide is a reminder of just this.......
I spent a good half hour in the rain and the wind with my thoughts about all this
But was suddenly transported back to "John Gray world " when I returned to the dogs in the car.
I had parked in the tiny car park in front of the Graveyard and the trusty Berlingo was standing right up close to a white estate car. 
A slightly harassed looking middle aged woman was sitting in the passenger seat with a hyperventilating Bichon Frise bouncing around on her knee. And as I started to unlock my driver's door the little fella tried to claw his way out of his window towards me gasping and gagging like that cartoon Tasmanian devil!

" I don't know what's gotten into him" the woman explained as the little bastard's eyes rolled back in his head..." he's usually so well mannered with other dogs nearby"

One look at the berlingo' back window told me all I needed to know.
Winnie was standing in her best " come hither" pose, with her fanny positioned directly in the open window crack!

Hormones are very powerful things!

I own a slut



54 comments:

  1. what a moving post about your family. It does seem to be that Autumn ushers in thoughts of family at this time of year. Adelaide has a lovely hat, and if she had shoes they were probably only for sunday.

    and the simple word 'Together'. makes you tear up.
    and Winnie well... *rolls eyes*

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    1. It was a perfect epitaph
      No other word was needed

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  2. What an ending to an amazing post today.
    John Gray World... love it.
    Winnie oh Winnie.

    cheers, parsnip

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  3. You made me laugh! I needed that,I have been writing about end of life issues all day.
    My great grandmother was born in Swansea, married and moved to London where my grandmother was born. They moved to New York on the eve of World War I. My great grandmother lived into older old age, for many years with my grandparents on the same farm I grew up on. I have been to Swansea to see where she was born, but I have not been back to the cemetery in Detroit since her funeral decades ago.

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    1. You have welsh blood !
      My congratulations

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  4. Oh, it just had to end with a dog's fanny stuffed through the crack of a window...

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    1. A little rain must always fall........

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    2. So like the home life of our own dear Queen....

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    3. Does she stick her fanny through windows?

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    4. I have spotted something similar at the back entrance of Buck House, but I may have been hallucinating.

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    5. More like wishful thinking

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  5. enjoyed every word and image of that post x

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  6. Well, sex is quite important and will continue on when we are no longer here either.
    It is remarkable to think of the strength and perseverance of those who came before us. And desperation. Which was the fuel, I suppose, which kept them going. Still true for many.
    I am glad your grandmother was a happy woman. She deserved the fun.

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    1. She was the most delightfully happy woman .....

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  7. I think the photographer was making some kind of point. What, I don't know. Sunday best generally includes washing herself before putting it on - even then. Maybe more so then. Cute child though.
    A lovely marker for your grandparents, love cannot live long without the other half, which was evident. Glad you found it.
    Don't they make something that masks that odor? Good thing that wasn't a mastiff in the other car.
    Have a good evening!

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  8. Winnie the troublemaker. Very thoughtful post, John. ♥

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  9. The bare feet of little Adelaide upset me, especially as it is so cold today, it really bring it home to you...... and as for Winnie, slut indeed.

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  10. What a great post John ~ one of your best!
    I have never thought of poverty in terms of relativity ~ but you are right, the presence/absence of social services is the difference. I am grateful for the many stories my grandmother told me. I must do something about documenting them.
    Do I need to mention Winnie ~ no, because she will outdo herself tomorrow :)

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    1. Generally, nowadays.....we have things so much easier

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  11. good old winnie, always good for a laugh!

    my father's family came to the US from manchester in the 1900s. my father's grandfather buried 2 wives in the UK before coming to america; grandfather and his 3rd wife are buried in Philadelphia, as are my father's parents.

    people today should count their blessings and be grateful for what they have and the time in which they live.

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    1. Arrrrrrh that figures...you are from Manchester stock!
      A tough northern woman!

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    2. yep! but if you treat me right I will purr like a pussy(cat)!

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  12. But what an entertaining slut (Winnie I mean)

    And yes, John, I think most of our ancestors knew poverty in all its forms. We are lucky in so many ways.

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  13. John, thank you for pointing me in the direction of Horace Warner. I think his Spitalfields book will be going on my Christmas list.
    My paternal grandmother's family came from Tredegar. She moved to Tottenham to work as a maid and when she went back home to Wales her father wouldn't speak to her because she had a cockney accent. This story always made me smile because having spent about 70 years in Tottenham she still had a Welsh lilt.

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    1. Ar South Wales!
      Tradition has north walian people hating the southern welsh

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  14. Oh Winnie, you vixen, what a scene that was with the crazed dog trying to reach her. The photo of Adelaide is very sad, to think that is her dress up outfit. Harsh times for the poor.

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  15. Winnie, hussy extraordinaire!

    I look at that little gal's picture and think of Henry in Howard's End when he says, "The poor are poor, and one's sorry for them, but there it is." Callous and blase' all at once that statement because those types of people never came into contact with an Adelaide or threw them a coin and figured they had done their duty.

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  16. A lovely thoughtful post but poor Winnie always seems to cop it!

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    1. She's a " centre stage" diva

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  17. Our parents and grandparents lived far different lives than we do.....I don't know if the majority of us could survive what they went through.

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  18. All four of my grandparents came through poverty. Probably most of our turn of the last century grandparents did the same. Not much has changed. The rich get richer and the poor take care of each other.

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  19. A lovely post John. And the waif is heartbreaking indeed.

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    1. Funny I thought there wouldbe more comments
      Go figure

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  20. Good old Winnie! Fanny waving as always.

    The face of the young girl in the photo says it all really, as does her bare feet. It never ceases to amaze me that for everyone of us here today we had ancestors that were tougher than the ones who never made it! Thought provoking post John. The headstone is very moving!

    Jo in Auckland, NZ

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    1. Thank you Jo...I was wracking my brain to remember who wanted the epitaph
      It was my mother!

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  21. Winnie!!! Need I say more?

    We may find we are relatives, John. Wouldn't that be a kicker?

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    1. I wouldn't be at all surprised

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  22. What a sad photo. And while things may be better for more children in developed countries now, there are lots of places in the world where this kind of heartbreaking picture - or worse - is commonplace.

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  23. I wonder whatever happened to Adelaide...hopefully her life improved..
    ...as for Winnie...hussy

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  24. "Winnie was standing in her best "come hither" pose, with her fanny positioned directly in the open window crack..."

    Hmm, I'm on the look out for a good first line for a comic novel. That's pretty good. Winnie doesn't have to be a dog after all (although she could be a real bitch). I'll work on it...

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  25. My husbands family and mine were all poor folk as far as money but we have always been a close and happy bunch. Our parents and grandparents wore shoes to school and in cold weather but didn't waste shoe leather in the summer .....I have pictures of them all as children with no shoes and overalls on....Our family originated in Portlaois Ireland and I keep working to get more info....If Winnie isn't careful there will be a Scarlett letter on her forehead!

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  26. I gave birth to a slut.

    Love,
    Janie

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  27. Looking into one's family history can be fun and sometimes heartbreaking. We recently found out about my dad's childhood and now have a greater understanding of the demons that he lived with.

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  28. What on earth would a bichon frise bulldog cross look like?

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  29. Your grandma didn't stay long after your grandfather had gone...
    Dogs...they can always make you smile!

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  30. I noticed the single word "Together" on your grandparents' gravestone. One word can sometimes say much more than a book full of words.

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  31. What Winnie did next.........Nothing like what Katie did next LOL!
    Sad pic of Adelaide, especially with no shoes.

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  32. Well, you can't blame her for trying.

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  33. I have that book too and read the blog regularly. My father's family were in Bethnal Green, next to Spitalfields but weren't quite so poor. My great grandparents ended up in the workhouse though. How very lucky we are.

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  34. But you love her anyway... My great great grandmother fled Ireland due to "the troubles" which was the great potato famine. And all her life spoke venomously of the British. I could never understand until I read my history books....

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  35. My maternal grandmother didn't speak much about her childhood, which I know was a sad one. Her generation was the first entire generation born here, her parents' generation some were born here and some in Wales. Another here with southern Welsh roots, i'm afraid, John, as they hailed from Perth, Midglamorgan, Pontypridd.

    It was my Gram who provided the best example of being content with all she had, and really she didn't have a lot. But as always said, she had enough food to eat, clothes to wear, and a place to live where she could be warm and dry. What more did a rich man have?

    They had to be tough and resilient to survive. I think most of us have grown quite soft.

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  36. We have so much in comparison with our ancestors, and yet so many moan so much that they feel they are entitled to even more :-(

    Winnie is a shameless hussy .... much better than being embarrassed about it. We had a Border Collie called Sophie, that was just the same, her wiggle when on heat was something to be admired!!

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