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My not so ‘Victorian’ Grandmother.

Posted by Big John on August 31, 2006

In a recent post I told of how my ‘Victorian’ grandfather relied on my grandmother for just about everything, so for those of you who have not read about her in my previous blog here is a chance to learn a little about that very remarkable mother of ten children…..

Her name was Constance Emma Mariah known to all as ‘Con’. She was born in Lambeth (London) in the year of 1883, and is listed in the 1901 census as a ‘laundress general’. Her father was a hansom cab driver and her family had a ‘cook shop’ near the famous Lambeth Walk.

She was a tiny little woman, but was ‘as tough as old boots’. It is rumoured that as a young girl she wore a man’s flat cap, complete with hat pin, and smoked a clay pipe. In old age traces of a tattoo were still visible on her arm. She swore ‘like a trooper’ and was well known to the ‘bookie’s runner’ on the street corner.

connie.jpgWhen I was a child she told me that I had Spanish blood in my veins because her grandfather had been a soldier serving in Spain who had married a young Spanish girl. She certainly looked very Spanish as you can see from the photograph, which was taken when she was about seventy.

During the war years she managed to feed her family despite rationing, and I well remember when we kids would enter her kitchen she always had a slice of cake or a jam tart for us, for she knew her way around ‘the black market’ and it was thought that she ‘had something’ on the local butcher.

My favourite story about her is that during the ‘London Blitz’ she discovered a large hole in the road outside her house one morning, and being the neat and tidy lady that she was, she started sweeping the surrounding rubble into the hole, only to be dragged away by a squad of soldiers, for an unexploded bomb still lay at the bottom of the hole. If the Germans had ever invaded England I would have hated to be in the stormtrooper’s jackboots who left mud on her clean doorstep.

Despite her rough and ready ways she had a ‘heart of gold’ and was greatly loved……

………    They sure don’t make ‘em like her any more.

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9 Responses to “My not so ‘Victorian’ Grandmother.”

  1. Betty said

    Wonderful story, John. She must have been really special.

  2. Maria said

    Hey, like the new blog. So what do you think will be written about people like us. I sure would like to be remembered as a colorful person.

    Your grandmother sounds very intriguing and I bet she had a lot of stories to tell. It is true that diversity makes you strong and how lucky you were to have her as an example.

  3. Rosebud said

    Your grandmother sure looks sweet. I guess looks can be deceiving though. My grandmother was the tough as nails sort too. The only difference was she was only feared, not widely loved by all, unlike your grandmother.

  4. Libertine said

    Sounds like someone I would have liked to have known.

  5. Neddy said

    John, She must have been one of the originals. Are they still doing “The Lambeth Walk”? Yes, “tough as old boots” but they had hearts of gold.

  6. Terri said

    I really enjoyed this post. Your grandmother sounded exceptional for her time….I’d say she was way ahead of her time and an inspiration to women of today. I bet she made quite the impression on a lot of people.

  7. Wonderful story about an obviously wonderful person! She doesn’t even look close to 70 in that picture.

  8. Yes, you’re right, she looks quite Spanish. Very nice story and very nice woman.
    Greetings form Spain

  9. Big John said

    Gracias A.H. I visited you blog, but I’m afraid that my Spanish is limited to ‘food and drink’. :-)

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